How Strongman Has Changed in the Past Year (and What’s on the Horizon)

As this month draws to a close, we celebrate my one year anniversary writing for BarBend! It’s exciting for me, and I hope in some way I have helped you become a better strongman through my (almost) weekly pieces. I have learned a few things myself; mostly that it’s difficult producing constant content when you are a coach first and a writer (can I use that term?) second. It started with my piece that tried to convince you to learn the jerk and has covered a lot of ground from there.

Much has happened since I started, and it is good news for the athletes and fans alike. Let’s take a look at what happened in such a short period:

  • A woman’s professional class was established and debuted at the Arnold. There are also more women competing in the sport than ever before with my estimates showing about 40% of return competitors being women.
  • After he broke the world record by 10% in the deadlift, a great documentary about Eddie Hall was released on Netflix. It is great exposure for our sport that regular people who may not have otherwise been exposed.
  • Openly gay athlete Rob Kearney competed in the World’s Strongest Man contest in Botswana. From what I’ve seen, read, and heard, he has seen nothing but support from the community, and this helps shine a positive light on strongman.
  • There are more live streams and ways to get information on the sport than ever before. The quality of them will soon rival that of the broadcast networks.
  • The 2017 WSM ended with Eddie Hall taking the title narrowly from Hafthor Bjornsson. Hall promised to retire after just one win, but I doubt this will be the case. Other athletes have complained that they were misjudged and the events were designed to favor the Brit. If he really wants to be seen as one of the best ever, he will have to defend his title.

With all these great thing happening, I can’t help but take some guesses as to where we are headed in the next year. With the freedom of not putting any money down, here are my best guesses for what is going to happen in the next 12 months for the sport.

  • While American women will continue to dominate most spots at international contests (Danni Schwalbe; Strongest Woman in the World, Liefa Ingalls; Arnold Pro, Kimberley Lawrence; North America’s Strongest Woman), England’s Donna Moore is and will be the woman to beat. After winning the Arnold Amateur look for her to have a sponsor foot the bill and get her at every possible contest that fits her schedule. She is leaner than last year and looking even stronger. This combined with her speed and athleticism makes her tough to beat.
  • Derek Poundstone was always a fan favorite, and the 36-year-old will be making a comeback this season. Despite plenty of injuries this man has plenty to prove and if he can stay healthy, he will again be tough to beat. His return most likely will be short, maybe a few years, but will be explosive, entertaining, and passionate. That’s everything you want in an athlete.
  • Exploring new contest formats is inevitable. To make the sport live broadcast friendly, head to head events that excite the crowd will be featured, and smaller match-ups that are faster paced and visually exciting.
  • I see Bjornsson making 2017 his year. He is now good enough to beat Shaw and we will be treated to major battles when they face each other in the next few months.

I have had the pleasure of working with some top-notch athletes and meeting hundreds of the top competitors from across the country and the world. It is the best part of the job and I am anxious to meet more new faces and see mind-blowing feats of strength.

While all of my articles are kept here, I will summarize my main points of the last year in a single sentence: To be a better strongman set reasonable goals and stick to a plan you are able to recover from while using great form and technique.

Now, let’s get started on year two of our journey together.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image: Michele Wozniak