STRONGMAN TRAINING: Who its for, and why you want in.
I know if you’re like me, the first thing you think of when you hear “Strongman” is a repulsively titanic mountain of a man on ESPN dragging a bus across a parking lot or pressing logs overhead that would make the one Arnold Schwarzenegger carried in Commando look tiny. Not that that isn’t true, but there’s quite a bit more to it than that..
Rounding up, at the moment I weigh in around 170lbs at 5’5.’’ (Yep, I’m a little guy.) To add more to the image you wouldn’t think of when you hear strongman is that I’ve only really gotten into weightlifting less than a year ago thanks to CrossFit. I mean sure, I’ve gone to a gym here and there and done bicep curls and things like that, but never spent time in a squat rack, deadlifted, or even benched. My athletic background is in gymnastics.
Q: So I’m reading an article about Strongman training, written by a dude who’s only been lifting heavy as of recently?
A: Yup. I can tell you first hand that the results from adding these types of movements/equipment into your training will make for some serious gains in general strength and overall fitness. I’m also going to try and explain what it really is, not only how it would work for anyone, but how it has helped me personally.
For the most part, Strongman movements/exercises do not involve a barbell and deal with “balls to the wall” exertion for short durations of time (usually no more than a minute). Some of the equipment used include: atlas stones, kegs, yokes, farmer walk handles, logs, etc..the list goes on but the common theme here is simply awkward and heavy. The lifts and movements in Strongman utilizing these kinds of equipment are far less efficient than those with a barbell and require on the spot adaptation because of their size, shape or consistency.
A great example of this would be an atlas stone:
I found in my own personal experience that spending time with these “heavy and awkward” loads made for big improvements in not only my other lifts, but general strength overall. Since I’ve added Strongman to my training, I’ve broken plateaus and increased all of my lifts! I have gone from not lifting for pretty much my whole life, to not only entering my first CrossFit competition a few months back but finishing in the middle of the pack. I’ve made a lot of gains fast, and I credit most of those gains to the addition of Strongman into my CrossFit training.
The main areas athletically I have seen significant improvement in personally would have to be in grip strength, core stability, and with my posterior chain. To be honest, I tend to notice the biggest difference in my strength outside of the gym just in “real-life” situations. I’m going to share a little “real-life” situation that happened to me a few weeks back.
I was at my Grandparents 50th wedding anniversary party and had just shown up. I was making my rounds saying “hi” to everyone when my grandfather (who uses a walker) was on his way outside to join the party. His legs gave out on him and he started to go down. Luckily, I was right next to him at the time (and have spent a lot of time lately with my atlas stones) because just as soon as he started falling, I was able to jump behind and catch/support him much like you would when lapping a stone. Yeah, I literally “lapped” my grandfather and from there was able to support him while we made sure everything was ok, before lowering down to the ground where he could sit and shake it off, without either of us getting injured.
It may not sound like all that much, but unexpectedly having to drop under and catch about 1.5 times your bodyweight isn’t exactly something that would have a good turnout in most cases.
This is just one example of a benefit in gaining “real-life” strength, others would include lifting a big bag of dog food, moving, getting all of the groceries in the house in one trip because it’s raining…you see where I’m going with this?
I guess back to the original point I was trying to make is that Strongman training can be for anyone. It’s not just lifting cars and doing other superhuman type things like you would see watching the World’s Strongest Man competition.
In the future I will be going into more detail as far as how adding Strongman training can benefit athletes as well as explaining and demonstrating how to perform these lifts and movements.
Keep it heavy, keep it fun.