TOP 5 STRONGMAN EXERCISES TO ADD TO YOUR WORKOUT
Once thought to be only for those giant guys on ESPN, Strongman lifting has become as popular as bodybuilding and powerlifting. In most modern commercial gyms, there’s a good chance that you’ll now see giant tires, drag sleds, and thick barbells and dumbbells. If you can find a niche gym, it’ll be a Strongman equipment paradise.
If you don’t know what the difference is between powerlifting and Strongman, check out our article.
Whether you’re training for a competition or you simply want to get stronger, there are several Strongman exercises that can help. Let’s review the top 5 Strongman exercises for size, strength, and results.
Table of contents
- Tire Flip
- Thick Dumbbell Press
- Sled Drag
- Farmer's Walk
- Do You Use Strongman Workouts?
TOP 5 STRONGMAN EXERCISESIf you’re new to Strongman exercises, we highly recommend hiring a professional trainer to supervise your posture and form during your workout. Since you’ll be lifting up to 100% of your one-repetition maximum, proper form and execution is critical to avoid injury.
If you are experienced with Strongman exercises, we still recommend have a spotter or performing them next to a mirror so you can watch your form.
The following Strongman exercises are essential for building the strength and ability to perform those insane feats you’ve seen at the World’s Strongest Man.
1. DEADLIFTSIf you’ve stepped into a gym before, you’ve heard of the deadlift. The deadlift is popular among every type of lifter including bodybuilders, powerlifters, Strongman, and CrossFitters.
1.1 Why Is It Effective For Strongman?The deadlift builds total body strength by targeting the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors, lower back, abdominals, shoulders, and arms.
The deadlift is also an excellent way to increase grip strength. Check out our article on how to improve grip strength, which features several other proven methods.
1.2 How To Perform The Deadlift
- Align your feet with the first set of smooth parts nearest to the center on the barbell.
- Bend at the knees and take hold of the barbell. Make sure your hands are on the rough part of the metal just outside of your knees.
- Relax your shoulders and do not pinch your shoulder blades together.
- Keep your chest up but don’t drop your hips.
- Maintain a neutral and straight spine. Avoid rounding or arching your back.
- Take a deep breath then pull the barbell up slowly but do not use your arms to pull the bar. The barbell should touch your shins but not drag against them.
- Once the barbell is at your thighs, lock out your hips, tightening the glutes, and pausing at the top of the movement.
- Slowly reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
2. TIRE FLIPJust as the name suggests, you flip a giant tire in a domino-like fashion until you’ve exhausted yourself. The bigger the tire, the greater the difficulty.
2.1 Why Is It Effective For Strongman?A Strongman favorite, the tire flip builds incredible total body strength, muscle, and endurance. When you’re flipping something that is as tall as you (if not more so), you’re bound to get stronger. The tire flip requires a similar set up and execution to squats and deadlifts, activating the entire lower body while demanding just as much effort from the back, core, shoulders, and arms.
If you want to have a chance in a Strongman competition, the tire flip is an exercise you need in your routine.
2.2 How To Perform The Tire Flip
- Begin with an underhand grip on the tread of the tire.
- Keep your chest up and bend at the knees but don’t drop your hips too much.
- Maintain a neutral and straight spine. Avoid rounding or arching your back.
- Take a deep breath then pull the tire up in a fast and explosive movement.
- As the tire reaches eye level, flip your grip to overhand and keep pushing the tire so it flips over.
- Step forward and repeat the exercise.
3. THICK DUMBBELL PRESSOne of the most famous events at the World’s Strongest Man is the Atlas Stone. Competitors must pick up smooth round stones and hoist them on top of a column. Each stone gets progressively bigger and heavier with the final stone weighing in at over 450 pounds.
The thick dumbbell press is similar to a traditional military overhead press but the thickness in the bar makes all the difference. Don’t have a thick bar? Use a thick grips; they are just as beneficial.
3.1 Why Is It Effective For Strongman?Mimicking the lifting and hoisting motion of the Atlas Stone, the thick dumbbell press can help to build both strength and power in the upper body with an emphasis in the shoulders.
The thickness of the bar will increase grip strength, and you’ll see an improvement in all other exercises, especially those where grip tends to fail first such as the deadlift and weighted pull-up.
3.2 How To Perform The Thick Dumbbell Press
- Holding a pair of thick bar dumbbells, tighten your core and keep your chest elevated.
- Swing the dumbbells into position by bending slightly at the knees, raising the shoulders, then lifting off the ground as your snap the dumbbells up. The dumbbells will be parallel with the floor.
- Again, tighten your core and ground yourself before beginning.
- Make sure your palms are facing forward as you push the dumbbells straight up.
- Pause at the top of the movement and slowly lower the dumbbells.
- Repeat the exercise once the dumbbells are back at the starting position.
PERFORM THE THICK DUMBBELL PRESS NOW!From $375.00
4. SLED DRAGThe truck pull is one of the most famous Strongman events. Competitors are harnessed to an 18-wheeler with a rope in front of them. Using the hand over hand method, competitors pull the truck as a timer counts down. The guy who pulls that massive truck across the finish line the quickest wins the event. Sure, you might not be training to pull a giant truck, but it never hurts to have that level of strength.
Chances are that you aren’t going to have access to an 18-wheeler so a sturdy sled is the next best thing. Loading up a power training sled with several 45-pound plates, you can use two different methods to train: either pull the sled towards you or strap yourself to the sled and drag it for a prescribed distance.
4.1 Why Is It Effective For Strongman?The sled drag builds elite-level upper body strength and raw power. At the same time, it’s hammering your lower body, especially the quadriceps. Most importantly, if you will be competing, the sled drag allows you to build up the essential endurance needed to pull an insane amount of weight in record time.
4.2 How To Perform The Sled Drag
- Attach a strong and durable rope to a sled that has been fitted with enough weight to be a challenge.
- Brace your legs into the ground as you tighten your core.
- Bring one hand over the other as you pull the sled towards you using your back muscles.
- Once the sled reaches you, move backwards with the rope until you have reached the end of it and begin again.
- Using a harness that is comfortably attached to you and the sled, begin in a lowered position. Your knees will be slightly bent and you’ll have a forward lean with a straight back.
- Tighten your core as you begin to push yourself forward.
- You’ll be dragging the sled behind you as you cover the prescribed distance.
- Once you reach the end, stop to rest, turn around, and begin again.
5. FARMER’S WALKLet’s finish strong with an exercise that is popular in weightlifting no matter what the goal: the farmer’s walk. Holding a pair of dumbbells, you walk a pre-determined distance. Seems easy, right? Think again. The farmer’s walk requires you hold dumbbells that are far heavier than you’re accustomed. You can increase the difficulty and results by using thick bar dumbbells as well.
Haven’t tried thick bar training yet? Check out our article on the benefits of thick bar training.
5.1 Why Is It Effective For Strongman?The farmer’s walk is one of the events in the Strongman competition. The competitors might be carrying logs but the form, strength, and power are the same. Mastering this exercise by using thick bar dumbbells or the official farmer’s walk long bars is a sure-fire way to build total body strength and endurance.
5.2 How To Perform The Farmer’s Walk
- Find two dumbbells that are much heavier than you’re accustomed. You want to try to use 90% to 95% of your one-repetition maximum.
- Holding one dumbbell in each hand, stand tall with your chest up and your core braced.
- Begin to walk in a straight line for a prescribed distance.
- Focus on maintaining perfect form and a strong grip throughout.
- Once you reach the end, turn around and return the starting position.
- Repeat once you take a break.