The first step to becoming a competitive strongman is to build a solid foundation of strength, but there are also some other important factors.
Strongman is not just about absolute strength or your one rep max; you also need strength endurance, and agility. Strongman competitions will test all aspects of strength and conditioning. Strongman is a brutal sport and you need to prepare your body for things to come.
So how does one go about getting ready to start training with strongman implements?
Strongman training – Stick to the basics
It is very important to build total body strength before starting strongman events. Deadlift strength and overhead pressing strength are very important in strongman. Also, squats and front squats will have great carry over to the events.
You should start with a program that focuses on building strength with the basics. Wendler’s 5/3/1 is a great program to get you ready for strongman. You should have a day dedicated to squat, deadlift, bench press and overhead press. I would also suggest doing front squats on your deadlift day.
On squat day, throw in a single leg movement like lunges or split squats. You are also going to need to do some serious work on your trunk. Never skip your ab work.
I suggest you pick a movement for the end of each training session. Focus on the ab wheel, planks, and side planks to build up the midsection. Running with weights requires good balance and stability.
Strongman is not always about the strongest guy. Sometimes it is about who can last the longest.
Many competitions are held outside in the summer months. Many competitions will include a medley (this is two or three events done in a row typically for time). If you are worn out after the first leg of the race, you lose.
You have two options when it comes to conditioning:
- Complete conditioning after your regular training,
- Complete your conditioning on your off days.
I personally like to do conditioning on my off days. It serves to get blood flowing and aid in recovery.
These training sessions should be short. For instance, 20 minutes of hill sprints with short rest or sled drags. I always try to keep these sessions under 30 minutes including the warm up.
Strongman speed and agility
This is a forgotten aspect of many athletes, but agility is important in strongman. In a competition you may be running from one implement to the other, or moving quickly to the next stone. Speed will be trained while doing your hill sprints or sled work.
I like to throw in some agility drills before I do my main conditioning for the day. This is typically 5 minutes of drills on the agility ladder. Your agility work can also serve as a nice warm up before sprints.
Transitioning to strongman
Once you feel that you have a solid base of strength, it is a good idea to slowly work your way into event training. You will need to learn the technique of each event and gain efficiency with the implements.
Strongman takes practice. A lot of your strongman training will depend on your access to implements. Many athletes are only able to access strongman equipment once a week. If this is the case, pick two to three events and focus on these until they are perfected.
Try to pick events that are in most competitions. First pick a press, I would suggest the log clean and press. It will take some time to get used to the log, but it is common in many local competitions.
Next choose a moving event. This should be either farmers or the yoke. In my opinion, I would start with farmers to get used to stabilizing while moving with weights.
Finally, if you have access, learn the Atlas Stones as soon as possible. Atlas stones are in almost every competition and you need to practice with them.
It would be best if you are able to find a group to train with and learn. But if you are on your own, make sure you start slow. Use weights you can handle and learn the technique.
There are now quite a few local competitions and it is always a good idea to go and watch and learn. Strongman competitors are some of the nicest people I have ever met, don’t be afraid to ask questions.