Today’s blog post will focus on how strongman activities can be used to benefits athletes of a variety of sports. Surely, at some point you were channel surfing and found a giant man on ESPN pulling a dump truck or some other amazing feat of strength. You also probably watched for a few minutes in shock and awe but later realized that many of the activities performed in strongman are the same movement we perform in the gym with barbells.
The sport of Strongman requires strength, speed-strength, core stability, a high work capacity, grip strength, and dynamic flexibility. All of these are great skills to have in many mainstream sports like wrestling, basketball, or hockey. Below we will discuss a few strongman exercises that any athlete could benefit from.
This is the granddaddy of them all. There is nothing more “functional” than picking something heavy up and carrying it. Athletes and non-athletes alike have performed this exercise for as long as we been on earth, whether carrying groceries in from the car or hauling bags through Dulles. One of the purposes of the core muscles is to resist movement in the trunk and this is a great exercise to teach core stabilization while the legs are moving. To get creative with this exercise, you can modify the implement you use. For example, a kettlebell, barbell, or 4x4’s (the wooden kind) if you want to challenge your grip strength. Have fun and get innovative.
The tire flip is another classic strongman exercise that is an athletic movement and physically taxing. Just a few flips of a moderately sized tire are sure to wake up all of your muscles. The hardest part of this exercise may be locating a tire but if you can get your hands on one, use it. It is crucial during this exercise to maintain proper technique and keep your spine out of risky positions. When performing the tire flip, it’s also helpful to think of this movement as an explosive lift off the ground followed by a violent push once the tire reaches its tread. When performed this way it is obvious to see how the movement could be helpful to offensive lineman who on each play must explode out a 3 point stance and take on a defender.
There are a multitude of variations for sled work and all of them train the body to work as a whole unit so this another great time to try out the many available alternatives. First, let’s look at forward pulling or towing. Strapping on a harness or belt and towing a weighted sled (or Volvo) is an excellent way to build strength and stability in the ankles, knees, and hips. This comes in handy for any athlete required to run or swimmers who need a strong push off the wall. Hand over hand rope pulling of a sled is a fantastic exercise to develop grip and bicep strength and pulling power for sports like wrestling and lacrosse.
If you are interested in full body strength, stability, explosiveness, power, balance, and overall toughness give some of the strongman movements or their variations a try and see how they help improve your performance. If those sound like horrible attributes (I’m surprised you read this far) stay weak and prosper.