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Beginner's Guide to Essential Strongman Equipment

By Lindsey Urbank
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 commercial gyms.

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.