How to Get a Pro Card in Strongman by Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
Watching the Strongman competitions is a really entertaining way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. You watch guys toss kegs, press logs, flip tires, drag semis and lots more incredible feats of strength-sometimes they're even carrying around their wives or girlfriends. Though they've been around for ages-literally-it's only been in the last ten years or so that they've really started getting popular. In 1998, there were a total of six sanctioned strongman events (North American Strongman) held across the country-today, more than 60 are held just in the United States each year. There are lots more held every year across Europe.
Just like in most any other sport, competitors in strongman competitions can either be amateurs or professionals. And just like other sports the key difference between the amateurs and the pros is defined by the compensation. And finally, as in any other sport you can't just decide to make the jump from amateur to pro in strongman-you've got to earn it.
According to North American Strongman, "Amateur status is any strongman that does not currently have a recognized Pro Card by ASC (American Strongman Corp) or any competitor not qualified or ranked as one of the top professional competitors. The NAS National Heavyweight and Lightweight Champion will receive a Pro Card."
To begin the journey towards getting the coveted Pro Card you need to understand that there are four different strongman event levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum Plus. You'll need to work through all of these events before you can get one though.
The Silver Level event is what you might call your local strongman contest. This is where beginners will usually start out. In these contests one overall winner in each weight class or division gets an invitation to the North American Strongman (NASM) Championship. Gold is the next level. These events can either be regional meets or state championships. Here, the top two winning athletes in each division or weight class are offered an invitation to compete in the NASM championships.
The Platinum Level competition can also be a state championship but it has to meet stricter guidelines like promoter history and the number of competitors. At these events the top three athletes in each division or weight class receive invitations to the NASM championships. The Platinum Plus Level is the king of strongman competitions-there are a maximum of six of these held each year. The winner of the Platinum Plus competition is awarded his Pro Card.
The benefits of getting your Pro Card are like anything else-mostly related to earnings and prestige. Though the earning levels in strongman competitions hasn't reached the level of some professional sports, the monies can still be pretty respectable.
A typical strongman competition can have anywhere from six to ten events. Some of the more common challenges include:
Farmer's walk: Like your standard farmer's walk except these guys are doing it carrying weights ranging from 180-330 pounds per hand;
Keg toss: Here, the guys toss kegs of varying sizes and weights over a bar suspended high in the air;
Tire flip: In this event the guys flip huge tires-weighing 400-500 pounds each-over and over for a certain distance as fast as they can. This is one of those events where the athletes really need to have endurance;
Loading events: This one requires the athletes to carry large objects-usually 4-6 objects of varying size and weight-from one place to another as fast as they can;
Deadlift: Your standard deadlift but with a lot more weight than most of us could ever possibly imagine lifting;
Truck pull: In this event one end of a harness is attached to the athlete-the other end is attached to a truck (usually a large one). Contestants then have to pull the track over a certain distance.
These are of course just some of the events you're likely to see. They vary from one competition to the next.
No surprises here but being a strongman is tough-a lot tougher than you might think. It's not just about strength and power-you've got to have endurance, speed and flexibility too. No two competitions are alike and each one can have a number of different events that require one or more skill sets. So a strongman can't just focus on one type of training-he's got to be prepared for just about anything. That means using multiple weight training techniques-no standard routines here-combined with elements of speed and endurance training as well.