The following is a guest article from Jarell Lindsey.
As an athlete, you can have many goals. A soccer star may wish to be the best defensive mid, so focus on some speed, some blocking accuracy, and a strong leg to send the ball back up the field. A competitive lifter may wish to focus on form, strength in specific lifts, and a good grip. But being a strongman is perhaps one of the most difficult of physical arts, because your goal as a strongman is, essentially, to be strong.
This means that you have to have the ability to translate your power to whatever tasks you do. You may not have the strength that would specifically cater to a sport, but you have to be able to put up a good challenge in every sport. The strongest of these men, historically, have held shown strength in many of their classical feats, like lifting weights or bending metal scrolls, but furthermore demonstrated a high level of skill in other areas such as gymnastics or wrestling.
In other words, you have to have immense strength as well as functional muscle to be a successful strongman; after all, your career is rooted in being strong. But how can you accomplish such a roundabout way of training? Some people train for strength, some for speed, some for power or flexibility; how do you realistically train for all at once with completely exhausting yourself?
On top of that, how can you do it in an entertaining fashion? After all, strongmen are showmen at heart; you can read many accounts of how powerful the greatest strongmen were, but also of their ability work a crowd with charisma, wild stunts, or something to that extent. It takes more than just picking things up or doing lots of push-ups to truly make your crowd impressed; you have to do something that prominently speaks to your skills as a strongman (that’s why the performances are called ‘strength feats’.
Well as far as training, you may need to mix it up a bit. If you need to be strong in a lot of different disciplines, you need to train in a way that can enable your body to move as a unit. Compound exercises will help give you that functional edge in your training, so that you don’t build muscle without it effectively translating to you strength. You’ll want to work some volume training in as well; sometimes your feats involve lengthy, repetitive movements, so you should train to be prepared for such a feat.
Coupling your volume training with isometrics could be a lifesaver, because your tendons will be more resistant to the stress of high volume training, and your muscles will develop more endurance. Plus, if you want to improve in a strength feat, train that specific feat just as a basketball player would practice a three-point shot. Tearing decks of cards may interest you; training this with various manners of grip training will give you a great edge, but also try training by ripping cards. Get a deck and rip as many cards as you can, and try to increase the number by one or two each time.
The stronger you become in your work, the more you’ll enjoy it, and often the entertainment comes from that. Seeing someone handling dangerously heavy amounts of weight, but looking happier than a kid in a candy store can sometimes leave a strong impression on a crowd. When you truly enjoy your training, you’ll get more creative, adding different styles to your training or using different objects for your feats.
It’s a tough field that breeds tough men and women, and the work of a strongman is surely difficult. But it’s also fun. And from time to time, you’ll out do your friends in their own sports or trainings, and who doesn’t love a little success over friendly competition? But more than that, you will constantly, and consistently, surprise and surpass yourself. Why? Because strength is no longer your option; it’s your lifestyle.