Growing up, I was always a fan of superhero comics and professional wrestling. I remember loving the larger-than-life characters and the strength they possessed. Strength was a status symbol, something to be respected as it allowed one to defeat their enemies.
Later on, I remember watching ESPN and seeing the World's Strongest Man TV show. I couldn't believe it. These giant humans were pulling a train and seeing who could pull it the fastest!
The best part was it was all real. As much as I liked comics and professional wrestling, I always knew it was scripted. However, this was a real competition in the real world. This was my first experience with strongman, and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to become a strongman.
How To Become A Strongman Competitor?
Sign Up For Your First Strongman Competition
To become a strongman competitor, you must first sign up for a strongman competition and compete. Social media has made access to this information more accessible than ever. You can also search Google.
Simply search your location and strongman; if there is a strongman gym in your area, it should pop up. The strongman community tends to be very welcoming to others who want to be involved in lifting odd objects.
So if you are unsure of how things work, I would suggest shooting the promoter of a local competition a message and explaining that you are new and looking to get involved. They may be able to recommend an appropriate competition or gym for you to gain experience.
Find A Strongman Gym
If they have recommended a gym with a training group, even better. Go along, be respectful and try to learn as much as possible.
Leave the ego at the door, and don't try talking up your goals or lifts. Strongman veterans have heard it all before and won't be impressed that you plan to be WSM or can currently deadlift 200kg. Rather impress them by joining in the loading and unloading of equipment and willingness to learn.
Even if you have watched a range of YouTube instructional and consider yourself well versed in strongman technique and strategy, remember the Dunning-Kruger effect. The Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when a person's lack of knowledge and skills in a specific area causes them to overestimate their competence.
Just because you think you know a better technique than the strongman veteran trying to help you does not mean you do. Instead of trying to impress him with your knowledge by showing him a "better" technique, use it as a learning opportunity.
Ask, "how come you do it this way?" or "is there a reason you hold x there?" There is likely a reason for how they do things at the moment, which will allow you to learn from their experience.
Once you have a comp lined up, do your best to prepare, but don't stress. Remember, it's your first competition, and it's normal to be nervous and make mistakes.
Use the competition as an opportunity to learn on the job. Soak it all in, and take mental notes on what you could do better next time. Then pat yourself on the back. You are now a strongman competitor.
If there is a strongman gym nearby, the simple option is to train at the gym. If the gym is a bit too far, or it's not viable to train there during work days, another option is to do an events day once a week.
Many strongman competitors train this way. During the week, train at a local gym performing the regular gym lifts, then commute to a strongman gym on the weekend to get some specific event practice for any competitions coming up.
If you're not a fan of the gyms in your area and have the space, then a home gym is a fantastic option.
Perform A Strongman Specific Training Program
When it comes to training on your own, I'd advise following a specific strongman training program. The first instinct might be to use a powerlifting program during the week (e.g., Sheiko) and then add strongman events on the weekend.
Taking a program built for powerlifting and adding extra volume as strongman training can be a quick way to burn out or get hurt. Powerlifting programs are put together to increase your max single squat, bench press, and deadlift. They don't account for the wear and tear on the body from strongman training (and why would they).
They are also not as specific for your goal of strongman competition, as you will likely have moving events, reps events, throwing events, etc.
Instead, there are many fantastic resources out there. For example, I have a 12-Week Off-Season Strongman Program to prepare you for a competition training cycle. If you are lucky enough to have access to a strongman gym that you can regularly train, I recommend hiring a coach there in person.
No Strongman Gym? Start One At Home!
If you want to start a home gym, I recommend starting with a barbell, plates, power rack, and bench. From here, the first strongman equipment I would get would be farmers walk handles, an axle bar, and sandbags.
With this combination, you can train most major moves in strongman for minimal investment and space.
Next, I would target a log, yoke, and stones. Then a thick rope, sled & harness. With this combination, you can train just about any variety of strongman movements. The options are limitless, though, it depends on how much you want to invest.
Strongman competitions can come up with many strength tests. If you have the money and the space, getting more and more equipment is always fun.
If this is not an option, never fear, as getting stronger overall with those main pieces of equipment above will help out in any event they throw at you.
In terms of supportive equipment, I would first get a solid lifting belt. 10-13mm. Either option is fine. Then some decent weightlifting shoes for overhead events. You can find my best shoes for strongman here.
Some knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, and a soft belt can also come in handy to help keep the body warm and supported. Especially for outdoor winter training sessions.
Chalk is a must. The liquid chalk grip jizz is fantastic. Tacky is also needed if you are training stones. Rock climbing shoes are great for any truck-pulling events. Here's an easy table to find the gear you need.
Where To Get
Rogue Ohio Power Barbell
Cast Iron Weight Plates
Rogue Monster Lite Power Rack
Titan Farmers Handles
Rogue Strongman Sandbags
Rogue Thick Rope
Pack On Size
Some basic nutrition advice would be to stick to eating micronutrient-dense food at a calorie surplus if you want to gain weight and put on size. Don't be tricked into thinking you need 10000+ calls daily because you've seen the pros doing it on YouTube.
Having a substantial calorie surplus is going to cause fat gain. This can benefit certain events, such as truck pull, to help overcome co-efficient friction. Remember, you must carry this extra weight to all other events. It is not conducive to a fast-loading medley or ladder event time.
How To Become A Professional Strongman?
If you have dreams of competing at WSM, you must be patient. To build the strength to be one of the strongest men or women in the world takes years to do it healthily. Trying to rush strength gains can lead to injuries and burnout. There are many examples of this over the years.
While there is an exception to this rule, and you see a young guy performing well on the world stage, remember there are many more who had to move on from the sport due to injury.
After patience, know the WSM is a TV show. This means they need marketable athletes. This can often be a point of bitterness for some athletes who believe they should be invited over others.
It is reality, though. Unless you are legitimately one of the strongest 10 people on the planet, you likely need some kind of selling point or gimmick to help market you.
Strongman is not professional wrestling, so I don't mean you need to have the charisma of The Rock.
Simply having the ability to speak to the camera and convey your emotions to fans watching at home is paramount to the ability of the show to continue.
The role of the silent terminator who doesn't speak much or show much emotion will already be taken by any number of ridiculously strong Eastern Europeans. In my opinion, the easiest way to work on this is to use social media.
Do some Q & As speaking live on camera, let people see your personality. People love to root for people they know, so if you can start building a base up over the year's people will want to tune in to watch you.
Building this social media base will also help attract sponsors to help you get to competitions in the future.
Becoming a strongman or woman is a lengthy pursuit. It will not only involve physical strength but mental strength and patience. Be respectful to the veterans of the sport, and learn from their mistakes, so you don't have to learn them.
12-Weeks To Beast Off-Season Strongman Program
Not your typical Powerlifting or Bodybuilding style program. 12 weeks to monster gains on the log, loading, and carries. Get the most closely guarded secrets of a World's Strongest Man competitor and make monster gains!