Strong man training - a useful tool

Strongman is a multi-event sport aimed to test athletes strength & power. There are various classic events such as Atlas Stones and Farmers walks. During christmas we are treated to the competition of the "Worlds Strongest Man" where a number of competitors from all over the world compete for the title of the worlds strongest man. There are also many other competitons around the world all year round in different weight/gender categories. However, is there room for these exercises in a S&C programme and should you be doing it?

Well in short, yes. Depending on your goals, needs and the actual exercises you chose to perform, there are many reasons why you should perform strongman styled exercises within your training. Many of them have valid applications - as they can improve back erector strength, grip strength, shoulder strength and more. However, the potential adaptations go further than that.  A study done by Stuart M. Mcgill, Art Mcdermott & Chad Fenwick (Comparison of Different Strongman Events) proved many exercises such as Yoke Walk & Farmer Walk, when performed, produced high levels of trunk stiffness (Ab strength) in the research candidates.

Yoke Walk

This is because the forces involved in these exercises were greater than what the candidates could produce in their hip abduction, so other muscle groups such as the abdominals and QL were activated to help stabilise the hip and trunk region.  This can be very beneficial for athletes that deal with trunk compression in their sports such as Props in Rugby.

Husafell Stone Carry

Other events such as the Husafell Stone and Keg carries are also beneficial for grappling sports such as Judo, as the athlete is not only tested in forearm and grip strength, but also upper back stabilisation. 

The Viking Press can also be very useful for individuals with limited shoulder flexion. The fact that you press at roughly 30 degrees off from full flexion can allow athletes with limited mobility to press overhead without the worry of Lumbar compensation.

Viking Press

Truck pulls can also help develop Sprinting performance, as it teaches the position of keeping their centre of mass in front of their base of support – fundamental for accelerative sprinting. It of course also strengthens leg and hip extension - which is crucial for any athletic development.

Truck Pull

So, it seems that many Strongman events/movements can be utilised well for non-strongman athletes. However, there must be a concern for intensity.  Strongman competitors deal with extremely high intensities. For example weights as high as 975lb has been used for the Yoke walk.  Is it truly necessary for non-strongman athletes to perform these movements with such high intensities?  Well, seeing as many strongmen have had severe injuries in their careers perhaps the risk to reward ratio leans towards it not being necessary.  However, performing Strongman movements within your conditioning can lead to great adaptations.

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