Best Strongman Gear
Given their popularity and prolific Internet presence, you’ve no doubt heard of the strongman competitions by now. But what exactly are these contests, are they like powerlifting or CrossFit, and how can you get involved? Inspired by the World’s Strongest Man contests and Highlander Games, strongman training is as old-school as it gets and literally tons of fun. Set up like a powerlifter’s decathlon, strongman contests feature a variety of events where contestants blend strength, stamina, and power to achieve a goal. Think CrossFit philosophy meets heavy iron. Points are awarded both for placement in the contest, as well as times and weights used.
Typical contests feature some kind of overhead lift movement, a deadlift-style movement, squat-like movements, power clean movement, and pulling. But whereas in a gym where the barbell movements are relatively staid, strongman contests get creative and downright medieval. The deadlift movement can become a Farmer’s Walk where competitors carry an implement in each hand, weighted to the gills, for distance and time. The overhead press becomes a Log Press, where a specialized barbell is built out like a log for presses. Squat variations include stone or sandbag throws and yoke walks, and pulling events may involve a truck. The events do require a bit of skill and training, but brute strength and stamina is always the answer. Whether you want to compete or not, incorporating these movements into your regimen can be both physically rewarding and fun.
Getting into Strongman
From the World’s Strongest Man series to the Highlander Games, being strong is never wrong. The strongman-style competitions are as old as humans who first lifted heavy stones inside their caves. Numerous federations exist to sanction contests, and most have some relationship to either powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting clubs. Literally thousands of videos exist online where you can check out the events and competition, incorporating some of these events into your own regimen. If you do get interested in competing, check out the federation’s rules and guidelines so you’ll know what to expect. Typical events feature a mix of variations off the deadlift, overhead press, squat, power clean, and pulling. You can practice at home or at the gym, but as you’ll see, some events are gear-specific and there is a technique associated with movements such as the log press. Just like anything else, getting good requires practice, and you’ll need to know what’s involved.
Augment Your Workout
Most professional competitors in this field got their start in powerlifting. Whether using a Westside Barbell conjugate method, or some other form of powerlifting training, strongman drills can be incorporated into your respective upper or lower body days, most likely on the dynamic effort day. Or, they can be done on an off-day. If performed on a regular workout day, you’ll obviously want to pick a movement that helps that day’s overall goal. Strongman exercises are very taxing, so don’t expect to perform an entire circuit on top of a dynamic effort day. If you save strongman for a Saturday, then you can really go to town with a whole cadre of events. The great thing about these exercises is they’re creativity-driven, and ultimately you’re picking up heavy things and moving. They’re also fun for journal purposes in that you can track progress on each day and observe improvement. Much like the rest of fitness, it’s an individual sport where your only real adversary is yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. CFF FIT Commercial Farmers Carry Handles
About as old school as it gets, to perform a Farmers Walk, pick up something heavy and go. But it doesn’t need to be just buckets of corn. The CFF FIT Commercial Farmer Carry Handles offer a suit-case style handle atop a modified barbell, each of which capable of carrying up to 750 pounds for a total capacity of 1,500 pounds. With one in each hand, users train the entire body, with burning sensations from the trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles down the arms and chest, all the way to the hands, forearms, quads, core, hamstrings, and calves. A full-on cardio movement, weighted carries such as this heighten the metabolism and keep calories burning hours afterwards. Each bar is 60 inches long with a 12-inch weight horn. Grips are 29.5mm (1.16 inches) in diameter, and each chrome-finished bar weighs 38 pounds.
2. Popsport Strongman Log Bar
Available with 8, 10-, or 12-inch handles, the Popsport Strongman Log Bar features a hollow barrel over a barbell, for modified power cleans, deadlifts, rows, and presses. Designed to replicate the lifting of a giant log overhead, the 53-pound unit is manufactured from Q235 steel and has a weight capacity of 700 pounds. Designed to accommodate standard Olympic or bumper plates onto its ends, the log bar itself ranges in length from 5.8 feet, to 6.3 feet, and 6.7 feet, depending on handle size. Handle diameter on all units is 1.2 inches. Which size log one wants depends largely on their own height and arm length.
3. Y-1 Rogue Yoke
A multi-dimensional piece of equipment, the Y-1 Rogue Yoke actually doubles as a squat/press stand. But in the hands of a knowing strongman competitor, it quickly becomes a weighted carry piece. Strongman events involving the yoke feature contests standing under the adjustable top crossbar and lifting it up off the ground so as to go for a walk. The bar’s height is adjustable, meaning it can be used for Zercher carries and squats, as well as push/pull drills. The 185-pound yoke stands 72 inches in height and offers a 750-pound weight capacity. Constructed from 2×3-inch 11-gauge steel, the unit has a 50-inch x 48-inch foot print, six weight horns for plate loading, and two J-Cups.
4. Rogue Cyclone Strongman Sandbags – 250-pound
Whether for loaded carries, throws-for-distance, or speed-stacking contests, the Rogue Cyclone Strongman Sandbags give users a chance to handle weight in a way more like good old fashioned manual labor. Offered in sizes including, 100-pound, 150-pound, 200-pound, and the 250-pound, the bags are delivered unfilled and can be loaded with play sand. The cyclone-tapered style bags are larger at the top and smaller at the bottom, made from 1000D MIL Spec US Cordura construction, and feature a zipper and hook-and-loop closure. The 250-pound capacity bag can actually be filled to suit whatever weight you’d want, and measures 24.5 inches in height, 18 inches at the top diameter, and 12 inches at the bottom.
5. ComCor Pro Sled Harness
Heavy-duty hauling requires a heavy duty harness. The World’s Strongest Man games typically feature a semi-tractor trailer or perhaps an airplane to be pulled by competitors for time. But back home, your car or pick-up truck can do. For that matter, any weight sled will work. Having a good harness that’s solid enough to handle that kind of weight without digging into you is key. The ComCor Pro Sled Harness features a Double-D Belt for maximum pulling without slip. The one-size-fits-all model can handles adults up to 50 inches in girth, fitting just below the chest muscles. Six anchor points are situated into the vest, meaning you can hook your cable from any direction so as to pull frontwards, backwards, or in a lateral direction. The vest includes a 9-inch pull strap with steel snap hooks rated at 2,000 pounds, meaning you can pull an F-150 safely. The heavy nylon materials form up 3-inch wide shoulder pads and a 1.5-inch wide belt.