Why your Grandma (and you) should train like a STRONGMAN.
Usually reserved for big sweaty dudes with bulging muscles and bushy beards, ‘Strongman’ style training may actually be one of the best things you can do for your health and fitness.
‘Strongman’ training is characterised by heavy weights, odd objects and short, intense efforts.
So whether it’s for you or your grandma, here are the top 11 reasons to train like a Strongman.
1) Odd objects are great for your body:
Training with odd objects and uneven implements has multiple benefits. Training using these movements and unusual implements has a huge carry over to life. Far from the balance and evenness of a barbell, training with odd objects emulates the uneven and unpredictable movements you may be required to perform in life. This creates physical resilience and will help you not only avoid injury, but also perform better in the unknown elements of life.
2) It builds balance in your body:
‘Unilateral’ movements (those where your right and left arm/leg have to work independently, are a great way to build joint and muscle health, balance and stability. They correct imbalances that may have been caused by a lifetime of being right or left dominant.
3) The variety will keep your body adapting:
The physical purpose of this variety is that if your body does a wide range of exercises, you will experience a wide range of benefits. Even though exercises are similar enough to ensure you’re constantly progressing (for example ‘farmer’s carries’ and ‘deadlifts’ will both improve each other), they’re also different enough to force your body to keep adapting to new things (for example, there are some benefits that are unique to ‘farmer’s carries’, and some that are unique to ‘deadlifts).
4) It’s a time efficient way to train multiple things at once:
Strongman training is heavy, and it also makes you breath hard. Because of this, it’s an effective method of training both strength and cardiorespiratory endurance at the same time.
5) It’s fun and novel:
The mental reason behind the variety lies in both the ‘novelty’ value of new exercises, and also in the fact that the movement alternatives give you some freedom in an otherwise structured program. The mind thrives off these novel movements, and they inject some fun into your training.
6) New movements will challenge the mind:
There is also an element of ‘problem solving’, where your mind and body have to find novel ways to complete tasks with which you’re unfamiliar. There is a very rapid ‘motor learning’ effect that occurs during these sessions.
7) It makes you really strong:
Resistance training (using your muscles to lift heavy weights, either external weights or yourself) makes you stronger. Strength is one of the greatest predictors of both your lifespan (how long you live) and your healthspan (how long you live in a healthy state).
8) It improves your flexibility:
Resistance training like this will also improve your flexibility (by going through a full range of motion), posture and coordination. It will also build stability around your joints and spine to give you a healthy musculo-skeletal system and reduce joint and back pain.
9) It fights two major side effects of ageing:
The session will minimise losses in bone mineral density and will improve your balance. Strength and balance are the two strongest predictors of falls later in life, so this is an effective way to train fall prevention, and insure your independence into old age.
10) It will help build a healthy physique:
This session increases your lean muscle mass and muscle fibre size. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, so increasing it will maximise how much energy your body burns at rest. This makes it an effective session to reach healthy levels of body fat, both visceral fat (around the organs) and subcutaneous fat (under your skin). After this session, your body will go through a prolonged state of ‘EPOC’ (excess post- exercise oxygen consumption), meaning you’ll continue burning energy long after you finish training – further aiding healthy body composition.
11) It will improve various health markers:
As a result of this style of training, you will experience changes in blood chemistry, including favourable effects on cholesterol, blood glucose, triglyceride and lipid levels. It will create favourable changes to cardiovascular disease (including reductions in blood pressure) and respiratory disease. This session will also lower your resting heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain.
So try incorporating some Strongman movements into your training. Your mind and body will thank you!
Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.