Strongman Training for Athletes: Ditch the Olympic Lifts and Embrace the Stones

Strongman Training for Athletes: Ditch the Olympic Lifts and Embrace the Stones

Modified Strongman Training for Athletes


Strongman Training is one of the most effective ways to train athletes of any size, shape, and gender and for any sport.


By using Strongman techniques, you implement a touch of all the athletic essentials:

  • The brute strength of a Powerlifter
  • The explosiveness of an Olympic contender
  • The speed and agility necessary for any competitive athlete


Combining all three of the above will maximize your potential and achieve levels of power and strength you never thought possible. This form of training paves the way for functional strength; the strength you need to be a shit hot athlete.


Strongman Training differs from other forms of training


It does not consist of scripted movements such as the Snatch, Clean, Jerk or Deadlift. In fairness, Deadlifts are great and I love them but this post isn’t about Deadlifts. Strongman Training trains you both physically and mentally in ways that you can’t get from other forms of athletic training. The unique movements that are involved will build your functional strength more effectively than any other and in ways that you never thought possible.



Why do you want to master these lifts?


Many clients have come through my door and have asked me to teach them the Olympic Lifts. I then proceed to ask them why. Unless you want to actually compete as a weightlifter or CrossFitter then why bother. Weightlifting is tremendous sport, one that I have the utmost respect for. It takes a great amount of skill and, I believe, should not be done socially.


Teaching the lifts takes time and the irony is the individual just may never have enough skill, mobility or coordination to ever master any of the lifts. If you want to give competitive weightlifting a shot, then I would be delighted to train you in these lifts.



Now, if you’re an athlete, a power athlete in particular, these lifts will be put into your program by your teams S&C coach. This is where I and many other coaches differ and clash with the traditional S&C coaching setup. The only reason why these lifts are in the program in the first place is to achieve an explosive triple-quadruple extension and it’s the only way that S&C coaches know how to achieve it.


When you work in a team environment, which I have, time and injury reduction and prevention is essential. That’s your job. When you work with professional players in a team environment, which I have, these are even more apparent and of the essence. If a professional athlete (one that actually comes with a monetary value) gets injured through your programming, you get fired on the spot and you’re a shit coach.


Embrace Functional Tools


There are many other ways that are safer and less time consuming to achieve an explosive triple-quadruple extension. Many American and Australian Collegiate programs has taken a step back from the barbell and embraced more functional tools like Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Sandbags and heavy medicine balls to achieve that explosive triple-quadruple extension.



And they have gotten slated for it. How dare they go against Dogma? The results however, both in the gym and on the field speak for themselves and in turn have silenced the naysayers.


What Strongman Training can do for you


This form of training achieves explosive, powerful triple-quadruple extension. It builds mental toughness, limit strength, speed strength, power, explosiveness and stability. It will do all this throughout your entire body, because it forces your entire body to work as a collective unit.

It makes all of your muscles work together to complete the movements, calls in to play all three metabolic pathways and as a result it will push you to the next level of fitness and greatly improve athleticism. It takes far less time to teach it, far less time to master it and in turn costs the client far less money then going down the barbell, Olympic lifting route. I am of course been biased but it’s also a whole lot more fun and a whole lot more bloody functional.



Athletes of any size, strength, gender, and athletic experience can benefit from Strongman Training. It offers an excellent combination of all types of training in one. It’s a no-brainer.


Strongman Training is a form of functional training


It replicates the sort of movements that occur in dynamic sporting environments.


Examples include:

  • Atlas Stones achieve the exact same benefits as the Olympic lifts without the wrist, elbow and shoulder injury risks
  • Heavy tire flips closely resemble the actions that take place during rucking in Rugby matches, or whilst wrestling in Mixed Martial Arts
  • Farmers Carries train aspects of grip that can be useful in sports like Judo
  • Sled Drags are similar to rugby players driving in the scrum


Benefits of Strongman Training


The benefits Strongman training has over more traditional barbell training includes the uneven and unpredictable nature of many of the implements that are used and how they are used.


When performing a Back Squat or Front Squat in the gym, the athlete must have their feet on a stable surface. The weight is evenly distributed along the barbell and across both shoulders and the athlete is able to execute the lift without any distraction. This is fine in a gym environment, but not specific to an action packed power sport.


Do not mistake your limitations for high standards. Set your standards high and limitations few.

Max Rope Sled Pull meters in 15 minutes.

Sled at 1.5 x BW

For example, in rugby whilst making a tackle the athlete has to translate and transfer the strength developed in the gym onto the rugby pitch, which is an irregular surface, with a load being put through only one shoulder in an unbalanced manner. This creates a much more demanding task for the athlete to execute.


It is also a great fit for sports training. The movements involved in the training are excellent for trunk musculature activation and lumbar spine motion. Many of the events, especially the loaded carries, produce massive muscular activation in the core area.


Strongman Training makes for more functional movement development


Most of your training is taken up with getting extremely strong with the big lifts in the gym. You then train the skills needed for the event. The addition of Strongman Training establishes the skills and technique you need to translate this strength into your performance.


It is more transferable to the task at hand, which is what Functional Training actually means.


For more information on Strongman Training and how to implement it into your existing training regime, please check out the HYBRID STRONGMAN METHOD Ebook, available for download from the store HERE.