Do You Want To Increase All Of Your Lifts? Be A Strongman

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CrossFit’s formula for fitness is to move large loads, long distances, as fast as possible. Strongman competitions have the exact same goal, although in Strongman the emphasis is more on strength and less on overall fitness. Crossfit also preaches functional strength and movement. Every Strongman movement can be seen in the real world as well. Strongman is just as functional, if not more, than CrossFit.
I know a lot of people may disagree with this but if you’re someone who disagrees than you probably have never done any Strongman training. Or you don’t know any of the movements in Strongman. CrossFit and Strongman are identical in what the end goal is, the only real difference is the means in which these two sports go about achieving that goal. CrossFit moves large loads long distances as fast as possible by using a variety of functional movements ranging from, powerlifting, oly lifting, gymnastics and endurance as well as skill movements thrown into the mix. Strongman moves large loads, long distances as fast as possible by simply moving maximal weights as many times as possible in very short time frames. Many of these events are finished in one minute or less. Whereas crossfit events can last anywhere from a 2 minute Fran,
to a 21,000 meter row.

Despite these differences, CrossFit and Strongman training both have the same end goal and Strongman training has many movements that are far more functional than CrossFit.
Atlas Stone lifts and Log clean and presses are two of the most compromising positions a person can lift in. Now I know what you’re thinking “lifting in a compromised position sounds like a bad thing” well yes but if you train and condition yourself to lift in these positions through progressive and systematic loading than barbells become childs play. I’m not suggesting anyone go and purchase a 200# atlas stone and try to shoulder it, nor am I suggesting you purchase a log from Rogue and try to clean and press it at 225#. Rather I’m suggesting that you slowly add low volume strongman lifts to your regular training. If your box has a yoke start doing carries with it at light weights and begin getting accustomed to it. If your box has atlas stones or logs, use very light weights and practice some of these movements in your warm up or active rest days. If you have a coach who has a Crossfit Strongman Cert under his or her belt, ask them for help and pointers on how to do Strongman lifts.
rob_orlando_stone_e_uOnce you feel comfortable with some basic Strongman lifts, start adding weight. Disclaimer: Strongman movements are very potent, highly sensitive lifts. Proceed with caution. What I mean is don’t go crazy with it. Strongman movements can’t be and shouldn’t’ be treated the way CrossFit movements are. Don’t do 100 Stones to shoulder at 115# stone with burpees on every minute. Don’t do 50 Log clean and presses at 70% of your max. Use these movements in context with your strength sessions. For example. 10 minutes EMOM of 2 stone to shoulder at a heavy weight. Or do 5X3 Log clean and presses that are heavy. You could also take the Rob Orlando approach and do Log Grace, or Stone Grace. The key with all of this is to not overdo it. Strongman movements are incredibly hard on your body as a whole but your low back and biceps will be at an increased risk. I say this not to scare you but as a friendly warning. These strongman moves are hard on your low back and core but that’s where you’ll benefit.
y1-1I present to you a challenge. Add even one Strongman move to your arsenal. Only one, but work at it. Make it part of your training, don’t overdo it but keep it in the wheelhouse for a month. I promise at the end of that month you’ll rack a barbell to back squat and it’ll feel like a PVC pipe on your back. Doing Strongman moves will absolutely smash your core and as a result build your core back 10x stronger. Your core will no longer be part of the equation when you fail a lift. Your legs may be too weak to get out of the bottom of that front squat, your arms may be too weak to stay locked out overhead but your core will be like a brick wall during any lift. You may think to yourself “well great, my core is rock solid but I still can’t squat or press” well then the hard part is over! Your core is the hardest part to fix. Leg strength and arm strength are all relatively easy to improve compared to getting your core in the shape it needs to be in to lift heavy. Can you name a single movement in any sport where a strong core wouldn’t help? You can’t can you? It’s because there isn’t’ one. A strong core will help you in every sport, in every activity, no matter what. Your arms aren’t important in every sport, neither are your legs. But your core is the key to everything (arms and legs still help though.)
If you get only one nugget of information out of this article let it be this: Use Strongman training to improve your core strength. Even if you hate everything about the sport of Strongman and disagree with everything I said in the beginning of this article, you can’t deny the power of Strongman training on someone’s core strength. Bottom line, if you want to improve every single aspect of your CrossFit career, improve your core. If you want to improve your core, do Strongman.

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