T Nation

Why are the Best Strongmen Tall?


#1

What’s the advantage of having such crazy long limbs for strongman?

  • Brian Shaw: 6’ 8"
  • Thor: 6’ 9"
  • Eddie Hall: 6’ 4" (and he looks like a midget next to the other guys)

Surely being that tall makes squatting, pulling and pressing much harder, although I can see why it helps for the Atlas Stones.


#2

Pretty rare to squat as a strongman but size has advantages in all carry/moving and grip events.


#3

How does it help a grip event exactly? Longer stride obviously affects a carry event, but why grip?


#4

longer fingers vs shorter guys?


#5

If you ever have access to a knurled axle, you get a very good indication why bigger hands or smaller bars make it easier to hold on to things. I still have a decent farmer for example and everything else sucks haha

As for the pressing. I think it has a lot to do with the implements. The axle record stands at 216kg (or something), that’s by a 200kg man. That would be a laughable lift to an Oly lifer with a barbell - to give some reference, that’s jusy over the 77kg class Olympic clean and jerk record.


#6

I’m no strongman but cos there’s no weight classes the biggest dude gets an advantage and slapping a couple of hundred pounds onto a 5 foot something dude would turn him into a fat powerlifter. Gotta be 6’4’’ + to hold that weight without turning into a fat blob. Even Eddie Hall having trouble with it and he’s no midget.


#7

To be honest I’m more impressed that people can jerk close to 3x bodyweight

Another good point. Until I actually read his height I always thought Eddie was like 5’ 10" seeing him stand alongside Brian and the like


#8

Umm pre sure Axle is more akin to push press even tho Hall pre much strict pressed that shit. Dunno how much Oly lifters push press but they pretty much have perfect/max leg drive so its still loads


#9

Doesn’t matter how you get it overhead, jerks are allowed (except for the viking press). The size of the guys and the implements make it hard to do anything than strict/slighy push press at that weight.


#10

You sure Eddie Hall didnt strict press just cos it looked cooler than push press? Was already cool because WR but can always be cooler


#11

I’ll bet both my testicles that Eddie is pressing the way he can move the most weight and give himself the best chance to win meets by scoring max points … not to look cool.


#12

He strict presses is because for some reason the dip during the push press really bothers his knees, he addressed it in on of his interviews


#13

Also Eddie hall is not 6’4" he’s a decent bit shorter than Big Z and Big Z claims 6’3", eddie hall is probably 6’2" or something like that


#14

Keep in mind, you’re talking about open weight strongman, not “the best strongman” in total. There are weightclasses in the sport just like powerlifting, and the best under 105kg strongman isn’t as tall as Thor or Shaw.

For open weight, the best strongmen are tall because it’s really hard to be 400lbs at 5’9 and not be dead. That said, you can still find a few guys in the 5’9-5’10 range at World’s. Get down to the 175ers at nationals/the Arnold and you’ll see shorter folks.

And of course, part of this is because WSM has shifted to much heavier weights, which benefit more size. Back in the Early to mid 2000s, weights were lighter and so were competitors, and in turn, heights were down.


#15

Echoing what others said but I also think in the open weight category it it is more about who has the most mass and can stay decently athletic with it (which requires height).

On a lot of events you directly benefit from being heavy. For example vehicle pulls or dragging events.
Leverages do play a role in some events like stones and throws for height.

There also are really good strongman that are shorter but they can’t hang on some of the “weight influenced” events. Look at Dimitar Savatinov (very heavy for his height), Mikkel Leicht or Rob Kearney for example.

Also like Pwnisher said, the weights have become so crazy that it takes monstreous man to move them. An extreme example ist the Arnold Classic America (an event that I simply find to heavy).

If you want an example for “mass moving mass” look at the carry and drag event and also the bus pull from this year’s WSM heats where the shorter and taller athletes go head to head.

Also Eddie Hall always used to be announced as 1,88m which is about 6’2".


#16

Good footspeed in moving events is generated by short, choppy steps. a long stride is not ideal.

Also, clearly hand size is the reason being a larger human makes grip events easier.

As for pressing and deadlifts: Many of the strongest deadlifters, in fact most, in the world are over 6’0 tall. Being tall is not a disadvantage there. And the extra muscle that larger humans can carry on their body seems to outweigh the mechanical disadvantage (longer limbs) they have in pressing events.

Of course you are. You’ve never cleaned and pressed a heavy axle. The axle does not rotate via collars, the axle does not flex like an oly bar does. Oh, and it’s 2 fucking inches thick. lol. try holding that during a heavy clean.

Most of the best pressers, but not all, in the world push press. But the jerk is still used by some. Both methods are effective. In lower weight classes, many of the top guys jerk both the log and the axle. It’s technically very difficult, especially the log, but lighter lifters generally have the mobility that the biggest guys in the world lack. If you want to see something really impressive, watch the log press showdown from like '12 between Koklayaev and Big Z. Koklayaev split jerks like a 460 lbs log.


#17

I guess I didn’t really address the initial question directly. But the answer really just amounts to the fact that size, period, is the biggest factor in strength potential. I think it can be argued that shorter guys, meaning guys under 6’, don’t have a real advantage over the taller guys in any event. I could be missing something, but I can’t think of any strongman competitors shorter than that who are the world’s best in any given event.


#18

Wanted to see this so I had a look and thought I’d link it here for anyone else.


#19

I don’t understand Z’s pressing strength. After watching the world’s best fail repeatedly with the log at the Arnold (I think it was 2016), Z steps up and reps the damn thing.

He has the biggest gut and average delts compared to some of the others like Shaw and Thor but his body just does amazing things.


#20

18" deadlift, side handle car deadlift and circus dumbbell would be the only things that immediately stick out to me.