Strongman Training: The Ultimate Test of Strength

Table of Contents

Key takeaways

    • Strongman training is a sport that tests competitors’ strength, power, and endurance through a series of challenging events.
    • It involves a combination of weightlifting, cardiovascular exercise, and event-specific practice.
    • Strongmen follow carefully planned nutrition plans to fuel their bodies for optimal performance.
    • Strongman contests have a long history dating back to ancient times and are governed by organizations such as the International Federation of Strength Athletes (IFSA) and the Giants Live World Tour.
    • Strongman competition is not just for men – there are also women’s divisions in many strongman events, and top female strongmen compete at the highest levels.
    • Basic strongman training can offer a number of benefits, including increased overall strength, impressive grip strength, massive core strength, improved cardiovascular fitness, and – not to forget – improved mental toughness.
    • Strongman competitions are typically drug tested in order to ensure a level playing field and to protect the health and safety of the competitors.
    • Strongman training is a challenging and rewarding way to improve overall physical health and fitness, and it can be an excellent way to build muscle, increase strength, and develop mental toughness.
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The Ultimate Test of Strength: Inside the World of Strongman Training

Strongman competition is a test of raw physical strength and endurance, pitting the world’s strongest men and women against each other in a series of grueling events.

From deadlifts to atlas stone lifts to tire flips, strongman-style competitions require competitors to push their bodies to the limit in order to emerge victorious.

But this top class of strength sports is about more than just brute strength. It requires careful training, precise technique, and mental toughness to succeed. In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the strongman universe, exploring the events, training regimens, and benefits of this unique and challenging sport.

Whether you’re an experienced strongman competitor or just curious about the exciting and demanding strongman program, this post has something for you. So let’s get started and learn more about the world of strongman competition!

scottish highland games deadlift

History

The history of strongman competition dates back to ancient times when strongmen were admired for their physical strength and prowess.

In ancient Greece, strongmen were revered as heroes and often depicted in literature and art.

In ancient Rome, strongmen were also celebrated, with their feats of strength often featured in the popular games of the time.

Throughout history, strongmen have continued to capture the public’s imagination with their impressive feats of strength. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, strongmen like Louis Cyr and Eugene Sandow gained widespread fame for their strength and athletic ability.

In the modern era, strongman competition has evolved into a sport in its own right, with organized events and professional strongmen competing at the highest levels.

Today, strongman challenges are governed by organizations such as the International Federation of Strength Athletes (IFSA) and the Giants Live World Tour, which host events around the world.

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Some lesser-known facts about strongman training

Strongmen have a strong following in Eastern Europe, with countries like Russia and Poland producing many of the world’s top strongmen.

But also northern countries like Iceland, Scandinavia, and England constantly “produce” strongman personalities – one of the most known is Eddie Hall from England.

In addition to traditional strongman events like deadlifts and tire flips, some competitions also feature unconventional events like pulling trucks and yoke carries.

Strongman competition is not just for men – there are also women’s divisions in many strongman events, with top female strongmen competing at the highest levels.

Strongman competition is not just about raw strength – technique, strategy, and mental toughness are also crucial for success in the sport.

A lot of strongman exercises also target functional strength and strongmen often show unexpected flexibility, mobility, and speed.

Strong woman exercising

Today‘s Strongman Competitions

Today, strongman competition is a highly organized sport with a structured format and specific rules. Competitions are typically held outdoors and involve a series of events that test the competitors’ strength and endurance.

Here are some examples of events that are commonly included in strongman competitions:

Deadlifts

In this event, competitors lift a heavy barbell off the ground and hold it at arm’s length. The weight of the barbell is usually determined by the competitors’ bodyweight, with heavier weights being used for heavier competitors.

athlete deadlifting

Tire flips

In this event, competitors flip a large tire using only their strength and technique. The tire is usually mounted on a platform and competitors must flip it end over end until it crosses a finish line.

athlete doing a tire flip

Log press

Here, competitors lift a heavy log above their heads using only their upper body strength. Again the weight of the log is usually determined by the competitors’ bodyweight, with heavier weights being used for heavier competitors.

strongman doing a log press

Heavy Pulls

Strongmen are well known for this, as truck pull or airplane pull events constantly make into the media headlines and are always good for a nice photo. Alternatively, a heavy sled pull also does the trick…

strongman pulling truck

Farmer's walk

Competitors carry heavy weights in each hand and walk as far as possible within a set time limit. The weights are usually in the form of heavy dumbbells or kettlebells.

farmers walk

Yoke carry

In this event, competitors carry a heavy yoke with a thick axle bar across their shoulders and walk as far as possible within a set time limit.

For those who have never seen a yoke: this is a piece of basic equipment for every strongman event.

a yoke

There are many other events that can be included in a strongman competition, and the specific events and rules can vary depending on the organization hosting the event.

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How Strongman Train

Strongmen train using a variety of methods to increase their strength, power, and endurance.

Training for strongman competition typically involves a combination of weightlifting, cardiovascular exercise, and practice with the specific events and equipment used in the competition.

Naturally, basic strongman exercises will include squatting, lifting, and carrying – all these with heavy weight.

athlete lifting an atlas stone

Basic exercises like the push press or the bench press are also included in a strongman workout.

For strongmen, working out in an average gym is nearly impossible as the terms of use in a standard gym often prohibit strongman lifts or strongman exercises.

Most gyms also simply lack the necessary equipment like atlas stones for example – or they don´t have enough weight plates available!

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Here are some general principles of strongman training:

Progressive overload

Strongmen train by progressively increasing the weight, intensity, or volume of their workouts over time.

This helps to challenge the muscles and stimulate growth and adaptation.

Variety

Strongmen use a variety of exercises and training methods to target different muscle groups and improve their overall strength and conditioning.

Specificity

Strongmen focus on exercises that are specific to the events they will be competing in. For example, a strongman preparing for a deadlift event might focus on exercises like squats and deadlifts to improve their lower body strength.

Nutrition

Athletes pay close attention to their nutrition in order to fuel their bodies for training and competition. They may focus on consuming high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to support muscle growth and recovery.

Overall, strongmen follow a carefully planned training regimen that is tailored to their individual needs and goals. Preparing for a strongman event is demanding and requires a high level of commitment and discipline, but the rewards of improved physical strength and mental toughness can be well worth the effort.

strongman pulling a sled

Are Strongmen fat?

It is not accurate to say that strongmen are fat.

Strongman competitors come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and many strongmen are in excellent physical condition.

That being said, it is common for strongmen to have a higher bodyweight due to the demands of the sport. Competitions require a combination of strength and power, which can be easier to achieve with a higher bodyweight.

As a result, many strongmen carry more muscle mass and body fat than other athletes in leaner sports like running or cycling.

However, this does not mean that strongmen are unhealthy or out of shape. Many athletes follow careful training and nutrition plans in order to maintain their strength and physical condition.

In fact, this sport can be a great way to improve overall physical health and fitness, as it requires a combination of strength, power, and endurance.

Remember, physical fitness is about more than just body weight, and it is possible to be strong, powerful, and healthy at a variety of different body sizes.

heavy strongman

How do strongmen fuel their bodies for optimal performance?

Strongmen need to fuel their bodies in order to support the demands of their training and competition. Proper nutrition is an important aspect of strongman training, and strongmen typically follow carefully planned nutrition plans in order to optimize their performance.

Here are some general principles that strongmen may follow when fueling their bodies for optimal performance:

Adequate caloric intake

Strongmen typically have high energy demands due to the intensity of their training and competition.

In order to support their activity levels, strongmen need to consume enough calories to meet their energy needs.

This may require consuming more calories than sedentary individuals, and strongmen may need to adjust their intake based on their training goals and needs.

Adequate protein intake

Protein is an important nutrient for muscle repair and growth, and strongmen typically aim to consume high-quality proteins in order to support their training.

Good sources of protein for strongmen include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

Adequate carbohydrate intake

Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for strongmen, and they may need to consume more carbohydrates than sedentary individuals in order to support their training.

Good sources of carbohydrates for strongmen include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Adequate fat intake

Fats are an important source of energy and are necessary for the absorption of certain nutrients.

Strongmen may need to consume more fat than sedentary individuals in order to support their training.

Good sources of fat for strongmen include nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, and coconut oil.

Good sources of carbohydrates for strongmen include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Hydration

Strongmen also need to pay attention to their hydration in order to support their training and competition.

Adequate hydration is essential for optimal physical performance, and strongmen should aim to consume enough fluids to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Overall, strongmen need to consume a balanced and varied diet in order to fuel their bodies for optimal performance. They may need to adjust their intake based on their individual goals and needs, and may also work with a nutritionist or other healthcare professional to develop a plan that is tailored to their specific needs.

a plate full of protein foods

Are strongman competitions drug tested?

Strongman competitions are typically drug tested in order to ensure a level playing field and to protect the health and safety of the competitors.

Drug testing in strongman competition is typically administered by the governing body of the event, such as the International Federation of Strength Athletes (IFSA) or the Giants Live World Tour.

These organizations establish rules and guidelines for drug testing and may also work with independent organizations to administer the tests.

Drugs that are typically banned in strongman competition include anabolic steroids, growth hormones, and other performance-enhancing substances.

The use of these drugs can provide a significant advantage in competition and is therefore strictly prohibited.

Competitors who test positive for banned substances may face disqualification, fines, and other penalties, depending on the rules and regulations of the specific competition.

Overall, drug testing is an important aspect of strongman competition and helps to ensure a fair and safe competition for all competitors.

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What are the benefits of strongman training?

Strongman training can provide a number of benefits, both physical and mental. Some of the potential benefits of strongman training include:

Increased strength

Strongman training is designed to build strength and power, and many strongmen see significant improvements in their strength and physical capabilities as a result of their training.

Improved cardiovascular fitness

Many strongman events involve high-intensity exercise that can challenge the cardiovascular system. As a result, strongman training can improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance.

Improved mental toughness

Strongman training can be physically and mentally demanding, and many strongmen develop a high level of mental toughness as a result of their training. This mental toughness can carry over into other areas of life, helping strongmen to handle challenges and setbacks with confidence and determination.

Increased muscle mass

Strongman training typically involves lifting heavy weights, which can stimulate muscle growth and increase muscle mass.

This can be especially beneficial for those who are looking to build muscle and improve their physical appearance.

Improved coordination and balance

Many strongman events require a high level of coordination and balance, and strongman training can help to improve these skills. This can be especially beneficial for those who are looking to improve their overall athletic ability.

Improved overall physical health and fitness

Strongman training can improve overall physical health and fitness by building strength, power, and endurance. This can lead to a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

woman and man working out together

How do strongmen make money?

Strongmen can make money through a variety of means, including prize money, sponsorships, and merchandise sales.

Prize money

Many strongman competitions offer prize money to the winners and top finishers. The amount of prize money can vary significantly depending on the size and prestige of the competition.

Sponsorship

Some strongmen are able to secure sponsorship deals with companies that are interested in promoting their products or services through the sport. Sponsorship deals can provide strongmen with additional income, as well as access to training equipment, supplements, and other resources.

Coaching and personal training

Some strongmen use their expertise and experience to coach and train other athletes. This can be a rewarding and lucrative way to make a living, and many strongmen enjoy the opportunity to help others achieve their strength and fitness goals.

Public appearances

Strongmen are often in demand for public appearances and speaking engagements, where they can share their stories and experiences with audiences around the world. These appearances can be a source of income for strongmen, as well as a way to promote their brand and influence.

Other ventures

Some strongmen use their strength and fame to pursue other ventures, such as acting, writing, or other business opportunities.

It is worth noting that strongman competition is not a mainstream sport, and it can be difficult for strongmen to make a living solely through competition and sponsorship. Many strongmen have to supplement their income with other sources of income in order to make a living. However, for those who are dedicated and passionate about the sport, the rewards of competing at the highest levels can be well worth the effort.

very fit athlete holding weight plates

Are you ready to put your strength, power, and endurance to the test? Look no further than strongman competition! This exciting and challenging sport involves a series of events that push competitors to their limits and test their physical and mental toughness.

From deadlifts to tire flips to log press, strongman competition has it all. But don’t let the name fool you – strongman isn’t just for men.

There are also women’s divisions in many strongman events, and top female strongmen compete at the highest levels. If you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level, give strongman training a try.

You’ll build muscle, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and develop a level of mental toughness that will serve you well in all areas of life.

Plus, with organizations like the International Federation of Strength Athletes (IFSA) and the Giants Live World Tour governing the sport, you can trust that the competition is fair and drug-free.

So why wait? Get out there and start training like a strongman today!

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