Strength athletics

Strength athletics

Strength athletics, more generally known as strongman competitions, is a sport which tests competitors' strength in a variety of different ways. Some of the disciplines are similar to those in powerlifting and some powerlifters have also successfully competed in strongman competitions. However, strongman events also test physical endurance to a degree not found in powerlifting or other strength-based sports. The typical equipment used in each event are "everyday" objects that the general public can relate to such as cars, barrels, refrigerators and trains rather than the varying weights of discs found in powerlifting and other strength-based sports. Strength athletics also borrows heavily from the traditional Highland Games.

There is no set rule about what specific events will occur in a contest, except that to prevent single-event specialists from gaining an advantage, each event will be different (a single contest will not include two squat events, or two overhead lifting events, for example). Normally, a strongman contest comprises six events, though at the top level of competition, seven or eight events may be held. Among the most common events are:
*"Farmer's Walk" - competitors race along a course while carrying a heavy weight in each hand. A variation is the Giant Farmer's Walk, with a much heavier weight carried over a shorter distance.
*"Hercules Hold" or "Pillars of Hercules" - contestants stand between two pillars, pivoted to fall outwards. The competitor must simply hold them up for as long as possible.
*"Vehicle Pull" - probably the most famous of all strongman events. The competitor pulls a vehicle from a stationary start, for a prescribed distance - fastest over the course wins. In smaller competitions the vehicle is usually a truck, however in major contests such as World's Strongest Man anything goes, including trains and aeroplanes.
*"Atlas Stones" - five stones of increasing weight are placed on top of podia at approximately head height. This used to form the climax of most strongman events but has been seen less in recent years.
*"Refrigerator Carry" - a staple of earlier WSM events that has made a comeback in recent years. The competitors carry two refrigerators, attached to an iron bar they hold on their shoulders, and walk it across the finish line as fast as they can.
*"Carry and Drag" - an object (usually a heavy anchor) is run across half of the course. The competitors then must attach it to a chain of almost equal weight and pull it across the rest of the course.

Strongman competitions have grown in popularity in recent years, due in part to the introduction in 2001 of the Strongman Super Series, an equivalent to the international "tour" in other individual sports, and to the influx of new competitors from eastern Europe who have broken the Scandinavian dominance of the sport in the 1990s. The top scorer in the Super Series is named Super Series Champion. In 2004 and 2005, this was Mariusz Pudzianowski of Poland. In 2006 Phil Pfister of the United States of America won the title of World's Strongest Man, becoming the first American to win the competition since Bill Kazmaier in 1982.


Training for strongman involves building overall strength in the gym, and training with competition implements to gain familiarity. In the gym it is necessary to train the entire body for strength, especially with variants of the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Also important is explosive power, developed by weightlifting-style lifts, and cardiovascular conditioning. Grip strength must also be developed. Like any sport, it is necessary to train using the equipment one encounters in the sport. In the case of strongman, these include logs, tires, yokes, farmer's walk implements, etc; building strength in the gym is insufficient without experience with implements.

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