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Strongman/Strongwoman Academic Research

Welcome to the Strongman and Strongwoman Academic Research Page. Here you will find a comprehensive list of academic studies which relate to the sport and training of Strongman/Strongwoman. You can read the abstracts here and will find a link to the full PDF article (where possible) should you need it. All studies are listed in date order so you find the very latest research quickly and easily. There is also a table at the top of this page summarising the studies so you can find what you need at a glance.
I would like to thank Dr Paul Winwood for providing the articles and being so helpful in the development of this page.
Title Author Year Journal
The Epidemiology of Injuries Across the Weight-Training Sports Justin W. L. Keogh & Paul W. Winwood 2016 Sports Medicine
A Biomechanical Analysis of the Strongman Log Lift and Comparison with Weightlifting's Clean and Jerk Paul W. Winwood et al 2015 International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
A Biomechanical Analysis of the Heavy Sprint-Style Sled Pull and Comparison with the Back Squat Paul W. Winwood et al 2015 International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
Strongman versus Traditional Resistance Training Effects on Muscular Function and Performance Paul W. Winwood et al 2015 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
A Biomechanical Analysis of the Farmers Walk, and Comparison with the Deadlift and Unloaded Walk Paul W. Winwood et al 2014 International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
How Coaches Use Strongman Implements in Strength and Conditioning Practice Paul W. Winwood et al 2014 International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
Effects of Strongman Training on Salivary Testosterone Levels in a Sample of Trained Men Jamie J Ghigiarelli et al 2013 Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
Interelationships between Strength, Anthropometrics and Strongman Performance in Novice Strongman Athletes Paul W. Winwood et al 2012 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
The Use of Strongman Type Implements and Training to Increase Sport Performance in Collegiate Athletes Brandon Zemke, MS and Glenn Wright, PhD 2011 Strength and Conditioning Journal
S&C practices of Strongman Competitors Paul W. Winwood et al 2011 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
A Brief Description of the Biomechanics and Physiology of a Strongman Event: The Tyre Flip Justin W. L Keogh 2010 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Using 'Strongman' Exercises in Training Scott Bennett 2008 Strength and Conditioning Journal

The Epidemiology of Injuries Across the Weight-Training Sports

Justin W. L. Keogh and Paul W. Winwood

Sports Medicine Vol 46, No 6 2016

Abstract

Background Weight-training sports, including weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, strongman, Highland Games, and CrossFit, are weight-training sports that have separate divisions for males and females of a variety of ages, competitive standards, and bodyweight classes. These sports may be considered dangerous because of the heavy loads commonly used in training and competition. Objectives Our objective was to systematically review the injury epidemiology of these weight-training sports, and, where possible, gain some insight into whether this may be affected by age, sex, competitive standard, and bodyweight class.

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A Biomechanical Analysis of the Strongman Log Lift and Comparison with Weightlifting’s Clean and Jerk

Paul W. Winwood, John B. Cronin, Scott R. Brown and Justin W. L. Keogh

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 10 · Number 5 · 2015

Abstract

This study compared the biomechanical characteristics of the log lift and clean and jerk. Six experienced male strongman athletes performed log lifts and clean and jerks at 70% of their 1RM clean and jerk. Significant (p<0.05) between-exercise kinematic differences were observed throughout all the lifting phases, except at lift completion. The log lift demonstrated significantly greater trunk (↑24%) and hip (↑9%) range of motion than the clean and jerk. Significantly greater peak bar velocities were achieved in the clean and jerk in the second pull ( 16%) and the jerk (↑14%). While similarities existed in ground reaction force data between the lifts, mean and peak powers were significantly greater (↑40% to ↑64%) in propulsive phases of the clean and jerk. The log lift may be an effective conditioning stimulus to teach rapid triple extension while generating similar vertical and anteriorpropulsive forces as the clean and jerk with the same given load.

Key words: Kinematics, Kinetics, Strongman, Weightlifting

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A Biomechanical Analysis of the Heavy Sprint-Style Sled Pull and Comparison with the Back Squat

Paul W. Winwood, John B. Cronin, Scott R. Brown and Justin W. L. Keogh

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 10 · Number 5 · 2015

Abstract

This study compared the biomechanical characteristics of the heavy sprintstyle sled pull and squat. Six experienced male strongman athletes performed sled pulls and squats at 70% of their 1RM squat. Significant kinematic and kinetic differences were observed between the sled pull start and squat at the start of the concentric phase and at maximum knee extension. The first stride of the heavy sled pull demonstrated significantly (p<0.05) lower stride lengths and average velocities and a higher mean ratio of force than the stride at 2 – 3 m. The force orientation and magnitude associated with the heavy sprint-style sled pull demonstrates that the heavy sled pull may be an effective conditioning stimulus to generate superior anterior-propulsive forces compared to vertically orientated exercises such as the squat with the same given load. Such adaptations may be beneficial in sports where higher levels of sprint momentum are needed to make and break tackles.

Key words: Kinematics, Kinetics, Powerlifting, Resisted Sprinting Training, Strongman

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Strongman versus Traditional Resistance Training Effects on Muscular Function and Performance

Paul W. Winwood, John B. Cronin,  Logan R. Posthumus, Steven J. Finlayson, Nicholas D. Gill  and Justin W.L. Keogh

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 29(2)/429–439 2015

Abstract

Strongman vs. traditional resistance training effects on muscular function and performance. J Strength Cond Res 29(2): 429–439, 2015—Currently, no evidence exists as to the effectiveness of strongman training programs for performance enhancement. This study compared the effects of 7 weeks of strongman resistance training vs. traditional resistance training on body composition, strength, power, and speed measures. Thirty experienced resistancetrained rugby players were randomly assigned to one of the 2 groups; strongman (n = 15; mean 6 SD: age, 23.4 6 5.6 years; body mass, 91.2 6 14.8 kg; height, 180.1 6 6.8 cm) or traditional (n = 15; mean 6 SD: age, 22.5 6 3.4 years; body mass, 93.7 6 12.3 kg; height, 181.3 6 5.9 cm). The strongman and traditional training programs required the participants to train twice a week and contained exercises that were matched for biomechanical similarity with equal loading. Participants were assessed for body composition, strength, power, speed, and change of direction (COD) performance. Within-group analyses indicated that all performance measures improved with training (0.2–7%) in both the strongman and traditional training groups. No significant between-group differences were observed in functional performance measures after 7 weeks of resistance training. Between-group differences indicated small positive effects in muscle mass and acceleration performance and large improvements in 1 repetition maximum (1RM) bent over row strength associated with strongman compared with traditional training. Small to moderate positive changes in 1RM squat and deadlift strength, horizontal jump, COD turning ability, and sled push performance were associated with traditional compared with strongman training. Practitioners now have the first evidence on the efficacy of a strongman training program, and it would seem that shortterm strongman training programs are as effective as traditional resistance training programs in improving aspects of body composition, muscular function, and performance.

KEY WORDS weight training, functional, transference, variation

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A Biomechanical Analysis of the Farmers Walk, and Comparison with the Deadlift and Unloaded Walk

Paul W. Winwood, John B. Cronin, Scott R. Brown, and Justin W. L. Keogh

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 9 · Number 5 · 2014

Abstract

This study compared the biomechanical characteristics of the farmers walk, deadlift and unloaded walk. Six experienced male strongman athletes performed farmers’ walks and deadlifts at 70% of their 1RM deadlift. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were apparent at knees passing with the farmers lift demonstrating greater trunk extension, thigh angle, knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion. Significantly greater mean vertical and anterior forces were observed in the farmers lift than deadlift. The farmers walk demonstrated significantly greater peak forces and stride rates and significantly shorter stride lengths, ground contact times, and swing times than unloaded walk. Significantly greater dorsiflexion, knee flexion, thigh angle, and significantly lesser trunk angle at foot strike were also observed in the farmers walk. The farmers lift may be an effective lifting alternative to the deadlift, to generating more anterior-propulsive and vertical force with less stress to the lumbar spine due to the more vertical trunk position.

Key words: Biomechanics, Dead Lift, Farmer’s Walk, Posture, Strongman Training

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How Coaches Use Strongman Implements in Strength and Conditioning Practice

Paul W. Winwood, John B. Cronin, Justin W.L. Keogh, Mike K. Dudson and Nicholas D. Gill

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching Volume 9 · Number 5 · 2014

Abstract

This article describes how strongman implements, which we defined as “any non-traditional implement integrated into strength and conditioning practice” are currently utilised by coaches to enhance athletic performance. Coaches (mean ±SD 34.0 ±8.2 y old, 9.8 ±6.7 y general strength and conditioning coaching experience) completed a self-reported 4-page survey. The subject group included coaches of amateur (n = 74), semi-professional (n = 38) and professional (n = 108) athletes. Eighty-eight percent (n = 193) of coaches reported using strongman implements in the training of their athletes. Coaches ranked sleds, ropes, kettlebells, tyres, sandbags and farmers walk bars as the top six implements used, and anaerobic/metabolic conditioning, explosive strength/power and muscle endurance as the three main physiological reasons for its use. The strongman implements were typically used in combination with traditional exercises in a gymnasium-based setting. Future research needs to evaluate the performance benefits of such training practices in controlled studies.

Key words: Strength and Conditioning Coaching, Strongman Training

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Effects of Strongman Training on Salivary Testosterone Levels in a Sample of Trained Men

Jamie J. Ghigiarelli, Katie M. Sell, Jessica M. Raddock and Kurt Taveras

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 27(3)/738–747 2013

Abstract 

Strongman exercises consist of multi-joint movements that incorporate large muscle mass groups and impose a substantial amount of neuromuscular stress. The purpose of this study was to examine salivary testosterone responses from 2 novel strongman training (ST) protocols in comparison with an established hypertrophic (H) protocol reported to acutely elevate testosterone levels. Sixteen men (24 6 4.4 years, 181.2 6 6.8 cm, and 95.3 6 20.3 kg) volunteered to participate in this study. Subjects completed 3 protocols designed to ensure equal total volume (sets and repetitions), rest period, and intensity between the groups. Exercise sets were performed to failure. Exercise selection and intensity (3 sets 3 10 repetitions at 75% 1 repetition maximum) were chosen as they reflected commonly prescribed resistance exercise protocols recognized to elicit a large acute hormonal response. In each of the protocols, subjects were required to perform 3 sets to muscle failure of 5 different exercises (tire flip, chain drag, farmers walk, keg carry, and atlas stone lift) with a 2-minute rest interval between sets and a 3-minute rest interval between exercises. Saliva samples were collected pre-exercise (PRE), immediate postexercise (PST), and 30 minutes postexercise (30PST). Delta scores indicated a significant difference between PRE and PST testosterone level within each group (p # 0.05), with no significant difference between the groups. Testosterone levels spiked 136% (225.23 6 148.01 pg$ml21) for the H group, 74% (132.04 6 98.09 pg$ml21) for the ST group, and 54% (122.10 6 140.67 pg$ml21) for the mixed strongman/hypertrophy (XST) group. A significant difference for testosterone level occurred over time (PST to 30PST) for the H group p # 0.05. In conclusion, ST elicits an acute endocrine response similar to a recognized H protocol when equated for duration and exercise intensity.

KEY WORDS saliva, endocrine, hypertrophy, junkyard

Interelationships between Strength, Anthropometrics and Strongman Performance in Novice Strongman Athletes

Paul W. Winwood,  Justin W.L. Keogh  and Nigel K. Harris

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(2)/513–522 2012

Abstract

Interrelationships between strength, anthropometrics, and strongman performance in novice strongman athletes. J Strength Cond Res 26(2): 513–522, 2012—The sport of strongman is relatively new; hence, specific research investigating this sport is currently very limited. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationships between anthropometric dimensions and maximal isoinertial strength to strongman performance in novice strongman athletes. Twentythree semiprofessional rugby union players with considerable resistance training and some strongman training experience (age 22.0 6 2.4 years, weight 102.6 6 10.8 kg, height 184.6 6 6.5 cm) were assessed for anthropometry (height, body composition, and girth measurements), maximal isoinertial performance (bench press, squat, deadlift, and power clean), and strongman performance (tire flip, log clean, and press, truck pull, and farmer’s walk). The magnitudes of the relationships were determined using Pearson correlation coefficients, and interpreted qualitatively according to Hopkins (90% confidence limits ;60.37). The highest relationship observed was between system force (body mass + squat 1-repetition maximum) and overall strongman performance (r = 0.87). Clear moderate to very large relationships existed between performance in all strongman events and the squat (r = 0.61– 0.85), indicating the importance of maximal squat strength for strongman competitors. Flexed arm girth and calf girth were the strongest anthropometric correlates of overall strongman performance (r = 0.79 and 0.70, respectively). The results of this study suggest that body structure and common gymnasium-based exercise strength are meaningfully related to strongman performance in novice strongman athletes. Future research should investigate these relationships using more experienced strongman athletes and determine the relationships between changes in anthropometry, isoinertial strength, and strongman performance to determine the role of anthropometry and isoinertial strength in the sport of strongman.

KEY WORDS anthropometry, isoinertial, squat, body mass, body structure

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The Use of Strongman Type Implements and Training to Increase Sport Performance in Collegiate Athletes

Brandon Zemke, MS and Glenn Wright, PhD

Strength and Conditioning Journal Volume 33 | Number 4 | August 2011

Abstract

This article examines the use of strongman implements in a training program designed to increase sport performance. The benefits and reasons for including strongman implements into an overall training program will be discussed. Information from scientific research conducted on strongman implements will be used throughout the article. Examples of how to incorporate strongman implements into the program design will be given from a theoretical standpoint and a practical standpoint from previous use by the authors.

S&C practices of Strongman Competitors

Paul W. Winwood, Justin W.L. Keogh and Nigel K. Harris

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(11)/3118–3128 2011

Abstract

The strength and conditioning practices of strongman competitors. J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 3118–3128, 2011—This study describes the results of a survey of the strength and conditioning practices of strongman competitors. A 65-item online survey was completed by 167 strongman competitors. The subject group included 83 local, 65 national, and 19 international strongman competitors. The survey comprised 3 main areas of enquiry: (a) exercise selection, (b) training protocols and organization, and (c) strongman event training. The back squat and conventional deadlift were reported as the most commonly used squat and deadlift (65.8 and 88.0%, respectively). Eighty percent of the subjects incorporated some form of periodization in their training. Seventy-four percent of subjects included hypertrophy training, 97% included maximal strength training, and 90% included power training in their training organization. The majority performed speed repetitions with submaximal loads in the squat and deadlift (59.9 and 61.1%, respectively). Fifty-four percent of subjects incorporated lower body plyometrics into their training, and 88% of the strongman competitors reported performing Olympic lifts as part of their strongman training. Seventy-eight percent of subjects reported that the clean was the most performed Olympic lift used in their training. Results revealed that 56 and 38% of the strongman competitors used elastic bands and chains in their training, respectively. The findings demonstrate that strongman competitors incorporate a variety of strength and conditioning practices that are focused on increasing muscular size, and the development of maximal strength and power into their conditioning preparation. The farmers walk, log press, and stones were the most commonly performed strongman exercises used in a general strongman training session by these athletes. These data provide information on the training practices required to compete in the sport of strongman.

KEY WORDS hypertrophy, maximal strength, periodization, power, survey, training organization

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A Brief Description of the Biomechanics and Physiology of a Strongman Event: The Tyre Flip

J W Keogh, A L Payne, B B Anderson, P J Atkins

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research May;24(5):1223-8 2010

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to (a) characterize the temporal aspects of a popular strongman event, the tire flip; (b) gain some insight into the temporal factors that could distinguish the slowest and fastest flips; and (c) obtain preliminary data on the physiological stress of this exercise. Five resistance-trained subjects with experience in performing the tire flip gave informed consent to participate in this study. Each subject performed 2 sets of 6 tire flips with a 232-kg tire with 3 minutes of rest between sets. Temporal variables were obtained from video cameras positioned 10 m from the tire, perpendicular to the intended direction of the tire flip. Using the "stopwatch" function in Silicon Coach, the duration of each tire flip and that of the first pull, second pull, transition, and push phases were recorded. Physiological stress was estimated via heart rate and finger-prick blood lactate response. Independent T-tests revealed that the 2 faster subjects (0.38 +/- 0.17 s) had significantly (p < 0.001) shorter second pull durations than the 3 slower subjects (1.49 +/- 0.92 s). Paired T-tests revealed that the duration of the second pull for each subject's fastest 3 trials (0.55 +/- 0.35 s) were significantly (p = 0.007) less than their 3 slowest trials (1.69 +/- 1.35 s). Relatively high heart rate (179 +/- 8 bpm) and blood lactate (10.4 +/- 1.3 mmol/L(-1)) values were found at the conclusion of the second set. Overall, the results of this study suggest that the duration of the second pull is a key determinant of tire flip performance and that this exercise provides relatively high degrees of physiological stress.

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Using 'Strongman' Exercises in Training

Scott Bennett

Strength and Conditioning Journal  Volume 30 | Number 3 | June 2008

Abstract

Strongman type exercises have become all the rage in collegiate training. Whether it be the strength coach’s preference, for use in team competitions and team building, or simply to break up the monotony of traditional training, where do they fit in to the scientific aspects of collegiate strength and conditioning?