Is Strongman Training just another FAD?

USP - Is Strongman training just another Fad?

Q: Hi Joey it seems like every man and his dog is now performing strongman training. You see them flipping their tires, dragging their chains and pulling sleds. Is it a more than a passing fad or is it just the return to the olden days of of the iron game or does it actually offer something more beneficial for coaches and athletes?

A: I have been experimenting with Strongman Training both with myself and athletes for the past decade, so for me its not really a fad. As a coach you want have as many tools in your arsenal as possible. As they say the right tool for the right job. Strongman training offers many benefits some of which traditional resistance training with barbell and dumbbells do not.

Lets examine the key Strongman Lifts to see the benefits they have to offer and how best to integrate them into your training.

Check out the video to see the Gold Coast Suns Strongman Session

Farmers Walk
Technique: Involves lifting 2 heavy weights off the ground and walking for distance or time.

Benefits: (4) The Farmers Walk Exercise strengthens and develops the often weak Vastus Medialis. By strengthening the VMO the athlete will increase their sprinting speed as the VMO is responsible for changing/transferring from the eccentric to concentric phase of the running stance/swing phase.

Gold Coast Suns Captain David Swallow Farmers Walk during one of the Strongman Sessions at USP Gymnasium during 2019 Off-Season

The Farmers Walk is great for knee rehabilitation as it places eccentric load through the Knee which strengthens the VMO which contributes to knee stability and minimizes the reoccurrence of knee injuries. As the VMO has a tendency to switch off or atrophy when knee pain is present

The Farmers Walk is great for strengthening the ankle and associated muscles of the lower leg. And is great for preventing or rehabilitating ankle sprains.

(5.) The Famers Walk can also assist with Spine Rebalancing for athletes that have scoliosis or muscle imbalance due to playing a sport that is single sided such as tennis.

USP Athlete Brisbane Broncos Player Nat Barnes Farmers Walks circa 2009

Sled Dragging
Technique: As the name implies involves, dragging a weighted sled. Benefits: (4) Can be used to train every muscle in the body due to the variety of grips, angles and body positions the athlete can attain.

Gold Coast Suns Player Sam Day utilising the backwards sled drag during his 2019 Off-Season Training at USP Gymnasium!

The sled is great for injury rehabilitation especially for knee injuries as there is very little eccentric component to the exercise. (2) According to Strongman Competitor and author Art McDermott, the sled is the only way to enhance lateral speed as it overloads the hip abductors and hip adductors musculature in a way that transfers onto the sporting arena.

USP Athlete Brisbane Broncos Player Nat Barnes Forwards and Backwards Sled Drag At USP Circa 2009

Tire Flipping
Technique: Is very similar to a powerclean performed at a 45 degree angle.

Benefits: (2) Nearly all contact and combat sports will benefit from tire flipping. Increased grip/finger strength and posterior chain development are some of the most obvious benefits. Energy system development/endurance as well as mental toughness can also be achieved through the use of tire flipping.

Gold Coast Suns Player Ben Ainsworth Perfecting his Tire Flipping technique whilst Suns teammates Lachie Weller, Sam Day, Sam Collins, Harrison Wigg and David Swallow watch on at USP Gymnasium during the 2019 Off-Season

Super Yoke
Technique: Involves carrying a weighted yoke either on the back or in the arms.

Benefits: Best tool to use to identify athletic talent as the performance of the yoke exercise requires superior trunk strength, reaction time and kinesthetic awareness and vast amounts of concentration. According to (1) Dean Robinson Strength an Conditioning Coach from the Gold Coast Suns football Club confirmed my suspicions that athletes that do well with the yoke tend to dominate on the football field. usually when athletes increase their strength or performance in the yoke, their squat and deadlift numbers go up!

USP Athlete and Martial Arts World Champ Matty Parks Yoke Walk
Gold Coast Suns Player Sam Day working on his core strength with a yoke walk during his off-season at USP Gymnasium!

Log Press
Technique: Involves using the arms and delts to lift the bar overhead.

USP Athlete and Martial Arts World Champ Matty Parks Log Press

Benefits: The neutral grip is biomechanically superior in comparison to the internally rotated position commonly associated with regular barbell presses. This help athletes prevent and rehabilitate shoulder injuries. The neutral hand position and has more transference for football athletes and has some carry over to the bench press. The thickness of the log also recruits more core muscles due to the stabilisation requirements need to control the log. (3) The Log Jammer Press pictured below is a great exercise for athletes requiring explosive pushing power. The feet are in contact with the ground, the athlete triple extends at the ankles, knees and hips for full acceleration and maximal power and drives the arms out in front of the body.

USP Athlete and Martial Arts World Champ Matty Parks Log Jammer Press
Gold Coast Suns Player Lachie Weller Log Jammer Press at USP Gymnasium during the Pre-Season 2019

For more information on the specialised strongman techniques visit the Ultimate Sports Performance online Store to purchase the Strongman Training for Athletes DVD.

All the best,

Joey Hayes


1. Robinson, D. Gold Coast Suns Strength and Conditioning Coach. Personal Communication 2006.

2. McDermott, A. Applied Strongman Training for Sport. NSCA Conference, 2005.

3. Blyn, L. Applied Strongman Training for Sport. NSCA Conference, 2005.

4. Poliquin, C. Level 3 PICP Course Notes

5. Poliquin, C. Sport Specific Course