What is it to be a Strong Man exactly?
Why do women not compete in sports that men are predominant in? Well, here is why! This Blog is a 7- to 10-minute read.
Strongman competitions is a sport which tests competitors’ strength in a variety of non-traditional ways. Some of the disciplines are similar to those in powerlifting and some powerlifters have also successfully competed in strongman competitions. However, strongman events also test physical endurance to a degree not found in powerlifting or other strength-based sports, such as carrying refrigerators, flipping truck tires, and pulling vehicles with a rope.
In the 19th century, the term strongman referred to an exhibitor of strength or similar circus performers who performed feats of strength. More recently, strength athletics, also known as strongman competitions, have grown in popularity. These competitions are now composed of a variety of events in which competitors have to move the highest weights possible, the winner being the one having the highest tally across all events.
Perhaps the most famous event is the World’s Strongest Man competition, still described by a number of highly respected authorities in the sport as the premier event in strength athletics.
The concept behind “The World’s Strongest Men”, as it was originally named, was developed in 1977 for CBS by Langstar Inc. David Webster, a Scot who later received an OBE for his services to sport, was the head coordinator of the competition from its inception. Dr Douglas Edmunds, seven-times Scottish shot and discus champion and twice world caber champion worked with Webster. When Webster retired from his position Edmunds took over. These two men were responsible for inviting the competitors and choosing the events. They selected men who had shown prowess in the mainstream fields of strength sports and field athletics events, such as shot put, American football, powerlifters, bodybuilders and wrestlers. The idea was to create a spectacle that would test competitors against one another.
The show was enough of a success that it began to be replicated in other countries, such as Britain’s Strongest Man (1979). Competitors began shifting from unpaid amateurs to professional strongmen. By the end of the 20th century, and into the 21st, other strongman programs and events were created, such as the World Muscle Power Championships, World Strongman Challenge, Arnold Strongman Classic, Giants Live, Highlander World Championships, World Strongman Federation, and Europe’s Strongest Man.
There is no set rule about what specific events will occur in a contest, except that to prevent single-event specialists from gaining an advantage, each event will be different (a single contest will not include two squat events, or two overhead lifting events, for example). Normally, a strongman contest comprises six events, though, at the top level of competition, seven or eight events may be held. Among the most common events are:
- Farmer’s Walk– competitors race along a course while carrying a heavy weight in each hand. A variation is the Giant Farmer’s Walk, with a much heavier weight carried over a shorter distance.
- HerculesHold or Pillars of Hercules – contestants stand between two pillars, pivoted to fall outwards. The competitor must simply hold them up for as long as possible.
- Vehicle Pull– competitors pull a vehicle from a stationary start for a prescribed distance – fastest over the course wins. Trucks are commonly used, but larger spectacles employ trains, boats, and aeroplanes.
- Atlas Stones– a lifting stone event whereby five spherical concrete stones of increasing weight are placed on top of podia of varying height, beginning with the lightest stone lifted to approximately a normal person’s head height. Alternatively, the stone is lifted over a bar for reps.
- Stone Carry– In Iceland, the original stone carry was performed with the Húsafell Stone, which was to be carried for a stretch to achieve the title fullsterkur (full-strong). This stone was not round but irregular, increasing the difficulty.
- Refrigerator Carry– a staple of earlier WSM events that have made a comeback in recent years. The competitors carry two refrigerators, attached to an iron bar they hold on their shoulders, and walk them across the finish line as fast as they can.
- Carry and Drag– an object (usually a heavy anchor) is run across half of the course. The competitors then must attach it to a chain of almost equal weight and pull it across the rest of the course.
- Fingal’s Fingers– under a timer, lift and flip a series of progressively heavier, hinged poles from a horizontal starting position.
Strongman is often incorrectly used to describe a person who does weightlifting or bodybuilding. Due to the circus and entertainment background, nineteenth-century bodybuilders were expected to mingle with the crowd during intermission and perform strength feats like card tearing, nail bending, etc. to demonstrate strength as well as symmetry and size. Also, many strongmen sold photos of themselves nude or near-nude, flexing and posing. Although, what they considered the epitome of male beauty was different from modern ideals – particularly the very low emphasis on chest size, and great emphasis on oblique size, and symmetry.
In the past, strongmen would perform various feats of strength such as the bent press (not to be confused with the bench press, which did not exist at the time), supporting large amounts of weight held overhead at arm’s length, steel bending, chain breaking, etc. Large amounts of wrist, hand, and tendon strength were required for these feats, as well as prodigious oblique strength.
In the late 20th century the term strongman evolved to describe one who competes in strength athletics – a more modern eclectic strength competition in which competitors display their raw functional strength through exercises such as lifting rocks, toting refrigerators, pulling trains, towing an eighteen-wheel truck behind them, etc. The most famous competitions of this type are the World’s Strongest Man, the Arnold Strongman Classic, the Strongman Champions League and the Giants Live tour, however many countries hold national-level competitions.
In recent years, interest in the sport at the grassroots level has skyrocketed, leading to the spontaneous formation of local clubs, loosely affiliated with provincial/state and national associations.
Many sports-specific training facilities have begun to incorporate movements associated with strongman competitions into their general training schemes, albeit with lighter weights used, e.g. tyre flips, sled drags, object loading or carrying, log pressing, farmer’s walks and so on.
Training for strongman involves building overall strength in the gym and training with competition implements to gain familiarity. In the gym, it is necessary to train the entire body for strength, especially with variants of the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Also important is explosive power, developed by weightlifting-style lifts, and cardiovascular conditioning. Grip strength must also be developed.
Although you can do general strength training, at a typical gym, training with a strongman regimen requires equipment not typically found in a gym. Some equipment used in a strongman competition would have to be found custom-made or at a strongman gym. These equipment include Atlas Stone, Log (Log Press), Farmers Walk Bars, Yoke (Yoke Walk), Keg (Keg Toss), a vehicle.
Another part of a strongman’s training is its intense diet regime. A top athlete in strongman would need to ingest upwards of 10,000 calories a day.
Though competitive strongman events are ever-changing, there are a number of staples that frequently appear on the international stage, including:
- Atlas Stones
- Car Flip
- Conan’s Wheel
- Deadlift hold
- Duck walk
- Dumbbell Press
- Farmers Walk
- Fingal’s Fingers
- Frame Carry
- Hercules hold
- Husafell Stone
- Keg Toss
- Loading Race
- Log Clean and Press
- Power stairs
- Tire Flip
- Vehicle pull
- Yoke Carry
- Viking Press
Modern-day Strong Women
In recent years, the term strongwoman has come to refer to the women who compete in events such as the annual World’s Strongest Woman (WSW) competitions, sanctioned by the International Federation of Strength Athletes (IFSA), and televised nationally on ESPN. Strongwomen compete in the sport of Strongman and the sport has become popular with female strength athletes over the past decade that there are several state and nationally sanctioned competitions that prepare amateur female athletes for national competitions that allow for the opportunity to compete as professionals. In March 2017, the annual Arnold Classic hosted its first professional female strongman competition. In these contests, the participants compete in the same types of events that can be found in a Strongman competition. Such events include, but are not limited to:
- Atlas Stones
- Conan’s Wheel
- Deadlift with various implements such as a barbell, axle, loaded frame, car, etc., all of varying weights
- Farmer’s Carry
- Frame Deadlift and/or Carry
- Hercules Hold
- Húsafell Stone
- Fingal’s Fingers
- Overhead press using various implements such as an axle, circus dumbbell, log, keg, or block- all of varying weights
- Squat (exercise)– of varying weight, often the barbell or axle is loaded with wagon or truck wheels that are larger than standard weighted plates
- Tire flip
- Vehicle Pul
Women who compete in Strongman (strongwomen) must be well versed in the styles and techniques that are demonstrated in both powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting as the types of lifts that are performed in both sports are fundamental in strength sports and carry over into the techniques that have been developed for the events that make up a Strongman competition. In addition to developing the proper technique for the foundation lifts, strong women must also develop endurance through cardiovascular conditioning training. Being able to adapt to implements (straight barbells versus axle barbells, axle barbells versus logs, etc.) is important as the technique used for the different implements are nuanced and are not readily available at commercial gyms.
The Dangers and risk
Take a look at this site for Weight lifting injuries, which are similar injuries to PowerMan.
Take a look at this site also: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-35726627
Why are there so few women competing in Strong Man competitions compared to their male counterparts?
There are actually quite a few women in this arena. They have their own Strong Women competitions.
Obviously they don’t compete with their male counterparts, due to the size and weight of the objects they must lift.
Women are given the bad rap in this sport.
They are often given the name of: men with vaginas, or men with boobs or lesbians.
Most of the women have bulked stature and are yet again teased by both men and women.
Women in this sport are butchered by the men and women in the form of sexism, racism and discrimination.
Men and women are continually judging women’s femininity.
As women don’t draw audiences like the men, they are less likely to receive the same prize money, sponsorship, media coverage, viewership and accolades like the men do.
Having said that, the majority of women train for the bigger and seasonal events, whilst the men have competition all year round and they can because they are paid to do it. Most of the women have regular careers.
It is also very hard to find a female coach that women can relate to.
Sometimes their male coaches push the women too hard, resulting in injuries and time out.
The women train just as hard as the men and are very competitive, with each having their own hero they look up to and try to set the bar even higher.
Having said that, women audiences degrade women in this sport more than men.
They rip the competitors apart on their lack of femininity, their size and manly behaviour.
It’s difficult on the women competitors, and it knocks their confidence and morale, leading them to quit.
There are also fewer facilities that women can train at, so they may have to travel some distance to find the nearest facility that can accommodate their needs, such as the apparatus or items they need to work on.
A woman’s life span in the sport is also short-lived as opposed to their male counterparts. Women settle down much earlier in life to start a family, have babies and take the lesser risks to their health.
You will also notice there are far more white competitors than mixed colour. The real reason is not clear as to why this is so, but there is racism in any sport. It’s a cold, hard fact!
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If you wish to learn more about this sport and its history, just pop me a mail and I will send the information to you: email@example.com
When you are ready to take on those mounts, Please take a moment and bow to people that are disabled, that cannot take part in such sports.
My views, comments and content are strictly are of my own opinion and research and are not governed or influenced by any marketing of companies or brands. It is of my own free will to mention companies and brands that supply sporting equipment pertaining to the sport in the discussion.