The single greatest thing about strongman training is that it is an unconventional method of strength and energy system training. Strongman training can be added to your normal personal training routine to create some variation. Instead of counting reps and sets in the gym, you can be outside and play with big toys… such as farmer’s walk implements, battle ropes, log press, and my favorite, the sled.
Unlike traditional weight training, which is isolated (trains specific muscles), the strongman training effect is more global (trains multiple muscles at one time). And unlike traditional weight training, which requires time and effort to learn proper technique, strongman training has almost zero learning curve. This means it requires less time to learn and execute the exercise, which means it takes less time to get leaner and stronger.
Traditional and present strongman competitions consist of events such as pushing a car or truck, lifting a 200-pound atlas stone, carrying a super-yoke, and flipping a 300-pound tire. Although this sounds pretty impressive, you may need a beginner’s version. Some basic strongman equipment, such as a pair of farmer’s walks, a sled, a battle rope, and a sand bag is more than enough to get started.
Farmer’s walk implements are great for building upper and lower body strength. They can be used in tandem, as in, you hold one in each hand, or unilaterally.
In tandem, they are a superior workout for the core, hips, and the ankles and feet, as there is a ridiculous amount of stabilization necessary to walk with them. Unilaterally, you force the obliques and the gluteus medius to stabilize the body on one side.
Our farmer’s walk implements actually have two sets of grips – one regular, one extra thick, so that you can also train your grip strength while you work. Between the gripping challenge and having to stabilize an unwieldy load, you can get quite a comprehensive workout with farmer’s walks alone.
Battle ropes are great for building core and upper body strength. There are as many drills as your imagination can create, and you can use them together in tandem or even one at a time to create a gut-busting workout.
Sleds are typically made from tube steel, and are made to be plate-loaded. Typically, you attach a rope or a line to one end and drag it. A good sled, however, can double as a prowler.
Prowlers are triangular apparatuses that are plate-loaded. They, like a well-designed sled, can be pushed or dragged. Again, buy using ropes or webbing, you can create workouts with a prowler that allow for multi-directional walking, running, sprinting, lunging, etc. You can even create upper body exercises with a prowler or sled by rowing or pressing against the lines or webbing.
The sandbag is a versatile training tool that can be used for literally hundreds of exercises. Unlike many strongman tools, it also travels well, provided that you have something on the other end of your trip to fill it with. You can do squats, overhead press, lunges, and burpees with a sandbag. It also works well for drags and carries.
Incorporate strongman training into your workout once a week for great results!
NYC Personal Trainer / Strength Coach
Bindu Nambiar is a strength coach and personal trainer at Physiqology Inc., a New York City based personal training company. Bindu specializes in injury rehab, strength training for sport, flexibility, and mobility training.