After more than a decade of coaching, promoting, and competing at some of the highest levels in strongman, I have seen some things. One of those things is the stark contrast between people who arrive at competitions prepared, and those who don’t.
My goal is to have more people (like you!) arrive more prepared. So, piece by piece, I’m putting all the things I’ve learned from strongman competition into writing. In this case, we’re talking about the exact steps you can take to prepare for a competition and bring your best to the competition floor.
We’re going to look at this from 2 perspectives: Competition Logistics (the nuts and bolts of getting ready to compete) and Competition Mindset (bringing your brain’s A-game to the competition floor). These are followed by a third post, which is about the Intangibles and general “lessons learned” after more than a decade in the sport.
This post is all about Logistics. You can click here to read about Competition Mindset, and the Intangibles post is coming soon!
Logistics are things like dates and times, equipment, coaching, and programming. That’s where we’ll start.
A solid program will lay the foundation for a successful training cycle and give you the best chance of performing well on comp day.
The program should directly address your weaknesses and reflect the specific implements used in the competition you’re training for. Even if you don’t have access to strongman equipment on a regular basis, your program can absolutely still prepare you for handling the competition implements.
Plan to start a competition-specific training program at least 12 weeks prior to competition day (16 weeks is even better). The more unfamiliar the implements are, or the newer you are to strongman, the more you’ll benefit from a longer lead-in to competition.
There are loads of options for programming! You can check out Power Plant’s options and approach by reading this post: All About Programming
Equipment and Things to Bring
We’ve already written at length about what to bring on competition day, which you can read here: The Ultimate Strongman Competition Packing Guide. It includes a printable packing list, as well as recommendations for inclement weather and plane rides.
But the short version is: make sure you have all the equipment you need for each individual event; get your federation membership ahead of time; bring a chair; and bring food and lots of water.
We also recommend packing your competition bag a couple weeks ahead of time and bringing that – and only that! – to the gym with you. You’ll find out pretty quickly if you have what you need, and you have plenty of time to adjust before competition day.
Make sure you’re totally aware of the schedule for weigh-ins, the athlete meeting, and competition start time. This information should be readily available on the competition registration/info page, and if the promoter is good they’ll send it to you via email as well.
For 99% of competitions, all athletes are required to weigh in. This includes Novice and Heavyweight/Open Weight competitors. Weigh-ins are typically when you get your competition shirt and, if needed, get your federation membership and sign a waiver. We always recommend showing up at the earliest possible weigh-in time to account for any travel delays and give yourself plenty of time to get settled.
The athlete meeting is also typically mandatory for all competitors. This is when the promoter gathers everyone together to review the event rules and standards. It’s super important to attend this meeting – and actually pay attention. It’s common for things to change last-minute, and you don’t want to be caught unaware. The athlete meeting generally happens about an hour before the first lift of the competition, but check your comp schedule for details.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you should probably double-check the start time of the event. You never know when things get mixed up on your calendar or in your head. Better safe than sorry.
The Night Before
Start by double-checking your email for any last-minute updates from the promoter, and the location and start time of the event. If it’s somewhere you’ve never been, map it to make sure you have your timing right. (I’ve learned this one from experience…)
This is also a great time for some visualization! We’ll talk more about that in our Mindset post. For the purposes of this post, just know that the night before is a good opportunity to take some time to mentally run through the details of each event. This includes what equipment to wear, technique you plan to use, and how the event will feel.
Eat a healthy dinner that will digest well overnight and leave you feeling good in the morning. Then, get to bed at a reasonable time. If you tend to get nervous, build in some extra time to wind down and fall asleep. It’s better to wake up a little too early than fall asleep too late!
Competition Day Coaching and Handling
This isn’t mandatory, but it’s super helpful to have a designated non-competing person who helps you throughout the day. Ideally this is a coach, but it can also be a partner, friend, or training partner. It’s generally easier if the person knows you and the sport really well. But honestly, if all they do is carry your gear and make sure you remember to eat, it’s better than being alone!
When it’s competition time, your focus should be on the next event. Your handler will do a lot of the thinking for you, should help you keep track of what events are happening when, and help make sure you don’t miss anything or forget any equipment.
If there are any issues with scoring or other questions, try to let your handler, well, “handle” it. It’s actually a pretty big and important job, so choose someone you trust… and then make sure you thank them profusely later.
We’ve got your back! The PPG Team has been doing this for a longgggg time, and we’re here to help you make sense of competition logistics. Feel free to hit us up with any questions via email at [email protected], or book a FREE 15-min coaching call by clicking the “Free Intro” button on this page.