Strongman training is an incredible test of strength, power, and grit. It involves lifting heavy objects, performing dynamic movements, and pushing your body to the limits. You might look at strongman competition or training and think, “That looks dangerous!” Any sport can lead to injury, but good training can help keep you safer. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some essential tips to keep you strong and injury-free.
Warm-Up Like a Pro
Imagine you’re about to do some training with Atlas stones, so you just jump right into a heavy set. Not a great idea, right? Warming up is crucial for strongman athletes. Start your training session with a proper warm-up routine that gets your muscles ready, and your joints mobile. A good warm-up should include some mobility, some movements that activate the muscles you’re about to use, and some movements working in different planes of motion (meaning side-to-side, front-to-back, and twisting). This prepares your body for the intense work ahead and reduces the risk of injury. We love some band work to warm-up! The old thinking of just doing some light cardio as a warm-up for every and anything has been shown to be ineffective.
Master Your Technique
The difference between a safe lift and a potential injury often comes down to technique. In strongman events, form matters, big time. Whether you’re deadlifting an axle bar or carrying a yoke, ensure that you’re using good technique. One of the interesting things about strongman events is that the best technique might vary depending on your specific body mechanics, but there are some movement patterns that are less than ideal, and could lead to getting hurt. Our Strongman Saturday training sessions are a great opportunity to work on strongman implements with knowledgeable and experienced coaches who can help dial in your technique!
Gradual Progression Wins the Race
Progress is fantastic, but rapid progress can lead to setbacks. I like to say to approach training as a marathon, not a sprint, and doing so helps keep you in the game. Avoid the temptation to make big jumps in weight or intensity. Instead, focus on gradual progression. Give your body time to adapt to increased loads and movements. Patience is your friend in strongman training. Our coaches can help you with a program that progresses in a gradual way!
Recovery: It’s Not Optional
Your muscles don’t grow in the gym; they grow when you’re resting and recovering. Recovery isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Prioritize sleep, manage stress, and incorporate rest days into your training routine. If your body is telling you it needs a break, listen to it. Pushing through exhaustion is a surefire way to get injured.
Fuel Your Strength
What you eat matters. A well-balanced diet is the foundation of your strength and recovery. Make sure you’re getting the right mix of macronutrients and micronutrients to support muscle growth and repair. Proper nutrition can help your body rebuild tissues damaged during training, and it’s a key factor in preventing injuries. If you need help with this, our nutrition coaches can help you to eat in a way that supports your training without making it miserable! Eating doesn’t have to be joyless or overwhelming to support your recovery, muscle growth, and overall well being!
I know “drink water” is probably the boring-est advice ever, but dehydration is a fast track to muscle cramps and injury. Make sure you’re adequately hydrated before, during, and after training sessions. A good rule of thumb is to drink enough water to keep your urine light yellow in color. Specific quantities of water (things like the old 8 8oz glasses thing) haven’t really held up in research, but paying attention to your pee seems to keep most folks suitably hydrated.
Bend, Stretch, and Move
Mobility and flexibility exercises are your allies in preventing injuries. Incorporate regular mobility and flexibility drills into your routine to improve joint range of motion and reduce the risk of strains and sprains. This is particularly important in a sport that demands a wide range of motion. I like to include some mobility work in warm-ups. Doing separate mobility focused sessions can be helpful. Figure out what is more realistic for your training schedule!
Mix It Up with Cross-Training
Strongman training can put specific demands on your body, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect other aspects of your fitness. Cross-train by including a variety of exercises and movements in your routine. Not only does this prevent overuse injuries, but it also helps address weaknesses and imbalances. Catching some yoga can be really great, and walking is also a great way to get some movement without putting too much additional demand on your body. Try to keep your cross training lower intensity.
Even with the best prevention strategies, injuries can happen. If you find yourself nursing an injury, seek professional medical advice. Don’t be a hero and try to train through pain; it usually makes things worse. Follow a rehabilitation plan recommended by a healthcare professional to get back to training safely.
Gear Up with the Right Equipment
Support your joints and spine during heavy lifts with appropriate equipment. Lifting belts, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and other gear can help protect your body and keep you in the game. Check out our previous blog post about top gear purchases!
Listen to Your Body
Your body has its way of communicating with you. If you’re feeling excessive fatigue, pain, or discomfort, pay attention! Ignoring these signals can lead to more severe injuries. So many times I hear people end up with a more serious injury because they kept ignoring something that was less severe.
Strongman training can be extremely demanding on the body, but with a thoughtful approach to injury prevention, you can enjoy a long and successful career in the sport. Working with a coach can help you be sure you’re on target and training to meet your goals while avoiding injury. Schedule a free no-sweat intro with one of our coaches today, and let us help you train for a strongman competition while preventing injury.