There’s a reason that we play around with odd objects such as kettlebells, dumbbells, sleds, tires, etc.
Of course the fact that is something fun and new can be one reason, and probably a big one for most people. Takes away the boredom of always using a barbell. The other reason could be it tends to keep you a bit healthier. Doing new movements with maybe lighter loads than a barbell teaching the body to be even without any imbalances.
Another reason like the one stated in the article, is that life’s tasks are never balanced. Go into nature and lift up a log or a rock, chances are it won’t feel and be even like a barbell. Since life is like that, we should be ready for it and not just really on being able to lift a heavy barbell, but struggle to lift a rock or a tree or a tire.
Odd Object Lesson by Hilary Achauer
The tires were arranged from lightest to heaviest.
We’d just listened to the introductory lecture of the CrossFit Specialty Course: Strongman in the outdoor space at Deuce Gym in Venice, California, and we were warmed up and about to try out our first strongman movement. I don’t have any experience flipping tires, so I figured I’d start with the lightest one, and then, as I do with a barbell, move up in weight.
I put my chin on the tire, placed my hands under it, sunk my weight in my toes and lifted. Nothing. The tire didn’t budge. I set up again, moving my feet back from the tire, trying to use my legs and hips and not my arms. After a fierce effort—and a moment when I was sure it was going nowhere—I got the tire up.
I continued to work with this tire, and I’d fail each time I’d foolishly attempt to lift it with my arms. Then I’d sink into my toes, push again with my legs and the tire would slowly rise.
I never moved to a heavier tire.
I’ve been doing CrossFit for six years, and most things in the gym are familiar to me. I know what movements I can do and I know how much weight I can lift. I’m not the strongest or the fastest, but with all that familiarity comes confidence—and probably some complacency. Definitely a bit of ego.
That confidence disappeared the minute I struggled to lift the lightest tire, but when it went away I felt a sense of relief. Free from any expectations about how I was supposed to perform, I could relax and learn.
Although these movements seemed very different from what I was used to, by the end of the day I found they had taught me some fundamental concepts I’ve been struggling to learn for years.
Who Is a Strongman?
The course I attended in October was led by Logan Gelbrich, a 6-foot-3 former professional baseball player, and Emily Russak, a 6-foot-1 former collegiate rower and middleweight winner of California’s Strongest Woman in 2016. Both are tall, powerful-looking individuals who are very strong. But only Gelbrich is a man. And therein lies one of the problems with the “strongman” name, Gelbrich said.
“People think of strongman as big dudes, like Brian Shaw, who is 6’8” and weighs 435 pounds. That’s not good for marketing, and that has nothing to do with any of you,” Gelbrich said to the seminar attendees, referencing the four-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man competition.
The reality, Gelbrich said, is the stereotype of the giant, bearded strongman only accurately represents a small percentage of the sport and the movements.
“It’s like saying CrossFit is Chris Spealler doing 103 pull-ups in a row,” Gelbrich said. “That’s not the whole story. (CrossFit) is the community, the people. It’s John who is an accountant. Strongman is just movement, basic movement.”
Gelbrich—who has been doing CrossFit since 2006—first experienced strongman movements in 2013 at CrossFit Ethos with CrossFit Strongman subject-matter expert Rob Orlando, and he was impressed.
“Strongman over-delivered,” Gelbrich said. “Conceptually, I was blown away at the unavoidable justification for the usage of strongman implements in developing GPP (general physical preparedness). For me it was pure efficacy.”
Strongman movements, he said, are very natural.
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5 Tire Flip
1-2 Legless Rope Climb
12 Devil Press 50/35
9 Devil Press
6 Devil Press
*18 Min Cap