Strongman 101 : Guide to Strongman

February 22, 2016 0 Comments

Strongman 101 : Guide to Strongman



Strongman is definitely taking itself back into the limelight. The principles of Strongman have existed even before cavemen evolved. Strongman exercises and routines are also found in your daily WOD. In fact, Kalle Beck, California’s Strongest Man in 2012, said that “With the 2014 CrossFit Games airing on ESPN, you may have noticed an increased prevalence in the amount of Strongman movements being used.“ We all know that because of the popularity of these games, more and more equipment and tools are mass produced which means that even ordinary persons can train for a Strongman Competition. Of course, there are ways for to create DIY tools too. If you are planning to begin training with Strongman, let us guide you through the process.

STEP 1: Understand Strongman Competition

What is Strongman?

Strongman is fully scalable. Not to base on its name, it can be for women and ordinary persons too. There is also no requisite strength level in order to join a competition. If you feel you are not that strong for it, do it anyway. How would you test your strength and improvement if you won’t even try it?  Although it has similar concepts with your daily WOD, Strongman training feels a lot less like them. It is more like Rocky IV. Strongman is perfect for everyone who wants to improve strength and speed, whether you are a runner, cyclist, or a WOD lover.  In fact, Strongman helped Jim Burt, an American Football player, get into first base. Strongman training may include flipping tires, swinging a sledgehammer, lifting atlas stones, lifting and pressing kegs, using farmer’s handles, and carrying yokes.

What Should I Expect on a Strongman Competition?

Having the knowledge of what to expect will let an athlete train correctly. Strongman competitions may contain different events and use normal and unusual materials to test strength. Competitions may contain more than one of these events. Events may fall in the following categories below:

  1. Pressing Event

On these events, you may use axles, bars, kegs, huge dumbbells, logs, stones, and blocks.

  1. Walking Event

Walking events may ask you to use yokes, farmers, frames, atlas stones, kegs, and Dinnie stones.

  1. Hip Extension Event

For hip extension events, you may be asked to perform a variety of deadlifts with cars, bars, and axles. You may also simply do a tire flip. 

  1. Loading Event

Loading events may ask you to load heavy materials like Hussafel stones, atlas stones, natural stones, barrels, kegs, and sandbags over a platform or a bar.

  1. Pushing or Dragging Event

These events are less common in competitions but it is good to know that they may come up once in a while. On these events, you may be asked to drag or push frames, tires, sleds, trucks, and prowlers.

STEP 2: Know the Benefits of Strongman

There are a lot of benefits Strongman can bring. One of these benefits is it fills out the gaps and holes in our daily WODs; it improves grip strength, aggression, and spinal erectors.

  1. Apply Usable Strength in Real World Scenarios

As mentioned above, Strongman training and competitions utilize objects that are unusual and odd. Most of the time, they require an awkward grip placement and a sub-optimal execution of body movements. The real world is full of odd objects that you may need to lift and move. If you are trained to lift heavy barbells with balanced weights on both sides, chances are you will find a hard time lifting odd objects. Skills that are improved in a Strongman training can serve huge functions in daily life.

  1. Improve Grip Strength

Strongman will improve an athlete’s grip strength and skills. Since odd objects need different grips, the hands will be trained to different gripping positions thus; develop more strength as it utilizes different muscles in every grip. This is specifically helpful in your daily WOD or clean and jerk because it will allow you to hold on a bar or ring for a longer duration.

  1. Make Traditional Lifting Easier

A Strongman athlete may find lifting traditional weights a lot easier since their skills are developed by being exposed to lifting odd objects. If lifting normal barbells are compared with lifting odd objects, there would be one obvious difference. Traditional weights are lifted close to the body while odd objects are lifted away from the body. As much as you want to, it would be hard to lift unusual objects close to the body since their form may cause harm. This practice then results to a stronger midline. Lifting unconventional objects will make lifting conventional weights since you will have more power on your core.

  1. Grow Muscles Like a Bodybuilder

If your goal is to build kickass muscles, Strongman is definitely a good option to try. A study shows that doing Strongman training can elicit an acute endocrine response similar to recognized hypertrophic protocols when equated for duration and exercise intensity. This only means that you do not have to lift like a bodybuilder to get the same figure. Strongman can promote similar benefits of building muscles.

STEP 3: Incorporate Strongman Training to Current Program

Strongman Training Options

  1. You may start going to a Strongman club on a regular basis and train with experienced Strongman athletes. Not only will you develop strength in the training but also get genuine tips and tricks from them. You can eventually use these tips in actual events. These will bring your skills and knowledge to the next level.
  2. You may also purchase or create Strongman equipment by yourself so you can train near home. Although, this option may be a bit pricey and hard to find. This option is only advisable if you have a huge place to train and store the materials. You can buy your own huge tire or make a DIY atlas stone or keg for starters. You can even get unusable tires from industrial tire yards for free. You can also buy Strongman gears like knee sleeves and weight lifting shoes.

Strongman Basic Movements

The best progression for Strongman movements is by doing the following in order:  farmer’s walk, log pressing, tire flipping, stone lifting, keg pressing and lifting, and yoke carrying. Here are some of the most common Strongman movements you can try. The objects used in these movements are pretty easy to find and the movements are definitely easy to learn.

  1. Tire Flip

  1. Atlas Stone

  1. Keg Lift and Press

STEP 4: Achieve Minimum Skills for Strongman

Although Strongman Competitions do not ask for requisites before allowing someone to join, there still are few skills and abilities that you should be able to do. These skills are necessary for you to avoid injuries and accidents. You will need to be extra careful with your movements too. Basically, you need to have a bit of experience in lifting for your own safety. Start your training with lighter objects and slowly increase the weight as you go on. According to Shannon Green, a Strongman Trainer, these are the basic movements one should be able to do before joining a Strongman Competition.

  • Squat 1.5 x body weight (BW)
  • Deadlift 2 x BW double overhand without straps (remember that Strongman is a heavy grip sport)
  • Power Clean 1 x BW
  • Push-Press 1 x BW
  • Bench Press 1 x BW

STEP 5: Get Your First Competition

Once you are able to do the amount of movements specified above, you definitely should head for your first Strongman competition. Watch the video below by Alan Thrall, a Strongman Athlete, and learn more about how to sign up for your first Strongman competition. You will also get motivation tips that would keep you going.


Training for Strongman will make an athlete stronger. As Kalle Beck says, “If you’re serious about being competitive in CrossFit, you need to become proficient in the Strongman movements.” Strongman training brings everyone a lot of benefits. Whether you only add it to your current training program or planning to get serious with it, it will surely bring fun and excitement.



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