Is Strongman Training just another FAD?
Posted: 9th December 2013
Q: Hi Joey it seems like every man and his dog is now performing strongman training. You see them flipping their tires, dragging their chains and pulling sleds. Is it a more than a passing fad or is it just the return to the olden days of of the iron game or does it actually offer something more beneficial for coaches and athletes?
A: I have been experimentaing with Strongman Training both with myself and athletes for the past decade, so for me its not really a fad. As a coach you want have as many tools in your arsenal as possible. As they say the right tool for the right job. Strongman training offers many benefits some of which traditional resistance training with barbell and dumbbells do not.
Lets examine the key Strongman Lifts to see the benefits they have to offer and how best to integrate them into your training.
Technique: Involves lifting 2 heavy weights off the ground and walking for distance or time.
Benefits: (4) The Farmers Walk Exercise strengthens and develops the often weak Vastus Medialis. By strengthening the VMO the athlete will increase their sprinting speed as the VMO is responsible for changing/transferring from the eccentric to concentric phase of the running stance/swing phase.
The Farmers Walk is great for knee rehabilitation as it places eccentric load through the Knee which strengthens the VMO which contributes to knee stability and minimises the reocurrence of knee injuries. As the VMO has a tendencey to switch off or atrophy when knee pain is present
The Farmers Walk is great for strengthening the ankle and associated muscles of the lower leg. And is great for preventing or rehabilitating ankle sprains.
(5.) The Famers Walk can also assist with Spine Rebalancing for athletes that have scoliosis or muscle imbalance due to playing a sport that is single sided such as tennis.
Technique: As the name implies involves, dragging a weighted sled.Benefits: (4) Can be used to train every muscle in the body due to the variety of grips, angles and body positions the athlete can attain.
The sled is great for injury rehabilitation especially for knee injuries as there is very little eccentric component to the exercise. (2) According to Strongman Competitor and author Art McDermott, the sled is the only way to enhance lateral speed as it overloads the hip abductors and hip adductors musculature in a way that transfers onto the sporting arena.
Technique: Is very similar to a powerclean performed at a 45 degree angle.
Benefits: (2) Nearly all contact and combat sports will benefit from tire flipping. Increased grip/finger strength and posterior chain development are some of the most obvious benefits. Energy system development/endurance as well as mental toughness can also be acheived through the use of tire flipping.
Technique: Involves carrying a weighted yoke either on the back or in the arms.
Benefits: Best tool to use to identify athletic talent as the performance of the yoke exercise requires superior trunk strength, reaction time and kinaesthetic awareness and vast amounts of concentration. According to (1) Dean Robinson Strength an Conditioning Coach from the Gold Coast Suns football Club confirmed my suspicions that athletes that do well with the yoke tend to dominate on the football field. usually when athletes increase their strength or performance in the yoke, their squat and deadlift numbers go up!
Technique: Involves using the arms and delts to lift the bar overhead.
Benefits: The neutral grip is biomechanically superior in comparison to the internally rotated position commonly assoicated with regular barbell presses. This help athletes prevent and rehabilitate shoulder injuries. The neutral hand position and has more transference for football athletes and has some carry over to the bench press. The thickness of the log also recuits more core muscles due to the stabilisation requirements need to control the log. (3) The Log Jammer Press pictured below is a great exercise for athletes requiring explosive pushing power. The feet are in contact with the ground, the athlete triple extends at the ankles, knees and hips for full acceleration and maximal power and drives the arms out in front of the body.
For more information on the specialised strongman techniques visit the In Joe We Trust online Store to purchase the Strongman Training for Athletes DVD.
All the best,
1. Robinson, D. Gold Coast Suns Strength and Conditioning Coach. Personal Communication 2006.
2. McDermott, A. Applied Strongman Training for Sport. NSCA Conference, 2005.
3. Blyn, L. Applied Strongman Training for Sport. NSCA Conference, 2005.
4. Poliquin, C. Level 3 PICP Course Notes
5. Poliquin, C. Sport Specific Course