I have been competing in Strongman actively since 2006, and this year I resolved to become a lightweight pro through the American Strongman Corporation. Strength sports have always appealed to me over other competitive avenues: there is something primal and basic about displaying strength in front of others. It is a sign of superiority, virility, and basic usefulness in a society where such markers are few and far between.
What made Strongman a more compelling choice than, say, Powerlifting or Olympic Weightlifting, was the diverse set of skills that were necessary to be successful. In a world where Powerlifters were gaining massive amounts of weight, sacrificing health and mobility, solely for the purpose of adding weight on the bar, Strongmen were pressing and pulling more while staying athletic, lean, and conditioned. I learned very quickly that strength is only meaningful in the context of the activity being performed. The fact is that the top Powerlifters in the world cannot compete at the highest levels of Strongman, but the top Strongmen in the world can compete in both. This highlights the fact that strength, while being one of the most important physical qualities that one can train for, is essentially useless in the real world unless you are proficient at the task being performed and well rounded enough to carry it out.
The basic structure of Strongman is a 5-6 event contest which test a variety of skills and physical qualities. Events typically fall into the 45-90 second threshold(which means that they are heavily strength biased) and typically rotate between a standing overhead press, walking event, loading event, and a deadlift event. The events are varied enough to transfer over to other athletic qualities such as rate-of-force production and anaerobic endurance, but narrow enough to consistently improve static strength in a very, dare I say, functional way. To be successful in this sport, you must have A.) a strong posterior chain, B.) a high work capacity, and C.) good foot speed. The best way to acquire these traits? Train the events.
In the next 12 weeks, I will be focusing on Farmer's and Yoke Walks, Giant Dumbell and Axle Pressing, Stone Carrying, and Atlas Stone Loading. An important training note is that monthly deadlift volume will be greatly reduced to accommodate the high volume of work my posterior chain will be enduring during this time. Overtraining the lower back is a huge mistake many new lifters make. The spinal erectors are a very small muscle relative to the job they are required to do. Don't worry when emphasizing event training; many see big jumps in their deads from frequent, heavy carries without actively pulling from the floor every week.
My training template will emphasize squatting and overhead pressing out of the rack with separate accessory days to hit my upper back, midsection, and events. There will also be plenty of cleans and snatches as well as conditioning work, as power and endurance are mandatory at higher levels of competition.
Here is a shameless highlight reel from 2013. Stay tuned for future training videos and a log charting my warpath to victory. There will be blood, oh yes, there will be blood.