1) It takes place outside. Any time that I can get out in nature and move around is a good thing. Too much of our life is spent sitting in plastic/polymer contraptions, viewing electronic patterns, and being bombarded by incandescent/LEDs.
2) It’s fun and potentially dangerous. What’s not to like about swinging sledge hammers, flipping big tires, pushing/pulling trucks, carrying/throwing logs, or carrying stones, sandbags or anvils? Any of those are much more entertaining and manly than your average
3) It makes time fly. I’ve never been thrilled trying to follow a“standard” protocol of X sets of bench, Y sets of rows, Z sets of squats in a gym full of chrome, ferns, and spandex (well, maybe the spandex is ok). I just find it very boring and difficult to stay engaged. Most strongman activities, although just as difficult (if not more so in some ways), I just find more interesting and engaging.
A recent study (The Strength and Conditioning Practices of Strongman Competitors, J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 3118-3128, 2011) puts it this way: “Strongman style training
modalities may have some advantages over traditional gym-based resistance training approaches. For example, traditional gym-based training exercises are generally performed with 2 feet side by side and require the load to be moved in the vertical plane. Strongman events represent functional movements in multiple planes and challenge the whole musculoskeletal system in terms of strength, stability, and physiological demands.”
(I like my reasons better). This study found that most Strongman competitors are following
traditional protocols to develop strength, power, and conditioning, and then added Strongman specific implements 1-2X/week. Most popular events practiced were the Farmer’s Walk, Log Press, Stones, and Tire flip.
It’s not difficult to get started:
Buy a wheelbarrow and some sand. Push it around for time and/or distance.
Have someone you know with access to forested land cut some trees of different diameters and lengths. This might be easier if you live somewhere rural (like Central PA) than Manhattan. Carry them, throw them, squat with them.
Find some old tires. Most shops will give them away for free. Or friend your local farmer. Car tires can be used for throwing. Truck and tractor tires can be used for flipping, dragging, and/or hitting (with a sledge).
Take your vehicle(s) to an empty parking lot. If you have a harness and rope, try towing a vehicle. This is a lot of fun in a heart pounding kind of way. Or without the harness, just push the vehicle for time/distance. You can even create progressive overload by using
multiple vehicles of different sizes or by filling the vehicle with people/weights (this is where it’s nice to have skinny friends).
Buy one or two sledgehammers of different weights. If you don’t have tires to hit (watch the rebound), take them out into the woods and hit a dead tree. All of this feels better if you sing or hum any variation of the tune “John Henry”.
Work on Farmer Carries with dumbbells, barbells, sandbags, KBs, suitcases, or any odd implement that you can find. Time or distance.
Buy some ornamental patio stones or paving blocks and carry them in different positions.
Rocks/boulders can also be “obtained” from more rural areas, or better yet, go for a hike and pause frequently to try and pick up rocks/boulders you come across.
I think that you’ll find if you get creative, you can have a lot of fun and get in some very functional training by incorporating these types of movements into your routine. You
may not end up on ESPN competing in the “World’s Strongest Man”competition, but it’s worth it none-the-less.