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So You Want To Be A Strongman

Strongman has always been popular as a TV event but, due to its nature, relatively obscure as a participation sport. With an increasing online presence and a growing number of training facilities many strength trainers are wanting to get involved. On Sugden and various other strength training forums a variety of posts are coming up more and more often from people wanting to know how to get into the sport. 'What routine should I follow to train for strongman?', 'What lifts do you need to compete in strongman?' and 'Where can I train strongman near ____?' are just some of the questions that turn up from time to time. This article will hopefully answer these and give some insight into how to get started in the sport.


Strongman competition is designed to test all aspects of strength i.e. static strength, grip strength, explosive strength, speed, endurance and conditioning. There are no set rules to laying out a routine for strongman as everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses which will become apparent with some event training. As long as its based around the big compound exercises, deadlift, squat and overhead you wont go far wrong. An example of a strongman training split:

Squat (front or back)
Push press
Strict press
CG Bench

My preference is for a 3 day split but 4 day splits are used by a lot of athletes successfully. Event training is hard on the body though so you need to make sure you include sufficient recovery time when working out your routine. Bear in mind that your gym work is done in order to improve your event work so if its not necessary leave it out. Other things to include around your basic weights routine would be some conditioning and grip work. Conditioning is important for the dynamic events and a good grip is an advantage as grip is tested in a lot of events. Some good grip exercises to include would be pinch gripping and static holds.

Event Training

Event work is an important part of training for strongman. After all, that's what you will be facing in competition so the more experience you have the better you will do when it matters. You only need a basic level of strength to train events as most equipment is plate loaded so lifters of any standard can have a go. There are a growing number of training camps and gyms where you can train for strongman across the country and its worth putting the effort into finding one near you. Events like log press, tyre flipping and stones are all technical lifts which require practice. And even the less technical of the events will be vastly improved with a little training. In my experience most places are more than happy to welcome newcomers to the sport as long as they put in 100% effort. Training camps and contact details are added at the end of this article.


As far as the minimum standard needed to compete goes, its hard to put definitive numbers down as so much depends on how good you are on the events. Some ballpark figures to compete in a novice/first timers competition would be something like 220kg deadlift, 100kg overhead and 180kg squat. These figures are really just a rough guide though as your abilities on events will be a far better gauge. The best advice I can give is to go and train with experienced competitors and they will tell you if you are ready.

Once you have decided you are ready to compete you need to find yourself a novice/first timers competition. A great place to do this is Sugdens Competition Database. Most competitions advertised on the internet will find there way onto the database and its worth checking regularly as competitions will be added throughout the season. Probably the most well known, long running and popular novice competition is Severn Valley in Gloucester run by the Whey Consortium. That would be a good starting point for any strongman career.

Some things to remember in your first competition:

- Watch the other competitors technique to see if there's anything you can improve on yours.
- Speak to the experienced competitors and pick up some tips and tricks from them.
- Don't sweat the mistakes. Everyone makes them when they're starting out. The trick is to not to make them again.
- Don't worry about your final placing too much. The range of abilities in the novices is massive. Just make sure you do your best and set some PB's.
- Enjoy it. That's what you're here for!

Training Camps and Contact Details:

North East
Elite Strongman [5 training charge], E-mail:

South East
Basement Gym, Reading - Telephone: 07810 484 160
Ministry of Muscle, Unit 9, Mill Hall Business Estate, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7JZ - Telephone: 01622 792211

East of England
Hercules Gym, Colne Bank Avenue, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1UU - Telephone: 01206 573 737

South West
Strength-Tec, Unit 6 Lysses Court, High Street, Fareham, Hants, PO16 7BE - Telephone: 077 0612 1676
Whey HQ, 14 Hopewell Street, Gloucester, GL1 4HG - Telephone: 01452 537 259 - Email:
The Zoo - PM Sugden forum member Chester
The Hellpit, Devon - E-mail:, Blog:, Forum:

Wee Bonnie Scotland
Unit 20 Gym, Royal Elizabeth Yard, Kirkliston, Edinburgh, EH29 9EN - Telephone: 07931517391, Web:, Email:
Tony's Patio - PM Tony


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