T Nation

Entering First Strongman Competition


The gym I train at is having a strongman-type competition on October 1st. It actually sounds like a pretty watered down comp. but I've never competed in one before and at a long-limbed 6'1" 195 lbs I'm not really built like a "strongman".

Anyways, the events are this: 350lb tractor tire flip, keg toss, 18lb medicine ball toss (not sure exactly how that one is going to work), truck pull with rope (pulling as in rowing, not walking with it) and a farmer's walk with a trap bar loaded with 375 lbs. That's it. I've got about 48 smelling salts and about half a dozen icepacks to place over my heart to create an artificial adrenaline surge and I'll probably eat about 5 lbs of pasta for two days straight prior to the event and I plan on drinking roughly a gallon of coffee mixed with Surge Workout Fuel throughout the comp.

Basically, I'd love to hear some advice from some of you guys who are experienced at this sort of thing. Preparation? Comp-day preparation? Pre-event preparation? Workout aims? Any advice at all is welcome.

My workout right now is basically this: 5/3/1 every other day with about 7-10 sets of 1-4 reps on hanging cleans or hanging snatches on the days I don't do the 5/3/1 workout, ramping up the weight on each set until I get to about 90% of my 1rm and do a couple singles like that. My conditioning is horrible since my idea of cardio is riding a stationary bike directly behind the nicest ass I can find in the gym for about 10 minutes on the highest resistance setting.

To work on explosiveness and conditioning I plan on running short sprints on off days as well. I don't have access to a tire or a trap bar and the heaviest dbs at the gym are 120lbs so I'm doing farmer's walks with those. I think every assistance exercise I perform now will be done with some sort of variation that targets grip strength, like pullups with towels, rows with towels, and so on.

I usually perform some sort of ballistic/plyometric/dynamic movement of some sort every day, so I'm up for some more advanced shit in that department if you guys have any advice. I'm very familiar with Thibadeau's methodology but when I think about what to add or change I end up having trouble deciding what stuff NOT to include. I don't have more than about 2 hours MAX to work out each day for 6 days a week and there just isn't time to fit it all in.

Ideas? The events seem pretty easy and with only 5 events I'm not too worried about this, but not only do I want to win, I want to FUCKING DOMINATE. Oh yeah, there are weight classes and I plan on competing in the middleweight class. Which means I have to stay under 200 lbs. Thanks in advance.


Looks like a pretty easy first competition. The only thing that might be a little challenging is the hand over hand truck pull. What is the format of the tire flip? Is it flips for time or distance?

As far as advice, I will first assume that your deadlift is > 400lbs. In this case, I would say you're going to have to prepare yourself to move pretty fast with the trap bar. When you practice with the dumbells really work on moving as fast as you possibly can without running. It's going to be light and easy to hold so just go for it.

Regarding the tire flip, it's the same: speed. If it is really 350lbs it is a super light tire that a fair portion of women can flip. You won't have to worry about using your knee or anything, just sortof power clean it while leaning into it and push it down with as much force as you can so it skips a bit(if its for distance). As soon as it hits the ground and even before it stops bouncing around you want your hands to be on it for the next flip. Watch some videos of people doing it.

For the truck pull, if you have a prowler or a sled try setting up a good foothold and pulling it with a rope. You will need a feeder to take the rope from you, and you will need to really work on rythm. Try to get fast enough with the rope so the prowler never has time to stop when you are pulling it. This means a really fast regrip. If you are someone that has trouble keeping a grip on the rope, try putting your weak hand slightly ahead of the strong hand. If it slips down the rope, it will slide into the top of the strong hand and you will still be able to use the power of both arms. You can train it a bit with rope or towel pullups.

I am not qualified to give advice about the tossing events. Never done any comps with them or even tried it yet.

As far as cardio goes strongman is a pretty weird sport. You have to train to go at about 70% for almost 2 minutes. I would suggest doing 90 second sets of something like front squats, prowler work, and barbell complexes. Heavy carries are also excellent. A lot of people have lactic acid tolerance problems when they first start strongman causing them to vomit. A nice way to improve at this is to do a few sets of 60-100 reps on the leg press with 3 plates a side or so. If you can get through that without wanting to vomit you are fine, otherwise do it a few times and you will probably be fine.

Regarding preparation work trying to find a way to practice technique will give you by far the best returns. 2 training sessions a week simulating events is probably a good idea. Also I don't know what your deadlift is but having a bigger one is never a bad.

Anyway that's my advice, take it for what it's worth.


Thanks for the advice. Yeah, my deadlift is over 400 (gonna try to pull 455 for 3 reps, no straps, later today) so I'm not worried about the weight of the tire nearly as much as my technique. The tire flip is for time.

The part about keeping the weaker hand in front for the truck pull makes sense. I never would have thought of that. My natural inclination would have been to put my dominant (right) hand in front.

For cardio I was thinking about performing the Tabata method with front squats once a week, maybe just for 3 minutes instead of 4 since I'll be performing them more frequently than normal. Before I started lifting I used to be able to run 5 miles in 27 minutes so I'm not too worried about the effect that performing the Tabata shit that frequently will have on my body. I plan on doing heavy carries in any shape or form I can think of to help prepare for the farmer's walk so I think I'll just lighten the load every once in a while and try to walk around my block with that shit.

I'm actually planning on ditching the heavy deadlifts until the event in favor of speed deadlifts, probably something along the lines of Thibadeau's method that will have me waving up and down within a "max training zone". I use a cross-handed grip but I think I'll switch to a pure overhand grip for these. I'm not TOO worried about building up a bigger deadlift anyways.

The whole reason I was invited to participate in the event in the first place is because one of the employees came up to me after seeing me yank 405 off the ground like it was nothing. According to him, I'm one of the only people in the whole gym who performs deadlifts with any sort of respectable weight and I'm one of the only people who performs Oly lifts or other dynamic work on a regular basis.

In fact, given that the weight class I'm in is 175-199 lbs, I might be one of the only guys in that weight range that can even get the 375 lb trap bar off the ground for the farmer's walk.

Thanks again. I'll post some photos of me with two or three smelling salts shoved up my nose while I flip that tire like a pancake up in here after the competition.


Don't over-complicate this. It's your first contest with basic, relatively light events. The biggest thing that would likely help you is to train the events. Don't change much in your programming. Pick a day to specifically train the events and take a day or two of rest before and after that event day. Getting your hands on the equipment and actually doing the actual event will help more than most of these other ideas.

While the guy above has a valid idea with regards to the truck pull, at a contest aimed at beginners, grip likely won't be an issue. Hand speed and hard, fast pulls will be more important.

If you've never flipped a tire, start. Now. If you can, practice with the tire being used in the contest. And even though I think a farmer's walk with a trap bar is stupid and dangerous, you need to be able to do it if it's an event. So get the trap bar and learn how to be fast without faceplanting. Start throwing kegs and medicine balls. Find out if the throws are for height or distance and practice that.

If you've got a good base of strength, this should be a fairly easy contest. (Unless it has a ridiculous or impossible grip, a 350 lb tire is girl's weight.) Practice the events and figure out what you need to concentrate on. You have about 8 weeks which is a good amount of time for a solid block of training. Good luck.


I just found out today that the farmer's walk is going to be with the same type of barbells in your avatar. Unfortunately, they don't have them at this fucking gym and I don't know when they plan on getting them. But after kind of prowling around the gym today trying to figure out who the strong fuckers in my weight class are, I'm convinced I'm going to fucking SMASH every one of them.

I was doing farmer's walks with the 120 lb dbs around the perimeter of the gym and half of these dipshits were clearing out of my way with this wild look of amazement in their eyes.

I think the only I'm going to change in my workout is to perform much more snatches since they work the grip more than cleans, deadlift purely for explosiveness with an overhand-only grip and use towels for grips whenever possible. They don't have a big tractor tire but I used to have one that was about 450 lbs and it wasn't that hard for me to flip a few times. Plus, that was when my deadlift was down around 400lbs.

The keg toss is for height so snatches and adding in some heavy kettlebell swings should suffice until I get my hands on an actual keg and the medicine ball toss is for distance, any way we see fit. I think the best way is to chuck the fucking thing overhead like I will with the keg and just release later and get a little more backwards lean into it.

Again, thanks for all the advice. I think you're right. I'm starting to overthink it a little bit when all I need to do is make a couple minor changes in my workout and just practice the events.


The reason I think it is possible the hand over hand truck pull might be hard is it sounds like the event is likely being run by beginners for beginners. In this case it is likely that they won't properly test it. Maybe it will be on an incline, or be on uneven pavement. Even in the comps I do sometimes even somewhat experienced organizers don't test the truck pull well enough and everybody bombs.

One of my training partners had a comp in Edmonton with a harness truck pull of a loaded fire truck. Some of Canada's strongest were there at the time, and only one guy moved it one inch. A real organizational fail. The good part is by the sounds of it if it is too hard you will probably be the one that prevails if you are the only one that deadlifts much.

I agree that if you find out where you can actually train with the implements it will get you the best return for your time. Don't be concerned with you strength for this one. Getting a tire and practicing flipping it constantly for time is important so you can establish a rhythm and technique, thus less chance of gassing yourself.

Seems kinda dangerous to me to have a keg toss for height in a beginner event... Get ready to duck.


Okay, just found out the tractor tire I used to have that I thought was 450 lbs was actually 700 lbs. Fuck, 350 is going to be like flipping burgers.


350 is super light, I can do 500 for reps.

Re: the truck pull, look into buying or renting climbing shoes. The stiff sole helps transfer power to the ground better than any other shoe. Regular tennis shoes can break at the ball of the foot with a pull, too. The shoes shouldn't be climbing-tight, so probably a half size or size too big.

Farmers walks, we (females at a local show) do those with 160-170 per hand, so 375 really isn't much. Also, if they are like malone's implements, you might have a shorter distance to deadlift them so it's easier. I usually hook grip my implements because they are bar-sized but not knurled. You should see how big the implement grips are for you because that can make things significantly harder.

Core strength is really important to any event where you're walking with weight, so keep that in mind.


You might find that really awkward and lose a lot of distance to height. Look at how soccer players throw the ball in, especially long throws with a run-up. Not much arch but good distance. (And if you can pull off a flip-throw more power to you.) The motion is very much like a pullover. Meaning you can use your lats (flair them out as the ball reaches the back of your head) and chest (pull hard and slightly down with chest and upper abs) with in the toss and not just your shoulders and arms. You also get much longer movement which should allow for more power generated. I suggest practicing first with a ball (soccer or basketball) to get the movement then get in the gym and recreate the movement. You have time to work up the weight with medicine balls.

Not sure if I will remember to comeback to this thread so pm me if I can help.


Flip throw in


Here's a young guy throwing long


Malone nailed it. Don't overthink it, try to train as similar to the events as possible.

Regarding the farmer's walk inside the transvestite bar full of loaded 375 lbs she-males:

It's gonna be easy as shit anyways but if you don't want to take any chances with your grip, roll your palms into the handle as high as possible and let the weight stretch out your arms. We call this the screw-grip.