T Nation

Strongman/Scottish Games, Northern VA


I would like to get into Strongman and/or Scottish game training. I cannot do such things at home, as I live in an apartment and they frown upon large tires in the common areas.

Thus, does anyone know of training facilities or groups in the Reston/Fairfax/Arlington region of Virginia?


I just got into the highland games in june. I also live in an apartment. Google SAAA (Scottish American Athletics Association) and look through their links to find some one near you. Also look for the training pages to find how to make throwing implements on your own. They are not hard and they can be thrown at any local park. but look for somewhere that will not mess up a playing field. I had a great time at the competition. Good Luck.


Yeah i'm going to compete in my first highland games in november. There aren't any places which specialise in that type of thing where i am from. All i'm doing is learning the olympic lifts and throwing rocks or whatever else i can find. I'll learn everything i need to know at the competition.


I threw in college and then went into highland games/ strongman afterward. HG and strongman have almost nothing in common.

If you have never thrown before, you are going to learn almost nothing at the competition, even if you have thrown shot, discus, or hammer before. The events are all very unique, except for stone, and highly technical. You will run a high risk of injury as well. The caber will be impossible and has the potential of killing you or a judge if you don't know what you are doing. I am being completely serious here. The other events are capable of serious damage as well.

You will get no advice if you show up as a competitor. This is for two reasons:

  1. You are a threat and no one is going to help someone they are competing against on the day of the competition.

  2. More prominently, this is a very close fraternity and most will be a little offended by you showing up having paid ZERO DUES by not learning and training before the meet.

Don't let this scare you away from trying to compete as the people in the games are some of the very best you will ever meet, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, just go as an observer and seek out the advice of some of the competitors. They may or may not want to help, but just keep asking and you will find some very helpful folks.

MILO is a great resource for information on both HG and Strongman. Google it and get it.

I trained with Petur Gudmundsson (four time Olympic shot putter from Iceland and consistent top ten finisher in the World HG Championships over the past decade) for over a year and never truly mastered the technique of the events and this after a decent throwing career in track and field. This is a very demanding sport. Being strong is less than half of what is important.

Learn to train, train to compete, compete to win. Good luck and post any questions you might have. I quit competing to go back to men's fastpitch softball and have no qualms about sharing the secrets of the trade.


As for Highland Games, see my reply to psnatch. You shouldn't have any trouble finding resources in your area as their are some fine comps there. Virginia is known for it. NC, NJ, and Eastern Penn have good reps as well.

MILO is a great starting point for both events.

Strongman is a weird thing to get involved in. It is very disorganized at all but the upper levels of the sport as many more people compete in powerlifting. However, their are some good events out there, you just have to look hard.

Also, do not equate HG and Strongman, they are nothing alike. Only the throwing events (tire, weight for height) are even close. The other strongman events are much more strength based.

Please note that unless you juice, your chances of winning a strongman comp at anything more than the local level are next to nothing. The highest I finished was third in a state comp. I was clean and tested as a USATF registered athlete at the time, but still squatted over 700 and cleaned over 400. I am 6'3" weighed 315 at the time.

I won two of the six events- tire toss and truck pull. The tire toss due to throwing tech and the truck pull due to mass and very good speed for a big man. The two guys who finished ahead of me were both around 5'9", one weighed about 240 and the other about 260. Neither carried more than 7-8% BF. THEY BEAT ME ON THE STRENGTH EVENTS! Figure that out.

Bill Kazmaier was the head judge and commented on mine being the only obviously natural physique in the show. I took that as a complement. Great guy by the way.

I digress. Just look around and see what you can find. I will be glad to take any PM's concerning Strongman or HG. Just remember, HG is much more of a community and the people are just generally easier to get along with.


I can't speak for Highland or Scottish games, but you can google North American Strongman and look there. They have a listing of Strongman and I think Highland friendly gyms.

I believe if you look up "The weak get eaten" on google, they hav a fairly big gym listing too.

I've competed in strongman, but not a real highland meet. About once a year there is a meet back home (MO) that combines strongman and highland. It makes for a very interesting meet. Especially as some of the top A class throwers are competeing and setting records.

Ever see a 56# WOB fly 16' straight up?

Or a 46# WOB fly 20'?


Strongman is a weird thing to get involved in. It is very disorganized at all but the upper levels of the sport as many more people compete in powerlifting. However, their are some good events out there, you just have to look hard.

I would not say Strongman is a weird thing to get involved in or disorganized. NAS inc. is very organized and has state chairs in almost every state. I have competed in 5 competitions including one this weekend. They have all been very well organized all with the chance to advance to Nationals and then on to the pro's.




I competed in the highland games around the MD/VA area all summer last year. It is a great group of guys, and I'd be throwing again this year if I didn't tear the patellar tendon off my kneecap in January. PM me if you want more info, I can put you in touch with people that throw every weekend, or just check the site's message board, they post practices...


Go here: http://www.nasgaweb.com/main.asp Its a great bunch of guys and you should be able to find someone in your area to help you get started! I have found that Highland Games is one of the only sports left that most people will still help the guy next to them ( even during a compitition! ). What other sport do you get a bunch of prople that see each other ever few months and compete to beat each other all day long, and thin drink beer all night long. With no hard feelings!

Just my 2 cents worth. Good luck. And maybe we'll run into each other sometime.


I didn't mean to say that it is weird to want to get involved in strongman- I loved competing. I just meant that the process of getting started is a bit unlike other sports in that you have to really seek out avenues to compete. This is due to the sport being very individually based, much like T&F.

As far as your sanctioning body is concerned, that is great news to me as I have been out of the strongman scene for SEVEN years. It sounds like someone is doing a much better job of organizing now days.


You are absolutely right about HG being one of the last truely fraternal sports out there- some of the best people I have ever known came from these games. As far as helping at the competition is concerned, only Petur and a guy named Larry Satchwell (he put out a video a few years back- try to google it) ever made any effort to help me. Everybody else just kicked my ass for the first year and then when I started picking up a few event wins, we all started sharing info. Great guys, just competitive as hell. The after parties were ridiculous (in a good way) as well. More beer, scotch, and mutton (that's sheep for the uninitiated) pies than you could stand. Highland dancers were always a nice touch as well. There's nothing like a pretty redhead!

As far as my recommendations to train first and to leave any thoughts of turning your first caber at the edge of the field- I stand by them. Your's and someone else's life may depend on it. I saw an old guy get hit with a light hammer Grandfather Mt., NC, a few years ago. At least I think that's where it was. I don't think he died, but was comatose for a while.

I love what I do now for some of the same reasons. Men's fastpitch is a very testosterone driven sport. I don't mean guys wearing $200 sunglasses and screaming at the umpires either. It is very extreme in that you play on a field where the bases are 60' apart and the pitchers throw at speeds of up to 85 mph from 46' away. It is very aggressive with lots of bunting and stealing and the guys will knock you down in the box if you crowd the plate. You might go in hard and take out the catcher to win a game, but then later on that night in the beer garden or at some tavern, you'll sit there and compare scars and argue over beer preferences while your wives look on in disbelief and your kids play together. It is truly a close fraternity and a great way to spend the summer.

Sorry about the semi-hijack. I can go on and on about how much I love both HG and fastpitch. Same thing with the gym.

I am a pitcher- 74 mph and getting faster!!!!!


I am in Arlington for a while longer and have an interest in this as well.

Not sure how long I will be in the area for sure, at least through December. I would love at least the the experience of seeing some of these events, training etc. for the future.


I am in the Boston Mass area and if there are any T-Nation members out there that compete in HG please PM me. I would love to link up and just learn the throws. I have been hitting the recommended sites inaddition to some others I have found and I'm still left hungry for more info. I have no throwing background so I can use all the help I can get. I am going to try to get to the Mad River Ralley to see the games this weekend but it is 4 hrs away, and that might not work out. Thanks for all the info from those that have provided.


Note: There will be a Highland Games competition at the end of July in Alexandria, VA.



Daven thanks for the heads up I am marking my calander for this one and will for sure try and make it.

Thanks again,


A guy named Art McDermott is the director of the Poliquin Performance Center in Boston and was one of the best HG throwers I ever went against. He re-invented the sheaf toss a few years ago by adding a spin to the technique. YOU MUST SEEK HIM OUT! Very nice guy as I remember.


I will look him up today. Thank you very much for the help.


Well if anyone gets something going in NOVA please post it up...maybe there would be enough interest for someone to start up a group. Maybe tie it into the DC T-Cell thread on Get a Life board...

Wish I could dedicate a specific schedule and get involved in a group strongman start up, but I juggle a bad schedule between my job and coaching on days off...but if something gets going Id love to get in on it when I can!


Just wanted to bump this due to the fact the games mentioned are next weekend


If you check the message board at the MASA site, you might find what you are looking for. I'm new to the sport also, so I too know the difficulty of finding an "in".

The site is www.masa.allhere.com

there are several throwers in your area.