T Nation

What is Holding the Sport Back?


#1

I have been doing Strongman for a few years now and have seen some great growth for the sport in just that short time. So my question is what is it that is holding back Strongman from exponential growth, more air time on TV, ect? What would it take to elevate Strongman to compete with the likes of CrossFit?


#2

At the top level of crossfit, you have guys that are 5’8 to 6’3" who look incredible and do common everday things. Everyone understands these events are hard to do but they can relate. You open your ye olde phonebook and there are probably 3 high quality boxes within 20 minutes.

Strongman at the top level has guys who start at 6"3" and some that top out at over 200kg. Thor is in the best condition and he looks plump on competition days, only a small number of people want to look like that. The events look cool as fuck but are completely unrelatable. If you want to learn, there is probably going to be one, maybe two facilities if you’re lucky, in your entire town and maybe state.

Lastly the Crossfit world still has the blissful naivety around PEDs where as strongman… lol

Still, it is growing - especially amongst women. As more money and opportunity comes in, it will sort a bunch of these issues out. It will probably start to look less like strongman of today (whatever that is lol)


#3

Also worth noting the Crossfit guys had a plan and a vision from day 1.

Strongman has kinda just evolved from guys who like to carry heavy stuff around.

You can see both Giants Live and Arnold Strongman are trying to put in structures that are maintainable and improve access for the public.

As a crossfitter, I can see a path to the top. Strongman? Until last year it was a total clusterfuc, especially at international level. Who wants to go through that for zero payoff?

These competing organizations will probably kill each other off.


#4

Competitors that look good.

Competitions that don’t take 9 hours to do 5 events at the local level, and 2 weeks to do 6 events at the high level.


#5

Injuries. Most of us relate to things we do or have done in the past.

There’s not really a beginner version of strongman. An average middle aged person can’t show up at a strongman gym (if he/she could find one) and participate. It takes a prerequisite level of strength and skill to do some of the events. CrossFit, on the other hand, embraces newbs and scales the workouts so everyone can play along and feel like a part of the group.

The length of comps is probably a big factor too. I don’t think a lot of people are watching local CrossFit comps but there are a lot of comps and a lot of participants. Most of the sport is built on its participants. CrossFit is a brand and you pay to be an affiliate and coach/trainer. I’d never heard of Rogue until CrossFit shy you have another brand in the equipment.

What does strongman have? Can I become a gym affiliate? Can I be a certified strongman trainer? Is there a specific brand that makes all of the equipment?

I guess you could say the reason CrossFit is thriving and strongman isn’t is because of planning from the beginning (like @T3hPwnisher said).


#6

Thank for the response! You say the average person can’t come to a strongman gym and participate why? There should be no making the sport weaker so that the everyday person can participate but everyone starts somewhere. Even the top CrossFit athletes had to learn how to do, whatever it is they do, properly so they could succeed. I would be willing to guess that the average person could come into a gym with excitement to be able to do a atlas stone and start small and work up to a heavy ass stone, it’s simple progression. And if it is a matter of having a plan to elevate the sport then why are there not more people assisting in making a plan?
Why is there not more acceptance of “newbs”? The greater the sport becomes, amount of competitions, athletes and such all come from bringing new people in and educating them on the sport. Also strongman has different conferences or organizations USS, NASM that do what for the sport as a whole? Allow promoters to put that name on an event so it’s sanctioned? There is barely any educational information on there pages (if the USS one is even working). I am in no way talking shit about these two organizations, do not take it that way. But I do believe that the sport of Strongman could be boosted immensely just not sure yet what it’s going to take!
Once again thank you for weighing in.


#7

The lightest 12" log out on the market right now is about 90lbs. Unloaded, it poses too significant a challenge for many average gym goers. Circus dumbbells tend to run in a similar issue, along with a few other implements. You need to be strong enough to train for strongman in many cases, whereas with crossfit, it can be scaled to an absolute beginner.

$$$. The lack of it to start, and the lack of it to receive for your efforts. Most promoters lose money on a show.


#8

@T3hPwnisher covered this one. I’ve never seen an Atlas stone in person and I live in a city with about 30 gyms. We have six YMCA’s and they’re all multi million dollar facilities. It’s mind blowing compared to the YMCA’s everywhere else in the US. What’s the lightest stone? Would a participant really feel accepted and encouraged while they lifted a 20 lb med ball over a bar while there were men moving 250 lb stones?

This is a negative thing; not a positive. I don’t like monopolies much but CrossFit works. Look at power lifting. It has several federations with different rules and all it does is spread the money around and detract from the sport as a whole. I don’t compete but I’ve seen people on here talk negatively about this fed, positively about that fed, etc. CrossFit has branded itself and is the only sport of its kind. That’s why it succeeds.

You want to compete in multiple events using multiple energy systems? You want to combine strongman movements with Olympic movements? You want to do gymnastics movements along with cycling and running? CrossFit. No other sport offers that and it won’t because CrossFit grew so fast that any attempt to compete with it will be shut down. Participants won’t even try it because it’ll be labeled a knock off. A lot of CrossFit’s success is the community and they wouldn’t turn away from their sport. I’m pretty sure they’d be quick to attack anyone who tried to rip it off too (it’s kind of cult like).

I’d like to see strongman grow as a sport. I’d love to have a yoke and stones at my gym. But it’s a bit too unattainable for the average person. You have to realize that average is probably a middle aged male who hasn’t trained in decades. You have to remember the 40 year old mother who finally has time to work on herself but she can’t do a push up. That’s your majority. How do they start with strongman? I don’t think they can. They could certainly build up to it, but CrossFit gets the out of shape newbs and keeps them. Strongman gets people who have developed a significant baseline with traditional strength training.


#9

well, to my knowledge, the amount of tv time each sport has is pretty comparable. World’s Strongest man is aired every year on tv, (the heats and the finals, so like 5-7 ‘episodes’), and the crossfit games are aired every year (also like 5-7 episodes). So perhaps your perspective on tv time is erroneous.

The difference between crossfit and strongman is probably not as big as you think it is at the highest level. There are probably less than 15ish men who compete at the very highest level of crossfit (meaning competing at the Games year in and year out, with a chance at making the podium). There are around the same number in Strongman who have a real shot at making the WSM finals every year. The men in both sports who are at the very top are physically gifted athletes, with genetics that are incredibly favorable for their chosen sport.

The difference between the sports amounts to 3 things, as I see it.

1: Female involvement, and interest at the highest level. I may get some shit for this, but the female athletes who represent the top level of crossfit are closer to what people generally find attractive than the top level strong-women. A lot of men out there would love to be either the strongest man in the world, or the fittest man in the world. Those are both great options for the average dude. I don’t think women see it the same way. More women will naturally gravitate towards crossfit.

2: There IS a massive difference between strongman and crossfit at the amateur level. Crossfit is a far more accessible gym activity than strongman. Strongman equipment is expensive as fuck, and not easy to manipulate for a weak individual. There’s a limit to how much you can scale the sport of strongman down to accommodate everyone. At some point, you have to switch logs to barbells, circus dumbbells to regular dumbbells, farmers handles to dumbbells, etc, in order for everyone to be able to participate. Crossfit doesn’t have that limit. If you’re physically capable of entering a crossfit box, a crossfit coach can scale most workouts down to a point where you can participate, and improve over time. Crossfit can be incredibly basic, and some workouts require zero equipment. You can run, do burpees, pushups, situps, squats with no equipment at all. Throw in a pull up bar and a medicine ball, and you open up a ton of options. Most crossfit gyms I’ve been to have dozens of bars, med balls, pull up bars, etc for a class to use. My strongman gym has 1 12" log. 1 yoke. 1 stone of steel. 2 axle bars. 2 sets of farmers handles. 3 circus db’s. etc.

  1. So that brings up the class aspect. I train in a group once a week for strongman, but many strongmen just train alone or with a partner. Crossfit is inherently a group activity. That attracts very different people. It attracts more people. People generally enjoy group fitness activities, particularly if they’re a little afraid of the gym, inexperienced, not so strong.