Strongman is a sport which has taken the world by storm, especially now the UK is home to the World’s Strongest Man. The variety of lifts, equipment, weight and movements used make for an exciting sport – not only to watch, but participate in. Strongman has a lot of ‘carry over’ into other sports; working under resistance throughout a range of motion is great for not only building strength, but also hypertrophy and great for reducing risk of injury.
Whether you’re training the strongman movements, or competing in strongman, the demand on your body is massive – as such, you may be able to benefit from a range of supplements to help with your performance. Whilst I appreciate Strongman athletes are typically no nonsense lifters, and the philosophy of eating big, and training hard will form a fantastic base for improving strength. Some of these supplements may allow you to push that bit harder and give you an edge over the competition.
Beta Alanine is something you typically associate with pre-workout supplements, which is a great way to get this in before a training session. However if Pre-Workouts aren’t your type of product, you can still benefit from this supplement by using it alone. Simply consume 3-5g per day (spread the dose out across the day if you don’t like the tingles) and reap the rewards.
Beta Alanine acts as a Lactic Acid buffer. Now whilst I appreciate this may not mean a lot to some of you, it is important. Strongman events such as Weighted Carries (yoke, farmers walks) or even events where containing most reps in a minute (e.g. car deadlift), will cause the body to build up lactic acid as your body is working at such a high intensity for that period of time. Lactic Acid is what causes your muscle to have that burning sensation, which makes you stop or unable to squeeze out that extra rep. If you can neutralise (or buffer) that lactic acid build up in the muscle you can effectively work at the high intensity for a longer period of time, elongating the time before your muscles begin to burn, and you have to stop.
Whilst the no-nonsense approach of strongmen may mock the use of Creatine, the benefits it brings in strength sports is undeniable. The researched benefits to show it improves performance in repeated bouts of high intensity exercise, makes it the ideal supplement for strongman athletes. Creatine effectively provides you with a source of energy for high intensity movements and exercise. If you think of maximal lifts, weighted carries, deadlifts, Viking presses, these are all high intensity movements in strongman as you’re typically moving big weight. With such an impressive amount of research to show its benefits to high intensity exercise, supplementing with Creatine on a regular basis will improve your performance in strongman events.
This might be quite an obvious one, and one that everyone is already aware of. But particularly on event training days, and competition days where you are working at a high intensity for a long period of time…. Getting in enough water can be very difficult. When you’re hyped up for the competition, it can easily be overlooked in pursuit of a PB.
Not only is getting enough water in important, but also the balance of Electrolytes… One thing that can be quite common in Strongman athletes is cramping. Cramping can be caused by a number of things, one of which being the massive lactic acid build up (see above Beta Alanine advice C), the other being dehydrated and a loss of minerals. Minerals like Magnesium (an electrolyte) are often touted to help alleviate cramping. Products like our Electrolyte Powder are a great source of Electrolytes or alternatively products like our Magnesium Bisglycinate Tablets and OptiZinc® could be used to great effect.
Fast acting carbohydrates
As mentioned earlier on in the article, getting a solid amount of food in to fuel training and competition is essential to you performing on the day. However consuming some fast digesting carbohydrates on a long training day and/or competition days can be extremely valuable. Strongman competition days often contain multiple events each day, and the demand on the energy systems can be huge, with an enormous calorie expenditure.
To ensure that you are getting a sufficient amount of energy, fast digesting carbohydrates can be consumed before/during/after events in order to rapidly replenish energy. The beauty of it is, you can even take advantage of this extra source of energy, almost immediately!
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are also a great product for strongman athletes. Whilst focusing on consuming sufficient protein in the diet should be the primary focus, BCAA can be used around training with great effect. Strongman events push the body to absolute limits under load and can lead to massive amounts of fatigue… over the course of a competition day, or long event training days, this can put your muscles at risk of fatigue and breakdown. Muscle breakdown and fatigue are two things you definitely want to be avoiding in strength sports, so the use of BCAA during training and competition can help to prevent this issue.
The no nonsense approach of strongman athletes is warranted, with the diet being very important, but some of the benefits outlined above with regards to supplementation, can give you an edge that simply can’t be obtained from the diet. Creatine for example, whilst naturally occurring in foods, is very difficult to consume in sufficient amounts to obtain the research proven dosage of 3-5g. Beta Alanine is also very difficult to obtain naturally through food and as such would be a great supplement to add to your diet for the benefits associated. We do also offer products which combine a number of the supplements above in one convenient formula, for example Complete Hydration Drink™ contains fast acting carbohydrates, electrolytes and branched chain amino acids – so why not take a closer look at these products and try them out as part of your training and nutrition regimen.
About the Author:
Rowan (BSc Hons Sport and Exercise Science) works within the BULK POWDERS® Product Team. His role includes being responsible for Product Quality as well as contributing to Product Development.