How to Train for Strongman

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Dec 8,2023|11 min| 977

Work towards becoming the next World’s Strongest Man

When it comes to joining a gym for the first time, the chances are you didn’t really think of becoming the next World’s Strongest Man. Many times, people join the gym and go two different routes. The first is they try to put on as much muscle mass as they can, doing their cardio and getting shredded for the summer. The second, is they go in and try to get as strong as possible on the big three lifts, being the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Have you ever even looked into how to train for strongman?

When it comes to strongman competitions, you usually think of the big Atlas Stones being tossed around, the logs being lifted, and things like that. How do you even train like that? Do you bring rocks and logs to the gym with you?

Let’s break down what strongman is, how to train for it, and the best program to get used to it.

What is Strongman?

Strongman is a sport that differs from powerlifting or bodybuilding, and even Olympic Weightlifting. Instead, strongman is a sport in which competitors are tested for their pure strength, using a variety of different tasks that you may not see being used elsewhere. When it comes to the history of strongman, though there have been many competitions conducted for testing strength for several decades, attempts to officially classify the events as a legitimate sport began in the 20th century. This eventually culminated with the development of the World's Strongest Man competition in 1977.

When it comes to the strongman competitions, most of them will consist of six to eight events in total. The athletes are each awarded points for each event based on their finish position. In the end, it is the contestant with the most number of points that will be declared the official winner of the competition.

How to Train for Strongman

Just because you see the strongman in the competitions throwing around stones and picking up logs does not mean that you need to do the same during your training. You certainly cannot walk into a gym like Planet Fitness or L.A. Fitness with a cartload of stones and begin throwing them around, that is one way to get kicked out in under five minutes.

That being said, what are some exercises that you can do to train for strongman with the standard gym equipment? Well, we have come up with quite a few different exercises that you can do to train for strongman with your regular gym equipment, such as barbells and dumbbells.

Deadlifts

If you want to be strong, then you should absolutely have the deadlift programmed into your training routine. The standard barbell deadlift is a great functional exercise as it has the greatest carryover to any activity involving lifting heavy things off the ground, whether you are picking up the sofa to move it or maybe your friend fell and you have to pick them up. The deadlift is also great for your core strength, as it requires you to brace your midsection when pulling the weight up. On top of that, the deadlift works your grip strength, and helps to improve your overall athletic development. 

In any strongman training program, you should certainly see deadlifts in there, because this movement works your entire body with a great emphasis on your posterior chain. The posterior chain is made up of glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Deadlifts are a solid foundational movement that help to boost your stamina for other strongman training work, like lifting Atlas Stones.

Lat Pulldowns

Lat pull-downs focus on your lats, which are also the same muscles that you would work when doing pull-ups. These are the “wings” of your back, giving you a wider appearance, but they are also responsible for a lot of functional activities. Usually the lat pull-downs are considered a bodybuilding exercise, as they are used to widen the lats and gain a great looking aesthetic. Lat pull-downs are actually an excellent accessory exercise for strength sports like powerlifting, and in particular strongman pulling events like arm-over-arm, log or axle clean, and all sorts of deadlifts. 

Lat pull-downs are also a good countermovement for bench press, (a favorite superset of Arnold Schwarzenegger) as they work towards targeting your mid and upper back muscles, which are activated and used during the bench press movement.

Squats

Being a strongman requires great lower body strength, and squats are one of the best leg exercises to incorporate into your training routine in order to really skyrocket your strength in that area. Now, when it comes to how you squat, front squats and back squats should both be incorporated into the program you are following to train for strongman.

Overhead Press

A lot of strongman activities require shoulder strength, and a good exercise for the shoulders are the overhead movements, so that being said you should incorporate those into your training routine. A barbell overhead press would be a suitable movement to throw in.

The Best Strongman Training Program

Now, we would not suggest all of these strongman training exercises and not provide you with a solid program to follow. That being said, let’s take a look.

Fullsterkur Strongman Program

The Fullsterkur Strongman Program is written by Alex Bromley who is a 15 year veteran in strength sports and has competed in over 50 Strongman contests. Fullsterkur is a strongman program that you can do in any commercial gym with just basic barbells, dumbbells, and gym machines, you don’t have to bring your own stones and logs.


Fullsterkur program contains a mix of many compound exercise variations that aim to mimic Strongman competition exercises and equipment use with the goal to develop static strength, work capacity, trunk & upper back thickness, explosiveness, and grip strength. Exercises include squats (both front and back), rows, deadlifts, lat pull-downs, overhead press, and many more that can help you train for your goals. 

Why train Strongman?

You may be wondering, why even use this training format? Does strongman training build muscle mass? Well, strongman training is more about developing true functional strength, rather than muscle mass. Not only do you learn to lift heavy objects, you learn to move them through different planes of motion, distances, and time durations. Through this style of training, you will develop absolute strength, explosiveness, and conditioning that translate to real life.

Strength competitions have been going on since at least 6000 B.C., which ended up becoming the modern World's Strongest Man Competition in 1977. Strongman competitions require heavy stones, logs, sleds, sandbags, kegs, etc. This is where Fullsterkur comes in.

Wrap Up

Overall, strongman training is more than just throwing stones and logs. That being said, you can train for the sport with regular equipment in a commercial gym. When it comes to finding a good training program for this, we highly recommend the Fullsterker Strongman Program written by Alex Bromley.

Will you be giving it a try?

That being said, check out the Boostcamp App for over 50 FREE programs or even create your own. Boostcamp also allows you to track progress, so you know how to adjust each week. Be sure to also follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!