Seriously, just do it. And do it fast.
Strongman competitions are not what you see on TV. Honestly not even close, because here are the facts: Most of us are not 7 feet tall and 400lbs. Sorry, but that’s just not feasible. At 5’8” on a really tall day (when you’re closer to 5’6” than 6’0”, you’re allowed to have tall days, it’s science), it’s not even something for me to strive for.
That’s real talk right there, but i’ll be damned if that stops me from going out and competing. And I wasn’t born and just able to do a strongman competition, but it is definitely a means for me to stay true to my diet, my training, and keep the competitive edge now that i’m no longer in school.
It’s not about winning and becoming a national champ for most people, or at least not at first. That’s something that comes when you get more involved. At first, it’s just about doing what others won’t simply because you CAN.
So what i’ve done to prove that nobody is below strongman is compile a long list of competitors ranging from novice first timers to nationally ranked competitors.
Like my friend Kalle Beck wrote in his blog post, one of the reasons crossfit is so popular despite strongman being around for much longer is that it is inviting to everyone. While I don’t think strongman needs to change it’s rules or anything like that, it’s important to understand that there is not a person who trains their ass off that can’t reach the level of competing. Not only does if feel friggin’ awesome to be there, but you meet some of the coolest people in the world, get to travel (if you want to) and make friends all over, and you get to do something that, unfortunately, too many others won’t get to experience: working hard toward a goal, and then watching that work pay off and come to fruition as you display your skills. Here are a ton of stories about some incredible athletes, how they got started in training and strongman training, and what it’s done for their lives:
Why did I start strongman? Short version I because love to train. Want a little more back story? As a child I was always very heavy set (fat for those of you that don’t care about political correctness). As a result I never had much confidence or self belief. I was a 235 freshman in high school that probably couldn’t have done more than a handful of push up when I stumbled in the weight room one day. I started training and noticed the results. I was weak as a kitten at first, but gradually got better and stronger everyday. I started noticing changes in how I felt about myself as well. Fast forward to my senior year and I am holding a state championship powerlifting trophy in the 181lb class. I wasn’t just stronger I was a different person both physically and mentally.
I went a couple years after that just training with no competitions of any sort, then I stumbled onto the NAS website. Always thought strongman on T.V. was fascinating thought I would give it a shot. Fast forward 5 years from that moment and I have done 24 strongman competitions and have no intentions of stopping. I love competing as I am a very competitive individual. However what I love most is that it gives me a reason to push myself in training.
I chose strongman over other strength athletics because it gives me a lot of variety. It challenges me to get stronger in all aspects. The gym has always been my place of peace. While a lot of people crank the metal and yell and scream. I have been known to crank the contemporary Christian music and just kill it. Weird? Probably. Do I care that its weird? Absolutely not. The gym has always been my refuge. I believe God provided me with this as a health positive outlet. Strength training built me into the man I am today. Strongman just gives me a reason to push even harder and farther than imaginable. Everyone should find their passion. I found mine and was blessed to find it at an early age.
You can contact Derek Stone here on facebook
I actually pursued college football to see if i could do it. I have always been one to want a challenge (i need one to get out of bed every morning). When I lost my scholarship and the football dream was i turned to training athletes, and met a strongman who also trained athletes. He convinced me to start, despite my bad shoulders and horrible deadlift. Two years later, today, i continue to grow with the sport… At ANY level strongman pushes you to be the best version of yourself. There is no greater challenge than the mental and physical challenge of competing or training strongman. I’m a better, alcohol free, disciplined version of myself and have had avenues opened through strongman that i never thought possible– including my dream job!
You can contact Nic at email@example.com or relentlessmembers.com
When people find out that I compete in strong man/ powerlifting they often say things to me like “why would you ever want to lift weights?!” or “Do you know how bulky you are going to get?!” and I’ve even gotten: “oh so you don’t care how you look.” I have been getting this much criticism since I started in strength sports 2 years ago. But lets start out from the beginning; before the critics, before the state records, and before proving to people that the rumors with women and weight lifting are totally false. Back in 2010 I was simply trying to lose weight. After I shed 30lb I began working out at local cardinal fitness after I got a job there. I meet some people who said they were into powerlifting and I should give it a try. . After blood,sweat and some tears I competed and set 3 state
records. After that competition I feel in love with everything about being strong. Soon after the meet my life got pretty hectic; family problems brought a lot of unwanted stress into my life and I got more involved in strength training. I think I got more involved because it kept me sane. Some people find refuge in drugs and partying, I found it in the iron. I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for weights and my lovely boyfriend, Mike, to help me get through it.
Fast forward a few years. Mike was competing in a strongman competition hosted by Derek Stone in KY. We went to Refuge barbell to get him weighed in, Derek asks why I’m not competing. Then everyone there started “pressuring” (more like motivating and inspiring) me to do the competition. I finally asked how much the stone I needed to load weighed. Derek pointed it out to me in the gym and I loaded the stone in skinny jeans and sandals–I loaded it and agreed to compete. I soon realized that I didn’t have shoes, my belt, I didn’t know how to do half the events.. When the competition came I learned the events 5 minutes before doing them. Lucky for me, the lovely ladies I competed against were so helpful! I ended up placing fourth and even placed third in one event.
So the way I got into strength sports was what some would consider peer pressure. However I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only has being a strongman and power lifter taught me how to be physically strong but mentally strong as well (which I need the most at this point in my life). Well, that, and proving the critics were so far from the truth.
You can contact Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
I got into strongman training because I loved strength sports. I was competing in geared PL at the time and was getting tired of how the sport became all about the gear and less about the lifter. I ran into Brad Dunn and he told me about strongman style training. That week I signed up to train with Brad. That was three years ago and I have been hooked ever since. I enjoy pushing my body to the max and also helping to train new athletes. Its a passion that runs deep in my blood.
I had always watched Worlds Strongest Man on TV, I loved it but didn’t understand it. I grew up reading tons of comic books and they were the closest thing to real life superheroes to me. How do you become a superhero though? Isn’t that something you are just born with? That’s the way I thought.
It was December 2006 and I had spent the year squatting and deadlifting and trying to get bigger. I was scrawny 140lb kid and had put on some muscle and fat to get up to 186 I loved getting stronger and bigger but training was getting stale without a definitive goal. I had heard about powerlifting and I was planning on training to do a meet the next year until I stumbled upon a Post on a message board by then Lightweight Pro strongman Brad Cardoza. This guy was 230 pounds under 6′ tall and JACKED. It was at least 20 pages long and I read every bit of it. He was getting ready to go compete for Worlds Strongest Man Under 105kg in China. I didn’t know there was such a thing. Through that I found www.nastrongman.com
and looked at completed contests. I saw that just in October there had been a local strongman contest in Santa Cruz, CA that was only 20 minutes from where I live and had a 200 pound class. I figured if I trained hard for a year I could compete in it the next year. I stayed up till at least 3 A.M searching for information. I emailed the contest promoter if he was going to have another one next year and asked if he knew of anyone that trained in my area. He said they were not going to promote the contest but gave me Evan Hansman’s email. He agreed to let me come train with his group next Sunday. I drove out to Scotts Valley to a park with HUGE redwood trees and huge tires/piles of plates everywhere. Such a cool setting. Evan was an intimidating giant at 6’6 300+lbs and easily strongest person I’ve ever seen at that time. He was helpful though and taught me how to clean an axle. I think I was using around 160lbs and my stomach was deep purple bruised for a week. I was soft and strongman would harden me.
I against any common sense signed up for the Golden State Strongman Challenge Plat+ yes at 185lbs my first contest was a platinum+ I didn’t fare well by any means and was not ready but I still tried and kept improving from that point forward until where I am today–about to compete for a world title at the Arnold Classic
I always thought strongman was a sport only for the genetic freaks who are over 6 foot tall and 300 pounds. You know the guys we see on ESPN late at night or through the holidays. I had no clue it was a sport that had an amateur sanctioning body. When I first heard this I was very intrigued and decided I wanted to see what it was all about. I don’t recall exactly how it happened, but next thing I know I’m training in 17 degree weather at a guy’s house here in the city I live in. I had been invited to train with the strongman crew and took them up on the offer. I had no clue what to expect and really didn’t care. It sounded fun and outside of my comfort zone. Let’s do this. It was cold and the guys who I was training with where very strong and experienced. One of which was even a former lightweight professional strongman. I was definitely the weakest guy there, but I didn’t care.
Going in I honestly thought of myself as decently strong. I had trained for football, and then got into bodybuilding after high school. Not long after I had discovered powerlifting and really started to enjoy the training and competing. I had just done my first full power meet (squat, bench, deadlift) a few weeks before hearing about this strongman training crew in my city.
After my first day training with the guys I knew I was weak. And what better way to get stronger than to have something to train for. I went home and got on NAStrongman.com (North American Strongman) and looked for the next competition that was fairly close to where I live. I found one 3 hours away that was about 8 weeks out. I printed off the entry and mailed it in along with the entry fee. I was committed.
As I was preparing for the competition a friend from my training crew told me about a non-sanctioned competition about an hour away that upcoming weekend and he asked if I wanted to compete. Why not? So without knowing the events or training for it we loaded up and I competed in the LW under 200 class. I took 4th out of 5 if I remember correctly. Since it wasn’t a sanctioned show there were no records or trophy for me to look back and remember. Either way, I was weak. I was a few weeks out from my actual sanctioned competition and training harder than ever.
That competition was here before I knew it and all in all in went really good. I took 2nd place out of 3 competitors, but it was the most fun I’d ever had competing in my life. The adrenaline was unreal and the crowd and fans made it even better. I hit a handful of PRs and it felt good to have officially competed. It also allowed me to compare myself to the guy who won and see what my weaknesses were so I could go fix them.
That first sanctioned competition was in April of 2009. Since then I went to from pretty bad novice competitor to taking 2nd Place at North America’s Strongest Man National Championships in the Lightweight 200 class this past November. I’ve competed 11 times in the past 3 years and will be competing in my 12th competition next weekend.
This is a great sport and great for anyone with a decent base of strength to give a try. I know way too many guy who won’t compete because they aren’t as good as they want to be. If that was the case for me I still would be waiting to compete. Because I’m not as good as I want to be. But to see what you need to work on to be the best, you’ve got to compete against the best. There’s no better time than now to make that commitment and compete.
Cory Black Sr.
My name is Cory Black Sr. I’m 33 yrs old and I’m a husband and father of three. I was 200 lbs from 2nd grade to 9th grade. In ninth grade it only got worse. By the time I graduated, I was over 300lbs. One day, sitting in a church pew I literally couldn’t see my legs. It was then that I decided to go on a diet. I starved myself for 6 months and lost over 100 lbs, and got down to 185lbs. I was very unhappy with the way I was looking and feeling, so I started working out. In 2003, I moved to Lantana, FL, where my family and I started our new lives. I continued to workout without any fulfillment at all. In 2006, we moved to Port Saint Lucie, FL., where in 2010 I met a friend who was “very” strong and large. He told me of a gym where he thought I would make great gains and only get better, it was a strongman gym. That is where I met Nic Peterson. I enjoyed watching strongman on TV, and the thought of doing strongman, but never tried it. One Saturday in 2011, I watched Nic compete in his first ever strongman competition. I knew then, that strongman is what I wanted to do. I’ve been in 4 shows, placing everywhere from last to 4th. In my first competition I took first place in the stone load in the novice division. With each competition, I learn more and improve in strength and technique. The reason I continue to do it is because I love the competition and camaraderie. Now, I’m 6’1″, 250 lbs (mostly muscle), and I get complimented all the time. I feel if it wasn’t for strongman I probably would have given up on training all together and probably would be over 300lbs again. I give credit and thanks to God, my wife and kids for supporting me, for my online strongman friends, and for my trainer Nic Peterson. If it wasn’t for all of these people combined, I would never have believed in myself enough to try.
I remember vividly when I decided that strongman training was going to be for me. I was at an Elite Fitness Learn To Train seminar to get better at training myself and others. At the time my dead lift was 405×1 rep, squat was 315×1, and my bench was 245×1. To sum up the obvious, I was not the strongest guy in my group there.
Later on in the day we were brought outside to try some strongman implements; these were something I had always wanted to try but never had the chance to. The first thing put in front of us was a 160lb atlas stone. I was the first to give it a try loading it over the bar. I had success doing so. At that moment I felt something I had never felt while training on a barbell; it felt amazing and exhilarating to be able to put up such a heavy stone. Out of the whole crowd I was one of the few that was able to load the stone. Then we grabbed the larger 200lb stone, and I was the only to complete the task.
We went on to some other implements during the day that I had enjoyed thoroughly, and was surprisingly decent at them. Finding a new way of training for me was a new lease on training. It was a way, whether or not you want to compete, to do something not many people have tried or can do. I think most people get the notion that you have to be the “Worlds Strongest Man” to use strongman implements, but that simply is not true.
A lot of the movements can carry over to your regular barbell training. I know that, through strongman, training that it has helped improve my overhead press, squat, bench, and deadlift. I would suggest to anyone looking for a new and extremely beneficial training style, to check out strongman training. If you like to lift heavy things over your head or off the ground, then try strongman training.
Honestly, it’s not that exciting. Unless you consider secret service, mercenary, and slaying dragons exciting. Then it’s great. Basically I got into strength training as a 5’1” 185lb fourteen year old kid. To make a long story short,I was busy doing the right thing, and some people I thought were friends couldn’t handle it. So friendships turned into borderline abusive relationships that almost necessitated police involvement. I was pissed, and I was scared. I thought to myself “there’s got to be a way to handle this other than being a wimp and crying for help. So I asked my dad to teach me how to train.
Things got resolved, one way or another, but I never stopped training. I remember the first time I benched pressed: 65lbsx8 reps. I didn’t really learn to squat until 2-3 years later, and I started with 145lbs squatting until my butt touched the top of an upside-down hope depot bucket. So really, I don’t have any unique abilities, other than one. I’m not the strongest, most muscular, or fastest guy. But my effort is incredible. I will do what others refuse to make sure I win. I always tell my athletes that the only thing that sets me apart from them is my uncanny ability to OUTwork Everyone around me, and it’s clear that each and every one of these guys and ladies possesses the same burning desire.
Fast forward 6-7 years later, and I’ve competed in 4 NAS sanctioned competitions, placing 1st and 2nd in my two 200lb competitions, and 4th and 5th in the 231 class. And I’m just getting warmed up.
Like I said, for me and most of us, strongman is an outlet; a way to push ourselves, stay true to our diet, our training, and keep us laser focused. You know that guy that gets off track for a few months because of some random shit that happens in their life? Yeah, that’s not us. We will find a way to overcome, to OUTwork, stay true to ourselves and our training, and we become better people because of it.
And there’s no reason you can’t either. If an angry, once fat and almost midget kid can turn an emotion into a passion that forces him to be the best and strongest person he can be, then anyone can. This is a sport that anyone willing to put in time and effort can compete in. So go find one NOW and go do it! Check out http://www.nastrongman.com
and look up the upcoming competitions.
If you have any questions at all, drop a comment below, email me at email@example.com, or message any of us. If you have our contact information, we are willing to help you out. The people chosen on this list will not take any question as a dumb question; we want you to try strongman, to help the sport grow, and for you to become the strongest possible version of yourself, inside the gym, and out.
Now go set some PRs,
(P.S. If you’re local to the Cary, IL area and reading this, give me a shout out and come try strongman for yourself! firstname.lastname@example.org)