An Introduction to Implement Training: Get Strong Like a Strongman

Implement training is on the rise in strength training programs today. Implements used in strongman training can include; tires, sandbag, stones, chains, wheelbarrows, kegs, logs, sleds, and more.

The popularity of implement or strongman training is on the rise in strength training programs today. Implements used in strongman style training can include; tires, sandbags, water filled implements, atlas stones, chains, wheelbarrows, kegs, logs, pushing/pulling sleds, and much more.

Strongman: Not Just a Fat Guy Sport

Many strength and conditioning professionals are now experimenting with strongman techniques due to the unbalanced and unfixed stimulus that these implements provide, and the ability to elicit a variety of measurable results.

THE STUDY: Metabolic demands of “junkyard” training

Sandbags, wheelbarrows, and water-filled weights are just a few implements that require an athlete to continually stabilize by making adjustments in musculature and body positioning, to fight the effects of a constantly shifting weighted object. Manipulation of awkward and heavy objects stimulates functional strength, and enables an athlete to develop muscles that are difficult develop with a traditional weight training program.

Want Forearms That Match Your Upper Arms?

Strongman methods can also be an excellent way to develop grip strength, as an athlete has to hold on to a variety of objects of varying sizes and weights. For example, the farmers walk can be performed with kegs, logs, sandbags, stones, or other awkward objects instead of the traditional dumbbell or kettlebell.

GET A (STRONGER) GRIP: Strongman Series: The Farmer’s Walk

Level-Up Your Traditional Strength Training

Strongman methods are effective foraugmenting traditional endurance, strength, and power programming. Researchers suggest examples including; a log clean and press workout for endurance, a strict overhead log press for strength, and a log push jerk for power. Researchers do warn that many strongman methods are not appropriate for training for maximal strength efforts. They recommend that training for maximal efforts is best accomplished in the traditional gym set up, using a barbell and dumbbells.

However, strongman training is an excellent complement to power training. Tire throws, tire flips, atlas stones, and log cleans are perfect examples of movements that can utilize full body functional strength and power. Strongman training techniques are effective tools that can be incorporated into an overall athletic training program to increase strength, grip, power, and endurance.

LEARN MORE: Science Compares Strongman to Traditional Resistance Training

5 Strongman Implements to Add to Your Workout:

  • Tires – Truck or tractor tires are relatively easy to acquire and can provide wide variety of stimulus for fun and challenging workouts. Tire flipping, tire clean and throws, tire jumps, and tire sled drags are just some of the movements that athletes can include in their workouts. It is recommended to try to find 2 or more different sizes of tires; a very heavy tire and a lighter tire. If you are on a limited budget, a tire can also be used as a makeshift sled for dragging and/or pushing movements. Tire shops or commercial construction businesses will sometimes give out large tires for free, because they are looking to reduce the cost of getting rid of them.
  • Chains – Chains are typically used in a gym setting and are lifted off the ground during a movement. The use of chains enables a lifter to create a gradual increase in resistance.
  • Sandbags – Sandbags are super versatile for loading, unloading, and carrying movements. These can be easily acquired at local military supply stores or homemade for little expense.
  • Water-Filled Implements – Water-filled logs, kegs, and tubes can provide dynamic resistance that is especially beneficial for developing functional strength. Pressing, cleaning, and squatting with unbalanced objects can be an especially challenging type of training.
  • Kegs – Kegs are excellent tools for loading, carrying, throwing, pressing, or adding weight to a weight to a sled. You can easily find kegs at a local beer supply store and fill and refill with water and/or sand.

3 Sample Strongman Style Workouts

Workout 1:

  • Water Filled Tube Overhead Squat 5 sets of 10
  • 10 Tire Flips and Jumps
  • Farmers Walk 50 yards
  • 10 Tire Flips and Jumps
  • Farmers Walk 50 yards
  • 10 Tire Flips and Jumps

Workout 2:

  • Bench Press with Chains 8 set of 1
  • Overhead Keg or Tire Throws 8 sets of 1
  • Weighted Sled Drag 4 sets of 50 yards

Workout 3:

  • Sandbag Stadium Stairs Run x5
  • Explosive Sled Scarecrows (Face Pulls)/Pulls 5 sets of 50 yards
  • Military Log Press 5 sets of 2


Photo of woman with weight sled courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.