Building the Core for Strongman

Building the Core for Strongman

-Matthew Cavalier


As a strongman competitor, all of the events you will encounter will require a high degree of core strength. There is very little consistency across events, and many of the events will often be awkward in execution. The Husafell carry is a great example of the kind of awkward event you find in a strongman competition. Athletes have to pick up a very heavy, usually made of thick metal implement and carry it in a front rack position for some distance. To be able to properly execute that exercise, strongman athletes must possess a high degree of core strength, especially those who want to have a chance of seeing the podium. There are a few methods that I like to use to help train that core.


Sandbag Training

Nothing sucks more than training with sandbags. They are heavy, awkward and oftentimes have terrible load distribution depending on how they are made. That is what makes them the perfect implement to train your core. It takes practically the entire body to move a heavy sandbag, especially if they are large. There are many different exercises with sandbags that can be programmed into just about anyone’s training regiment. Sandbag carries is a simple and effective exercise. Simply pick up the sandbag with good form and carry it for a distance. This will teach you how to brace and build the core. You can also perform exercises like sandbag over bars or sandbag over shoulders to help build some power and explosivity. Have you ever tried doing front squats with a sandbag? It’s a brutal squat variation that’ll have your core screaming. The uses of sandbags are practically limitless. Find a way to incorporate sandbags into your training, and see how much stronger you’ll get.

Olympic Lifting

I get it, you don’t do CrossFit . If you wanted to do Olympic lifting, you would either take up weightlifting or do CrossFit. But hear me out. You don’t need to be a weightlifter or CrossFit athlete to reap the benefits that come with being able to perform Olympic lifts. It is also not really necessary to perform all of the lifts. Really, if a strongman athlete were to perform power cleans and overhead jerks, they will develop a stronger core. I do not necessarily recommend doing overhead snatches as they require a high degree of shoulder mobility. A lot of strongman athletes are not built for that kind of movement. Keep your shoulders healthy and use overhead jerks and power cleans. Olympic lifts require an athlete to be fast and explosive. All of the movements require a strong and stable core. The pull, the clean and the jerk all require the athlete to have a strong core. This allows an athlete to build on explosivity. Keep it simple and focus on good technique. It is not necessary to perform a lot of them either. A set of moderately heavy triples with solid form will carry over. Save them for your speed or explosive days. Work up to a solid triple, and move on. Granted, these are a bit more complicated to perform, but if you can get a basic level of skill, it will carry over to your overall strength and ability. It also never hurts to learn how to perform new exercises outside of your field. There is nothing specific about strongman competitions, so why limit yourself to the classic strongman exercises? Expand your repertoire a little bit, and watch how much stronger you can be.

Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises are a great way to develop core strength, and just about any exercises can be manipulated to be an isometric exercise. Take the deadlift as an example. Instead of performing deadlifts as you normally would, move to a squat rack. Set the safety bars right at about the knee level with the barbell underneath on the ground. Slowly pull the bar to where they touch the safety bars with a good deadlifting technique. Once the barbell is touching the safety bars and you have a good brace, pull as hard as you can, like you're trying to break through the safety bars. Hold that position for ten seconds or so, and you will fill your entire core light up. This teaches you to stay tight and brace hard. Exercises like planks are great core exercises, but at some point, they just won’t provide the stimulus someone who has been training for a while will need. You can apply the same to squats, bench and overhead press. These are simple but very effective exercises. Program these in during your offseason training, and you’ll be ready for your next cycle of competition.

Need a place that has all of the equipment you need to perform these exercises, check out the Atlas Strength shop. Send an email to for your next visit. We also have a new website with our own apparel line and information about our programming and coaching services. Vist to check them out. Be sure to like our Facebook page, here, and follow us on Instagram, here. Do you need a high quality energy supplement that won’t leave with that crashing feeling? Check out veteran owned and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH at checkout to get 20% off of your order.


On April 23, 2022, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting the first ever Louisiana’s Strongest Man/Woman. If you want to test your mettle, claim Louisiana’s Strongest title and help push the strongman movement in Louisiana, checkout for all registration information. Don’t forget to take advantage of the early bird pricing.


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