My mate in Australia, Shannon Green (owner of Warrior Performance – website and Facebook fan page), competes in strongman with his mates Stuart and Shane. They are all great guys. Shannon is a real sharp guy and has spent a lot of time studying many different aspects of physical performance. He has made, collected, or bought the majority of the implements he would need for strongman training, and I asked him to throw together some information on how to train for it.
Check out this video from when Tom and I visited Shannon’s training dungeon.
This first post pertains to what strongman is and what some basic requirements are. A second post will put it all together into a programming template.
What A Strongman Competition Consists Of
At a bare minimum each strongman competition will contain an event from the following categories:
Walking Event — yoke, farmers, frame, stone/keg carry, Dinnie stones
Pressing event — log, axle, bar, keg, monster dumbbell, Viking press, stone/block pressing
Hip extension event — tire flips and deadlift variations (car, axle, bar, etc.)
Loading (over a bar or to a platform) — Atlas stones, Hussafel stone, natural stones, kegs, sand bags, barrels
There will more than likely be more than one of these events in a competition: yoke and farmers, tire flip and deadlift, sometimes two pressing events or two loading events. In some competitions there will be dragging/pushing events (but they aren’t as common as the others) and can include sleds, prowlers, trucks, tires, and frames.
Shannon’s Minimum Requirements
Shannon believes that there trainees should achieve some minimum strength standards before training with implements. This will validate a baseline of strength and injury prevention for a new strongman trainee. The requirements are as follows:
Squat 1.5 x body weight (BW)
Deadlift 2 x BW double overhand without straps (remember that strongman is a heavy grip sport)
Power Clean 1 x BW
Push-Press 1 x BW
Bench Press 1 x BW
Shannon says, “This is the bare minimum; it’s what I call table tennis strength — the minimum strength you need to to compete in table tennis.” Grins.
How To Start Event Training
Now that the strength requirements are met, here are some options on how to start training the events with the appropriate implements.
Option 1 — Regularly meet up with a strongman club. This way you can get coached on technique and train with strongmen/women who are stronger than you; it’ll step your game up. There are strongman clubs all over, so just Google search (Shan suggests trolling Facebook); if you can’t find one, start asking around. Most strongman guys will know each other and can point you in the right direction. Shannon says, “Don’t be afraid to travel. I used to travel 1.5 hours each way on Saturday to do my event training when I first started and I know guys that traveled farther than that. If this is too hard, then pull your skirt up!”
Option 2 — If time is an issue, go once every two or three weeks to train the implements and spend the rest of your time at the gym under the bar getting stronger.
Option 3 — Buy or make the equipment yourself. This can be quite expensive and you’ll need a place to store it. Shannon says, “If this is what you want to do, I suggest buying one piece of equipment and mastering it before adding another to your arsenal.” It’ll space out your purchases too.
Which Events Should You Focus On First?
Shannon suggests starting with farmer’s walks first (he just calls them “farmahs” in his Aussie accent). Next get a log for pressing movements. Tires are a great third option if you have the space; they shouldn’t cost you any money. Look for industrial tire yards (places that deal with tractors and earth moving equipment); they have to pay to have their tires removed so if you pick it up, it saves them some money.
Shannon says, “I’d start with a 200 to 300kg tire. This will help bring up your grip and back for stone lifting — we don’t let anyone in our gym lift stones until they are good at tire flipping.”
The next purchase should be a stone mold (Slater’s Hardware sells them). Shannon says, “Make the lightest stone you can from a 16-18″ mold and practice the technique. Once you can comfortably rep that one, make a bigger one.”
The next purchase would be a yoke, but it’s not necessary to buy unless you’re serious. Shannon says, “You can walk up and down the street with a barbell on your back. I know guys who have done this and never used a yoke until comp time. The beauty is that you can’t put it down. Pick it up out of the squat stands, walk away, and then walk it back.”
“If you want to compete, then don’t get worked up about what the events are in each comp. It’s really not important since they carry over to each other. The deadlift will help your tire flip and vice versa — the same goes for the walking and pressing events. Strongman is a whole body sport and the goal is to be strong as fuck all over. You just need to rock up to a comp, pick up some weird shaped objects, scream and yell to summon Odin and Thor. Then when you’re done, throw a couple of chicks on each shoulder and go eat steaks and get stuck in a meat coma.”
Thanks for the input, Shan. The next post will put everything together into a strongman training template. We’ll also do some stuff on grip work and any other topics you guys are interested in. Also, Shannon, please tell Johnson I miss him: