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Angus MacAskill was a notable strongman.
The Great Gama, a strongman from India

In the 19th century, the term strongman referred to an exhibitor of strength or similar circus performers who performed feats of strength. More recently, strength athletics, also known as strongman competitions, have grown in popularity. These competitions are now composed of a variety of events in which competitors have to move the highest weights possible, the winner being the one having the highest tally across all events.[1]


In the first half of the 20th century, strongmen would perform various feats of strength such as the bent press (not to be confused with the bench press, which did not exist at the time), supporting large amounts of weight held overhead at arm's length, steel bending, chain breaking, etc. They needed to have large amounts of wrist, hand, and tendon strength for these feats, as well as prodigious oblique strength.

In the late 20th century the term strongman evolved to describe one who competes in strength athletics – a more modern eclectic strength competition in which competitors display their raw functional strength through exercises such as lifting rocks, toting refrigerators, pulling trains, towing an eighteen-wheel truck behind them, etc. The most famous competitions of this type are the World's Strongest Man, the Europe's Strongest Man, the Arnold Strongman Classic, the Strongman Champions League, the World's Ultimate Strongman, the Rogue Invitational and the Giants Live tour, and more than 20 countries also hold national-level competitions as well.[2]

Many sports-specific training facilities have begun to incorporate movements associated with strongman competitions into their general training schemes, albeit with lighter weights used, e.g. tyre flips, sled drags, object loading or carrying, log pressing, farmer's walks and so on.


Training for strongman involves building overall strength in the gym and training with competition implements to gain familiarity. In the gym, it is necessary to train the entire body for strength, especially with variants of the squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Also important is explosive power, developed by weightlifting-style lifts, and cardiovascular conditioning. Grip strength must also be developed.

Although you can do general strength training, at a typical gym, training with a strongman regimen requires equipment not typically found in a gym. Some equipment used in a strongman competition would have to be found custom-made or at a strongman gym. These equipment include Atlas Stone, Log (Log Press), Farmers Walk Bars, Yoke (Yoke Walk), Keg (Keg Toss), a vehicle.

Another part of a strongman's training is its intense diet regime. The biggest strongman competitors would need to ingest around 8,000 - 10,000 calories a day.


Brian Shaw performing the deadlift at the 2017 Arnold Strongman Classic

Though competitive strongman events are ever changing, there are a number of staples that frequently appear on the international stage,[3] including:

Incorrect usage[edit]

Strongman is often incorrectly used to describe a person who does weightlifting or bodybuilding. Due to the circus and entertainment background, nineteenth-century bodybuilders were expected to mingle with the crowd during intermission and perform strength feats like card tearing, nail bending, etc. to demonstrate strength as well as symmetry and size. Also, many strongmen sold photos of themselves nude or near-nude, flexing and posing. Although, what they considered the epitome of male beauty was different from modern ideals – particularly the very low emphasis on chest size, and great emphasis on oblique size, and symmetry as evidenced by photos of Eugen Sandow.

Notable strongmen[edit]

Traditional Strongmen[edit]

The Strongmen are listed according to the chronological order of their birth.

Modern Strongmen[edit]

The following 73 strongmen have reached the podium (1st, 2nd or 3rd place) of World's Strongest Man since 1977 and/or World Muscle Power Classic from 1985 to 2004 and/or Arnold Strongman Classic since 2002. They are listed according to the chronological order of their podium appearance.

23 of them have won the World's Strongest Man (WSM), 11 have won the World Muscle Power Classic (WMPC) and 8 have won the Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC).

7 men have won both WSM & WMPC (Kazmaier, Capes, Sigmarsson, Reeves, Magnússon, Ahola, Karlsen). 4 men have won both WSM & ASC (Savickas, Shaw, Björnsson, Licis).

Additionally, following 46 strongmen have reached either 4th or 5th places of World's Strongest Man and/or World Muscle Power Classic and/or Arnold Strongman Classic:

Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu, Jon Kolb, Gus Rethwisch, Bishop Dolegiewicz, Jerry Hannan, Craig Wolfley, Ernie Hackett, Hamish Davidson, Rudolph Kuester, George Hechter, Dan Markovic, Jean-Pierre Brulois, Tom Hawk, László Fekete, Adrian Smith, Berend Veneberg, Heinz Ollesch, Pieter de Bruyn, Martin Muhr, Wayne Price, Nathan Jones, Bill Lyndon, Johnny Perry, Brian Bell, Arvydas Pintinas, Andy Bolton, Steve Kirit, Bill Pittuck, Sami Heinonen, Jarek Dymek, Brian Schoonveld, Odd Haugen, Brian Siders, Benedikt Magnússon, Mark Felix, Tarmo Mitt, Vidas Blekaitis, Stefán Sölvi Pétursson, Laurence Shahlaei, Krzysztof Radzikowski, Dimitar Savatinov, Konstantine Janashia, Matjaz Belsak, Rob Kearney and Trey Mitchell.

International Accolades

  • Below table summarizes the 50 most decorated strongmen in modern history with the most number of international wins (1st places) in their careers.[4]
  • No. of total career competitions against the No. of wins (1st places only).
# Name Nationality Active Competitions Wins Win % Best win/ Accolade
1 Žydrūnas Savickas Lithuania Lithuania 1996- 153 84 54.90% Multiple times World Champion
2 Mariusz Pudzianowski Poland Poland 2000-2009 61 43 70.49% World's Strongest Man Hall of Famer
3 Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson Iceland Iceland 2010-2020 65 30 46.15% Multiple times World Champion
4 Brian Shaw United States United States 2007- 63 26 41.27% Multiple times World Champion
5 Krzysztof Radzikowski Poland Poland 2005-2019 112 23 20.53% Strongman Champions League
6 Aivars Smaukstelis Latvia Latvia 2014- 56 20 35.71% Strongman Champions League
7 Ervin Katona Serbia Serbia 2003-2015 99 17 17.17% Strongman Champions League
8 Hugo Girard Canada Canada 1998-2008 37 15 40.54% World Muscle Power Classic
9 Dainis Zageris Latvia Latvia 2009- 86 15 17.44% Strongman Champions League
10 Riku Kiri Finland Finland 1987-1999 28 13 46.42% World Strongman Challenge
11 Magnús Ver Magnússon Iceland Iceland 1987-2005 53 13 24.52% World's Strongest Man Hall of Famer
12 Jón Páll Sigmarsson Iceland Iceland 1982-1992 31 12 38.71% World's Strongest Man Hall of Famer
13 Magnus Samuelsson Sweden Sweden 1995-2008 63 12 19.05% World's Strongest Man Hall of Famer
14 Jouko Ahola Finland Finland 1994-2002 22 11 50.00% Multiple times World Champion
15 Oleksii Novikov Ukraine Ukraine 2016- 34 11 32.35% World's & Europe's Strongest Man
16 Mikhail Koklyaev Russia Russia 2005-2014 50 11 22.00% Strongman Champions League
17 Mateusz Kieliszkowski Poland Poland 2014- 39 10 25.64% World's Ultimate Strongman
18 Matjaz Belsak Slovenia Slovenia 2014-2020 60 10 16.67% Arnold Strongman Classic Europe
19 JF Caron Canada Canada 2007-2022 72 10 13.89% North America's Strongest Man
20 Geoff Capes United Kingdom Great Britain 1979-1988 20 9 45.00% Multiple times World Champion
21 Bill Kazmaier United States United States 1979-1990 18 8 44.44% World's Strongest Man Hall of Famer
22 Derek Poundstone United States United States 2006-2017 22 8 36.36% Arnold Strongman Classic
23 Martins Licis United States United States 2015- 23 8 34.78% Multiple times World Champion
24 Vytautas Lalas Lithuania Lithuania 2007-2018 30 8 26.67% Arnold Strongman Classic
25 Janne Virtanen Finland Finland 1998-2009 50 8 16.00% World's Strongest Man
26 Laurence Shahlaei United Kingdom Great Britain 2007-2021 55 8 14.55% Europe's Strongest Man
27 Kelvin de Ruiter Netherlands Netherlands 2011- 31 7 22.58% Strongman Champions League
28 Travis Ortmayer United States United States 2005-2021 50 7 14.00% Strongman Champions League
29 Svend Karlsen Norway Norway 1996-2006 64 7 10.94% World's Strongest Man Hall of Famer
30 Manfred Hoeberl Austria Austria 1990-1996 18 6 33.33% World Muscle Power Classic
31 Vasyl Virastyuk Ukraine Ukraine 2002-2008 28 6 21.43% World's Strongest Man
32 Andrus Murumets Estonia Estonia 2003-2009 40 6 15.00% Strongman Champions League
33 Flemming Rasmussen Denmark Denmark 1995-2001 19 5 26.32% World's Strongest Viking
34 Mykhailo Starov Ukraine Ukraine 2004-2006 24 5 20.83% World Strongman Cup
35 Mikhail Shivlyakov Russia Russia 2011-2021 44 5 11.36% Arnold Strongman Classic South America
36 Raivis Vidzis Latvia Latvia 2002-2009 44 5 11.36% World Strongman Cup
37 Stojan Todorchev Bulgaria Bulgaria 2005-2017 44 5 11.36% World Strongman Cup
38 Jarek Dymek Poland Poland 2000-2010 46 5 10.87% Europe's Strongest Man
39 Glenn Ross Northern Ireland Northern Ireland 1997-2011 33 4 12.12% World Strongman Cup
40 Jamie Reeves United Kingdom Great Britain 1988-1999 38 4 10.52% Multiple times World Champion
41 Rauno Heinla Estonia Estonia 2009- 49 4 8.16% Strongman Champions League
42 Terry Hollands United Kingdom Great Britain 2005-2021 92 4 4.35% Strongman Champions League
43 Janne Hartikainen Finland Finland 2004-2009 4 3 75.00% U105 Strongman World Championships
44 Andrew Clayton United States United States 2014- 7 3 42.85% Official Strongman Games
45 Mike Jenkins United States United States 2010-2013 9 3 33.33% Arnold Strongman Classic
46 Tom Magee Canada Canada 1982-1990 12 3 25.00% Défi Mark Ten International
47 Trey Mitchell United States United States 2016- 17 3 17.64% Shaw Classic
48 Evan Singleton United States United States 2018- 17 3 17.64% North American Open
49 Grzegorz Szymański Poland Poland 2007- 18 3 16.66% Strongman Champions League
50 Mike Burke United States United States 2011-2015 18 3 16.66% Giants Live

- As at 1 January 2023

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "STRONGMAN". ERA-FIT Ltd Bespoke Fitness Systems. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  2. ^ "STRONGMAN CONTESTS". Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  3. ^ "Strongman Events". Retrieved 2012-12-28.
  4. ^ "Strongman Archives - Athletes". Strongman Archives. April 5, 2022. Retrieved April 6, 2022.

External links[edit]