Strength athletics are a weird term for a lot of people. But I always explain it to the select few individuals who like to manipulate heavy loads on a daily basis. From powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, and Strongmen. Each one is representing a different aspect of strength athletics. All are having their way of demonstrating it. I have respect for every single one. Cause no one could do what the other does at the same level. It is funny though because each group has their reservation for the other. Powerlifters vs. weightlifters vs. Strongman. Or any mixture of the four. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each group find where they differ and where they are the same. And discuss if it even matters at the end of the day as to which group is superior.
Powerlifters are a unique bunch of people. I say that with the utmost respect. I was a pretty highly competitive powerlifter myself, and you can say I may share their unique attitude when it comes to lifting weights. It would take a proper mindset to handle some of the weights these guys handle on a daily basis’ in training and competition. They seek to handle the very most their bodies can handle. Right at the brink of collapse, they push it further. Sorry, let me first introduce the sport itself before we get too far into it. It is a sport that is comprised of 3 events. The squat, the bench, and the deadlift. All testing a different part of the body.
The squat is the quintessential lift. It is what starts the competition off, and it is usually the most celebrated. It causes the most interest. Taking the weight from standing to hips below parallel and back to the top. Simple yet complicated at the very same time.
The bench is probably the most famous lift on this planet. Everyone wants to know what you bench. Lay down take it off the rack bring it to your chest, pause it for a second and back to the top it goes.
Deadlifting has been called the king of lifts. It has been given its name for its ultimate full body activation as well as primal nature. Simplest of the lifts. Pick it off the ground to standing and bring it back down to the floor.
Training for absolute strength can be hard on the body, and general short life spans can occur amongst powerlifters if programming isn’t done correctly.
This is the sport of true strength. Not speed or endurance but pure unadulterated strength.
Explosive, Speed, and technique. All three are significant characteristics of a well-trained Olympic lifter. Years of proper coaching and continues days of training technique are what an Olympic weightlifter must go through before any significant weight can be added to the bar. I like to think of weightlifting to be a part of strength athletics. Every single aspect of weightlifting is a calculated and measured movement. I am not a weightlifter and struggle to even get into the positions they can. But what I do know about weightlifting is that it requires a long road and a lot of high-quality coaches. It is the only strength sport in the Olympics so rightly so. Again let’s explain what exactly this sport consists of. There are two lifts in this sport, the snatch and the clean and jerk.
The snatch is the first lift of the event, and it requires the athletes lift the bar from the floor to overhead in one motion without a break in the elbows. The lifter must come to a standing position with knees locked. This lift will be the lightest lift, but it’s typically a true representation of explosive power and speed due to it having to be done in one motion.
The clean and jerk are pretty well known in the world of athletics. The athlete must take the bar from the floor to the shoulders and then jerk the weight overhead to a complete standing position. This lift will always be the most substantial lift due to the two movements.
In the world of strength athletics, this sport is probably the most well-known. Due to the Olympics, It is a great representation of athletic ability.
Now here is a sport that has the word right in it. STRONGman. In this sport, you have to be a jack of all trades as well as be a master of those same trades. A champion strongman must be a perfect combination of Strong, explosive, fast, and stamina.
There are no standard set of events. Every strongman contest is different than the next. However, there are certain mainstays when it comes to contests.
Overhead Press, yes not any specific type because there are a lot of different variants to overhead press with it comes to strongman, Log press, axle press, stone press, keg press and the goes on. Facts are the there is usually some overhead movement, and the rules for each will vary.
One of the most well-recognized events is the truck pull. Strap a big rig truck onto the athlete’s shoulders and pull it down a track for a predetermined distance. There have been plenty of studies done on this exact event. It has been said to be the most intense athletic event on the planet when it comes to extreme heart rate.
Another great strongman event is the Atlas stones. Lifting Round balls of concrete up onto platforms of predetermined heights. This event is typically done in a medley style increasing in weight as the platform gets shorter. This event is as old as time. Stone lifting has been traced back to ancient Scotland were for boys to become men they had to lift the “manhood stones” to a platform at waist height.
This sport, in my opinion, is the example of true fitness and athletic ability. Being able to accomplish tasks that are not exactly the best of situations but adapt.
Similarities and Differences:
These three sports are all part of strength athletics, but they differ in a lot of ways. Besides the noticeable difference in name and differences in events. But also the way in which one prepares themselves for the events in each sport, by that I mean the way one trains.
Powerlifting is a virtually all strength focused sport. Trying to increase absolute strength is the primary focus of the powerlifter. As stated before the squat, bench, and deadlift are the three lifts involved in the sport of powerlifting. Training cycles are focused on and around the three lifts with other movements used to enhance them. The frequency that a powerlifter train is generally from 3-5 days a week due to the higher levels of intensities. On a strength level, this sport is the definition of strength.
Olympic weightlifting is the only strength sport involved in the Olympics and probably the most well-known of the sports. Speed and technique are what motivate the weightlifter. An extreme contrast in comparison to powerlifting where absolute strength is the key motivator. Olympic lifters focus on the snatch and the clean and jerk as stated before. The way in which the athlete forms their training is to train the main lifts in a variety of ways (from blocks, from a deficit, from the rack, etc.) The squat and front squat is also Hugh components in the weightlifters training program. It is also to be seen that many weightlifters train on a daily basis at low to moderate intensities.
Embodied In Strongman
Strength sports are basically all incorporated in the sport of strongman; This is a sport that is hard to define due to the lack of structure. It is a group of preselected events that competitors participate in for points. The winner is the one with the most points. The events go from max events, repetition events, endurance events. And more often than not a more unconventional way of portraying the events is used, i.e., Tire flips, atlas stones, log pressing, stone pressing, holding a car in either hand, and the list could go on and on.
But when it comes to how strongman or woman train for the sport is directly based on what events are in their upcoming event, Outside of the typical Squatting, deadlifting, pressing movements. In my opinion, this sport showcases the best athletes in strength athletics bar none. They cannot allow themselves to be weak in any area whatsoever and must be prepared for whatever event is up on the docket. Or as I say be a jack of all trades and master of those same trades.
Respect Each Other
Strength and strength athletes must respect each other and appreciate the hard work in which every athlete must endure. Powerlifting for the extreme loads in which they must undertake, an Olympic athlete for the time and dedication in which it takes to master the technique and strongman for their overall readiness for anything that comes up.
This world of strength isn’t understood by a lot of people in the conventional world of athletics, So as a call to action to all strength athlete lets show the world that what we do as athletes is just as important if not more critical to the basis’ of all athletic performance! Strength training would not be a thing if it weren’t for the invention of old time strongman showing off at sideshows and traveling circuses across the world. Olympic athletes wouldn’t be as fast or strong if it were not for the need made by our sports!