Introduction to Strongman

Strongman. The word itself brings to mind images of big-bellied, thick-bearded men, who spend their time throwing around odd objects of extreme weight. You see, the sport of Strongman really started out as a circus act; big, bald men in leotards lifting circus barbells and dumbbells over their heads. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just watch the episode of "Family Guy" where Stewie is on steroids and two bald men sing about eating steak and eggs all day.

Don't remember that episode?

With stereotypes like this, it's no wonder why Strongman is viewed as such an obscure sport by the public. However, despite what people may think, this sport is not only for the big bald men with mustaches but for women as well. I know what you're thinking, what kind of woman wants to throw kegs over her head and lift cars? Let me assure you that these women are not grotesque looking in the slightest. Chances are you have passed by one them and didn't even know it.

I feel that I am one example of an athlete who is breaking the mold of what Strongmen and Strongwomen are "supposed" to look like. Most people don't believe that I compete in this sport because, well, I'm not the biggest guy on campus. That said, I can definitely move some heavy weight when I have to. You don't have to be two-hundred and thirty-one pounds and have a power beard to do well in this sport; although I will say a beard never hurt anyone and can add some extra power but that's just my opinion.

As I said before, athletes in this sport are just like you and me. They are normal people, working in various professions, living normal lives. I have met competitors ranging from doctors, to teachers, to janitors, to stay-at-home moms and dads. I have even encountered overweight people looking for a way to lose weight. Strongman attracts people of all ages. There are even retired men and women who are looking for a way to stay active. Those individuals compete in the forty and up age group called the "Master's class."

With such a diverse group of people competing in the sport you may start to wonder, "Can anyone train Strongman?" To these people, my response is yes, but if you were to ask me, "Is Strongman for everyone," my answer would have to be "no." Strongman is for those who are willing to dig deep down every day and push their body to its limits. Each implement brings its own set of challenges. My friend and training partner taught me an invaluable lesson. He said "If you think you can, you have already failed." Yes, you read that correctly. You can't second guess yourself. You cannot say, "I think I can pull that truck." You have to believe that you can pull that truck.

Me pulling a truck:

Yoda said it best: "Do or do not, there is no try." When carrying a six-hundred pound yoke on your back, you cannot doubt yourself. You pick it up and walk it, for what feels like the longest, most grueling, spine-crushing sixty feet of your life. Then, when it's over, you have to want to do it all over again. You have to want to carry two-hundred and twenty pound farmer's handles in each hand, and keep walking even though your arms feel like they are going to pop off. These are serious weights that need to be respected, because if not, you can seriously injure yourself.

Respect must be given to each implement and the dangers that they bring. Strongman does come with an implied liability waiver... WARNING: training and competing in Strongman may lead to serious injury or death, but in all fairness I could get hurt or possibly die crossing the street. The author Charles Bukowski once said, "Find what you love, and let it kill you." As always though, with great risks come great rewards.

In Strongman, the circus dumbbell requires the athlete to clean the implement from the floor onto your shoulder, and then press it overhead. This is all done with one hand. At the end, when you realize what you have just accomplished, it is an incredible feeling. I know personally when I hit a circus dumbbell, I feel like He-Man holding up his sword screaming, "I have the power!" It truly is one of the best feelings in the world that no amount of money can buy. Strongman is so much more than throwing around big weights. It's about being in a group of people, who are both your toughest competition and your biggest fans that cheer you on to get your best time and hit that new personal record you've been working so hard to achieve. The comradery between athletes in the sport is truly amazing and something you have to see to believe.

The advice I leave you with is to get out there and see if Strongman is for you. Go out and discover that your body is capable of incredible things. Go out and discover the amazing feeling of hitting a personal record and the sense of accomplishment and empowerment it brings. Get up and push yourself to your limits and I promise you will see you are stronger and tougher than you could have ever imagined.

  • Christos