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9 Best Strongman Exercises (Unleash Your Inner Beast)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: July 16, 2023

As a professional fitness coach, I've had clients ask if adding strongman exercises into their daily routines is possible.

In my 9+ years of experience, I've seen strongman competitors relying on a diverse range of movements to prepare for their sport.

You push, drag, carry, lift, or hold the item for however long or far it is required.

If you wish to get started in the activity, the first thing that you must understand is what movements constitute strongman training.

In this article, I will provide my research and expertise on the best strongman workouts to add to your daily routine.

Quick Summary

  • Strongman is an intense event in which contestants must do different acts of beastly strength. The strongman lifts differ from standard powerlifting or weightlifting motions and might vary from event to event.
  • Strongman exercises include atlas stone lifts, push presses, tire flips, kettlebell swings, zercher squats, and axle deadlifts.
  • Strongman lifts have many benefits most individuals don't know — weight loss, boosting cardiovascular fitness, increasing muscle mass, establishing real-world functional strength, and challenging one's ideas on how exercises should feel.

The Best Strongman Exercises

Lifting a barbell close up - strongman exercise

1. Push Press

Strongmen devote much time to lifting heavy weights overhead by throwing or pressing.

While strong shoulders are necessary for Strongman, knowing how to activate your legs to lift the weight is even more vital.

Overhead exercises should be simple if you know how to execute a decent push press.

You may perform the close-grip bench press if the push press isn't feasible.

How to perform: 

  1. Begin in the same front-rack stance as the front squat, with your wrists and shoulders aligned and a shoulder-width grip.
  2. Maintain an erect upper body as you dive down 4 to 6 inches, forcing your knees past your toes.
  3. While pressing the barbell above, drive your torso through the barbell using your quadriceps and glutes.
  4. Lower the barbell gradually to the starting position, reset, and repeat as many reps as you can.

2. Atlas Stone Lifts

The Atlas stone is the ultimate strongman tool. Its beauty resides in its simplicity, yet lifting an Atlas is difficult.

There's no handle to grip onto, and no means to use strongman lifting straps and other helpful devices.

How to perform: 

  1. Stand with both feet wide apart and sit the stone between the legs.
  2. Crouch down and put your hands beneath the stone to begin. Grab the stone with both hands and press them into it.
  3. Push your hips down and draw the atlas stone into your torso, aiming for your groin and placing the stone on your thighs. Ensure you hunch the lower back since a curved back is required to raise the stone effectively in this exercise.
  4. Adjust your hold in a sitting position with the stone on your lap so that both hands grasp the stone from above rather than below. This keeps the stone from spinning away from you in the following phase.
  5. As you rise, push your hips up and forward, then move the stone up your torso.
  6. Lift the stone and set it on the level of your choice. Use a spotter to assist you in stabilizing the weight.
  7. Return the stone to its starting position by rolling it onto a thick carpet.
  8. Repeat for reps.

3. Tire Flip

Flipping a tire

A tire flip, done correctly, will engage the same muscle groups as a deadlift but with the added benefits of forward, pressing strongman movements.

To begin the flip, engage your back, glutes, and hamstrings.

When the tire is set to be pushed over, you will exercise your triceps, chest, and biceps.

How to perform:

  1. Begin with your hips and feet shoulder-width apart. Crouch down and drive your hips back, maintaining your back flat and your core firm.
  2. Take note of your hands. As you underhand grip the tire, be sure your arms are on the treads. Placing them between treads may result in finger crushing or a twisted bicep.
  3. Take-off requires a lot of power. Push against the floor with your legs to bring the tire to chest height. As it lands on your chest, swiftly switch to an overhand hold and push it over till it falls on the other side.
  4. Repeat for reps.

4. Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings develop the hip and low back muscles for powerful hinging actions.

"Your hips provide strength for carrying stones onto high levels or hurling kegs past high bars in strongman training. Because the swing is dynamic, it also aids with everyday activities like running and jumping."

- Jennifer Mathe, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

The kettlebell swing utilizes your upper back and core for stability while the posterior hip muscles (glutes and hamstrings) move the weight.

It's a quick, intense workout that complements slower, more static exercises.

You can find more kettlebell back exercises in this article.

How to perform:

  1. Overhand, grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands.
  2. Bend at the hips and press your butts back until your body is almost level with the ground.
  3. Swing your load between your feet and in front of you, clenching your glutes and snapping sharply upright.
  4. Maintain straight arms and utilize your hips to drive the kettlebell to eye level.
  5. Try not to "squat" your swing by bending your knees too much. Remember to hinge at the belly button.
  6. Repeat the move for reps.

5. Thick Dumbbell Press

Performing dumbbell press using a big dumbbell

The thick dumbbell press is comparable to the standard military overhead press, but the distinction is in the thickness of the bar.

The thick dumbbell press may assist in increasing upper-body power and strength, with an emphasis on the shoulders.

The thickness of the bar will boost grip strength, and you'll see an advancement in all other workouts, particularly those where the grip appears to fail first, like the weighted pull-up and deadlift.

In strongman training, grip strength is crucial for excelling in strongman competitions, where exercises like the bench press engage the same muscles and test your overall strength.

How to perform: 

  1. Tighten your core while holding a pair of heavy bar dumbbells and maintain your chest elevated.
  2. Swing the dumbbells into place by bending the knees slightly, raising the shoulders, and lifting off the floor as you snap the weights up. The dumbbells should be parallel to the ground.
  3. Before you start, engage the core and ground yourself.
  4. Ensure the palms are facing forward as you press the dumbbells straight up.
  5. Pause at the peak of the exercise before gradually lowering the dumbbells to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

6. Zercher Squat

The Zercher squat is a type of squat that helps promote upper back endurance, thoracic spine stability, and quadriceps and glute growth.

Although having no apparent relationship to competitive lifts such as the snatch and back squat, many individuals can gain from the unique stress that Zercher squats impose on the body.

See also our other strongman back workout routine here.

How to perform: 

  1. Set up the bar at hip level in the squat rack, squat down, and position the barbell in the elbow crooks.
  2. Stand up and lock your arms together for further strength and stability if necessary.
  3. Squat low with an erect body and knuckles upward in a broader than typical squat position.
  4. Squat up and push through the floor, keeping your chest high.
  5. Reset and repeat, taking care to maintain a proper upright posture.

7. Sled Push

Sled push in side gym

During contests, strongmen push (and pull) almost everything they can think of, from loaded sleds to Mack trucks.

Pushing a heavy item by sheer force of willpower (and a lot of leg strength) is essential to the sport - the sled push is an excellent choice for this, and it's available at most gyms nowadays.

How to perform: 

  1. You'll need a weighted sled and plenty of room to drive it.
  2. Put several weight plates onto the sled (start lighter) and grasp the handles.
  3. Tilt over at the midsection and spike one foot behind as if you were going to race off the blocks during a track meet.
  4. Drive your front leg into the floor to propel the sled ahead.
  5. Stay low and keep a straight line across your elbows, wrists, hips, and shoulders for optimum leverage.
  6. Keep your arms tight and your shoulders taut.

8. Axle Deadlift

As a strongman exerciser, you must be comfortable dealing with practically anything, from extra-long barbells to pulling truckload tires to operating with extra-thick steel logs.

With a wide variety of barbells comes the necessity of practicing your grip.

The axle barbell, which is noticeably thicker than the standard barbell, is unrivaled in this category.

To utilize an axle bar, you don't have to modify your deadlift form; your grip is the only thing you might have to adjust.

The barbell is too thick for a hook grip and could be difficult to grasp with a mixed arm posture.

How to perform: 

  1. Take a standard deadlift position with your feet beneath your hips.
  2. Bend at the hips, press your butt backward, and drop down until you can reach the bar.
  3. Wrap your hands tightly around the axle and "pull" yourself into place with the bar.
  4. Deadlift like you typically would from here.
  5. You may have difficulty working with the axle if you habitually break your pulls off the floor in a quick or jerky action.
  6. You can lose your hold if you're used to strapping on and tearing a regular bar off the ground.
  7. To begin, take things slowly and deliberately.

9. Log Lift

Log Lift strongman exercise

The log lift, also called the log clean and press, is a strongman-style exercise identical to the barbell overhead press but uses a log instead of a barbell.

Like the other Olympic-style shoulder workouts, the log lift will increase overall size and strength while increasing power and sheer force.

In strongman training, exercises like Olympic lifting require an overhand grip and engage the forearm muscles while driving the hips forward to lift heavy weights, making it a great strength training exercise with a shoulder-width apart stance.

How to perform:

  1. Begin by standing in front of the log.
  2. Grab the handles and start cleaning the log. As you bend down to begin the clean, lift the log as high as possible, bringing it into the chest.
  3. Lift it through the knees and hips to finish the clean.
  4. Push the head back and look up, forming a shelf on the chest for the log to rest on.
  5. Start the press by sinking, gently flexing the knees, and then reversing the action. This push press will provide enough momentum to propel the log vertically. Proceed by extending your elbows and pressing the log over your head.
  6. While pressing the log, face forward and thrust your head through each repetition.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps. Try to regulate the log's descent as it drops to the floor.

Benefits of Strongman Training

Flipping a big tire indoors

"Strongman training will quickly boost your cardiovascular endurance. It also enhances core strength significantly."

- Hans Pirman, Master's-level Strongman Competitor

Strongman exercises are a fantastic training program that everyone should do.

Below are a few of the reasons why you should try it.

  • Your athleticism will improve: Strongman athletes are remarkably athletic. Moving is an essential activity component, and you will improve your athleticism. You also must consider that these guys weighing 350 pounds or more are moving quickly. Consider maintaining a more subtle body while implementing their program.
  • You'll become stronger: While other types of training can help you get strong, strongman exercise may assist you in getting even stronger. This is attributable to several factors. The first is due to the strongman's utilization of unusual activities, which stress the body in ways that traditional training does not, resulting in more significant gains. The second goal is to become stronger. The purpose of the strongman competition is to lift more and move more quickly. Strongman exercises are equally as good in improving strength as standard resistance-based workouts [1]. But it isn't just your primary muscles that will improve; your grip strength may also increase significantly.
  • Pushing through training plateaus: Everyone experiences plateaus at some point. Your advancement can stall for a variety of reasons, but frequently it's from overly repetitive exercising methods [2]. Your body becomes used to regular stimulation over time. To combat this, you must present your torso with a novel stimulus to help it progress. The lack of familiarity with strongman competition movements will drive you to establish new degrees of adaptability.
  • Boosting bone density and muscle: Time under strain is vital to growing muscle mass [3]. Several strongman competition workouts will have you progressing into higher rep levels, which is excellent for muscular gain. With actions like carries and sled pulls, your muscles will be tense the entire time, regardless of how far you're lifting.


What Workouts Do Strongman Do?

Strongman competitions perform six basic exercises: wide grip lat pull-downs, prowler pushes, deadlifts, heavy kettlebell swings, tire flips, and atlas stone lifts.

How Do You Build Strongman Strength?

You build strongman strength by carrying heavy objects, pushing and pulling, practicing lifts frequently, and combining cardio and strength training.

How Do Strongmen Get So Big?

Strongman training emphasizes using the entire body at once, necessitating a synchronized effort of determination and muscle to stress the body. As an adaptive reaction to the intense stimulation of the whole body, odd object training like truck pull induces massive muscle development equally over the body.

Should You Perform the Strongman Workout?

Weight lifting, including strongman implements like tire flip and front squat, targets multiple muscle groups while requiring mental fortitude and a neutral grip with palms facing. These exercises are not only beneficial for strength sport athletes but also for individuals training in commercial gyms or involved in combat sports, helping develop upper chest strength.

Strongman may appear to be nothing more than a group of overly-powerful athletes throwing around whatever bizarre stuff they can handle.

While this is somewhat true, there is a subtle finesse to the activity you cannot fully understand unless you engage yourself.

Incorporating strongman workouts into your weekly regimen would be beneficial if you can access strongman equipment or a specialized facility.

Get adequate rest, eat a healthy diet, and use the best pre-workout supplements for the required strength. Check out our tried and tested supplements:

In our tests, they were determined to be among the finest options for optimum blood flow and pumps and also offer high energy and minimal fatigue for strength training.


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