19th Century Famous Strongman Athletes
- In the past strongmen and strongwomen trained with stones and heavy sacks to build strength. Modern contest formats, however, include performances spanning few hours or days, with four or five different events, such as classic, pressing, and moving events.
- Strongwoman contests have also been on the rise and are held alongside those of men, with slight modifications to suit their needs.
- On the other hand, with the use of technology to test progress as well as test verticals or cleans, coaches are now using data to develop advanced plans for strength professionals.
The evolution of contest formats for strongman and strongwoman athletes as well as the use of data-driven strength plans and teleconferencing training sessions are some trends in the strength athletics landscape that have widely been gaining adoption among strength professionals. The details have been outlined below.
(i) New Contest Formats
- Although strength contests date back to as old-time periods as Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, the sport has evolved to include modern formats and outlets different from those in the past. Initially, competitors trained with stones and heavy sacks to build strength, included greater chances of disorganization and deception with players insisting on using their own equipment, and were predominantly found performing in circuses, music halls, and Vaudeville theaters.
- Modern contest formats include performances spanning few hours or days, with four or five different events, such as classic events (the atlas stone, tire flip, and car deadlift), moving events (the super yoke and farmer's walk), pressing events (the axle and circus dumbbell),
- The key driver behind these format changes is the need for standardization as well as the elimination of bias by incorporating a wide range of events for purposes of fairly accommodating the various strengths unique to each participant.
- Strongwoman contests have also been on the rise and are held alongside those of men, with slight modifications to suit their needs, including lighter objects. With women;s sports typically lagging behind men's, the World’s Strongest Man contest format was open to women, officially, in 1997.
- Aneta Florczyk and Jill Mills are examples of strongwomen at the forefront of the growing trend of female participation ins strength athletics. Although plagued by sponsorship issues, Arnold Pro Strongwoman is one development in the women's contests similar to the Arnold Strongman Classicnd, one of the premier events of the strongman calendar, hence making it the most definitive change for women in this fitness landscape.
(ii) Data-Driven Strength Plans and Teleconference Training Sessions
- The use of data-driven strength plans and teleconferencing training sessions is another trend in the strength athletics landscape that has widely been gaining adoption among strength professionals.
- With the use of technology to test progress as well as test verticals or cleans, coaches are now using data to develop advanced plans for strength professionals.
- According to Jason Pullara, the director of strength and conditioning at Purdue University, "Pre-velocity-based training, a lot of it was based on percentages of a max left, where now you could program based on bar speeds. You can adjust in-session rather than post-session. So, if you see an athlete that’s not performing quite as high as they are accustomed to, you could lower their bar weight, achieving the bar speed that you want, or vice versa — if they’re doing really well, you can give them a little bit more load that day."
- On the other hand, teleconference training sessions have been in use for quite some time now but were significantly fueled by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing strength and conditioning professionals to use online meeting software, such as Zoom, to continue offering training.
- The key driver behind this trend is the need for consistency, with trainers now able to interact regularly and more hands-on and with the athletes, compared to issuing YouTube lectures or written programs.
- The World’s Strongest Man is an example of an organization the resorted to technology by launching its first Snapchat show ahead of the 2020 competition, featuring eight of the world’s most popular strongmen, including Eddie Williams, Rob Kearney, Adam Bishop, Robert Oberst, Luke Stoltman, Rongo Keene, Evan Singleton and Nick Best.
- It allowed fans to swipe up at the end of each episode and, based in the participants' performance and creativity, vote for their favorite candidate.
To obtain information about the current trends in the strength athletics landscape, we searched through relevant industry publications and news articles, such as Body Building and Training Conditioning. The details have been outlined in this report.