how to become a strong man

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

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how to become a strong man

Carry Heavy Objects
Events like the farmer’s walk and power stairs force competitors to grab extremely heavy objects and carry/climb/hoist them over a long distance. This builds core strength, rock-hard forearms, and a formidable grip. Replicate this in your training by carrying heavy dumbbells for 50-75m—so, across the gym and back—before setting them down. Farmer’s walks are the most popular, but mix up the carrying position to include overhead and sumo carry between the legs to maximize gains.

Pull and Push
Competitors in the World’s Strongest Man often have to pull an airplane or a truck down a runway. But give your poor Honda a rest and try using a sled or just a set of heavy plates and a large rope. Link the two together and pull for 75-100m to build impressive total body strength and conditioning.

Practice Lifts Frequently
Strongman competitors frequently go through events they want to improve each week. Similarly, include lifts you want to get better at multiple times within a week’s worth of workouts. Each session doesn’t need to be heavy, but frequently performing the move will help improve form and build a familiarity with the exercise.

Lift Different Objects
Strongman competitors build strength in the gym, but they also build it outside the confines of barbells and dumbbells by lifting objects like Atlas stones, tires, and even trucks. Skip the F-150, but try your strength on objects like truck tires and sandbags, since they offer a different challenge with their unique shape and size.

Build Explosiveness
Events like the keg toss and truck pull challenge not only brute strength but also explosiveness. Incorporate power moves like the clean and jerk and snatches into your workouts to build total body explosiveness and watch your strength increase as well.

Combine Strength and Cardio Training
Load up some heavy barbells for total body movements and then move quickly between them to get the best of strength and cardio at the same time rather than separating the two.

Stick to the Basics
Sure, strongman competitors lift odd objects and are extremely heavyweight, but the majority of events are founded on the basics: squat, deadlift, and press. Make these the foundation of your training and load them heavy for maximal gains in strength.

strongman training exercise

Strongman competitions vary wildly depending on the contest. However, the core competencies required for training to become a Strongman are rather simple. You need strong functional/practical strength, great core stability, strength endurance, and a plethora of raw power!

Here are a few staples in any Strongman event that you can use to design your training around:

Atlas Stones
Axle Press
Car Flip
Conan’s Wheel
Deadlift hold
Duck walk
Dumbbell Press
Farmer’s Carry
Keg Toss

The key to developing the adaptations necessary to be a successful Strongman relies heavily on placing enough stress or demand on the body to force an adaptation. The mechanism in which this happens is through the General Adaptation Syndrome which causes the body to respond to the increased demand being exerted. Increased core strength, maximal strength, proprioception, and power are a few examples of physical reactions to progressive overloading. Progressively overloading your training such as in powerlifting requires adding more weight and ultimately increasing intensity. The heavier weights will definitely help support you at a fundamental level in Strongman competitions, but powerlifting numbers do not always translate directly into Strongman numbers. This is mostly due to moving in multiplanar planes of motion with imbalanced loading – something you do not experience in normal weight training.

Micro & Macro Nutrition for Strongman
To be a Strongman you will need to eat like one! Putting on size, building muscle and fueling your body is no easy feat. Depending on the size of the athlete, some Strongmen can eat up to 8,000-10,000 calories a day! (I am not recommending that here for 99.9% of the rest of us mere mortals). Think about some of the most legendary Strongman athletes in recent history such as Marius Pudzianowski, Eddie Hall, Brian Shaw or Thor Bjornsson.

Here are some basic rules of thumb to help get you started on your Strongman journey.

First off, despite what you may think, our bodies cannot build muscle and burn fat simultaneously. We are in one of two states at any given time: Anabolic or Catabolic. Subsequently, in order to remain anabolic and grow we must consume more caloric energy than we displace or burn per day. This leaves us with a net-positive caloric surplus and allows the muscles to grow in this anabolic environment. Of course, the types of food and timing also matter. For high-strength short-bursts of energy like Strongman we need to fuel the muscles with enough Adenosine Triphosphate and glucose to meet the explosive demands of the sport. As a result, I recommend sticking to around 45-50% of your daily caloric intake from carbs. Stick with mostly complex carbs spread evenly across 6 meals per day and add in some simple carbs all around and during your workouts. This will help fuel your intense training and improve recovery to allow you to get back into the gym sooner. As for proteins, a good rule of thumb is sticking with 1.0-1.5 grams of proteins per pound of bodyweight. The remainder of your daily calories can come from healthy fats (25-30%).

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