Strongman, for anyone who hasn’t seen it on ESPN is moving heavy weights, usually in the form of odd objects, for max distance, reps, speed, or as much weight as possible.  Those of you who know me, know that strongman is my current sport of choice.  But that doesn’t mean I let my love for any method of training trickle into my athlete training program.

  That would be irresponsible, and a narrowed way of thinking.

The sport takes years of strength base development, and then fine tuning your technique with months or even years of practice (kind of sounds like Olympic Lifting).  You can’t just pick up a 250lb stone by being strong without learning the technique. You’ll either get nowhere fast, or you’ll get hurt eventually by using poor technique.

It amazes me that strength coaches are using this as a primary method of helping their athletes get better. 

Let me be clear on one thing—I do believe that strongman training can absolutely supplement an athlete’s training program.  Certain lifts like the farmer’s carry (2 objects/bars held in each hand and carried for speed, weight, or distance) are easy to learn and have a huge pay off for upper back, core, and grip training. 

Tire flips for wrestlers? Sure, a lighter tire done more for conditioning then a strongman would do it. But for an overhead throwing athlete, I wouldn’t.

Stone loads for an advanced, already strong linemen to work on their triple extension?  Sometimes, if properly coached, that’s not a terrible idea.  Quarterbacks trying out stone loads?  Recipe for disaster. 

It’s not that strongman is inherently bad, because the examples I gave clearly showed how they can be used to supplement certain athletes’ training.  Most strongman moves, however, should be omitted for safer lifts that accomplish the same thing.

Rather than load a stone, an athlete can work on deadlift, KB Swing, and then progress to KB snatches.  This would train their hip, leg, and back strength through the deadlift, while the KB swing and snatch would work power throughout that range of motion. 

There are plenty of ways to train without adding in a ton of strongman style training. The risk reward is too great for many athletes, and is unnecessary.