What is Strongman?
Strongman is a sport that uses unconventional implements to test strength, skill, and grit.
Contests typically consist of five events and your overall score is an accumulation of how you placed in each event. Every local show has Novice and Open classes (which are divided into weight classes). I’m going to focus on the amateur level, the level that is accessible to “normal” people. Of course, World’s Strongest Man is the most well-known competition, but there are local shows in many states.
Make no mistake, Strongman is a ridiculous sport. We pull trucks, press kegs, flip tires, and load stones. You need to be strong to compete in Strongman (naturally) BUT you also need speed, endurance, and skill. The general categories of events are: deadlift, overhead press, moving events, and loading events. It’s not just about how much you can lift; some events are for fastest time and many are for the most repetitions. No event counts any more than any other. Being well-rounded across events is very important. It’s not enough to be a one-trick pony, a good Strongperson will push themselves to improve at things that do not come naturally.
Strongman can be somewhat overwhelming because there are so many variations of events, but it’s also a lot of fun to learn the ins and outs of all the “toys”. It’s one thing to watch a sport and see the people who make it look easy with their extreme technical proficiency, when you can vaguely imagine the dedication that went into it. But in Strongman, it’s about the spectacle. It is a brutal sport that demands strength of body as well as mind. The people who struggle get as much respect as those who smash it. Committed training will yield results, but it all comes down to how you perform on the day. Nothing is pre-determined.
You learn a lot about yourself in competition. How do you deal with failure as well as success? It’s important to stay mentally “in the fight” throughout the contest as you will exceed as well as fall short of your expectations. How adaptable are you? There are so many different types of equipment and often times there will be changes made the day of the contest. Can you analyze your own physical and mental performance and learn from your mistakes? It is a demanding sport, but also incredibly rewarding and FUN. There’s an innate joy in struggling against seemingly unconquerable objects. Strongman can be dirty, ugly, and often painful, but with those come glory and pride.
Strongman is an accessible sport, anyone can sign up to compete! If you’re interested but on-the-fence, I recommend spectating a local contest and talking to the competitors. Contact us at East Ave Barbell if you’d like to learn more about the sport or check out the websites of the two federations to find an event:
Photo by Alexander Kusak 2018