Getting started in any competitive arena can be a very stressful time, and starting Strongman is no different. With all the information we have access to these days it can cause a bit of information overload and make it hard to get started on a good path.
For anyone interested in Strongman this article is for you. I reached out and asked some professional strongman athletes for some basic advice for anyone wanting to compete. So read on, and hopefully you can glean some nuggets from these gentlemen.
1. Dave Ostlund
Pro Strongman, WSM 2005-2010 & 2014, 3rd in 2008
For those athletes transitioning from regular sports and who are wanting to really pursue Strongman, they need to find an experienced group to train with that has the equipment. Surround yourself with people stronger than you so you will be able to push yourself. The events in contests are learned skills so frequency on these are important. Do not stress over the big lifts, those will come in time. Being proficient in the events will have a bigger impact later in your career.
Also, compete. Get the feeling for what contests are like. When you train you are in an environment you have created; however, contests can change. You will use equipment that you’re not used to, and you need to be able to adapt to these changes.
My advice for dealing with stress if you are taking your strongman career seriously is fairly simple. Make a plan and be able to adapt. If you really want it you will find a way to accomplish it. Take the little things seriously like rehab and nutrition. If you want to be successful, at the end of the day you need to be accountable to yourself.
For those who are adding strongman training in to spice up their programs don’t go overboard. There’s no reason to train events that have high risk. Go with events that have a lot of bang for your buck. Train with sandbags to do loading and front carry events. Use light and moderate weight on weighted carries like the yoke or farmer’s walk and do sled drags. These will hit everything. Don’t use very much supportive gear.
2. Bryan Benzel
Pro Strongman, WSM 2016, 2017 and 2018 competitor
My biggest piece of advice would have to be to hire a coach. You can get a lot of insight into how other people train, but more importantly you have someone who can make sure you are doing things right and when you are not they can correct you.
For beginners the first thing would be to compete. Don’t wait to be “ready” because you won’t ever think you are. Just enter a contest and do it! You’ll learn a lot about yourself doing that, and be a lot more confident after it’s done. Second, quit getting so caught up wanting to know the exact details of every event, every piece of equipment, etc. Train hard and just be ready for anything.
3. Terry Rady
016 U90K World’s Strongest Man, 105kg Pro Strongman:
For up and coming athletes, the most important thing in my opinion is to not neglect the small things. Things like unilateral loading, core work, and small technical things such as proper keg positioning for carries or proper muscle activation in certain lifts. Also, staying under 85% of my max when I’m in off-season or 6+ weeks out from a competition is a major key to me staying healthy and getting stronger. It’s also handy to hire a great coach, that way you have someone unbiased in your training.
4. Spenser Remick
Internationally Competitive Pro
If you want to get good, eventually training is going to be hard, and not fun. When you get to that point, you will be where you need to be to understand how hard you have to work. I thought about quitting a lot, but every time I almost quit doing strongman because it was hard or not fun anymore, I noticed that I improved the most. You have to push through your plateaus, because they are essentially badges of honor that show progress.
5. Rob Kearney
Pro Strongman, WSM competitor
The biggest piece of advice I would give someone starting out is: take advantage of rest/recovery. I was stupid when I started out and always had the “more is better” mentality which ended up with me getting injured twice. Injuries are setbacks and stop progression. If you rest and recover properly you can minimize the chance of injury and set yourself up for a successful career in Strongman.
Above the five pros provided a wide variety of advice as well as some similarities. A good rule of thumb is to always try and learn from those who are ahead of you. Try to reach out and train or talk to as many practitioners/athletes as you can. You can read all the information you want, but personal experience can often trump all of that.
Feature image from @terryrady, @spenserremick, @worlds_strongest_gay, and @dave_ostlund Instagram pages.