Not So Strongman Gyms

Over the past 2 years, I devoted a lot of my efforts towards strongman training. To me, its the most mentally stimulating training environment. Such a variety of implements. Sure, it can actually be dumbed down to the basic human movement patterns, but a “vertical push” doesn’t just have to be a military press or push press anymore. Now it can be a log press, a circus dumbbell, or an axle bar. And not just that, the personal environment is one that really fosters excitement and motivation.

But the real reason I pursued this path was: it was available. I lived in a location that had an epic warehouse full of rust, chalk and suffering. And in the real world most of us live in, this isn’t a real thing. Most of us have nice globo-gyms, with polished equipment that matches, an awesome juice bar, and maybe some soccer moms on the elliptical. This is all well and good for the essentials of strength and conditioning, as in addition to soccer moms, most of these gyms have benches, racks and heavy dumbbells. But similar to my previous rant about crossfitters and the struggles they may have in finding an effective gym, strongman training faces a similar struggle. How to you prepare yourself for odd object strength, when all the objects around you are so ordinary?

The simple approach is to just think of the movement or work requirements you’ll face that your gym isn’t equipped for. To me, the most glaring failures would be loading movements, loaded carries and specific implements.

Quick fixes for loading would be:
– Does your gym have sandbags or heavy bags? A simple ground to shoulder movement. If your gym as boxes for box jumps, even better, now you have a platform to load.
– A landmine. No longer just for rows or core work, load it up with bumper plates and stand over it, bear hug and lift. A poor man’s variation for pulling an atlas stone.

Quick fixes for loaded carries would be:
– This should be the easiest fix. Your gym is full of heavy things. As long as you have room to walk.
– A simple barbell can be used for overhead carrying, or zercher type carries. Kettlebells for overhead carrying is a favorite of mine, as it adds more instability than a regular bar.

Quick fixes for specific implements:
– Fat Gripz on a dumbbell is a [very] poor man’s fix for circus dummbell. It won’t fix the awkward size and position of the circus dumbbell, but the grip and control of the motion can be worked.
– For farmers walk, the cheap way out is to just carry dumbbells. But they are fairly compact and the grips are friendly, not all farmers carries will be so forgiving. Sometimes I’ll wrap a towel around a weight and grip the towel for an added challenge.
– Landmine rows… but not like you think. This doesn’t address any real implement but I’m not sure where to add it. I’ll utilize the landmine, but I will grip at the very end of the barbell for 1) the fat grip 2) the bearings in that portion of the barbell reduce the amount of torque you can generate with skin-on-implement friction.

Here are some other work-arounds for a less than ideal gym.

Alternative Exercises For Getting Started in Strongman and how to get some implements! (from Brian Alsruhe)

Beginner Strongman Training [No Special Equipment Needed] (from Chandler Marchman)

Strongman Exercises – without strongman equipment (from THE BANGKOK BRO)

Poor Man Strongman Training (from John Clintron)

I wanna compete in a Strongman Competition – Where do I start? How To/Motivation (from Alan Thrall)

Leave a Reply