I’m a total newb in this whole Strongman game but I love it. That being said, I get TONS of questions about Strongman - I suppose the whole strong(wo)man blogger thing is a bit of a niche thing. So, I’ve rounded up the most frequently asked questions I’ve gotten from others about Strongman and put them into one handy dandy post.
What is Strongman?
Strongman is a strength sport where athletes compete in several different events meant to test brute strength, speed, power, and endurance. You know “World’s Strongest Man” that airs on ESPN? Yeah, it’s that.
Can women do Strongman?
OF COURSE! In fact, there are quite a few women who compete in the sport, including myself. I’m even competing in an all women’s contest later this month!
[I had never flipped this thing before I competed.]
Are the events always the same or do they differ by contest? How many events are in each contest?
Events and implements (and weights) vary from each contest and are dependent on the promoter putting on the contest and classification of contest (the "level"). Most contests will have at least one pressing, deadlifting, and carry/walking event as well an atlas stone event. Some examples include things like logs, axles, tires, kegs, and of course, stones.
Events can take many different formats but are generally for max weight, max reps in a time domain (usually 60 seconds), or timed (again 60 seconds is pretty standard). A few that I’ve done have been max weight for an 18inch deadlift, max reps in 60 seconds of axle pressing, 60 seconds to complete a “medley” (a combination of different implements and events), etc.
Most contests I've competed in (and plan to compete in) have 5 events and they last the better part of a day depending on events, implements, and number of athletes.
How “strong” do I have to be to compete in Strongman?
Well, the sport IS called “strongman”, so a certain baseline level of strength is helpful. That said, the weights of events are going to be dependent on your weight class and division. Novice divisions have lighter weights than open divisions and are great place to start (I currently compete mostly novice). Once you place (1st, 2nd, 3rd), you must move to the open division. Weight classes vary by gender and just changed this month - here are the current classes/divisions.
[I really love axle continental cleans. The axle bar, a light hollow bar that is 2 inches in diameter, doesn't really spin, making the continental style clean (with the stop on the stomach area) preferable when it get heavier.]
How do you train for Strongman? How do you train for competition?
Training methodologies will differ based on coaches, programs, etc. but they are generally strength based (you gotta be strong, after all!) with practice on the implements. My coach’s program is based around squatting, pressing, strength/skill events, and conditioning events.
Contest events and weights are announced when registration for that contest opens (usually 2 months or more out) so you know what you need to focus on when training. That said, implements and weights can change leading up to the contest or even day of and you don’t always have access to implements so you do have to get a bit creative in training.
In other sports, there are usually distinct physical advantages (being tall vs. being short, being lean vs. being not so lean, big hands vs. small hands), are there any of those in Strongman?
It depends on events. Being tall is usually advantages for loading events (stones) because you are able to reach the loading platform more easily. Being short is helpful for deadlift events, having shorter arms is helpful for pressing events, etc. There isn’t necessarily an advantage to being super lean or not super lean, it really depends on your weight class. There is a definite advantage to having larger hands because axles are really thick (this is coming from the gal who has child sized hands, quite literally).
[logs and axles, and tires, oh my!]
What if I want to try it out Strongman training? How do you find gyms with equipment?
Even if you don’t want to compete in Strongman, Strongman style training is insanely fun and also gets you really freaking strong. Generally, finding gyms with equipment can be tough but check out letkallelift.com - Kalle Beck has put together a list of gyms across the country who have lots of toys to play with.
How did you get in Strong(wo)man?
There was a local contest that my coach suggested I should try out so, I registered. The act of doing that is so inherently not in my nature that I sometimes wonder how I actually was convinced to do it - I suppose peer pressure is a powerful thing ;)
After my first competition, I loved it and just haven’t stopped competing. Strongman is great because it’s varied enough to keep my interests, it involves a lot of skill AND brute strength, and it’s just FUN. I always say that it’s like adult recess - only really heavy.
How long have you been training Strong(wo)man?
Since August of 2013 with a 2 month break where I didn’t train any Strongman related things. Probably 4-5 months of actual training time.
What are your favorite events?
I LOVE moving/carrying/walking events - yoke, farmer’s walk, etc. I also really like stones and 18 inch deadlifts.
What are your plans with Strongman?
Place in novice division, move to the open division, then focus on qualifying for Nationals.
Whew, that’s it! If you have other questions - let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to answer them (or point you to a source who can!)