T Nation

My Strongman Bachelor Thesis

Hello Tnation friends,

Before I start: I tagged some people here who I know do strongman (competitive or not). If you don’t have anything to add or are simply not interested please just ignore my request. I don’t want to annoy you with this stuff if it isn’t for you.

So I am about to start working on my bachelor thesis. I study fitness science and - economics. I am in my last semester.
I myself do strongman sport and I love it. I talked to my professor the other day and he suggested that I chose a topic that I am really interested in, so writing all that stuff will be more enjoyable. He was fund on the idea that I do something with strongman.

My first step will be contacting the head of the GFSA (German Federation of Strength Athletes), Heinz Ollesch and ask if the German strongman federation would be interested in helping me out here. Who knows, Heinz doesn’t live too far from me, maybe he is up for an interview or something.

The base of my analysis for the chosen topic will be a questionnaire - so be prepared for me coming back to this, haha.

Now what I really need is a thesis - so sort of a question that I write about and answer. We can rule out anything with steroids as I know I couldn’t count on the help of the GFSA there.

I thank all of you ion advance for taking the time and helping me out.

P.S.: I have a lot of time to prepare for any topic anyone suggests. I am trying to get a head start on the whole thing here, as I work 40 hours a week, so I figured it might be good to start early.

@T3hPwnisher , @littlesleeper , @TX_iron , @brady888 , @strongmanvinny2 , @Alpha , @strongmangoals , @flipcollar , @brute_fury , @FlatsFarmer

I think it would be interesting to see if niche sports have an economic benefit in the local community beyond the tiny bit of activity that equipment purchases, training and event fees generate.

Not sure if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for.

WOW! That’s a project! I don’t really have anything to contribute but my best of luck to you!!! Let us know how it goes!

I don’t have any thesis ideas off the top of my head, but it is probably a good idea that you’re choosing a topic you’re passionate about. That will make it a lot easier to work on it for hours on end!
I would be more than happy to participate by completing a questionnaire.

I would like to go more into the ‘athletic direction’.

Also you have to realize how much of a niche sport strongman is over here. There are 24 competitions in 2018 organized by the GFSA (1 SCL, 3 pro league, 8 2nd league, 4 newcomer (novice), 1 totally beginner, 3 championchips - men, women, masters and 4 open cups - 3 women and one annual team battle Austria vs. Germany. I think that is not a lot for a country with 82 million people.

Most people don’t know what strongman is, if you mention it - just got my first five pages I guess, haha - or realize that it is a sport at all.
No German competitor can live off of strongman (the most internationally known strongman is Dennis Kohlruss I guess, who competes in the SCL and he is a salesman in a home improvement center.

It is a growing sport but is not growing as fast or as big as in the US or UK.

Thanks a lot for the suggestion!

Thank you @brute_fury, I will!

That’s what I have been thinking and what my professor said as well. I think he is a good pick to supervise me in this kind of thesis. I know that he has done weightlifting and I think powerlifting too. He definitely understands heavy lifting and is all in favour for it.

Thanks man!

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A couple of directions as ideas, although individually they may be much too niche:

Benefits of isometric loading and carrying objects, like in strongman

Competitive aspect of something typically viewed as exercise

Potential of performance bonuses in other sports when one trains in a strongman-like way

Potential health benefits and lower cost by training with weird shaped potentially common things

I’ll keep brainstorming, but these came to mind

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Is there a connection between accesability of the sport, and how well a country does at the sport?

Iceland has low population, they can’t have that many competitions, but is great at Strongman.

US has many competitions and many strongman competitors, but most of them are not international level guys.

Who’s better “on average?”

Where do other countries stack up? Who’s the most dominant Strongman Nation? Norway?

Is there a connection between amateur numbers and WSM championships? Does a big amateur system lead to great international results? You could make some charts, and do some Fancy Regression models, looking for correlations.

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Thanks @brady888 and @FlatsFarmer ! Those are great ideas! Keep them coming if anything further comes to your mind.

Your suggestion is very interesting and I could see that being a very cool topic! However I see a problem with scientific sources/ data here (meaning that I might lack data that I am allowed to quote).

These things are kind of what I am getting at. Although I would need a point of reference for ‘athletic ability’ or ‘benefit’ here that I can’t think of right now.

My professor suggested maybe even something like ‘favourite/ most used exercise in the sport’ - maybe something about deadlifts or loaded carries (as deadlift already has coverage) could be interesting if I find a fitting question/ thesis to it?

Do you have any desire to incorporate the economic portion of your degree into this, or are you leaning strictly more towards the athletic side of things?

Strictly the athletic. I am allowed to choose and don’t have to incorporate the eonomic side.

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This is really cool man.

I like the combination of these.

Kind of diving in to how “strongman” today is really just a polished version of being good at life tasks. I mean, even the NAMES of events are based in the history of labor or war.

Atlas stones
Farmers’ walk
Conan’s wheel (A recent fictional character, but he represented a brutish time).

I’m down for the questionnaire as well.


That’s cool, any kind of financial study for niche sports like this is tough because there’s such a lack of data to use (I tried something similar with climbing in college and bailed on that idea).

I know functional strength is a kind of shit term, but strongman I think is the best representation of real life in terms of training. I think that’d be a pretty cool angle to take.

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Thanks in advance!

I too like the idea of investigating the benefits of strongman training on athletic performance or everyday life.

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Definitely agree.

Yeah this is what I was getting at in response to @FlatsFarmer and @strongmangoals … I think the sports is too much of a niche for that. Plus I would really like to make a study based on a questionnaire. Preferably asking the athletes themselves because otherwise I would lack enough people.

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Appreciate the tag man, but I honeslty can’t think of anything that could be provable with the survey approach.

Could be worth analyzing the longevity or lack thereof of the sport. See how long people have trained, how many competitions they’ve done, and how many injuries requiring surgery they’ve sustained. You could then cross compare it against something like running.


Could you think of a better approach? I am not married to the idea but it seems like the best approach from a logistical point of view.

I really like your Idea though, thanks man! This could be combined with @brady888 's suggestion:

Yeah, that’s the thing; a survey is far easier to administer, but the tradeoff is limited/self-reported data. Like, something I’d be interested in is if there is a correlation between strongman/strength sports and opoid addiction, as many athletes end up in a bit of pain. I know Travis Ortmayer went through a rough patch of it and is finally back. But that would require some pretty extensive digging. Even the longevity in the sport thing would be better served by looking at data points across competitions, tracking trends of competitor names, frequency of competition and length in the sport.