I've written a bit on specific pieces of equipment (log, sleds and axles), this is a beginner's guide to essential pieces of strongman equipment. It's a snapshot of equipment that you might consider getting for your gym or home gym; all rated on 5 different attributes
Commonality: How often you will see this equipment being used in strongman competitions
5=signature strongman event, hard to see a show with out it. 1= rarely seen event Versatility: How many things/exercises this implement can be used for
5= can be used for many different events 1=can only be used specifically for this strongman event Expense: How much the implements costs to buy or make
5=can be made or bought under $50 1=Several hundred $ Space/Transport: How much space this equipment will take up in the gym. How huge of a hassle it will be to move (is special equipment needed, or multiple people)
5= Your kid could load it in your car for you, or you could easily store it in a closet 1= you better have a flat bed, maybe a crane Necessity: Is the equipment necessary to train a specific event, or can it be replicated with other equipment? This also is closely tied to how common the implement is. Even if it can't be replicated, it's inconsequential if it's a very rare event.
5= You can't live with out it, it can't be replicated to any degree 1=Can easily be replicated with other equipment, or you won't see it that often so you might as well run what you brung
Here's the score break down
Here's a little more info on some of the equipment listed:
Log- The log is the superior piece of overhead
pressing equipment. Log clean and press is an ideal tool for building a
bigger bench press.; the clean of the log hits the upper back and abs
hard; and the press absolutely blasts the delts, triceps; while still being easier on the wrists and shoulder than any other overhead press implement.
Unfortunately, the log can be a bit of a hassle to tote around; being
about 5-6’ long and 8-14” in diameter. And since it’s a niche piece of
equipment logs will never be found in any significant amount of
Luckily the log is cheaper than many other
pieces of strength equipment ($165-$300). So if you don’t have access to
one, what are you waiting for? If you’re tired of having a skinny back,
a weak core, or light bench, do yourself a favor and get a log.
If you compete is strongman, look for a 10-14” log (strongwomen look
for 8-12”) these will be the most commonly seen sizes at shows. A
smaller diameter log will be more difficult to clean, and having a
longer range of motion for the press, but the implement will stay closer
to the body than a larger log, which tends to have more instability
during the press. If you don’t compete, an 8” log is fine for basic
strength training, and will be cheaper and easier to transport.
Sled- The sled is a popular piece of equipment in
powerlifting, strongman and crossfit. And it's no wonder why. Sleds are a
great conditioning and leg strengthening tool. They can be used for
forward, backward and lateral drags to sculpt and strengthen the legs from every angle.
Sleds are extremely diverse. They can be used with many attachments for
more variation (pull it with handles or use a strap around your
shoulders or waist), and can be made to accommodate a wide range of
lifters. You can even add attachments to make a dual prowler/sled!
So what is the down side of the sled? You may have to build your own
because they aren't common in commercial gyms. Luckily sleds are easy
and inexpensive to make (no joke if you can use an electric drill you
can make your own for around $70). You don't have to use a sled in a gym
either. Sleds can be used on many surfaces, from asphalt and astro-turf
to concrete, carpet and gravel. And you don't necessarily need weight
plates, you can adjust your sled weight by using sandbags, dragging
tires behind it or small children.
So why don't you have a sled yet? Diversify your work out, take your exercise outside, and get some conditioning.
Axle- Pros: An axle is a very common implement in strongman, both for pressing and deadlifting. It's cheap (you can buy one from the right person for about $50-80). Axles are easily stored, transported and can be used for grip training on any exercise that you'd normally use a barbell, and can be loaded to about any weight, so many people in your gym can use it.
Con's: There is a slightly less effective, cheaper and more space efficient way to train axle: fat gripz, they fit in your gym bag.
Farmer- Pro's: Common strongman implement; cheap to make or buy (~$100 made, or $25-50 if you build yourself). They are great for grip training, can be loaded to different weights and can't be replicated well with other equipment
Con's: farmer's aren't very versatile, they can really only be used for farmer's carry
Sandbag- Pro's: Sandbags are phenomenal for conditioning; they can be cheap to make or buy; can be used as a substitute for stones, and the weight can be adjusted
Con's: Not the most common strongman implement (though it is growing in popularity); changing weight is a little more difficult than some other implements; and it takes up a fair amount of room (though you can still fit it in the back seat or trunk of your car)
Tire- Pro's: While it's no longer a common event you'll still see it from time to time at an amateur show; it can be used as a platform for box jumps; a small one can be used to arm over arm or sled drags; it can be used with a sledge hammer for oblique and shoulder strength and conditioning; can be found for free.
Con's: It' really been phasing out of strongman due to high incidence of bicep injuries; takes up tons of space and you need several people and a truck to move one; they can be quite nasty and need to be cleaned up, and cleared of nails or other bits of metal caught in the rubber.
Stones (both atlas and H-stone)- Pro's: A total signature strongman event. In fact it was a strongman event before there was strongman. (look up fullsterker). It's pretty impossible to find a good show without stones and it can't be very well replicated with other equipment.
Con's: It's not very versatile; stones have a fixed weight so you need several of them, causing it to be more expensive to buy or make them; they take up a lot of space; and are difficult to move (you can fit one or two in a car, but in general you need a few friends and a truck)
Harness- Pro's: inexpensive, takes up very little space, easy to transport, can be adjusted to any weight and used by a wide range of athletes
Con's: you don't see a harnessed truck pull very often in a show; and while you can use it with a sled, it's not the most versatile piece of equipment
2" Rope- Pro's: Very versatile piece of equipment; can be used for arm over arm pulls, tug o'war, rope climbs, and cardio. Doesn't take up a lot of space. Easy to transport
Con's: Can be a little expensive to find a good length of rope, and it's not the most common piece of equipment at a strongman show.
Yoke- Pro's: Another signature strongman event, you'll see it at nearly every am or pro show. It can also double as a bar for stone over bar practice
Con's: Difficult to move, expensive to buy, takes up tons of space.
Frame- Pro's: Pretty common strongman event for both deadlifting and moving.
Con's: Not very versatile, take up space, difficult to transport. Can be replicated with a hex bar relatively well
Caveat for yoke and frame: You can get some great combo pieces of equipment (farmer's/frame or yoke/frame or yoke/frame/farmers) which will save time, money and space.
Kegs- Pro's: Seen more and more frequently in strongman comps. The weight can be adjusted with gravel, sand or shot. They can be inexpensive or free (check the yard of your local frat house early in the morning). They are pretty versatile and can be used for carrying, loading, pressing or throwing.
Con's: They still take up a fair amount of space. And while the weight is adjustable, it's not as easy as loading plates.
Conan's Wheel- Pro's: Can't be replicated very well with any other equipment
Con's: very expensive, almost impossible to move, a unicorn of strongman events
Viking Press- Pro's: ummmm
Con's: very expensive, almost impossible to move, a unicorn of strongman events, and can be trained pretty well just by pressing
Car Deadlift apparatus- Pro's: relatively common strongman event
Con's: expensive, difficult to transport, can be replicated pretty well with deadlifting variations
Circus DB- Pro's: Common strongman event. Can be adjustable for weight. Doesn't take up a ton of room. Not crazy expensive.
Con's: It's a lot more critical for guys to have a circus dumbbell than women; you'll still see women use a regular db at a lot of shows. And women can train this event pretty efficiently with just a DB. Not a versatile piece of equipment.
Crossfit Southside will be hosting a Strongman Competition at Crossfit Total Control
in September (cooler weather, more time to prepare). Official date will
be released this week. They will be capping the event at 100
participants. There will be 3 weight classes for Male and Female
Men 165 and Under, 166-190, 191 and Over
Women 130 and Under, 131-160, 161 and Over
If you're interested we will be using typical Strongman events with
some having a CrossFit feel. Practice using Logs, Stones, Yokes, Axles
and any other odd objects!
Pro Strongman Vince Urbank (national deadlift record holder in his
weight class 906lbs), his wife Lindsey (record holder in power lifting
and strongman) and their new baby boy
will be on scene and delivering a seminar one of the weekends before
competition going over odd object lifts.
Turmeric- used for inflammation
and pain, turmeric contains the active component curcumin. Take
400-600mg 3x/day for relief from the “itis”
Ginger- also an anti-inflammatory,
ginger contains gingerols, and when dried becomes even more potent
changing into shogaols . Ginger is also a strong anti-bacterial and
anti-viral. Take 1-2 grams/day
Boswellia- also known as
frankincense, has the active compound Boswellic acid. It's been
proven to help with pain, inflammation, asthma, and Crohn's disease.
Take 150-400mg 3x/day orally for help with systemic pain or
inflammation, or apply liberally as a lotion or cream for local use.
Cloves- Contain the active
constituent Eugenol, it's an appetite stimulant, anti-oxidant and
can also kill internal parasites at a high enough dose. Take
1-2grams/day for a digestive aid
Cinnamon- Has been known to help
with diabetes, have anti-viral properties, promote digestive health and stimulate
appetite. Take 1-6 grams/day for appetite
Oregano- Is a strong antimicrobial,
antifungal, and appetite stimulant. Take 200mg 2-3x/day to aid
Devil's Claw- Has been used as an
anti-malaria treatment, treat liver and kidney problems, and is a great
pain killer. Take 750mg 3x/day for pain.
Cayenne- Active component
Capsaicin. Take .5-1gram / day or use topically as a lotion (<.25% to prevent skin irritation) for pain
St. John's Wort- While often used
to enhance mood by increasing serotonin, St. John's Wort has some
even more noticeable effects on estrogen. It increases clearance of
estrogen via the liver, which is great for building muscle tissue,
and if you are a woman that experiences bad cramps or hot flashes
this could be a viable solution for you. Hands down St. John's Wort
should be on your list of herbs to buy as a lifter, whether male or
Do not take if you are on birth control.
Cat's Claw- Also acts on estrogen,
but by binding at the estrogen site, but because it isn't nearly as
powerful as estrogen it will have a greatly decreased estrogen
effect. Cat's Claw can also increase IGF-1 levels (insulin like
growth factor), which can stimulate an anabolic effect in skeletal
muscle, cartilage, bone, liver, kidney, nerves, skin and lung
tissues. Take 1-4 grams 2x/
Meg Holliday, 105# powerlifter competed in and won NASA Raw Nationals for both her weight class and over all in the sub-master 1 division. She also earned herself a place on the powerlifting watch all time list for both squat and total at this meet. She was coached by Lindsey Urbank. Check out the link to see the article, Meg's meet video, and Meg's training blog leading up to the meet. http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/node/28123
I'm happy to announce a new contributer to UrbankStrong Diet and Training, Pro-Strongman Andrew Clayton. Andrew has his BS in Athletic Training, and is one of the most intelligent and self-taught individuals I've ever met in strength sports.... If you want to talk about injuries, therapy, nutrition or the science behind training, you need to talk to Andrew!
Here is a quick Q&A I did with Andrew, so you can learn more about his experience, coaching skills, and why you should trust him with your training.
How did you get into strongman?
I was always googling powerlifting, weightlifting and strongman trying to find a way to compete. One day I found the North American Strongman site (NAS, nastrongman.com). It just so happened there was one in Orlando, FL the same weekend as a convention my dad had to attend.
When did you first compete in strongman? At 16 When was your first show and what did you learn from it?
November 2009. I learned a lot of lessons. Like staying calm during events and executing like you train. I was so fired up I made way too many mistakes and because I had never trained with downcalls or with judging I didn’t know how to deal with that. How many shows have you competed in?
Darn, I always lose count. (Does some math). I have done 22 strength contests including 20 strongman shows (5 plat plus level), 1 record breakers strongman meet and 1 deadlift only powerlifting meet.
What are your personal bests?
I am not a fan of sharing personal bests anymore. What you do in the gym is to be ready for game day, nothing more. Competition PRs are all that matter. PRs/Most weight in competition 210 circus db x7 in 60seconds 370 log clean and press 375 and 385 axle clean and press in full show 410 axle clean and press in record breakers show 950 yoke walks 350 farmers sprint 750 frame carry 400 stone x3
What are your current goals?
Goals as far as lifts go is to improve movement/correct compensatory patterns, build up more in the static lifts (especially deadlift, squat, and strict press), and handle more work capacity. Body composition wise I want to get leaner initially then build up into a true strongman build. Outside of lifting I would like to impact others in the sport in a positive way, helping as best I can. I also want to pursue more formal education in sports science.
What did your training look like when you started and how has it changed to help you reach the pro level?
My training is oddly similar to what Derek Stone talks about in the Refuge Method. I trained 4 days a week with a bastardized conjugate style. Mondays were dynamic effort upper usually with speed bench, bodyweight upper exercises like pushups and then other support like strict press later on. Tuesdays were Max effort lower where I alternated between deadlifts and squats. I also trained weak events such as stone laps on this day. Thursdays were “max effort” upper where I did push press or jerks and more upper body work. Saturdays were event days which usually alternated yoke walks and farmers walk for speed, weight or distance. Next was a conditioning event, like an anterior carry (husafell, sandbag) or sled drag ending almost every week with some form of stone loading. Sometimes I even added in extra workouts for periods of time (like Fridays doing Front squats and sprints). Or over breaks from school where I knew I could recovery more I might press again on Wednesdays. Every week, almost without fail, was 4 days a week. I was/am very committed. My training now is less frequency, usually 3-4 days to allow more recovery. One of those days is usually just support work on the big three (upper back, glutes, and abs). I rarely do any “event” work other than grip and overhead as I don’t think I will forget how to yoke walk anytime soon. To reach the pro level I learned I can’t be peaked for everything. I learned to be patient in training programs and I have tried really hard not to miss non-technical lifts.
What do you feel your current weaknesses are and how do you plan to improve them?
Everything in general is behind where it needs to be. More specifically, my static lifts such as back squat and bench are the most behind technically and strength wise as I don’t train them as much. Deadlift and strict press are also needed to be improved, though maybe not as badly for deadlift, as I train it.
Who are your role models in the sport and why?
I do not like to idolize any man. Then how can I beat them? That being said my role models have all pasted on unfortunately. Jesse Marunde was one of the first big name American Strongman competitors I ever saw on TV (I can literally remember the hotel room). I knew watching him the amount of dedication I would need to do strongman. Having won my pro card where I did I think Mike Jenkins will always be a great role model for what I want to do. Strong, athletic but more important, he impacted so many lives. I mean heck, I barely even knew him and I can say I train harder and compete harder to this day because of him. Other great role models include OD Wilson, Jon Pall, and Johnny Perry. The intensity and sacrifice of past strongmen is always something that motivates me. I mean even Bill Kazmaier got choked up after OD Wilson came back from being hit with a 200 pound barrel to press 120 pound dumbbells.
Who have your biggest supporters been?
I would say my family and friends and many great training partners over the years. I have had so many rides to the gym, motivation and help with training that it would have been tough doing it alone.
What advice would you give to aspiring pros or new athletes in the sport? I am not sure I can give advice as a professional yet but to athletes in general I would say to ignore other competitors. They will huff and puff and be all macho all they want. You will be beat bad, you will lose, you will get last place. But remember that you control how strong you get and only you control your mindset. Be humble in appearance but have eyes that show confidence. Do it, don’t say it. When granted an opportunity, take it. This all might sound cliché these can take awhile to learn. If you conduct yourself as a winner then it’s impossible for you not to win one day. Like celebrating, sure, have some fun and be intense but don’t be surprised you accomplished your goal. Where do you intend to take your career?
I want to go as far as I can athletically. Unfortunately, I am still young and about to take on other adventures in life. I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned.
Are you currently sponsored by anyone?
I am not actively sponsored at the moment though a few local businesses, friends and family have helped with contest travel in the past.