Cardio for Strongmen and Strongwoman to Supercharge Your Conditioning

The game of strongman — which includes strongwomen — is understood for spotlighting absurdly heavy lifts of extremely awkward objects. Nevertheless it’s not nearly selecting up weights and placing them again down. Strongman athletes may not appear to be standard marathoners, however these herculean feats demand a excessive stage of conditioning.

Historically, when athletes say “cardio,” they’re referring to low-intensity, steady-state cardio. Suppose: 45-minute jogs and easy-going biking. However your cardiovascular system isn’t a one-trick pony. Athletes must be in good condition for his or her particular sport — which suggests conditioning their cardiovascular system to be glorious at executing the wants of their sport.

A strongman ready to lift.
Credit score: sportoakimirka / Shutterstock

Strongman athletes of any gender want to have the ability to breathe by way of maximum-effort occasions, together with all-out sprints and medleys of extremely heavy pushes, pulls, and carries.

Editor’s Be aware: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, nevertheless it shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or weight-reduction plan, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of with a trusted medical skilled. We’re not a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this web site will not be supposed to be used as prognosis, prevention, and/or remedy of well being issues. They don’t seem to be substitutes for consulting a professional medical skilled.

What Is Cardio for Strongman Athletes?

When athletes usually consider cardiovascular train, they may envision a treadmill, an elliptical, and even a rower. However not all types of cardio must be carried out at sluggish and regular intervals. Nor do you want to have the ability to dash to be a well-conditioned athlete. 

To be a well-conditioned strongman athlete, you don’t have to have the ability to run a marathon. However you do have to have the ability to breathe — and keep sturdy — by way of intense strength-related occasions. Some will solely final a couple of seconds, like a max effort deadlift. Different occasions will final upwards of a minute, like loading medleys. It’s good to have sufficient stamina to get by way of all of this.

A strongman athlete performs a tire flip in front of a crowd.
Credit score: criben / Shutterstock

For strongman athletes, cardio typically appears like performing comparatively quick bouts — lower than 90 seconds or so — of very high-intensity lifts, carries, pushes, or pulls

This type of typical strongman coaching like this has such a powerful impression on coronary heart price that it might effectively have cardiovascular advantages by itself — akin to operating on a treadmill. (1)

Strongman Conditioning Vs. Strongman Cardio

Cardiovascular coaching means various things to completely different athletes. For some, it’d imply coaching to typically enhance your cardiovascular health by training your heart — which is a muscle, in any case — to pump blood extra effectively. This may imply lengthy walks on the treadmill at excessive inclines so that you just lastly can stroll up that neighborhood hill with out wheezing.

For others, cardiovascular coaching is also known as conditioning. Sometimes, exercises folks seek advice from as “conditioning” are extra high-intensity than when folks say “cardio.” However finally, it means the identical factor — you’re training your heart and lungs (your cardiovascular system) to work extra effectively.

As a strongman athlete, you need a mixture of each. You want that high-intensity, short-term burst of energy for occasions — and the power to breathe and keep calm underneath all that strain. You additionally want a sturdy base of cardio health to construct on to take care of and enhance general heart health.

Advantages of Cardio for Strongman Athletes

For those who’re a strongman athlete, you have to be able to breathe by way of unbelievable intense lifts. It’s not solely about muscular endurance whenever you’re carrying absurdly heavy stones, shields, and different odd implements. It’s additionally in regards to the capacity of your lungs and coronary heart to maintain up together with your work. Right here’s why strongman athletes want cardio coaching.

Enhance Competitors Efficiency

Occasions in strongman competitions vary in time to completion from a couple of seconds to a number of minutes. Ensuring you’re coaching to gas such intense performances with enough, event-specific doses of cardio training.

Most strongman athletes enhance their conditioning in sports-specific methods. Want to have the ability to carry out as many log press reps as you may in 60 seconds? Coaching with the log itself is maybe one of the best ways that can assist you work out the way to regulate your breathing and heart rate throughout that particular, repeated bout of effort.

Equally, stone hundreds require a tremendous amount of conditioning — it’s not sufficient to be sturdy, however it’s important to keep that energy to complete your load rapidly and effectively. Even in case you are cardiovascularly match sufficient to do dozens of field jumps, for instance, you may not be conditioned in the way in which you have to be to succeed at this occasion.

Subsequently, a big proportion of strongman conditioning entails training for specific events with varied hundreds, rep schemes, and timing. The extra you observe these sorts of conditioning for occasions, the higher you’ll get at them.

And relaxation assured — this sort of coaching can “rely” as cardio. Analysis means that strongman training can impression the guts price a lot that it produces cardiovascular advantages, not not like these produced by treadmill operating. (1)

Improve Psychological Focus and Calm

For those who’ve by no means tried to each regulate your respiration and correctly brace your core and body for a max rep deadlift occasion, panic may set in. Being unable to breathe could make you each anxious and light-headed, which isn’t an optimum mixture for lifting at your finest. You don’t need that to occur underneath competitors lights. 

A strongwoman about to lift a barbell.
Credit score: Kitreel / Shutterstock

As an alternative, use your training sessions to acquaint your self with the distinctive rigors of performing high-intensity lifts a number of occasions in a row or for a protracted interval. Get your coronary heart and lungs accustomed to the bodily stressors they’ll face in your strongman career. Then, you may give attention to transferring heavy weight as a substitute of panicking about whether or not you’ll be capable to eke out one other breath underneath that load.

Enhance Cardio Health

Strongman training is extraordinarily high-intensity, taking a big toll on the physique and thoughts. With the ability to develop cardiovascular endurance at decrease ranges of depth is vital for restoration and longevity.

Strongman athletes will wish to strongly think about including low-intensity actions like strolling or biking to their routine. Bouts of walking between 15 and 45 minutes a couple of occasions per week can present an extra base stage of cardiovascular health for strongman athletes. (2)

With this increased base stage of cardio health, strongman athletes set themselves up for occasion success and bodily longevity to succeed at their sport longer.

Soothe Nervous System

Strongman training is hard on each the physique and thoughts. Including low-intensity cardio to your routine may help cut back stress hormones and soothe the physique’s sympathetic nervous system — the “combat, flight, fawn, or freeze” response. (3)

Though it’s extra typical to affiliate strongman events and training with getting very fired up, strongman athletes want to have the ability to keep calm and targeted by way of immense ranges of bodily stress and ache. Soothing your nervous system with common walks and different low-intensity cardio may help provide the baseline you want for that sense of calm.

Enhance General Well being

You don’t need to do high-impact jogging or slog by way of infinite hours on the treadmill. Strolling a couple of miles every day — divided into as many small walks as you’d like — could produce related advantages to jogging by way of decreasing the danger of excessive ldl cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension whereas bettering your VO2 max. (4)

In these methods, constructing a powerful base of underlying well being may help enhance your longevity as an athlete. The cardio that you just perform as a strongman athlete can steer you in the proper course.

Scale back Joint and Again Ache

Statistically, male strongman athletes are among the many bodily largest male athletes throughout energy sports activities. (5) Mix this with the truth that the game itself creates a substantial amount of mechanical stress on your complete physique, and also you’ve obtained your self a system for a much-needed emphasis on recovery. (5) Cardio conditioning may help do exactly that. 

Strolling 3 times per week could have the additional advantage of serving to cut back joint ache and lower back ache — which is actually not laborious to come back by whenever you’re a strongman athlete. (6)(7) Brisk walks may also bolster your immune system, which is sweet information for anybody with a strength training regimen to stay to. (8)

Programming Cardio for Strongman Athletes

Typically talking, energy athletes profit from combining low-intensity cardio coaching with higher-intensity sports-specific conditioning. Right here’s the way to work the completely different sorts of cardio into your strongman program.

Cardio Health Base

As a strongman athlete, you’ll typically get your cardiovascular conditioning from strongman-specific training. In any case, you’ll wish to be sure to’re prioritizing your capacity to carry out effectively in occasions.

However it doesn’t matter what strongman workouts you select to assist maximize your conditioning for occasions, think about including lengthy, low-intensity walks into your routine. These restoration walks can work tremendously effectively at bettering your base of cardio health, probably making you higher outfitted to tackle the extra intense conditioning challenges demanded by the game. (2)

Including strolling to your routine can work wonders to your psychological well being, immune system, joint pains, and general well being (together with coronary heart well being). (3)(4)(6)(7)(8) As with something in health, begin small and construct up from there. A number of 15-minute walks per week can regularly turn into a couple of 45-minute walks per week, which many strongman athletes will use to enhance their restoration and general base of cardiovascular health. (2)

Set yourself up for success by supplementing your event-specific conditioning with low-intensity conditioning like strolling.

Strongman Cardio Workouts

Though you probably don’t instantly affiliate strongman with cardio workouts, just about all strongman occasions and lifts can be utilized to advance cardiovascular coaching. Listed below are among the workouts you should use to enhance your conditioning.





Most of the workouts on this record are only one variation or a generic descriptor for a number of workouts. For instance, security squat bar squats, Zercher squats, entrance squats, back squats, and extra are all included within the generic “squat.” Equally, the loaded carry variations utilized in strongman are almost infinite — farmer’s carries and suitcase carries are only the start.

Strongman Cardio Train Choice

Coaching for strongman requires a substantial amount of precision. Because the sport takes such an immense toll on the physique, you’ll want to ensure all your work is as efficient as doable. To try this, select which workouts you’re utilizing higher reps and time for fastidiously.

While you’re seeking to enhance your conditioning, think about the next components:

For instance, if you wish to maximize your energy within the deadlift, enhance your conditioning with speed deadlift reps for one coaching cycle. Then, as you begin to deadlift heavier, get your conditioning from different forms of motion. Sled pushes are one transfer that may present sturdy advantages whereas letting your grip recuperate from super efforts within the deadlift.

Strongman Cardio Weight Choice

Velocity coaching with submaximal hundreds performs a big position in lots of strongman athletes’ training regimens. (2) That is notably prevalent for giant compound strikes equivalent to squats and deadlifts, which take an enormous toll on your complete physique — and on one’s capacity to breathe by way of the train. (2)

While you’re doing speed work, you may wish to go for a load between 50 and 60 p.c of your max. For those who’re skilled within the sport, even this could be a vital weight by itself. And because you’ll be aiming to maneuver the burden as rapidly as doable, this will get very fatiguing in a short time. (2)

Use hundreds which can be lighter than these anticipated for competitors so you may carry out a higher number of reps — thus sustaining that increased coronary heart price for an extended interval. (2)

Strongman Cardio Units and Reps

When many energy athletes and common gymgoers take into consideration constructing endurance, they may carry out 15 reps per set or extra. However strongman athletes will not be your common gymgoer. Even very low volumes can produce big changes in heart rate.

What follows are some examples of rep schemes that work effectively for various coaching implements and workouts. Think about adapting these as wanted to your own routine.

A strongman athlete carries a lifts a stone in outdoor competition.
Credit score: criben / Shutterstock

While you’re lifting stones or different heavy odd objects, think about performing between one and 6 units of 1 and 6 reps. If endurance is your essential objective, use barely lighter stones and err towards the upper finish of that set and rep scheme.

With actions you could carry out slightly bit sooner, you may select a better rep scheme. For the log clear & press, think about performing three to 6 units of three to 10 reps. For tire flips, you may also select to go for three to 4 units of three to 10 reps.

While you’re going for distance — with yoke walks, for instance — attempt three units of 20-meter walks. (9) Aiming for distances between 20 and 50 meters typically works effectively. While you’re going for longer distances, modify the burden accordingly to be sure to’re transferring sustainably.

Be sure that you’re resting sufficiently between units. Purpose to relaxation for at the very least 4 minutes earlier than diving again right into a set.

Strongman Cardio Load and Frequency

Strongman athletes don’t solely prepare in strongman occasions. As a result of these actions are so extremely draining — and take such an immense toll on the physique — a aggressive athlete could solely carry out sure strongman strikes once a week.

On this context, your frequency will largely rely in your depth (load).

You don’t have to go far to take advantage of out of heavy pushes and pulls. A “mere” 30 meters of a truck pull “solely” as soon as per week will do the trick. You may as well carry out this transfer as soon as each two weeks — it’ll nonetheless be efficient. (2)

For those who’re choosing shorter loaded carries, use a a lot heavier weight. While you’re solely carrying your implements for 20 meters, for instance, go for extra weight than what you’d count on in a contest that requires an extended distance. For those who journey so far as 50 meters — or are holding extraordinarily heavy weights — as soon as each two weeks on this transfer can suffice. (2)

However, whenever you’re seeking to construct extra endurance together with your conditioning work, you may select to carry out these sorts of carries and pulls twice per week. Simply use lighter weights to allow you to journey farther or accomplish extra reps with much less relative put on and tear in your physique.

With low-intensity conditioning workouts like strolling, go for three or 4 15 to 45-minute walks per week. Which may appear to be some lengthy walks peppered a couple of occasions all through the week — if not each day.

Your Takeaways

As a strongman athlete, sure, you do want cardio coaching. However to not fear — normally, you’ll get a substantial amount of conditioning work in throughout your regularly-scheduled programming. Listed below are some key takeaways:

  • Strongman athletes typically get excessive ranges of cardiovascular stimulus from training for typical strongman events like loaded carries, stone hundreds, and sled pushes.
  • Excessive-rep units for strongman athletes will not be the identical as high-rep units for powerlifters or bodybuilders. If you wish to construct endurance and get your coronary heart price up, you are able to do that with as little as one to 6 reps.
  • When constructing your stamina in strongman occasions, you may end up solely performing these lifts as soon as per week. The remainder of your week might be supplemental work, extra akin to powerlifting training.
  • Along with common strongman occasion coaching — which offers loads of sports-specific conditioning — intention to combine a number of low-intensity cardio bouts per week, like taking 15 to 45-minute walks. For those who’re not used to strolling, begin on the decrease finish of the time spectrum and work your means up.

Extra Strongman Content material

Can’t get sufficient strongman content material? Take a look at these articles to remain present on what’s happening within the extensive world of strongman competitions.


  1. Harris NK, Woulfe CJ, Wooden MR, Dulson DK, Gluchowski AK, Keogh JB. Acute Physiological Responses to Strongman Coaching In comparison with Conventional Energy Coaching. J Energy Cond Res. 2016 Could;30(5):1397-408.
  2. Winwood PW, Keogh JW, Harris NK. The energy and conditioning practices of strongman opponents. J Energy Cond Res. 2011 Nov;25(11):3118-28.
  3. Iwane M, Arita M, Tomimoto S, Satani O, Matsumoto M, Miyashita Okay, Nishio I. Strolling 10,000 steps/day or extra reduces blood strain and sympathetic nerve exercise in gentle important hypertension. Hypertens Res. 2000 Nov;23(6):573-80.
  4. Soroush A, Der Ananian C, Ainsworth BE, Belyea M, Poortvliet E, Swan PD, Walker J, Yngve A. Results of a 6-Month Strolling Research on Blood Strain and Cardiorespiratory Health in U.S. and Swedish Adults: ASUKI Step Research. Asian J Sports activities Med. 2013 Jun;4(2):114-24.
  5. Kraemer WJ, Caldwell LK, Put up EM, DuPont WH, Martini ER, Ratamess NA, Szivak TK, Shurley JP, Beeler MK, Volek JS, Maresh CM, Todd JS, Walrod BJ, Hyde PN, Fairman C, Finest TM. Physique Composition in Elite Strongman Rivals. J Energy Cond Res. 2020 Dec;34(12):3326-3330.
  6. Alghadir AH, Anwer S, Sarkar B, Paul AK, Anwar D. Impact of 6-week retro or ahead strolling program on ache, purposeful incapacity, quadriceps muscle energy, and efficiency in people with knee osteoarthritis: a randomized managed trial (retro-walking trial). BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2019 Apr 9;20(1):159.
  7. Hendrick P, Te Wake AM, Tikkisetty AS, Wulff L, Yap C, Milosavljevic S. The effectiveness of strolling as an intervention for low again ache: a scientific assessment. Eur Backbone J. 2010 Oct;19(10):1613-20.
  8. Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling hyperlink between bodily exercise and the physique’s protection system. J Sport Well being Sci. 2019 Could;8(3):201-217.
  9. Hindle BR, Lorimer A, Winwood P, Brimm D, Keogh JWL. The Biomechanical Traits of the Strongman Yoke Stroll. Entrance Sports activities Act Residing. 2021 Apr 26;3:670297.

Featured Picture: criben / Shutterstock

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