16 Ways You Can Train Like a Strongman at your Home Gym

Strongman is a weightlifting sport where competitors complete various strength-based activities such as truck pull, sandbag toss, deadlift, log press, and farmers walk. Men and women have been challenging their strength by lifting natural objects since the beginning of humanity.

It is gaining popularity worldwide for several reasons:

It is an exciting and dynamic sport that the average person can relate with
There are more opportunities for athletes to compete at the pro and local level
More companies are making equipment for specific training making it more accessible


You might be like me, playing old Strongman contests on the TV in your garage, training to be like Halfthor Bjornson or Martins Licis. Unfortunately, you might not have access to an arsenal of sandbags, stones, and specialty bars.


That’s okay.

Strongman competitions have events that generally include an Overhead, Deadlift (sometimes squat), carry, grip and loading event. In addition, you may see others, such as throwing over a 15-foot bar or a series of events done as a medley. Using a combination of Pressing, Deadlift, Squat, Pulling, Single leg, and Carrying exercises on a barbell, you can replicate a strongman session at home. 



Here is a List of 16 Exercises That Will Help You Train Like a Strongman:


1. Landmine Shoulder Press  |  Difficulty 1/5

Take a split stance with the Barbell angled into the Landmine attachment. Press upwards at an angle and then return the barbell to the top of the shoulder. Following is the equipment required:




2. Strict Press  |  Difficulty 4/5

Take a barbell off of a rack and rest it as close to the tops of your shoulders as possible. Create a shelf with your upper chest, keep your elbows up and press overhead while keeping your trunk, hips and legs rigid. Following is the equipment required:




3. Push Press  |  Difficulty 3/5

Take a stance wide enough to dip your hips while maintaining an upright posture. The bar is preferably in a racked position on your shoulders for maximum force transfer from the lower body to the bar. Dip down, exert the bar overhead, and lockout with the shoulders and triceps. Following is the equipment required:




4. Block/Rack Pulls  |  Difficulty 3/5

Elevate your Deadlift by using blocks or the racks in a squat rack. This Deadlift is more appropriate for most people. 18’’ for heights for a deadlift is common in the sport of strongman. Keep your shoulders back, brace your core and push with your feet and hips. Following is the equipment required:




5. Trap Bar Deadlift  |  Difficulty 2/5

It is common to see a deadlift event using a barbell or axle bar followed by a carrying event. This exercise carries over to frame carry and farmers carry. The freedom for the knees to bend allows the user to adjust for their leverages. Twisting your elbows back into your ribs helps brace the spine. Use your legs and hips to move the bar. Following is the equipment required:




6. Front Squats  |  Difficulty 4/5

These require mobility in the upper back, shoulders, hips and ankles. Use a heel lift if you lack mobility. Use a racked position where the bar is across the shoulders, and the shoulders externally rotated. Palm up, under the bar. The other racked position would be with the bar across the shoulders with the shoulders internally rotated—hands over the bar, palms down. Following is the equipment required:




7. Zercher Squats  |  Difficulty 3/5

Hold the bar in your arms with your hands squeezed. Keep your shoulders back and take a wide enough stance to squat comfortably. Feet can point forward or out depending on your mobility and comfort. Keep your back straight and avoid movement in the spine and trunk for all squats. Following is the equipment required:




8. Barbell Bent Over Row  |  Difficulty 2/5

Choose a torso angle around your knees, preferably around your deadlift sticking point. Pull the bar up to the navel, hips or sternum. Retract the shoulder blades by pinching them together like a pencil in between them. Control the weight down to maximize strength and muscle gain. Tempo added ensures proper loading and technical execution. Following is the equipment required:




9. Pull Up  |  Difficulty 4/5

A pullup is only as good as its range of motion. Half repping won’t get you very far in terms of strength. Adding a band to the pullups can get more sets, reps, and range of motion. Choose a grip that feels good on the shoulder and elbow joint. Following is the equipment required:




10. Single-Leg Deadlift  |  Difficulty 3/5

This exercise focuses on maintaining a neutral spine and level hips. Use the leg lifting as a counterbalance. Think about pushing or reaching back.  One of my favourite warm-ups done with no weight or lightly loaded. Your core, ankles and feet are additional areas of focus. Great to do before Squats, deadlifts, carries, etc. Following is the equipment required:





11. Bulgarian Split Squats  |  Difficulty 2/5

Add a Bulgarian split squat to build leg and hip strength and size. Start with bodyweight variations until you can do multiple sets of 10+ repetitions. Use assistance for balance if needed. Following is the equipment required:





12. Dead Hangs  |  Difficulty 3/5  (Two Hands) | 5/5 (Single Arm)

Grip strength is crucial for being a strongman. Picking up heavy objects and carrying them requires forearm, bicep and shoulder strength. Performing dead hangs is excellent for grip strength. Two hands, too easy? Try one at a time and see how you do. Following is the equipment required:




13. Barbell Holds  |  Difficulty 2/5

Another great way to build grip strength is to not use grip aides on row and deadlift variations and avoid mixed and hook grip. Doing grip holds with a barbell in a squat rack is another good way to build strength and endurance. Make sure the range of motion isn’t so high that, if dropped, does any damage to the rack or bar. Go for a time of 30-60 seconds for maximum training stimulus without fatiguing your overall body too much. Following is the equipment required:




Carrying heavy things is one of my favourite parts of Strongman. We use an array of objects that we pick up and carry from point A to point B, usually done as a medley. If you do not have any big rocks or sandbags available, it can be hard to get better at them. However, doing marches and carries with the barbell on your back or arms can be a grueling way to improve footwork, strength and conditioning. Aim to work for 45-75 seconds for general strength and conditioning.


14. Zercher Carry  |  Difficulty 2/5

Take the weight out of a rack in your arms and use your upper back muscles and arms to hold the bar tight to the body. Use your glutes o take pressure off of the low back. Using a thicker bar or a pad can reduce discomfort. Following is the equipment required:




15. Suitcase Carry  |  Difficulty 3/5

You can use a kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, or specialized handle to do this carry. Abdominal bracing and stability through the lumbar and hips are required. Following is the equipment required:




16. Barbell Carry  |  Difficulty 1/5

A march is preferable to avoid overly fatiguing the body. Focus on keeping the head level and upper back tight as your transfer weight from foot to foot. Following is the equipment required:





Ian Wheat

Author | Amateur Strongman

Diploma in Personal Training, ACE Certified