Strongman competition events have held the baton for the unorthodox strength related competitions. Held across the globe on a national, continental, or worldwide basis, the events have gathered the crowds too. The idea behind the entire competition and its genesis is to diversify the judgment parameters of strength from the usually closed doors.
Consolidating a series of events through the whole length of itself, the strongman competition events remain unorthodox but effective. When a person would say “strength”, people would simply assume either a heavy bench press or a deadlift to judge their ability. However, strongman events broke the barrier by a long mile. The events comprise of a series of strength-sapping and high adrenaline activities. Each activity is more or less about lifting, moving, or dragging an extremely heavy item. As crude, as it might sound, each item is effectively selected after a lot of scrutiny.
Each activity is selected to address a different muscle and core group and the overall strength too. The idea is to judge people on the basis of their ability to deal with the tasks and come out on top simultaneously. What special factor the strongman competitions serve is to include ever athlete alike. Short, tall, bulk, heavy, etc. any form and body shape is equally accepted because the idea is to judge “strength”. As a result, the competition would see a large diversity factor in the strongman and the strongwoman category too.
Due to the factor of inclusiveness of people without a judgment factor of appearance or their body shape, strongman is the destination for the people with raw physique and attributes. These are people who do not wish to refine every muscle and put it on display. However, their unimaginable power and abilities set them apart. Hence, the strongmen are attracted to compete for the glory across a world-mapping event spectrum. Regions such as Australia, North-America, Europe, and Africa have the special inheritance of these events through a significant involvement history.
The constituent Strongman Competition Events
A typical day at a strongman competition would constitute of a variety of events. Each event would have a dozen or more participation prospects for candidates. Because each set of participants is different, hence, each event is customized to suit the participation genre. The smaller and precise events would end on the same day with the judgment and the winner announcement. However, the larger competitions would possibly be extended over 2 days. These events are eligible for dozens of members and open for the spectators to enjoy on the live viewing as well as telecast basis.
While most strongman competition events would revolve around lifting, some include simultaneous movement too. Because of the inclusiveness of a plethora of probable candidates, each contest is customized to suit the category. Moreover, large scale events also see the parallel running of both strongman and strongwoman events. The most relevant strongman events that find universal application irrespective of the competition size and location are:
The Atlas Stones
The Atlas Stones remain as the core and the pivotal part of the entire strongman competition. The event is a decisive one as it is last in the order and highly significant. Moreover, it sees a wide range of competition from a different set of strongmen athletes who’ve already sustained a draining and demanding schedule.
The stones are spherical in shape and hence provide significant strength and grip demand. The weight range stands around the 100 kg to 160 kg mark for each of the spherical Atlas Stones. Each stone needs to be lifted and simultaneously placed on an elevated platform that would range between 16 to 33 feet. Some of the prominent names to have succeeded through the event history are Magnus Samuelsson and Žydrūnas Savickas.
The Keg Toss
Highland Games are the core idea behind the origination of the Keg Toss. It stands as one of the most important and integral aspects of the strongman competition events throughout its length of existence. The initial form of the event until 2003 included the concrete blocks that needed to be thrown over the wall.
The block needs to clear the wall in a single throw for the competitor to move forward in the event. In the initial years, it was not the weight of the block but the height of the wall that kept on steadily increasing. However, the height of the wall stands fixed now at approximately 4.42 meters. The concrete blocks have been replaced by the kegs and the weight of the kegs increases gradually with the competition moving forwards. The weight for kegs would gradually increase from the initial 15 kg to 24 kg as well.
Arm Over Arm Pull
The arm over arm pull is the traditional event that has all the style and swagger of typical strongman competition. The participating athlete has to remain grounded in a sitting position, while the legs are extended out and resting against a supporting platform. With this position steadily maintained and no significant movement, the athlete has to pull a terribly heavy object. How heavy? Well, as heavy as an airplane, a bus, or if lucky, those big tires! Though the overall movement is not allowed, the movement of limbs is legal.
Meanwhile, the pulling is executed through a rope that is the typical harsh type. The rough surface means that it isn’t easy for the athletes to get a grip too. On the contrary to the popular belief, the arm over arm pull involves a significant amount of lower body strength. With the legs crouched against the wall, the huge amount of raw power needed for the pull is generated and the arms are the execution part.
Giant Dumbbell Press
As easy as it might sound, the giant dumbbell press is far from the ordinary routine at a gym. The athletes need to rely on the sheer strength of their forearms, wrist, biceps, and the stability and solidity of their back. Moreover, the lift and press involve a large amount of steady strength for maintenance of the posture. A single-handed pick with the supporting hand preceding is the right method. After the pick, the dumbbell shall go over the shoulder and a steady one hand dumbbell press is carried out. With every passing round, the weight of the dumbbell goes up until the maximum category or the elimination till the final candidate. The total weight count, posture and steadiness, time for a given lift and the weight category is important. Moreover, the weight of the dumbbell could vary between 100 to 115 kg or thereabout.
Finally an entry into the strongman competition events that involve movement and lift both! The fridge carry event is completely opposite to our habit of standing and staring towards a fridge with hope. It involves two suspended fridges with a bar in the middle (like a weight lifting rod with weights). The strongman challenger has to lift the fridges like lifting the bar with deadweight on the shoulder.
With this, the competitor shall move a distance of around 30 meters. The total entablature would go beyond 400 kilograms and is a significant test of the strength and the capacity of every strongman participant. Due to the nature of the lift, it is also a sheer exam of the core body capacity. The time lap for the round to take place is 60 seconds and points are given on the basis of the lift and the carrying speed. The event is quite distinctive as it has a unique take on the whole “fridge-man” analogy!
The Farmer’s Walk
What knocked off in the early 1980s as the Fergus Walk has changed a lot until the present generation? The farmer’s walk is a set of event parts where the Strongmen competitors need to lift and walk. Simple? Definitely not quite so! The walk also involves lifting two gigantic dead weight pieces in the form of a beam, an anvil, or something similar. With the increase in strength and practice, the weight of each of the pieces has gone to 160 kilograms individually. This also happens to be the total weight of both pieces combined when the event started early on!
Each athlete shall lift these and travel a fixed distance in the shortest possible time frame. The limit of weight has increased drastically across the 4 decades the competition has existed for. The origination lining back to New Zealand has propagated this diversely acceptable event across the globe as an integral part of strongman and strongwoman competitions.
Carry and Drag
The carry and drag even are one of the most anticipated and appreciated ones across the strongman circuit. Carry and drag, despite all its sheer involvement of strength and toil, is an aesthetically pleasing event. It includes 5 strongmen competing at a given point in time. To start, the competitors have to carry the anvils a fixed set of distance, one anvil each. Post this, the participant shall drag the anchor to the point too.
However, the thing does not end here itself. Featuring among the prime list of strongman competition events the task has more to it. The chain is to be attached to the anchor previously dragged by the participant. With this arrangement now, the strongman has to drag the anchor through the chain back to the point where it initially lied. Points are allotted on the intensity, time is taken, and efficiency of the task. It is an overall display of the might of each contender and transfixes every pair of eyeballs looking on!
The loading race has always intrigued the people who believe in the real display of strength and might. Similar to the traditional system played on every level, the loading race involves different objects ready to be loaded. These objects are to be loaded on a truck and packed off. While one may think distance and weight are the biggest headaches, it is surprisingly not so. For strongman contenders, anything between 100-125 kilograms is a walk in the park.
However, the variable shape and the unpredicted packaging of the object is what holds importance. The participant who can load these objects within the shortest time frame and get through shall be announced as the winner. The event is an integral part of the strongman series right from the very initiation back in the early 1980s. The events have also seen a lot of variables throughout the years of its existence in the limelight.
Overhead Log Lift
The overhead log lift is a diverse variety of the typical beer keg lifting task that is much more popular across the globe. In the initial 1980s, the idea was to decide the competition on the basis of maximum weight lifted by the participating individuals. However, with the change in the style and format, the weight is now in the form of a wooden log.
Through the lifting hold, the overhead log is lifted in a controlled fashion. The task is to lift the log properly, hold it, and then rest it down. Moreover, the task is to be repeated again and again until the number of reps is sufficient for the strongman competitor to win the task. There has been an umpteenth number of records made and broken during the long history of the event. Žydrūnas Savickas had a high limit lift of over 200 kilograms, with the exact weight being 212.5 kilograms. The task is one of the most glamorized sections of the strongman competition events.
Pillars of Hercules
The Pillars of Hercules is derived as an event from the superhuman strength of the mighty warrior. Just like the strength which Hercules vested to smash the mountains, the mighty strongmen are under the dread too. The event involves the participant holding the pillar on both sides with their sheer strength while standing on a proper supportive podium.
The twist is in the variation of the pillars where they both are inclined. The idea of the event is to hold the pillars from moving apart until a point of no support. The athlete who can hold the pillars together for a prolonged period of time shall be decided as the winner of the given event.
The event is the typical and traditional depiction of the squat task and has been rearing through the wide history of the strongman event. The event constitutes a loaded cage that would rest behind the strongman competitor. The total weight would go up to the limit of 400 kilograms which is a staggering figure in itself.
However, the squat event involves a large display of the lower body, calf, back, and shoulder strength. With this weight, the individual has to perform successful squat reps and go through until the winner of the task is decided. That event has been in the reckoning even before the 1980s and happens to be one of the oldest in the stance right from the early days of the formation of strongman competition. Mariusz Pudzianowski is the man of the hour when it comes to the record-setting section of the squat lift.
The vehicle pull is one of those strongman competition events that attracts a staggering amount of attention across the globe. The glamor part of the whole strongman series, the vehicle pull event includes the display of raw power on behalf of the strongman candidate to drag a vehicle. However, the vehicle is not an ordinary one! The task is to involve the mighty airplanes, trucks, trams, and many other heavyweight ones. The movement has to be made through a range of 100 feet and the distance being fixed, the efficiency of the pull and the time taken is the major decisive factor. The vehicle pull event is all about strength, endurance, efficiency, and consistency. A staggering 450+ kg weight has been pulled throughout the history of the event at max, showcasing the huge amount of effort that is needed to participate and stand through. Bruce Wilhelm is one of the major performers who have the glory days with the event too.
The Strongman Glory
With all the glory and the rewards that await, Strongman competition events are a high-profile affair outside the traditional bodybuilding and weightlifting sports. The event has traveled through the world and has been widely accepted with the male and the female gender equally involved. Safety measures for the task are weighed paramount during the event, as it takes a heavy toil onto the body of the participants.
Moreover, with each event moving ahead, the tasks get tougher and more competitive. Increasing weight limits, increasing time duration, and the variable nature of the events involved means the strongman series of competitions need high dedication from the participants.
List of Strongman Events
- Atlas stones
- Keg toss
- Arm over arm pull
- Giant dumbbell press
- Fridge carry
- Farmer’s walk
- Carry and drag
- Loading race
- Overhead log lift
- Pillars of Hercules
- Squat lift
- Vehicle pull