6 Must DO’s When Training Strongman
By Steve Halladay
With this year’s massive strongman/strongwoman season coming to a close there are a ton of learning opportunities for all of us as both athletes and coaches to look back on. Having seen the growth in the sport explode over the last year I feel it pertinent we use any mis-steps or break out performances as lessons but also that we are all reminded to stick to the fundamentals as well. Below are 6 of my highest MUST DO habits of a successful Strongman/Strongwoman
1. Train the hell out of your deadlift! A strongman or strongwoman that is well rounded with a great deadlift is very hard to beat. This is something the great Jill Mills (2001 and 2002 Worlds Strongest Woman) said recently and this statement could not be more true. Look at almost every top champion over the years and you will see that more than likely they were winning the deadlift events. Nothing is more important in strongman than having a strong back! (Great past deadlift content including sample programs featured HERE and HERE)
2. Train your grip until your hands feel like they are made of steel! Having a bad grip is the Achilles heal of strongman and strongwoman competitive performance. So many times at shows you will see an athlete kicking ass and then all of a sudden they get last place on the one and only grip event that day. With the way our awesome sport is scored this can completely change the course of your competition day. An athlete can easily go from first overall to middle of the pack and sometimes even worse if the points are very tight. Train your grip at a minimum 3 days per week. For me I know I’ll be training mine 5-6 days a week! (Check out our previous article on grip training HERE)
3. Use tacky when you train Atlas stones! “I don’t use tacky to train stones” is something I have heard a dozen times and is oftentimes said with some level of pride. I have never understood the appeal and often try to explain to my fellow competitors that this is a mistake. I follow with a few reasons why including giving them the whole “practice how you play” speech. The fact of the matter is, when an athlete trains with tacky they can train with heavier stones and more efficiently extend at the top of the movement. If you have gotten used to stones without tacky and subsequently can’t use heavy stones or you can’t do the movement properly then smarten up and put on some tacky already. Not to mention, not using tacky puts unnecessary stress on your bicep tendons and can be downright dangerous. I can tell you first hand, bicep surgery is not fun so use tacky!
4. Train your core! This one is so important and yet so many are guilty of letting it slide. Every event you do in strongman and strongwoman requires high levels of core strength. Using log press as an example, how are you supposed to press an enormous amount of weight over your head if you cannot transfer all of that energy from your legs and feet up through the shoulders and triceps with abdominals that resemble a slinky? You can’t, so train your core!
5. Train events every week! Would you rather be the guy or gal winning events or the one fumbling around like you don’t know what you are doing? Let me assume the first one. These events require training to gain skills and training them should be viewed like you would practice drills for any other sport. Train 4-6 different events a week with a little more emphasis on your worst events. You don’t have to go heavy all the time, just get the work in.
6. Train your strengths! This one is very important and you won’t get this advice from most coaches and athletes. When you are particularly skilled at an event, you shouldn’t shy away from continuing to improve. Every strongman and strongwoman needs an ace in hole event. Going into a contest having one or two events that can likely get you maximum points can often change the outcome of an entire contest. Do not ignore your weaknesses but NEVER say to yourself my “such and such event” is good enough so I don’t need to train it. You will eventually get proven wrong. One day winding up 2nd on your ace in hole event could mean missing 1st place overall and what a terrible feeling that can be.
There you have it. Admittedly these are 6 of many must do’s for training in our beloved sport. Take these 6 points to heart this winter and you will surely have one killer spring/summer season!
Steven got his start in the health and fitness industry training athletes. After a short time he branched off into training people of all backgrounds including health and fitness, weight loss, recovery after stroke, injury recovery and most importantly strength sports. During his strength career he has been an IPF powerlifting national champion but now competes solely in Strongman. Steven is one of the top strongmen in Western Canada and has competed in more than 35 competitions in the last 5 years Follow him on Instagram and Facebook