Over the last decade or so, the interest in strength training has grown exponentially. Now more than ever, people are joining gyms and getting under a barbell. With that, you are seeing a growth of “boutique” style gyms. Whether a person is interested in powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman or CrossFit, they are seeking out the old school, garage style, warehouse gyms. Usually outfitted with ¾” rubber floors, barbells, iron and loud, energetic music, these gyms attract people looking for that raw, authentic atmosphere to push their limits. Strength training and strength sports are incredibly popular features on social media, and more and more attention is being given to competitions. Names like Brian Shaw and Joe Sullivan don’t get the “Who the hell is that?” reaction anymore. For me, these are exciting times. I spend a lot of my free time in the gym and to see such enthusiasm around strength training encourages me to stay involved.
You, or someone you know, may be looking to try your hand in a strength sport. You might want to push yourself in a way you never have before, or you want to find something that you can make your own. I am strongly recommending strongman. The simple reason why is this: it’s f@#king fun. I have tried powerlifting, olympic lifting and dabbled in CrossFit, but I have never had the fun like I have had in Strongman. The sport provides a spirit of camaraderie and competitiveness. It has its own culture and attracts people of all backgrounds. There is something primal and visceral about strongman that makes it such an incredible experience.
Anyone Can do It
It doesn’t really matter what your background or experience level is. Strongman is for you. The kind of lifts that you would perform in a strongman event is much more “natural” than what you might experience with a barbell. Barbell exercises require certain movement patterns in order to do the exercise correctly. Any error in that movement under a heavy load can lead to a missed lift or injury. A lot of the exercises in strongman allow you to lift the load with more of your body than with just a barbell. So, if you are a beginner level lifter who has not developed command of your body just yet, there are several strongman exercises that will allow you to lift in a less compromising position. I’m not going to tell you that strongman is easy or can’t be technically complex. One of my favorite strongman lifts is the log clean and press, and I can absolutely tell you it is every bit as difficult and complex as a power clean and jerk. I’m also not telling you that strongman lifts should be a replacement for barbell training. Barbell training is the foundation to all strength sports. However, one of the benefits of strongman for novice lifters is that there exists a wide variety of lifts and exercises that do not necessarily demand technical expertise. The sport is not designed with a strict set of rules. What you might do in a strongman event is entirely up to the person who puts it on. With that said, there is bound to be something you will like. You might enjoy the log press. The car deadlift might catch your eye. Or possibly you’ll want to see how far you can walk with that sandbag before your legs give out. Strongman has practically an infinite variety of implements, exercises and challenges.
Are you an advanced lifter wondering if you should try strongman? Yes, you absolutely should. Expanding your strength training palate can only provide benefits. Training and testing your body in new ways can help you in your primary sports. You will be able to see how your body responds to different lifts and movements that you may not experience in your daily training sessions. A well rounded and cultured lifter is a better lifter. So even if you don’t want to make strongman your primary sport, I highly encourage you to explore it.
Are you a lady wondering if girls are allowed to lift with the big, burly, bearded men? Yes, you are absolutely welcome to do strongman. Strongman is about competition and building friendships with anyone willing to come in and put in the work. More and more women are getting involved in strongman and are becoming successful in the sport. If anything, you are seeing a push to include women in strength sports and rightfully so. There are women out there with awesome physical talent and to see them have the opportunity to display it is great.
Strongman Never gets Boring
As I’ve previously mentioned, the rules of strongman competitions are not strict. There is no strongman federation or rulebook to enforce. Outside of membership dues and permit requirements, event holders can have competitors do any exercise in any manner they see fit. This keeps the sport interesting, visually appealing and progressive. In April, you might have an event that has you doing an overhead block press for reps, a max distance sandbag carry and a car deadlift for reps. In October, you might have to do a log press for a one rep max and a truck pull for time within a given distance. You never really know what will be expected of you as a competitor. Strongman athletes are constantly challenged and pushed to new limits. The spontaneity of the selection of events from competition to competition means you can either try to become a well rounded athlete or try to set yourself apart with your strengths. Either way, putting athletes through such a spectrum of events is exciting from a competitor’s point of view and entertaining from a spectator’s point of view.
Your Own Strengths Matter
Powerlifting is a sport that revolves around static strength. The lifters are ranked based on the totals of their bench press, squat and deadlift one rep maxes. Olympic lifting is all about power. The weightlifter is judged by how much he or she can clean and jerk and snatch. Crossfit is generally about endurance in various exercises. Strongman, despite its name, is not just about raw strength. It involves all aspects of physical training. To be competitive in strongman competitions, an athlete must be strong, explosive and have good endurance. This also means that victors are not selected purely on one measurement. You might be able to deadlift more than me and beat me in a one rep max deadlift event, but I have better shoulder mobility and can beat you in an overhead press for reps event. This allows the competitor to even the playing field a bit and play to his or her strengths. It gives a little room for strategy. Sometimes, the competitor who wins is the competitor that thinks. The physical requirements of its athletes is what, in my opinion, sets strongman apart from the other strength sports.
Strongman is a Community
After my football playing days were done in high school and I had graduated from LSU and left the equipment staff, one of the things I missed was the sense of being a part of a team. Working together with your friends towards a common goal. I found that in the strongman. From the first day I stepped into the Atlas Strength Shop, I was welcomed into the group. I wasn’t expected to get in line or act a certain way. All that was expected of me was to pick up something heavy and not be a jerk. I’ve been given a lot more than I’ve been asked to give. I’ve made some friends, gotten stronger, pushed myself to do things I wouldn’t think I would ever try and I’m still growing as a lifter and a person. We talk about lifting, the last episode of whatever show that’s currently trending and crush a brew from time to time. You can see the same type of camaraderie at the professional level as well. The top athletes all around the world are going head to head to seize what they spend years working and sacrificing for. With all that they have to gain or lose, they still show an incredible amount of sportsmanship. Some of them are even friends outside of competition. Strongman isn’t just about winning and setting world records. It’s also about working together to become better people.
So, if you’ve decided that you want to give strongman a shot, you need to find a gym. If you live in the Baton Rouge area or along the gulf coast, you should drive out to the Atlas Strength Shop. It features a 7,600 square foot space with all the implements, barbells and iron you can handle With a dedicated group of members, you will be able to try your hand at just about anything in the strongman or strength training world. So, come on by. Make some new friends. Try something new, and release the Titan in you!
If you want to plan a visit or need help with programming, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to like us on Facebook here, and follow us on Instagram here. Please visit strikeforceenergy.com for high quality energy products, and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH to receive 20% off your order.
On October 30, 2021, the Atlas Strength Shop will host its second annual strongman competition, the Rougarou Classic in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If you want to compete, you can find the event page on Facebook here, or you can visit ironpodium.com for more information.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” -Socrates