Strongman, or strength athletics is a weightlifting sport where athletes are tested on their strength through various activities. “Strongman is a very functional sport with over 30 events to choose from. We could be pulling a plane, flipping tires, lifting stones, you name it,” Lynn Morehouse, founder of Train Strongman shares. The sport involves more unique variations of typical weightlifting exercises like the deadlift. Rather than lifting a traditional weight, a strongman event may be lifting a car instead.
Morehouse started Train Strongman nine years ago with a core mission to build awareness of the sport of Strongman and show that you don’t have to be a giant man to be strong. “My mission has always been to bring the World’s Strongest Man experience that I had grown up with watching as a kid to everyone else – to all weight classes, to older athletes and to women. Nine years ago, I had been competing as an athlete for a while and won a local competition. After the initial high of the competition wore off, I realized I could do better and decided to create Train Strongman,” Morehouse says.
Train Strongman hosts the Official Strongman Games, awarding the World’s Strongest Man and Woman titles for all weight classes, age divisions and genders. The only exception is the heavyweight men who qualify for Giants Live as a path to compete in the World’s Strongest Man competition aired on television. The annual event is the pinnacle of competition in the sport and is currently the world’s largest international strongman and strongwoman competition.
Train Strongman holds a range of events each year from state championships. to regional competitions all leading up to the World Championship, the Official Strongman Games each November. This past year, the organization held a regional competition in Washington, Texas and North Carolina. The regional events typically bring in 100 competitors, while the world stage brings in 300+ competitors and 1,000+ spectators from across the US and globe.
The Official Strongman Games is a 3-day competition typically held early-November at a US Destination. The event begins with all 300+ athletes and narrows down to the top 10 competitors in each class after the first two days. Athletes compete in multiple events, including a car walk where men and women carry a Volkswagen bug. This year’s event was held on November 11-13 at the Ocean Center Convention Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. “It is a fantastic venue. The venue and host hotel were very close to the water. International athletes will often extend their trip by as much as a full week and go to Disney, etc. The Destination really matters, especially for the World Championships,” Morehouse notes.
The world event was first held in 2017, and since then, has become a festival-like tradition for the global Strongman community. “The energy is incredible. Strength doesn’t require a language. Strongman is very unique. With a lot of other sports, the competition is against someone else. With strength sports specifically, you are solely against the weight. You will find that 1st and 2nd place will be cheering each other on. It gets extremely loud. The event is also an opportunity to visit every top person in the sport. Because we have every single weight class and the world titles, you are guaranteed to see the best in the world across strongman and strongwoman. It becomes a very social tradition as well,” he continues.
Strongman athletes strive to take strength to a higher level. Often, athletes have participated in sports in college or professionally, and want to continue competing in some way. In the Masters Division, which includes 40+ and 50+ age groups, individuals are also searching to keep training competitively and stay active. “How athletes get into strongman is always different. Once they realize that strongman is functional strength, which makes you more resilient and more resistant to injury, and they realize it’s also a lot of fun and a great community, people stay here forever,” Moreshouse says.
For the Official Strongman Games, Train Strongman is typically looking for 20-30,000+ square feet of indoor event space for almost the full week. The space also needs to seat 1,000+ spectators and the athletes. Since the events are live streamed and Train Strongman focuses on quality video content, indoor venues with concrete floors are best. “When we think about venues, we have to also think about the terrain. The terrain can be a challenge since we need truly flat, large open space without access holes for power or a carpeted section. A key thing for me is it has to be fair for the athletes,” Morehouse adds.
Train Strongman is open to working with new Destinations in the future. “I’m open to new areas. I would say I always think about proximity to an airport because most of the athletes are not local. Essentially every athlete is going to need a hotel. I would like it to be near an airport and have access to hotels near the venue. Ideally, folks can simply arrive and enjoy themselves. If it is a nice area, they like to extend their trip and go see the sites. These athletes are now scheduling this event into each November,” Morehouse shares.
First and foremost, Strongman has grown tremendously in the last ten years. The real growth of the sport comes down to awareness. “When I mention Strongman, people think about everything from bodybuilding to IronMan to powerlifting. There is still an awareness piece. Once we can demystify that this is not only for super-humans, this is for the strongest person you may know in your gym. It is so much fun to hear athletes’ stories, like a software engineer who competes on the weekends. I really think the growth of the sport will happen when people realize that Strongman can be for everyone,” Morehouse notes.
For those interested in getting started, Morehouse recommends finding a Strongman presence at a gym near you or someone who competes in Strongman. In the United States, within an hour almost anyone can find a gym that has some Strongman presence, like a nearby CrossFit. Many strongmen host Strongman Saturdays where groups get together to train. “If you can find someone who’s doing it, I guarantee you will get hooked and feel more empowered than you’ve ever felt before,” he says.
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