The strength-based sport traditionally known as strongman demands a well-rounded combination of strength, agility, muscular endurance, and mental toughness. It was founded on ancient traditions of men proving their battle or labour abilities by competing to pick up the heaviest objects, typically stones, which remains a key feature. Today, strongwomen and strongmen in a variety of weight classes compete in a series of common events: overhead pressing (typically logs, axles, or giant dumbells), deadlifting (cars, axles, or other variations), tire flipping, carrying or dragging 'medleys', and object loading (such as stones, sandbags, or kegs). The combination of these tasks pushes athletes to the limits of their functional strength.
Most amateur competitions consist of 4 to 6 of events with little standardization between competitions. For example: deadlift for maximum repetitions, tire flip for maximum distance, log press for maximum weight, and farmer's walk for fastest time. There are 30 or so potential events -- and these occur in nearly limitless variations and combinations. This variability and unpredictability is one major aspect that separates strongman from other strength sports; athletes may have to attempt variations on events that they have never experienced before. Almost all strongman competitions include the following warning: events subject to change without notice. This includes the weight of the implements, the distance or duration of the event, or even swapping events completely!
Is Strongman for everyone?
Historically, no. Today, yes! The goal of testing functional strength excludes no one seeking to compete. The international strongman community has expanded to facilitate world championships for both women and men, as well as the physically and mentally disabled. In some countries, strongman associations have also implemented age and weight classes that allow people to compete with others of similar size and ability. Strongman competitions are also categorized by competitive levels such as novice, intermediate, or national. In Canada, the Canadian Alliance of Amateur Strength Athletes (CAASA) offers competitions with competitive classes (men, women, novice, and master) that are each broken into two or more weight classes, dropping the intimidation factor. Even if you don’t want to compete, adding some strongman principles into your training is a great way to improve your overall strength.
How do I start training?
It's simple: all you need to do is get stronger while exposing yourself to some of the strongman events. Increasing your general strength can be done with traditional barbell movements and commercial gym equipment. Although some strongman events or portions of their motion can be simulated in the gym, progressing in the sport of strongman requires practice with the implements -- often in the great outdoors.
If you are interested in competing in strongman or even just trying out this style of strength training, feel free to reach out to Western's resident amateur strongman-powerlifter, Tyler Desplenter, at tdesplen@@gmail..com.