Stones, logs, cars and planes… Towing, lifting, throwing and pressing… Strongman, like any sport, has plenty of specialized movements whether they’re event specific or just a general movement. Though it’s every spectator’s assumption and any athlete’s dream to be able to just train event specific movements 24/7, let’s get real… Progression in strength and conditioning utilizing JUST event movements would be like trying to learn algebra by just doing it and not having your times tables down... It will happen but for any athlete, efficiency is key, and efficiency comes from consistency in work and practice. I’m talking about Baseline Strength and Conditioning, and its application to sport.
An athlete can very easily be looked at like a complex machine… Lots of moving parts and variables equaling to one overall package. In this case, the stone shouldering, truck towing Strong Person is our machine and their events are their function. Like any good engineer, a strength and conditioning coach must respectfully pay attention to all aspects of the athlete and not just their overall function or eventually the machine will fail. Much like a maintenance schedule, an athlete’s periodized programming consistently involves not only event specific work but baseline strength and hypertrophic (bodybuilding) work, and mobility and endurance programming to build their overall abilities and prevent injury.
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The distance an athlete is from a specific event usually dictates the amount of time they may spend on baseline strength and conditioning work in relation to event specific skill work. The further the distance, the more fine tuning that can be done focusing on growth and development before working on skills specific to upcoming events. The closer the event, the more specific the programming must become to dial the athlete into the correct conditions being tested. Seeing as most Strongman events on an amateur level do not share events or some factors, it’s important to be well rounded until the events are announced before competition.
Typical focuses usually fall to Squat, Bench, Deadlift and Overhead press; as well as their variables. Each large chain movement has its application to sport, while having their own specific small movers that need to be taken into account through the athlete’s program. It’s not unusual for most athletes to do everything from bicep curls to grip work to build all of the small building blocks that equate to their overall needs.
The stronger the demand, the stronger the athlete must be. Without baseline work, that demand can easily break down the weaker athlete either physically or mentally. To be competitive, you need to be concise and efficient resulting in the best possible outcome in any sport from aesthetics to powerlifting.
Written by Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning
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