A Pro’s Guide to Starting Your Strongman or Strongwoman Journey

A Pro’s Guide to Starting Your Strongman or Strongwoman Journey

So, the strongman sport has caught your eye. Something about being able to press your bodyweight overhead or move ridiculous objects out of your way has you thinking about it more and more. Sounds like you want to be the person that everyone calls when they need to move. Don't worry, you can say no. After all, you now have a higher purpose for your newfound strength.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, how does one actually become a strongman or strongwoman? Good thing I'm here to give you my top 3 tips from a pro's guide to starting your strongman or strongwoman journey.

Nadia Stowers

Animal Athlete Nadia Stowers is a 2-time back-to-back America’s Strongest Woman ‘21/'22 and the first African American to win a world title, and then she did it a second time.

People don't believe that I started my fitness journey just like everyone else. Someone made a rude remark about my weight and it made me do something about it. I joined my local 24-hr gym and slowly kept learning and watching the people around me for ideas. I fell in love with weights more and more. Feeling my strength grow became addicting and for once in a long time, I started to like the body I was in. However, I was just going to the gym and lifting with no real goals in mind and no one to guide me or tell me otherwise. Which brings me to my first trinket of advice to getting started- finding your coach.

Tip 1: Go to Competitions to See and Feel the Sport Close Up

If you haven't already, go watch a strongman competition in person - it's important to get the first-hand look and feel. I remember going on my own to watch a local competition and it all hit me at once - the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions. It felt like all of those things were thrown up in the air and dropped on my head all at once. I was fascinated as I watched men and women of muscle, sweat, and chalk, throw around objects and weights I didn't even know existed. You could feel the rush in the air during an event. Feel the ground tremble as dense rocks are dropped and deadlifts pulled. The crowd was celebrating every athlete as they left it all out there on that lot.

And while you’re there, don't hesitate to ask questions and talk to the athletes, of course not when they're preparing for the next event out of courtesy, but there is a lot of downtime while the athletes rest, and they love sharing the sport with any who will listen. I had never experienced anything like it. I left my first immersion into the sport with ringing in my ears from hours of rick music and screaming and the smell of sweaty neoprenes burning my nose. It was so loud. It was so gross. It was so awesome. It was so thrilling.

Tip 2: Find a Good Coach

Having a good coach will always be my first and most important piece of advice. You will need someone not only to program your training, but to push you physically and mentally when you need it the most. A coach is a very important bond that when aligned perfectly will just click and you trust that person with your being. A good coach will not only care about how you're doing physically but emotionally as well. They will reveal to you the power of the mind and just how impactful it can be on your performance. They will always strive to keep you balanced. They are determined to eliminate your negative self-talk and turn it into constructive criticism and self-praise. You will learn just how strong you truly are. You will see yourself evolve before your very eyes, accomplishing things you never thought possible. The thing is, and it’s probably the hardest thing of all, is that you must completely buy in. You must have belief yourself and trust in your coach. Without trust you'll end up second guessing everything you do and never grow from it. Keep an open mind for your coach and know that they only have your best interest in mind. No coach ever wants to see their athlete fail. Any, and all advice, is only to help you.

Now how does one go about finding a coach? What do you look for? Who do you look for? Most importantly, seek someone with experience. There are too many 'coaches' out there who have appointed themselves after only a competition or two and are honestly just as new at this as you are. Experience does in fact matter. Remember trust? How can you trust your coach who has no experience under their belt - pun intended. You want to know that this person can give you the best, not a guess. Now, when I say experience, I don't necessarily mean years. I'm referring to the amount and level of shows they have competed in as well as their standings within said shows. Do they hold any records? It takes a certain amount of diligence and self-discipline to push the body to achieve something that no one on this earth has done before. Records in a resume are always a plus. If you decide you like their resume, I would research their career further into the type of personality they are as well as to see if the resume is backed by how they train, i.e., how they move. You'll want to look for someone who not only preaches good form but demonstrates it. You want a coach that leads by example and walks their talk. Now that you've taken the time to study your potential coach, do you like how they conduct themselves and is this someone you would feel comfortable representing? Do you feel that this coach would do their very best to get you to your goals? If the answer is yes, then start your in-person conversations and see how they train.

Tip 3: Find a Bonafide Strongman Gym

While you can train your fundamentals at a commercial gym, there isn't much else that they can offer for the strongman sport. Research strongman gyms first and foremost. Just by title alone it implies that they have strongman equipment and implements. If you're in an area where a strongman gym isn't available, the next best place would be a powerlifting gym as they are more likely to have the machines necessary and possibly some strongman pieces as well.

If you do not have the luck of being close to one of those, then I would find the next nearest gym of the two and dedicate a weekend day to drive to that gym. It's a traditional in the sport to call Saturdays “Strongman Saturday”, so if you would like to join that tradition, Saturdays will be the day for strongman. Pack your gear, snacks, and music for your drive. This is quite common because it's pretty much impossible to compete in strongman without being able to train on the strongman equipment and implements. With the last option I would recommend that you also sign up to a local gym as it’s where the remainder of your training will take place.

Start Your Journey

Guess what? You just set the foundation for your strongman or strongwoman journey! From here I have just a few reminders that can make or break anyone in this sport. Remember to trust your coach. It's a win-win relationship because you'll love succeeding and it gives their coaching validity. Coaches love to brag about their athletes. Remember to believe in yourself. Self-doubt and negative self-talk are much more powerful than we know. Remember it's okay to feel fear but it is never okay to stay afraid. Give yourself permission to grow out of that fear. Remember to forever have fun. You'll accomplish amazing feats and push the boundaries of your reality. Invest in yourself wholeheartedly and grow. Believe in yourself. Now on you go. I'll be looking for you out there.