Nowadays, when people train in the gym, they train with a number of different goals and objectives in mind. Whereas in the past, the main reason why people worked out was to look good, nowadays people are training for a whole variety of different reasons. Some people are looking to lose fat, some want to get fitter and healthier, some want to simply look better, some want to build muscle, and some want to get stronger. Although strongman competitions have been popular for many, many years, it’s only over the last few years that strongman has really been globally accepted by the mainstream and this is partly one of the reasons why so many people are now training to be strongmen, and women too for that matter. Strongman and women training is far from easy, in fact it is incredibly demanding and challenging, both physically and mentally. It’s a sport in which, quite literally, only the strong will survive (or succeed at least) and so if you yourself are thinking of giving it a go, here’s a look at a few things you’ll learn from strongman training and competitions.
You don’t need to be super-shredded to be fit
If you’ve ever seen a strongman, you’ll immediately know that their physiques are from those you’d expect to see on athletes and bodybuilders. Typically strongman physiques are huge, bulky, muscular, powerful looking, and much higher in body fat than those found in other sports. Of course there are exceptions as there are some strongmen who are absolutely shredded and vascular as hell, but generally speaking, most strongmen have much higher body fat percentages than you might expect an athlete to have. Despite this however, strongmen are some of the most physically fit human beings you’re ever likely to see because endurance and cardiovascular fitness and conditioning is just as important as strength when it comes to strongman. Many strongmen, even those with body fat percentages of 30% or above, would likely be able to outlast most average human beings in endurance races and events, so as the old saying goes “never judge a book by its cover”.
You need more than just free weights
If you’re serious about becoming a strongman competitor, the first thing you’ll need to do is find yourself the perfect gym in order to train. Many would-be strongmen head to their local gym and think that dumbbells, weight plates, barbells, and resistance machines available in commercial gyms across the world will be enough, when in reality they simply are not. There is much more to strongman than heavy dumbbells and barbells, so even if you can bench 500 pounds, and squat a 700lb barbell, once you were to try a similar exercise with a new piece of strongman equipment, even if the weight was much lighter, you’d find yourself in for a pretty rude awakening. Strongmen use a whole variety of different tools and pieces of equipment to help them utilize every ounce of strength that they have. Many of these tools, implements, and pieces of equipment are insanely awkward to use, but guess what? That’s part of what strongman is all about. With equipment such as atlas stones, yokes, logs, and axles, it doesn’t matter how much weight you could lift with a barbell or set of dumbbells, you’ll need to begin right from the start if you wish to make it in the world of strongman.
Carrying is just as vital as lifting
Another thing many people don’t really consider when it comes to strongman, is the fact that being able to carry heavy items for long distances is just as important as being able to lift them. You could very well be able to lift 700, 800, 900, even 1000 pounds off the ground or from a bench, but could you actually expect to carry anywhere near that amount of weight? Many strongman events require you to carry heavy weights for long distances, often in the most awkward of positions as well. Not only does carrying heavy weight help to build strength and endurance, it can also help to build muscle as well, so if you are looking to get in better shape whilst still boosting your strength and fitness, remember to employ plenty of heavy carrying movements and exercises into your training program.
You cannot skip cardio and it doesn’t have to be boring!
Again, many would-be strongmen will be asked why they decided to try their hand at strongman instead of various other sports and their reply may be something along the lines of that they’ve “always enjoyed working out and heavy lifting, but wanted a sport that didn’t rely on cardio and conditioning”. When they compete in their first event and there’s sweat pouring down their face, their face is bright red, they can’t breathe, and they feel as if their heart is literally going to explode from their chest at any minute, they then realise that perhaps cardio does play a vital role in strong man after all. Put simply, you could be the strongest man in the world, but if a weaker but aerobically fitter strongman was to compete against you, he would come out on top because so many events rely so heavily on conditioning. What’s great however, is that many exercises and movements, weighted carries, and farmers walks for example, not only build strength, they also build stamina as well because they’re incredibly effective forms of cardio.
If you’re careful, it’s as safe as running
Many people believe that strongman training is extremely dangerous and is bad for you when in reality, providing you’re careful and take the right precautions, it’s no more dangerous than any other sport. Obviously stretching and warming up is essential, as is correct form and posture, but the great thing is that before you even think about picking up any really heavy weights/objects, you’ll be taught exactly how to perform the life/movement safely and effectively.