| Another ability that is crucial
to being a successful strongman, and is seldom trained, is the ability
to move quickly and efficiently with weighted objects. Virtually all weight
training is based on stationary lifting. Think of any major lift (squat,
bench, curl, military press, snatch, clean and jerk) and the idea behind
them is to move the weight while staying in virtually the same spot. It
could be said that the walkout in the squat or the jerk of the clean and
jerk trains the ability to move with weights somewhat, but this type of
limited movement is not what one will find in events in Strongman. In many
events in Strongman (Super Yoke, Farmers Walk, Loading Medley and others),
one has to be able to confidently and efficiently move the required weight
and this is developed from working the musculature and getting the neural
response from specific types of training that one has to incorporate into
their training. Moving quickly with 500 lbs (on your back or in your hands)
requires different abilities and training than squatting 800 lbs and in
its own way can be just as difficult.
A lot of lifters get lost in the middle. The middle I refer to is the many midpoints in lifts. How many lifters do you know that stall right above the knees in the deadlift, right above parallel in the squat, or even right above parallel in the barbell curl? All those points are difficult places to be and are the sticking points for many lifters. Another potential source of difficulty (and of course if trained for, another potential source of success) in Strongman is that the range of motion for the lifts can vary from very long to vary short. In any lift the range can and does
vary from contest to contest. This is something that just doesn't happen in other strength sports. What this means is that one cannot rely on their high performance on their standard lifts to carry through for them on those type of lifts in Strongman. I'm not going to say that having World Records in standard lifts is going to hurt (it will definitely help!) but one is not giving himself the best chance if he doesn't train at many points in all lifts. This of course means much rack and isometric/isometronic work. My Silver Dollar Deadlift bar for instance is 18 inches off the ground; which for most individuals is a 3/4 or 2/3 deadlift. If this area of the deadlift is ones sticking point, then one might not get off the ground what one could have the strength to lift.
One aspect of Strongman that is unique when compared to most other sports is the variability of events from one contest to the next and the uncertainty of ones abilities that arises from having to contend with events that are difficult to train for directly. There are dozens of ways that one can directly train to improve ones tennis game, but how does one directly train a refrigerator walk (without resorting to the unrecommended route of strapping a refrigerator to your back)? It is a fact that as more and more Strongman competitions are produced, there will be more and more unique events popping up and it will become more and more difficult (not impossible, just difficult) to directly train for all of them. Therefore, very beneficial attributes for an aspiring strongman to have are the confidence and courage to believe one can succeed at any event and a lack of fear of injury from
participating events that one has not trained directly for. Some men naturally have these attributes, some need the guidance of experience and training to enhance theirs.
Strongmen are not sissies. A sissy could not endure the sometimes terrific and unusual forms of pain that a successful strongman must endure. This toughness deals with not only the fact that Strongman does tend to be injury-possible, but also accepting and overcoming the pains associated with performing some of the events. Examples of such pain are carrying 700 lbs on your shoulders for time, locking onto a somewhat sharp 350 lb stone and walking with it as far as you can, picking up the back end of a car and pushing it over, and any type of cross
position event. Working out very hard and lifting tremendous amounts of weight can be painful, but certain Strongman events seem out to test ones limit to endure torture.
When I wrote that a successful strongman should have a well honed fighting ability, I did not mean to imply that he has to be a top level boxer or an accomplished street brawler. The fighting ability that I refer to is an instinctual willingness and readiness to do battle. This type of attitude of getting angry and attempting to destroy the event (not merely do well at it) can be cultivated and is utilized in other sports, but it is a necessary in Strongman. This attribute helps in all events, but it is most utilized in man on man events. When one approaches
a Bar pull against opponent, Pole push, or Tug of War one has to get PISSED. Pissed at the opponent and pissed at the thought of not succeeding. This is concentrated anger at the event and the competitor during the event, but
generally doesn't translate into animosity toward the competitor after the event (although it definitely can), Tempers have been known to flare during any Pole push as one can feel as if his opponent is trying to drive him into the ground (and lo and behold that is what he should be trying to do!) So my message is be a fighter, get fierce and become a champion.
Next month, I will detail various ways which the preceding 10 attributes can be cultivated and mastered, so that you, the reader, will have the tools to eventually possibly become "The Strongest Man Alive".
Until then, remember in Strongman it is not the pain that hurts....
Chris Mavromatis has a double B.S. in Neuropsychology
and International Economics from Indiana University-Bloomington. He lived
and Sweden and Belgium for 2 years and attended and learned from many strongman
championships all over Europe. He has competed in Regional Strongman competitions
in Belgium and Denmark. He has contacts and knowledge from numerous strongmen
over Europe and North America. He is currently producing the premier strongman
competition "The Strongest Man Alive Contest" in St. Louis, MO on August
1st and 2nd, 1998 and this contest can be viewed with frequent updates
Reproduction of this article, in whole or part, for any purposed other than personal use is prohibited without written consent. Copyright 1998 Chris Mavromatis.