What is Strongman Training?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2020
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Strongman training is a specific type of athletic training designed to build maximum physical strength as opposed to simply building muscle mass. It has been developed largely by and for contestants in strongman competitions. These contests feature athletes performing feats of lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying very heavy everyday objects such as refrigerators, semi-trucks, and large tires. These feats require extreme tendon strength, particularly in the obliques, arms, hands, and wrists. Some modified components of this training can also be adapted to other sports and workout programs.

The average strongman workout focuses on intensity rather quantity of exercises. Some strongman training exercises are quite similar to body-building exercises; the main difference is in the amount of recovery time. These exercises typically use heavier weights with fewer repetitions and longer recovery times. A strongman athlete may have a resting time as long as 15 minutes in between sets of a particular exercise.

An effective strongman training program in a gym includes cardiovascular exercise combined with weightlifting, with an emphasis on presses, lifts, and squats. To perform well in strongman competitions, an athlete also needs to train on a regular basis with the same equipment used in contests. This part of a strongman workout may involve lifting and carrying heavy stones, flipping tires, and pulling vehicles by ropes or chains.


Veteran strongman competitors recommend that beginners, particularly those who are switching over from other sports such as power lifting, start with modified strongman training exercises. These types of weightlifters are used to exercising some muscles less, and their strongman training needs to start with compensating for that in order to prevent injury. These exercises may incorporate smaller or lighter equipment at first while the new athlete works in the gym to build up strength in areas not previously trained as much.

The philosophy behind designing strongman workouts is that of functional training. This approach means that each exercise should condition the body's muscle memory to easily transfer the same movement and force to athletic performance. Functional training applies not only to strongman competitions but to plenty of other sports that require speed, strength, endurance, and agility. Strongman training also draws from the ideas of sport-specific training, since athletes also need to develop mental awareness of each movement in order to improve.

As with any type of athletic training, some safety measures need to be considered. Strongman workouts should only be done under the supervision and advice of an experienced physical trainer. Each specific exercise should also be adapted to the athlete's age and existing physical condition. As strength increases, heavier equipment and more challenging exercises can be added over time.


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