Sport Rulebook

The Ultimate Guide to Strongman Competitions: History Equipment and Strategies

Strength and endurance are two of the most important qualities in sports, and few disciplines require them both in equal measures quite like strongman competitions. The sport of strongman encompasses a wide variety of weightlifting disciplines and events, all focused around testing the limits of an athlete’s physical strength and resilience.

In this article, we will be discussing the basics of strongman, from its historical roots to the different surfaces on which it is performed.

Definition of Strongman

At its core, strongman is a sport that consists of a series of events designed to test the limits of an athlete’s strength, endurance, and ability to move heavy loads. The most well-known of these events is the World’s Strongest Man Competition, which has been held annually since 1977.

However, there are many other events that make up the sport of strongman, including competitions that focus on powerlifting, grip strength, and even throwing. The sport of strongman has ancient roots, as it has been a part of cultures around the world for thousands of years.

In ancient times, people would compete in physical challenges to demonstrate their strength and power. This included everything from wrestling and weightlifting to feats of endurance, such as running long distances with heavy loads.

History of Strongman

In the modern era, strongman as we know it has only been around for a few decades. The World’s Strongest Man Competition was first held in 1977, and it quickly became the premier event in the sport.

The competition was created by David Webster, who was inspired by the feats of strength that he had witnessed while serving in the British Army. Over the years, the competition has grown in size and popularity, and it is now watched by millions of people around the world.

There are now many other strongman events as well, including the Arnold Strongman Classic, which was founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2002.

Playing Surface

The surface on which a strongman competition takes place can have a huge impact on the athletes’ performance. There are several different types of surfaces that can be used, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Types of Surfaces

Field surfaces: These surfaces are usually made of grass, dirt, or gravel. They are popular for events like the farmer’s walk, where athletes have to carry heavy weights across a distance.

These types of surfaces can be uneven and require athletes to have good footing. Paved surfaces: Surfaces like concrete or asphalt are often used for events such as the car deadlift or truck pull.

They provide a solid base for athletes to pull against, but can also put a lot of wear and tear on the body. Softer surfaces: Surfaces like sand or gravel can be used for events like the stone carry or the tire flip.

These surfaces provide a softer landing for athletes and can reduce the impact of heavy loads.

Importance of Surface

The type of surface on which an event takes place can have a big impact on the performance of the athletes. For example, a slippery surface can make it hard to maintain good footing, which can result in slower times or missed lifts.

On the other hand, a solid surface like concrete can be hard on the body, with athletes risking injuries if they are not careful. For events that involve pulling against a surface, a solid base can be beneficial.

This is because it allows athletes to generate maximum force against the surface, which can result in better times or heavier lifts. However, too much resistance can also make an event too difficult, causing injuries or slowing down athletes.

Finally, softer surfaces can be useful for certain events because they provide a softer landing for heavy loads. This can help to reduce the impact on the body and make it easier for athletes to recover between lifts.


In conclusion, strongman is a truly unique sport that requires both strength and endurance to succeed. The sport has ancient roots, but it has only been around in its modern form for a few decades.

The surface on which a strongman competition takes place can have a big impact on performance, and different surfaces are better suited to different events. Understanding the surface and how it affects performance is therefore an important part of succeeding in the sport of strongman.

3) Strongman Equipment

Strongman competitions require various types of equipment to complete events. The following are essential pieces of equipment that are commonly used in strongman competitions.

Barbells: Barbells are used in multiple events, such as deadlift and clean and press. They come in different weights and lengths, and athletes can use plates of varying sizes to reach the required weight for an event.

Boulders: Stones or boulders of different weights are used in strongman events. These are lifted or carried by the athletes over a particular distance or for a predetermined time.

Knee Wraps: Knee wraps are designed to offer support and stability to the knee. These are usually worn during lifts such as squats, where the knee joint undergoes significant amounts of stress.

Lifting Belt: A lifting belt is worn to provide support to the lower back during events that involve heavy lifting. The belt helps to reduce the risk of injury and allows athletes to lift heavier weights.

Lifting Gloves: Lifting gloves help athletes to maintain a better grip of equipment, and also offer added protection to the hands and fingers. Logs: A log is a long cylindrical object made from a tree trunk, often used for pressing events.

These are different from barbells and require different techniques for lifting or pressing them. Rope: Ropes are used in events like the tug of war or the rope climb.

Competitors need to grip the rope tightly and use their strength and endurance to pull or climb. Sandbags: Sandbags are used in events like the sandbag toss and carry.

Athletes are tasked with carrying or throwing these bags, which weigh anything from 50 to 400 pounds. The weight of the sandbag and the distance it needs to be carried can vary according to the specific event.

In addition to the above essential equipment, some events in strongman competitions require specific equipment. For example, the car deadlift requires a specially designed apparatus that resembles a car with handles on either side.

Similarly, yokes and axles are designed for use in specific events, with the former being used in the yoke carry, and the latter in the axle clean and press.

4) Objectives

Strongman events have two primary objectives lifting the heaviest weight possible and completing an event in the shortest time possible. These objectives are achieved through different types of events that test different aspects of an athlete’s physical abilities.

Events that require lift the heaviest weight possible, include the log press, the axle clean and press, and the farmer’s walk. In the log press, athletes must lift a heavy log above their head several times.

They are judged based on the number of repetitions performed successfully and the time taken to complete the event. Similarly, in the axle clean and press, athletes have to clean and press a weighted axle several times.

The weight of the axle is increased as the event progresses, and the athlete who manages to lift the heaviest weight wins. On the other hand, events that require completing the event in the shortest time possible, focus on an athlete’s speed and endurance.

Examples of these events include the truck pull, the stone carry, and the yoke walk. In the truck pull, athletes must pull a truck over a distance in the shortest time possible.

Competitors in the stone carry need to pick up heavy stones and carry them over a specific distance in the fastest time possible. In the yoke walk, athletes must walk with a heavy yoke on their shoulders over a predetermined distance in the shortest time possible.


Strongman competitions demand intense physical strength and endurance from their athletes. The use of essential equipment like barbells, logs, knee wraps, lifting belts, gloves, ropes, and sandbags are commonplace.

Specific equipment is also required for certain events, such as car deadlifts, axle clean and press, and yokes. Strongman objectives are based on lifting the heaviest weight possible and completing an event in the shortest time.

With various events like the log press, the truck pull, and the stone carry, competition is built on testing physical abilities to its limits.

5) Rules and Regulations

Strongman competitions have different rules and regulations that athletes need to adhere to. These regulations ensure that the competition is fair, safe, and transparent for everyone.

Scoring and Points

Scoring and points are crucial in strongman competitions. Typically, the events are done in quick succession, and scores are then added up to determine who ranks in the top eight.

The top eight athletes then advance to the final event, where points are awarded based on their placement. For example, the winner will get eight points, second place will earn seven points, and so on.

The athlete who finishes with the most significant number of points at the end of all the events is declared the winner.


Strongman competitions have strict rules prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs. These competitions rely heavily on the athletes’ strength and endurance, and the use of drugs can be dangerous and provide an unfair advantage.

Additionally, inaccurate weight reports or failure to comply with the competition’s rules and regulations can result in disqualification. The onus is on the athlete to understand and adhere to all regulations in a strongman competition.

6) Strategy

Endurance is a crucial factor in strongman events. Competitors need to manage their body and prevent burnout during all the events to stay competitive throughout the competition.

Importance of Endurance

Athletes looking to excel in strongman competitions must implement strategies that help increase their endurance. Improving cardiovascular fitness can help with recovery, particularly in events that involve picking objects off the ground and carrying them over a distance.

Stretching after every event can also reduce muscle tightness and stiffness, allowing an athlete to recover quickly and perform better in the next event. Nutritional meals at regular intervals are also vital for maintaining energy throughout the competition.

Event-Specific Strategies

Success in strongman events requires an athlete to use their strength effectively, strategically, and efficiently. To excel in the log press, for example, a competitor needs to have excellent upper body strength and grip.

Utilizing a leg drive, breath control, and a smooth motion are all critical factors that come into play with this event. Competitors can also develop specific strategies for events like the truck pull.

The event requires tremendous lower body strength to overtake the friction of heavy objects while pulling. Strategies like leaning back, keeping the body weight forward, and taking quicker strides can help an athlete cut through the resistance of the surface.

In events like the farmer’s carry or yoke walk, maintaining balance is crucial as the weights can sway from side to side. A competitor needs to focus on keeping their core tight, keeping the weights close to the body while minimizing swaying movements.


Strongman competitions are an intense test of a competitor’s strength, resilience, and endurance. Adhering to the strict rules surrounding performance-enhancing drugs, weight reports, and regulations is crucial.

Endurance and event-specific strategies are vital, particularly in events such as the log press, the truck pull, and the yoke walk, among others. Competitors need to understand their bodies and identify areas of improvement to prevent burnout and maintain their energy levels.

In conclusion, strongman competitions require a combination of efficient strategy, strength, and endurance to succeed. Utilizing the right strategies and adhering to the competition’s rules and regulations can help athletes stay competitive and perform at their best.

7) Strongmen

Strongmen are athletes who compete in strongman events. These athletes are known for their incredible strength and ability to lift heavy weights.

The following are some famous strongmen who have made significant contributions to the sport. Brian Shaw: Brian Shaw is an American strongman who has won the World’s Strongest Man competition four times and the Arnold Strongman Classic three times.

He is known for his impressive strength and has become one of the most successful strongmen in history. Eddie Hall: Eddie Hall, also known as “The Beast,” is a British strongman who won the World’s Strongest Man competition in 2017.

He is famous for being the first person in history to deadlift over 500 kg, a record that still stands today. Hafthor Bjornsson: Hafthor Bjornsson, also known as “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones, is an Icelandic strongman.

He has won the World’s Strongest Man competition and is a multiple-time champion of Europe’s Strongest Man. Hafthor also holds the world record for the heaviest weight ever carried over a distance by a man, carrying a 650 kg log for five steps.

Zydrunas Savickas: Zydrunas Savickas is a Lithuanian strongman considered to be one of the greatest to ever compete in the sport. He has won the World’s Strongest Man competition four times and is known for his impressive deadlift and log press abilities.


Strongmen compete in international competitions that test their physical abilities to the fullest. Popular events include the World’s Strongest Man, Arnold Strongman Classic, and Europe’s Strongest Man.

The World’s Strongest Man competition is the marquee event in strongman and features the most accomplished strongmen from around the world competing against each other across several events over a few days. The competition has a massive international reach, with millions of people watching its coverage every year.

Strongmen like Brian Shaw, Eddie Hall, Hafthor Bjornsson, and Zydrunas Savickas have made significant contributions to the sport. These athletes have won multiple championships, set records, and inspired the next generation of competitors.

In addition to these achievements, Eddie Hall’s 500 kg deadlift is a landmark moment in the sport. It highlights the incredible strength and ability of modern-day strongmen and is an achievement that inspires other competitors to push the limits further.

8) Events and Competitions

Strongman competitions are divided into various events, each designed to test different aspects of a competitor’s physical abilities. The following are some of the most popular and exciting strongman events.

World’s Strongest Man Competition: As mentioned earlier, the World’s Strongest Man competition is the marquee event in strongman. Taking place over several days, this competition features several events, including the log press, the truck pull, and the deadlift.

Arnold Strongman Classic: The Arnold Strongman Classic is an annual multi-disciplinary sports festival that features a strongman competition. Founded by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the competition features events like the stone carry, car deadlift, and Atlas stones.

Europe’s Strongest Man: Europe’s Strongest Man is a competition that features some of the best strongmen from around the world. The event includes several events like the deadlift, yoke walk, and keg toss.

Strongman shows and competitions also take place on a regional level, allowing new athletes to gain experience and participate in the sport. In addition to these events, strongman competitions around the world have strict rules and regulations that competitors need to adhere to.

This ensures fairness and safety for everyone involved in the sport.


Strongman is a sport that tests athletes’ physical strength, determination, and endurance. Famous strongmen like Brian Shaw, Eddie Hall, Hafthor Bjornsson, and Zydrunas Savickas have contributed to the sport by winning championships, setting records, and inspiring future generations.

The World’s Strongest Man competition, Arnold Strongman Classic, and Europe’s Strongest Man are some of the most popular events in the sport. These events test competitors’ physical abilities to the fullest and are watched by millions of people around the world.

Strongman competitions require competitors to adhere to strict rules and regulations, ensuring that the competition is fair, safe, and transparent for everyone involved. Strongman, a sport that tests athletes’ physical strength, endurance, and determination, has ancient roots and has been a part of cultures worldwide for centuries.

It requires essential equipment such as barbells, boulders, knee

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