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Strongman Training for Powerlifters: Bridging the Gap

October 16, 2023


When you think of powerlifting, the first thing that comes to mind are images of heavy squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. But what if we ventured outside the confines of the squat rack and introduced some strongman flair? Inspired by multi sport athletes, lets dive into the side of the strength world where powerlifting meets strongman.


The Allure of Strongman for Powerlifters:

At its core, powerlifting is about raw strength—lifting as much weight as physically possible. But there's a world beyond the three key powerlifting movements… one where logs are pressed overhead, and massive stones are lifted. This is the world of strongman, and in this world lives a whole new possibility for strength gains when compared to a traditional powerlifting approach.


Why Blend the Two?

  1. Variety is the Spice of Life: Incorporating strongman exercises can break the monotony, as well as introduce new challenges and excitement to your training routine.
  1. Increased Strength Gains: Strongman events target a lot of different smaller muscles and different movement patterns than the three big lifts in powerlifting. This new training stimulus can help to improve weaknesses which then lead to greater strength gains during the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
  1. Boost Your Conditioning: While powerlifting focuses on short bursts of strength, many strongman exercises demand prolonged effort, enhancing your overall strength & conditioning.


Strongman Essentials for Every Powerlifter:

  1. Farmer's Walk: Not just a walk in the park, performing farmers walks with either a pair of heavy dumbbells or specific farmers walk implements will skyrocket your grip strength and as well as provide a ton of core stability training.
  1. Axle/Log Press: Forget the barbell for a moment and switch it out of a strongman specific implement such as an axle or log. The neutral grip of the log will challenge your shoulders in ways you've never imagined, and when benching/overhead pressing with an axle the thicker bar helps to take pressure off wrists & elbows.
  1. Sandbags: A true test of full-body strength. Lifting sandbags will engage muscles you didn't even know you had. The lack of handles on the outside of the bag will improve grip strength, wrapping your arms around to squeeze the bag specifically target the pecs & shoulders, then standing up with a heavy bag helps build strength in your posterior chain and lower extremities.


The Learning Curve:

While the allure of strongman is undeniable, it's essential to recognize the differences in training methodologies. Powerlifting is a game of specificity, focusing on maximizing three lifts. In contrast, strongman is about versatility—lifting, carrying, pressing, and pulling various implements in different ways.


Making the Transition:

If you're intrigued by the world of strongman, here are some steps to get started:

  1. Ease Into It: Don't rush, start by introducing one strongman exercise into your routine and see how it feels.
  1. Prioritize Form: These are new movements. Ensure you're doing them correctly to reap the benefits and avoid injury.
  1. Seek Guidance: If possible, work with a coach or join a strongman group. Learning from seasoned pros can be invaluable.



The fusion of powerlifting and strongman might seem unconventional, but it's a blend that promises diverse challenges and unparalleled strength gains. As we continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in the weight room, perhaps it's time to lift a log or carry a yoke. After all, strength knows no bounds!

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