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April 06, 2022 3 min read

Is Strongman Training The Ultimate In Functional Fitness?

Strongman Training is a true test of prowess and strength, which is often derided for its media depiction. When I used to think of strongman training I’d think of bros, bro science,  Channel 5 (here in the UK), Truck Pulling and Malta ( as that’s where a lot of the events are held). But when you dig deeper, and learn about strongman training, it’s rigorous, strength intensive and functional. The men and women who go on to do this for a living commit to it heavily, training as much as possible. The belief and adherence this practice fosters is almost what we want to foster as coaches and trainers; belief, confidence, dedication and habitual routine. Although I don’t expect any of my clients to be truck pulling any time soon! 

More akin to heavier weights, and lifting techniques, strongman training incorporates compound movements and functional exercises. Most kit tends to be very rustic by design, to keep that functionality. For example, logs, boulders, tyres and sand bags tend to be used a lot. You can purchase Gravity Fitness Sandbags here, if this peaks your interest and you want get started with strongman training.

Because the movements of strongman training tend to be functional with real world applications, they make for great exercise additions into any routine. Fireman’s carry, squats, tyre flips, thrusters, suitcase carry, overhead throws, sledgehammer swings, weighted lunges and sled pushes (or pulls) are all examples of exercises which can be added into a routine.

If during your calisthenics routine, you want to take a rest from work on the bar or paralettes, you can incorporate strongman training exercises in between your calisthenics work to maximize your workouts. You can even move into hypertrophic rep ranges with less weight to ensure you work toward heavy fatigue, or failure, depending on your training schedule.

With strongman training, as the name suggests, strength, explosiveness and power are key. In terms of rep range and weight, you want to be looking at around 85% of your 1RM (1 rep max) and higher for 3-6 reps to really push your strength gains. Always start with half weight or lighter warm up sets to grease your groove, and engage correctly with the movement. Correct muscle engagement and warm ups are key with strongman training to help prevent injury, and to ensure accurate form and muscle fibre recruitment (i.e. maximum force).

However, functional movement is always going to be functional, whether training for strength and power, motor control or hypertrophy, making it a staple in any workout or fitness routine. So any functional movement will help work on multiple planes of movement and rotation as well.

I’ve listed an example strongman session below. This can be adapted to hypertrophic rep ranges by halving the weight being used, shortening the rest periods and doubling the reps;

-Sled Pull > Sled Push = max speed for 6 lengths
90 secs rest

-Goblet Sandbag Squats = 80% 1RM x 6 reps x 3 sets
-Sandbag Deadlifts = 80% 1RM x 6 reps x 3 sets
=Super Set – rest for 90 secs between sets

-Sand Bag lift to overhead throws = 80% 1RM for 45 secs x 3 sets – rest for 90 secs between sets

-Tyre Flips = 80% effort for 45 secs x 3 sets
-Sledgehammer Slams = 80% effort for 45 secs x 3 sets
=Super set rest for 90 secs between sets

-Sand Bag snatch to overhead press = 80% 1RM x 6 reps x 3 sets – rest for 90 secs between sets

We’d love to see you get involved with strongman training, so tag us on IG so we can check out your progress, and your routines!