Strongman is one of the oldest, or perhaps THE oldest form of resistance training. In recent years however, it has finally emerged in some of the world’s largest and busiest gym chains with the introduction of prowlers, atlas balls/dead balls, tractor tyres, ropes, farmer’s carry handles and more. Compared to just a few years ago, it’s unusual to walk into a well-established gym and not find at least a few pieces of strongman gear.

What is Strongman?

In its purest form, Strongman is a competitive sport which tests strength, speed and endurance of athletes by way of lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing and throwing various awkward, real-world objects such as vehicles, logs, giant stone balls and more. One of the great things about Strongman is that the weights can be adjusted to suit all experience levels. Anybody can do it!

As well as being loads of fun and a great challenge for all fitness levels, Strongman style training has a long list of benefits which I’d love to share with you. I personally love to include strongman elements in my own training from time to time, and I use it regularly when designing circuits for clients.

What are the Benefits?

Now that we’ve briefly explored what “Strongman training” actually means, we can look at some of the reasons why it’s a great idea to include it in your own training regime. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • You’ll get stronger AND fitter. Strongman will improve your endurance as well as your strength, especially when used in conjunction with other resistance training (weights). Strongman has a great carry-over to other sports & exercises, and will improve performance across most areas of fitness, making it an extremely efficient method of training.
  • It has real-world application. If you’re a human being, (which you are), chances are you’ll need to pick up, and carry heavy objects from time to time. Strongman prepares you for those situations, and reduces your chances of getting hurt in the process. It teaches you to engage the correct muscles when lifting a heavy object, as well as carrying with strong, solid posture.
  • You’ll lose fat and build muscle. Completing a circuit of strongman mixed with weights (especially with limited rest period) will send your heart rate through the roof, as well as significantly stimulating the metabolism. This is great news if your goal is to burn fat and get leaner. Lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling big loads will also apply mechanical tension to the muscles and joints, which will result in hypertrophy (muscle growth).
  • It’s easy to recover from compared to other weight training. Most Strongman movements do not contain a “negative” (eccentric) phase. (I explain phases of movement in my tempo video) For example, a farmer’s walk contains only quick, forward movements with very little eccentric contraction involved (besides putting the weight down). This means that very little muscle damage occurs when performing these exercises, which means less DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the following day. It also means less recovery time is required between strongman workouts!

These are just a few of the benefits of this fun & challenging method of training. If your gym has strongman equipment available, be sure to give it a try!