3 Key Factors For Becoming A Better Strongman

In the immortal words of Ronnie Coleman, "everyone wanna be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy ass weight!" I think that we can all agree that the same can be said of the modern-day strongman. With it's surging popularity, lifters new to strongman want to be seen picking up weights from the floor while making the trip to the lockout as awkward as possible - the Steinborn squat and Zercher deadlift are constantly being showcased as "strongman".

The truly impressive lifters don't have time for that riff-raff because they are either training, eating or actually competing. 

What I have seen from competing with nationally-ranked athletes is that they are made of something different than the people asking about the benefits of the Vertical Diet versus keto online. Most people don't get it and never will. The life of any dedicated athlete can be lonely and isolating.  Perhaps it is ego, or maybe just dogged determination to improve upon past performances but there is a clear trend when it comes to the intensity, dedication, and perseverance these athletes put into becoming a top strongman. 

 

Intensity 

Ricky Bobby's papa said, "if you're not first, you're last." As terse as it sounds, this is part of the ethos of a top-level athlete - they approach every competitive lift with the intensity of a Spartan warrior fighting to his dying breath. The name of the sport itself does not lend to humility - strongman and chasing the title of X Strongest Man or Woman is wrapped up in ego. Even the ego-less athlete is complacent in this, despite their mind being clear. Those less-humble athletes are fed the competitive fuel of the lifter chasing his or her own goals just by having them showing up the competition.

Intensity, just like love and flow, can fuel competitiveness and progress. It is definitely more visible but does this make it better? 

You don't see flow in athletes clearly but intensity definitely sticks out. Screaming and shouting and getting upset when performances don't go as planned is how top-level, ego-driven athletes perform best. Is it the best solution? I don't know, maybe that depends on if you're a Cerebral athlete or a Showman, but it is clearly part of the sport. Sauntering up to the implement without the intent to destroy everything that gets in your way won’t amount to anything impressive. 

The best competitors are way more intense than you and that's one of the top factors why they are better than you.

 

Dedication

Who in their right mind eats four-plus pounds of meat each and every day? The dedicated strongman athlete for one. Most recreational lifters and social-media strongmen complain about their lack of progress or wonder how they can get stronger. The answer is clear in front of you but you aren't as dedicated as the top-level strongman to act on it. Strongman has to become your job, one of your top three priorities in your life next to work (the kind you actually get paid for) and family. The job of the strongman is to eat obscene amounts of calories, mostly meat, and train to get as strong as possible. You say you can do that - that's a great start. Now try to do it consistently for the next ten years, because that's what it will take to become great.

Dedication also means doing whatever it takes, which includes many things which are not healthy or longevity promoting. This is the downside to top-level athletics in all sports. World-class athletics does not equate to health and longevity. The factors tied into becoming a top-level strongman only serve to punctuate this fact. The few athletes who do rise to the very top roll dice and either come to terms with their demons or hope to make it out the other side of the sport relatively unscathed when all is said and done. 

The best strongmen are more dedicated to achieving their goals than you and that's the second reason why they are better than you.

 

Perseverance

The top-level strongman sticks with it for years, decades even. It's a journey that takes you through many obstacles. Injuries are inevitable in a sport that pushes the body into uncharted territories. Many athletes break with their injuries. They don't stick through the rehab or do whatever it takes to come back and compete again at their best. Less humble athletes are only in it for a trophy, and they crumble at the first sign of adversity when they don't finish on the podium. Many people can act like they are dedicated to something for a short-term and even make the thing a top priority in their life for some time but it's the perseverance to a goal for many years that separates the champions. 

The champion strongman perseveres through the years of slow and steady progress and occasional injuries and that's the third factor for why they are better than you.

There's always more to learn in a competitive sport that has over 40 different variants of events to compete in. And that's why it takes so many years to become great in a sport like strongman. Your mind, body, and heart for the sport all have to be forged in the fires of time. There are no overnight miracles in this sport. The factors for becoming a better strongman or strongwoman are built the same way for everyone that wants to get to the top: intensity (and intention), dedication to doing whatever it takes, and the perseverance to get through the obstacles in your way. If you think otherwise, I’d like to hear your thoughts.