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Strongman: A Unique Philosophy of Strength

by Nick Biebel

What's strongman/strongwoman all about?

We could answer that in a few ways. We could talk about the specifics of the organized sport of strongman, which took its modern form in the 70’s and 80’s. We could talk about the community—because as The Strongman Club’s existence attests, that’s a huge part of the strongman experience. But right now let’s look at strongman’s unique approach to training and movement.

Photo via totalstrengthandspeed.com


In my mind, strongman is all about strength expressed in a diverse array of cool ways. Other “lifting” disciplines are more standardized. Think of powerlifting or Olympic lifting, both of which restrict competition equipment to a barbell and plates--even calibrated plates. But in strongman, almost anything goes. You lift logs and rocks, pull trucks, carry odd objects, and maybe even deadlift some cheese (shoutout to the 1983 World’s Strongest Man competition, in which the weight for the “silver dollar deadlift” truly was composed of blocks of cheese)!

Sports like powerlifting and Olympic lifting require weight to be moved against gravity while standing in one place. Now don’t get me wrong--those sports are impressive shows of strength! But strongman involves much more. The classic “static” events are part of the deal, but so are many other physical challenges. In strongman you carry objects and move them,or several of them, from one place to another. And sometimes the weight doesn’t “move” at all--you just hold it in place as long as you can! This sort of strength was recently (and impressively) put on display by David Harrison when he held a 200lb sandbag in place for eleven minutes as his submission for the Rogue Fitness bear hug challenge.

If you’re accustomed to the more “standard” way of doing things, it can take some time to wrap your head around strongman. You most likely have family and friends who wonder why you can’t just exercise “normally.” If questioned, gently remind them that human bodies of any gender were made to lift a lot of objects in a variety of ways. And they’ve done so throughout history! Gone about intelligently, strongman really isn’t more dangerous than most other sports. Like you, they might just find it incredibly empowering to lift a big rock or walk around with heavy weight on their shoulders. If they’re up for it, invite them to a Strongman Saturday with The Strongman Club and let them experience for themselves what strongman really is all about.

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