How to Train for Strongman in a Commercial Gym

How to Train for Strongman in a Commercial Gym

-Matthew Cavalier


Everyone knows that the best way to train for something is to just spend time doing whatever that thing is. In this case, the best way to train for a strongman competition is to actually do the events. However, that may not be possible for everyone. Maybe you’re someone who really wants to compete in your first strongman competition, but you’re stuck at a commercial gym that doesn’t have all the equipment and implements that a privately owned gym might. You might think that without those implements, that there is no hope of getting ready to compete. Fortunately, that is not true. Let’s talk about things you can do to help you prepare for your next competition in a strongman gym.

Get Strong with Barbells


First of all, let’s get this out of the way. One of the best things you can do for yourself in preparation for your next competition is to just get as brutally strong as you can. One of the most efficient ways to increase your strength is with barbell training. If you have access to a barbell, a squat rack and a platform, then you already have critical pieces of your training needs. The three main exercises you should focus on with the barbell are the overhead press, the squat and the deadlift. Just about every strongman competition will have some type of overhead pressing event and some type of deadlift event. If you can manage to put up big numbers with your overhead press and deadlift, then you will likely stand a chance to perform well. There are not a lot of competitions that have a squatting event, but the squat should still be a staple in your training. The squat is one of cornerstones of athletic performance. Having a big squat will make you strong in general. It also would be beneficial to incorporate some cleans to help build explosive hips to do loading events. Loading events require competitors to have powerful and explosive hips. Cleans and its variations can help build that explosiveness. Every competitive strongman in the world has built their base using barbells. There’s no reason why the rest of us can’t do the same.


Strongman Specific

This is the part that gets a little tricky. Strongman implements can be pretty niche, and most commercial gyms don’t have them. However, there are some things you can do to help get a feel for strongman movements. A lot of strongman competitions will use axles or implements with a thicker grip than a barbell. If you do not have access to an axle, you can get yourself a pair of Fat Gripz. These thick, rubber grips are able to fit on any standard barbell and dumbbell giving you an avenue to train the movements that will have a thicker grip. They aren’t going to be exactly the same as an axle, but it will be close enough to give you an idea of what to expect. If you are going to need to train for a loading event, you can make yourself an implement for that purpose. Buy yourself a loading pin. They are not expensive and are probably available on Amazon. With the loading pin, you should be able to securely load standard weight plates on it. You will then be able to practice picking, lapping and extending your hips with a load. Again, it will not be exactly like what you will do in a competition, but it will give you an idea of what to expect. If you have to do farmer carries, grab some dumbbells and walk on the treadmill. To make them harder, set the treadmill to an incline and throw the Fat Gripz on the dumbbells. Training for strongman competitions in a commercial gym will require some creativity, but it is certainly doable.


Talk to the Gym Manager


This is probably a long shot, but it’s worth a try. If you don’t have access to strongman specific implements, ask the gym owner or manager if they can get some for you, especially if there is a group of people interested in having them at the gym. Sometimes, gyms will work with you and expand their inventory. If you’re the only one asking, don’t be surprised if they tell you no. If they are not willing to buy equipment, they may be willing to let you store your equipment at the gym. This will require you to spend your own money, but if you are willing and able to do that, it is an avenue worth exploring. Sometimes you just have to pay your own way for things you want to do.


Visit a Strongman Gym

Luckily for all of us, strongman is growing as a sport all across the country. You will likely find strongman gyms in every single state. So, do yourself a favor and try to make a trip to one of these gyms and get your hands on an implement. Ideally, you don’t want the first time you touch an implement to be at the competition. Even if you can only go once or twice per month, it is certainly much better than not going at all. If you can’t find a strongman gym, try to look up a CrossFit gym. CrossFit has started to include strongman movements in their games; you may get lucky and find a gym that has implements. You can also reach out to us at the Atlas Strength Shop, and we’ll do the best we can to help you out.


If you are within driving distance of Baton Rouge and need a place to train for your next strongman competition, powerlifting meet or weightlifting meet, check out the Atlas Strength shop for all of your training needs. Send an email to for your next visit. You can also check out our apparel line and programming options on our website. 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 you with that crashing feeling? Check out veteran owned and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH at checkout to get 20% off of your order. If you’re like me, and you like to bite down while lifting, you need to protect your teeth. Check out Impact Mouthguards and their custom molded mouth guards. Use promo code ATLASSTRENGTHSHOP at checkout to get 10% off of your order.  But wait? What if you have a glorious Beard?  Check out and use Promo Code “ATLASSTRENGTH” to save 15% on all o your beard care!!

On November 19, 2022, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting its third annual strongman competition, the Rougarou Classic. If you  are interested in competing, check out the event page on and sign up today.


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