How To Start Training For Strongman Competitions

By Rob Dales

I get a bunch of email each year from people interested in training for the Island Heroes Strongman Competition.

They all ask me how to go about training for the comp.

Most of these people that I have had correspondence with send me an email detailing similar circumstances.

They are using a bodybuilding program but aren't sure how to make the jump into training for strongman competitions.

I have searched the internet often for documentation on the subject of training for strongman competitions; it is a bit like hunting for a needle in a haystack.

This article is intended as a brief guide for those would be strongman contestants.

First of all I am going to suppose that if you are interested in starting to compete you are probably fairly familiar with the basic lifts already.

Most bodybuilding routines center around doing many exercises per body part and a high rep count on each exercise.

If you are training for strongman events I would suggest a different approach to your training.

Lower the amount of reps you perform during an exercise and do only those exercises that have a direct relation to big muscle groups and the events.

Make absolutely sure that when you work with weights you are stimulating as many muscle fibres as possible. This is done doing the big movements with big weight i.e., in power lifting what are known as the big 3 lifts: the Deadlift, Bench Press, and Squat. Also work the power clean, clean and press, clean and Jurk and the Snatch into your routine if you can.

Don't over exert yourself, your rest is important, try a training regimen two-three days a week to start, with rest days in between. For example: Mon, Wed, Fri or Mon, Fri.

To train for the events in our competition you might also try incorporating some sandbag training.

What is sandbag training? Fill a large duffle bag that can be found at an army surplus's store (for about $20) full of bags of sand until the weight totals around 150lbs. You can grip the outer edges of this bag and lift it like you would the log in the competition. You can bunch it all together and lift it like you would the stone.

Working with the sandbag will make you strong in all directions and you will profit from training with it in the sumo event.

Here is a list of our events and the exercises that will benefit those events.

Farmer’s walk: Train with heavy dumbbells, walking up and down the gym.

Log lift: Practice the clean and press with a heavy barbell. Practice with the sandbag.

Tire Flip: Heavy Deadlift, Squat, Bench press

Rock Press: Heavy Deadlift, Military Press, Sandbag Presses

Sumo wrestling: Sandbag work

Here is a Sample 2 day Split Program that you can have fun with:

Day 1 Warm Up in the Squat

Squat 20 reps high weight

Clean and Press 5x5

Sit ups 5x15

Farmers Walk Practice

Day 2 Warm up in the Deadlift

Deadlift 5x5

Bench Press 5x5

Behind Neck Press 5x5

Sand Bag Work

You should strive to add weight to the bar every chance you get. And get your rest and eat good food.

Once you can lift a minimum of: bench 200 lbs, military press 130 lbs, clean and jerk 180 lbs,squat 300 lbs and deadlift 350 lbs you will be ready to enter our competition.

About The Author

Rob Dales is an amateur Strongman.
He runs the Island Strongman Competition and is the webmaster of

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