What is Strongman?
Strongman is a weightlifting sport where competitors are tasked with successfully completing a variety of strength-based activities. These activities include the truck pull, the sandbag toss, the deadlift, the log press, and the farmer's walk. As opposed to bodybuilders who focus on aesthetic muscular appearance, the goal of strongman athletes is solely to lift the most weight on a single rep or complete a challenge in the shortest amount of time.
The idea of strongman dates back thousands of years to ancient times, but was truly established with the onset of the World's Strongest Man Competition in 1977. The man credited with creating this competition is David Webster, a famous businessman and personality who came up with the idea during his time at Langstar inc. There have been several official governing bodies of the sport, with the current establishment being the World Strongman Federation.
Although the exact playing surface changes slightly based on the event, most strongman competitions are played on a field or paved surface. For events where players move objects back and forth, such as truck pull or farmer's carry, asphalt or other paved surfaces are required for footing and pulling purposes. For stand still events such as sandbag toss or logg press, a softer surface is necessary to withstand the weight's impact upon hitting the ground.
Across all strongman events, lifting gloves, weighted belts, and knee wraps are essential in protecting the health of lifters. Barbells, sandbags, boulders, weights, and logs can also be necessary equipment pieces, however the use of these items is limited to the scope of the individual event. For example, sandbags are not necessary for the log press & logs are not necessary for the sandbag toss.
Here is the essential Strongman equipment you should have:
- Knee Wraps
- Lifting Belt
- Lifting Gloves
- Logs (shown above)
The objective of a strongman event is to either successfully complete a certain lift with the heaviest amount of weight possible, or complete a weightlifting challenge in the shortest amount of time. The log press is a good example of an event where the lifter's objective is to complete the task with the most weight, while the truck pull is a perfect example of a race style event that focuses more on endurance.
Rules and Regulations
Throughout all strongman events and competitions, there are a few general rules that come into play no matter what. Players earn points based on their placement within the top 8 of that specific event. No one outside of 8th receives any points; however, strong performance in other events can boost one's overall placement relative to the field. In addition, strongman prohibits the use of both performance enhancing drugs and inaccurate weight reports, both of which result in disqualification from the event.
Here are the most important Strongman rules you should know:
- Scoring varies based on placement within top 8: 1st = 8 points, 2nd = 7 points … 7th = 2 points, 8th = 1 point
- Aggregate score upon the completion of every event determines the overall winner
- Performance enhancing drugs and inaccurate weight reporting warrant disqualification
Because there are so many different events in strongman competitions, the overlying strategy revolves around preventing burnout and maintaining endurance throughout each event. Strongman athletes must have superhuman strength to compete at the highest level, but how each athlete utilizes their strength within each competition is a whole other level of strategy. It does no good if a lifter gives it their all to win the truck pull event, but has no energy left to give any sort of effort in the log press. Overall, strongman competitors must have incredible body management strategy and endurance if they want to win an event.
Here are the most important Strongman strategies you should know:
Here is the common lingo and slang in Strongman:
- Boulder: A large round rock that strongman athletes used for the "Boulder Toss" event
- Sandbag: A heavy bag filled with sand used for the "Sandbag Toss" event
- Log: A log shaped weight that Strongman athletes must pick up and lift up over their head during the "Log Press" event
- Truck: A full-sized, specialty truck that Strongman athletes pull during the "Truck Pull" event
- Barbell with handles: A metal rod with weight attached to it that Strongman athlete's use during the "Farmer Carry" event
Brian Shaw, Eddie Hall, Hapfor "Thor" Bjornssen, and Zydrunas Savickas are the most famous strongmen of all time. Shaw won the World's Strongest Man competition in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and is widely considered to be the most well known strongman of all time. Hall and Savickas are also extremely accomplished in their own right, as both have won numerous international competitions over the past few decades. As of today, Bjornsson is considered by most to be the strongest man alive, as he currently holds the all time deadlift record.
Here are the most famous Strongman players you should know:
- Brian Shaw (shown above)
- Eddie Hall
- Hapfor "Thor" Bjornssen
- Zydrunas Savickas
Events and Competitions
Here are the most popular events in Strongman:
World's Strongest Man Competition: This is the marquee event in Strongman, given its international reach. The winner of this competition each year is generally considered the "Strongest Man" in the entire world.
Arnold Strongman Classic: Created by lifting legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Arnold strongman classic is an all encompassing strongman event that attracts most of the strongest lifters on the planet. It is part of the greater Arnold Sports Festival, which includes a bodybuilding and weightlifting portion as well.
Are there multiple different events in strongman?
Yes, there are several different events within a strongman competition. Most competitions have 6-8 different events, and each competitor must compete in all of them to achieve an aggregate total score. The most popular events are the deadlift, the log press, the boulder/sandbag toss, and the truck pull.
How is Strongman different from normal Weightlifting?
Despite both being strength sports, the specific events that weightlifters and strongmen compete in are quite different. Weightlifters perform traditional lifts like the bench press, squat, and deadlift while strongmen use a variety of objects like logs and boulders to test strength and endurance. The farmer carry and the deadlift are the two strongmen lifts that are most similar to normal weightlifting, as they use traditional barbells.
What is more important in Strongman - Strength or Endurance?
Both strength and endurance carry similar weight in terms of importance to a strongman athlete. As opposed to weightlifting and powerlifting where strength is the one and only key, strongman athletes must have the endurance and flexibility to use their strength over long periods of time.
How do you enter a strongman competition?
Similar to bodybuilding and powerlifting, there are plenty of local qualifiers run by the World Strongman Federation where prospective strongmen can compete against one another. If you are to place high in a number of these qualifying events, you may be able to gain professional status after a certain period of time.