Strongman vs. traditional resistance training effects on muscular function and performance

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
586 Downloads (Pure)


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 resistance-trained rugby players were randomly assigned to one of the 2 groups; strongman (n = 15; mean ± SD: age, 23.4 ± 5.6 years; body mass, 91.2 ± 14.8 kg; height, 180.1 ± 6.8 cm) or traditional (n = 15; mean ± SD: age, 22.5 ± 3.4 years; body mass, 93.7 ± 12.3 kg; height, 181.3 ± 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 short-term strongman training programs are as effective as traditional resistance training programs in improving aspects of body composition, muscular function, and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-439
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


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