The first games held by our hunter gatherer relatives would have been simple by today’s standards. Contests of speed, strength, and agility were contested by distance markers like “Race you to that tree over there.” or agreed upon challenges of “I can lift a rock heavier than you.” This remained unchanged for thousands of years and is similar to what we challenge today, only on a more universal basis.
Rapid changes in technology have created a culture today that has made training a science, narrowing the gap in many sports and bringing information to coaches and competitors in an instant, so how will this affect strongman and your ability to compete and grow?
I predict that every aspect of how strongman is going to be different than what we see today. While garage gyms and parking lot contests will almost always be with us, the way the sport is viewed and how the participants train at the national and professional level will greatly benefit from science and our growing world platform. Here I break down five ways your strongman/strongwoman game will change.
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Virtual and Augmented Reality
While many athletes use online programmers and coaches, much of this is due to a lack of quality instruction in their area. Many of us who provide this service have not been in the same room with our clients for as much as one squat session. While video can help close that gap, it’s just not the same. With cheap virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) cameras and glasses, your coach in New York can now be with you in Nebraska.
- VR systems will allow the coach to have instant and lifelike interaction with a client. I can see depth better, heel position, and posture more correctly because it is like I am standing next to you.
- VR will allow a coach or spectator to have a front row seat at every contest and talk to you though your ear buds, providing cues from thousands of miles away.
- AR will provide the client with clearer pathways of motion they can see in real time though their glasses and help improve information transmission to the coach.
- Even our meetings and conversations will be enhanced due to the natural feel of talking to someone face to face.
Getting regular blood work can help you see if your diet and training program are having positive or adverse impacts on your system and recovery. This will be easier in just a few years with small implants (think a glucose monitor) giving your smart device instant feedback and logging all long term results. The guesswork of knowing if you are in insulin overload or protein surplus will be eliminated, but that’s not all. The Apple Watch now tracks sleep, calories burned, blood oxygen and can do an EKG! The future still holds more.
- Your watch will stop you from over sleeping and having an alarm wake you during a sleep cycle that can make you groggy. It will also tell you if a nap will improve your day. No more guesswork on your sleep.
- Bioelectric strips will provide feedback to the level of muscle recruitment and fatigue under stress. Knowing if you should add weight or reps or even back off can be more effectively monitored.
- Faster and more widely available body scans will overtake MRI machines and help to prevent injuries by finding weak connective tissues in the body and providing a rehab program for them before injury occurs.
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The most debated aspect of all sports is how athletes should eat for optimal performance. Fat, protein, and carbs all have their place at the table, but in what form, ratio, and amount has been the subject of argument for over 100 years. With the new medical feedback, advancements in performance tracking and knowledge of the microbiome the debate and guesswork will end. After a short series of tests and monitoring, clinicians will be able to see how each individual reacts to the nutrients and the best way to increase performance.
The potential of AI can fill a book bigger than what has ever been written. Actually, AI can already write articles and stories that are indistinguishable from human output. They may soon take the place of human strength and conditioning programmers by analyzing an athlete’s output and constantly adjusting their program to work with all the above technologies. Imagine putting your new recovery, nutrition, and AR tracking all together and then completely optimized by the vast knowledge of the greatest coaches ever.
The Human Element
The biggest change in the sport has come to us because those of us who compete and enjoy watching odd object lifting have shared it with others and that alone has grown participation by leaps and bounds. The recent pandemic has made gym life hard or impossible for many of us. As we come out of this challenge people will be seeking new ways to stay fit and improve their strength and many of them will find strongman.
The sport builds camaraderie and athleticism all while having a positive impact on one’s health when done in the right frame of mind. The future will find more and more strong people joining the ranks of our cherished sport.
Humankind’s quest to become bigger, faster, and stronger will never end. Our nature is to optimize systems and become better biomachines. We are on the verge of becoming the greatest athletes ever and finding the absolute limits of what human DNA can accomplish. Once that is reached, implants and nanotech will change our nature and the debate will begin whether we are still human or cyborg. That change is closer than you think but too far off for me to ponder.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured image: @martinslicis on Instagram