Strongman Workouts for Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, and Performance

A recent study investigated whether “Strongman-style" training could yield benefits such as fat loss, lean muscle gain, and increased athletic performance--benefits way beyond being able to lift a car off the ground or carry a heavy log across a football field. The results are intriguing!

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #198

I remember tuning into ESPN in high school and college to watch “The Strongest Man in the World” competitions. In each episode, enormous men with thighs the size of my entire body would compete in crazy events like semi-truck pulling, enormous boulder carries, car lifting, and giant tire flipping.

Until recently, I wondered whether this kind of training was only for a strange subset of the male population who weighed more than 300 pounds, spoke with Scandinavian accents, and had an obsession with moving heavy objects..

But a new study actually investigated whether this “Strongman-style" training can get you benefits that go above and beyond just being able to lift a car off the ground or carry a heavy log across a football field - benefits such as fat loss, lean muscle gain and increased athletic performance. And the results are actually quite intriguing!

Strongman Training vs. Regular Training

The study, entitled “Strongman versus traditional resistance training effects on muscular function and performance,” compared the effects of 7 weeks of Strongman training versus traditional resistance training on body composition, strength, power, and speed measures. 

Here’s how the traditional routine looked compared to the Strongman routine:

It turns out that the folks competing in the World’s Strongest Man Competition may actually be on to something. The results of the study showed that hauling around logs, lifting heavy rocks, and pushing heavy things across a field can get you results just as good as sitting inside a stuffy gym and hoisting around a barbell or dumbbells. This was the first study of its kind to prove the efficacy of a Strongman training program. It shows that Strongman training programs are just as effective as traditional resistance training programs in improving aspects of body composition, muscular function and performance.

Props for a Strongman Workout

Now, I know what you’re thinking … where in the heck does one get a giant log, a heavy sled, and an axle press (whatever that is!)?

The good news is that you don’t need the fancy or super-heavy equipment they had in this study to get good results. You can set up your own Strongman workout and Strongman-style training equipment quite easily. I’ve actually done it myself, recently. Here are a few ideas to get you started:


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.