Lou Costa: Strength Myth Busters - 3 Biggest Myths About Strongman!


6 short years ago I fell in love with the sport of strength – STRONGMAN.  Like most active kids leaving college I was searching for a competitive niche, a sport  to call my own again coming from constant competition through high school and college.

My body was growing too old/brittle for football and having dabbled unsuccessfully like most do in bodybuilding and powerlifting, my competitive prowess was yearning for something more!


Long story short;  I found a worthy and amazing sport, community and passion that I feel offers such a unique experience in Strongman that I decided to make it my life’s work.

First tire flip at Pittsburgh Strongest man '07

My first taste of strongman at Pittsburgh Strongest man ’07

… Which in hind site could very well be considered moderately insane or legitimately ballsy.  I personally prefer a nice concoction of both in life.

Now through our very own strongman gym, IRONMILL based out of Lancaster, Pa: I live, breath and literally wear strongman every day!  Want to go to work in sweatpants you say ?

Start a strongman gym! Say goodbye to the confines of financial stability and pesky pleated pants forever!

Pre Strongman

Pre Strongman
(unafraid to wear lifting gloves and openly flex in the gym)

post strongman

Post Strongman
(Unafraid to dominate life and drunkenly sweat on pregnant fiance’)

Now my days are spent learning, teaching and spreading the gospel of strength through this crazy sport of STRONGMAN one person, contest and semi coherent article at a time.

My visceral obsession with this nearly infant 35 year old sport of strongman is only surpassed by my robust love of Tex – Mex food and cheese laden cooking.  Let me give you the first hint about achieving success in strength, these two passions easily go hand in hand.

During my creatine induced trance like strength lectures and personal run in’s with many people inside of the industry, I tend to encounter extreme excuses and many head scratching self imposed road blocks as to why the average person CANNOT participate in this time tested tradition of strength in men and women.

I’m talking to you now sir’s and madam’s.  TAKE SOME C4 – SNAP A NICE “SELFIE” FOR FACEBOOK and bring your fine mannered attention back around to the big guy!

Let me take you on a fun fact filled and sour cream covered adventure on why STRONGMAN can be a great fit for you along with a few reasons you have probably (and very wrongly) avoided our massively sweaty and exciting sport up until this point!

Hell by the end of this I want your spouse, your kids and even the weird LA Fitness spandex wearing loon determined to tell you why cable crossovers rule and chalk should be outlawed to be picking up atlas stones, creating a training group and posting sweet log lifting pictures to Pinterest in no time!

HERE WE GO - The 3 BIGGEST myths AND reasons you should be doing Strongman – Now!



I really DO understand where this first addressed and major confusion towards the sport only being for men began.  The name STRONGMAN itself is a bit confusing and off-putting to our opposite and much better smelling gender.

The biggest women's class in N.A.S. history at PA Strongest '13

The biggest women’s class in N.A.S. history at PA Strongest ’13

Let me assure you that the state of yoga pant clad women picking up stones and pulling trucks like crazed coupon cutting beasts …is flourishing.

With groups like N.E.W.S. (New England Women of Strength), The IRONMILL Ladies Lift Here club here in Lancaster, Stella Krupinski running  B.R.U.T.E strength sport out of Virginia Beach and countless Crossfit boxes creating excitement, competition and a venue for women’s strength displays on the east coast alone – Growth in STRONG (WOMEN) is at an all time peak!

Owner of North American Strongman - DIONE WESSELS

Owner of North American Strongman – DIONE WESSELS


The fearless leader of North American Strongman is GASP – A woman !!!!


GUINESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS gold medal winner (Atlast Stones) and current 3rd Strongest Women in America, Kimberly Zimmerman (pictured below)  can attest to the growth inside of the sport from her own unique perspective perch atop this new found world of Women’s Strongman.

Kim knows a few things about strength !

Kim knows a few things about strength !

“I’ve seen such an increase in the amount, the caliber and the community of women’s strongman athletes in the past 3 years that the future holds very bright for our sport if we keep infusing new women, keep them interested and keep them spreading the word of STRONG (WOMEN),” states Zimmerman.

Kim continues, “We have momentum, its up to us ladies to continue pushing forward and show the world we are just as entertaining as the Men!”

I cannot digress, and I can also now  proudly and firmly stamp the misogynous MYTH that STRONGMAN is ONLY FOR MEN- BUSTED!



"The Dominator"

“The Dominator”
5x Worlds Strongest Man -Mariusz Pudzianowski

Again, I actually completely understand why this may be confusing in the eyes of a normal strongman adoring public.  World Strongest Man (WSM) has been aired across the major television networks (ABC, ESPN and now CBS) for 35 years and has dominantly showcased the larger than life athletes with equally awe inspiring  names like Kazmier, Sven, Magnus, Mariuz and Zydrunus splayed across the screen for our wonderment.


Myself (6ft – 310 lbs) compared to Current World’s Strongest Man – Brian Shaw (6ft 8 inches – 410lbs) – I would be willing to bet BRIAN wore husky pants as a kid like me!


Yes, to lift the gargantuan implements and complete the unbelievable tasks that the strongest men in the world must complete you will probably have had to wear size “husky” pants at some point as a child.

HOLD ON! An introspective and finely trained look into the sport will shed a much more optimistic light onto our smaller and probably much longer living strength connoisseurs.

Yes averaged sized Men AND Women (See previous myth) – even YOU can now compete and be photographed straining unattractively while pulling on heavy crap with the new weight system rankings that North American Strongman (NAS) has set up to let all lovers of IRON partake.

Website for all things NAS - www.NASTRONGMAN.com

N.A.S. guidelines for men’s weight classes are as follows – > 175lbs,  >200lbs,  > 231lbs,  >265lbs ,  >300lbs , 300lbs+

N.A.S. guidelines for women’s weight classes -  >140lbs ,  >165lbs ,165lbs +

With the recent advent of the ARNOLD CLASSIC showcase division of STRONGFIT for men and women including a qualifier at nationals for both, NAS has now offered some of the lightest competitors in Strongman and women a grand stage to compete:  THE A’HNALD

With the newly combined 175, 200 pound weight class into a weight averaged 185lb. class – The strongest 185lb. men on the planet now have an outlet for strength AND one of the biggest known stages to show off their shiny new blue Rehbands!

Women – NAS didn’t leave you out either combing the 140, 165 pound classes and averaging it into a brand new 150lb. Women’s STRONGFIT class at the ARNOLD CLASSIC also !

Stephanie Tropea competing at '12 Arnold Classic

Stephanie Tropea competing at ’12 Arnold Classic

My firm opinion on weight class division, the massive pro heavyweight athletes and the battalion of amateurs is this:  The World Pro (and largely undefined) Division of strongman celebrates everything that is awe – inspiring and visually spectacular about the sport of strongman.  It allows the millions of fans to be exposed to the rigors and down right miracles of strength and surreal spectacle that is STRONGMAN at its highest possible form.

Delving further into the facts reveals that the amateur ranks, contest promotion, male and female athletes, their immediate circle of support, the casual fans and the thousands of training groups coupled with their relentless / combined expansive Facebook fodder are what ACTUALLY drive the grassroots following of our wonderful sport.

The strength swarm of faceless, nameless, sinewy strong, average build rockstars training in their basements, competing in parking lots far away from the glare of the strongman spotlight together broadly and boldy BUST this myth that only the truly huge can compete and flourish in STRONGMAN!

Rock on, my skinny battalion of strength superstars

Rock on, my skinny battalion of strength superstars


Ok, so now your interested AND QUALIFIED to start strongman.  We’ve granted divine access to ALL of  the interested women AND ALL of the men that have requested entry into this magnificent sport. Great!  But what now? How the hell do I actually learn how to pull a bus ???

Not a bad question actually.  Luckily splendid answers await!

Besides obviously spending a large amount of loot on buying every Bigg Dogg Strongg (The official equipment of NAS) yoke, log, dumbbell, wheelbarrow, axle, frame, farmers and husafelt stone that exists there happens to be a best kept secret AND a natural phenomena that is highly unique to Strongman alone.

This profound hint will help you with the acquisition and storage of expensive equipment, make you feel warm when you are outside freezing doing farmers walks, guide you through the rough patches of a stagnant press season, scream at you when you are faking fatigue on tire flips and probably afford you the opportunity to ONLY urinate outside.

What is this strength utopia akin only to strongman you ask?  Everybody chime in at once if you know the words – that’s right -  “THE TRAINING CREW”



Powerlifters, I know you all love getting together and shoving yourselves into tiny T-Rex bench shirts and lying to each other about your depth on squats.  Bodybuilders, of course you all gather to critique each other’s quad sweep in your dorky underwear and lubed up olive sheen skin.

I’m here to tell you only one SPORT OF IRON can claim complete lunacy and invite every single one of your lunatic training partners to your house, garage, shed, storage unit, or warehouse facility for an ENTIRE day on the weekend, NEARLY EVERY WEEKEND !!!

Yup, kiss one of your beloved weekend days of rest/relaxation goodbye. Say hello to your NEW musty neoprene’d and foul smelling family of chest hair covered, 25% bodyfat bearded men!  Was this everything you were thinking it was going to be…AND MORE!?

Your god damn right it will be !!!

Setting goals, finding your bodies limits, basking in the glorious endorphins released by strongman and its rigors will give you something you cannot pay for no matter how many hours you spend on the couch dreading monday:  something to f’n live for!

You like the movie Fight Club?  Everyone likes Tyler Derden right?

Tyler Durden thinks strongman is cool. You should too.

Tyler Durden thinks strongman is cool. You should too.

Strongman is a lot like Fight Club except your not getting punched in the face and were not blowing up buildings my mischievous little strength deviants.

Getting Started:

First – Look up a strongman crew located closest to you.  Kalle Beck from Juggarnaut Strength Systems has graciously already done most of the leg work for you and compiled a strongman gym site – www.letkallelift.com.

Contact the “Crew” closest to you and before you can say “spider tacky” you’ll be the new kid at strongman school trying to figure out how to put straps on.

Look at you all adorable in your brand new Nike belt and nice new Under Armour Tshirt.  Hint: better just email Inzer for a belt and change back into your faded Metallica – Black Album concert T instead.  Just saying … events can get pretty messy and Under Armour shiny gear ain’t cheap!

Go, join your new crew. Watch them, learn by participating and lift your ass off!

“WTF is a continental clean and viper press?” you ask?

Take THAT up with your new strongman family.  They are now yours.  Every last, weird one of them.  Through completed lifts or bombed attempts, for better or worse. This is a meaty matrimony bound by vows of strength.

Congratulations and enjoy :)

Can’t find a crew near you?  Next Step – www.marunde-muscle.com – Go to the forum. Post your current whereabouts and someone probably short of breath and overly polite (the strongman way) will be in contact with you before you can even start pricing out old dirty sheds to train in!

The Anvil Message board on the NAS site is also a great idea.  Hell, try all three.  Give yourself some options to preferably find one with a bathroom, nearest to a medical facility! Hey, just incase right? This isn’t Xbox One.  This is actually living man!

Still cant find a viable crew? Well, you must live in the middle of Kansas if you can’t find one single damned person to train strongman with at this point!  Look up Big John Connor – he’s actually out there in the Kansas plains somewhere only recognized in blurry pictures presumed to be the Kansas “Strength Squatch”

Pro Strongman - John Conner

Pro Strongman – John Conner

Or here’s a better idea than easily falling prey to the Kansas ‘Squatch even if he is probably busy making hilarious beef jerky commercials.

Simply start your own crew!

Fly that rainbow freedom flag of forearm tape and financial destituteness and see who else is crazy enough to join you.  You’d be surprised.  If they can cultivate a strongman group in Oil City Pennsylvania, the possibilities are endless elsewhere!

Last tip and final stamp on this now clearly befuddled and busted MYTH of training without strongman equipment – that tip is:

Information = Power

Read, listen, learn, participate in and pay attention to the people that know!  You will prove to be much less annoying than you look and actually become useful inside of your new training family by acquiring as much knowledge as possible before asking.

Acquiring information on training stones (the signature event in strongman and hardest to obtain) without ACTUALLY having stones is like freaking’ He-man, Thundercat and Gi-Joe super secret power all combined into one.

That power is brought to you by Craig Phisterer and found here – thank me later.

So I appreciate you all for taking this nonsensical Lou Costa ride through the 3 BIGGEST myths pertaining to strongman and allowing my vastly decaying and taco pre occupied mind to put an end to your understandably lame excuses for not putting down the curl bar and picking up an axle dead lift today!

For me the ultimate draw of strongman is a direct link to the camaraderie of the crews, the difficulty of the actual tasks, the exhilaration of overcoming what you previously thought impossible and last but not least:  The post workout BURRITO’S !!

Post workout burritos are good for the pregnant, the bearded and the strong!

Post workout burritos are good for the pregnant, the bearded and the strong!

Hopefully with these STRONGMAN MYTHS successfully debunked you will soon feel the shockingly awesome spinal chord load of a 900lb yoke along with the asphyxiated pass out bliss of long distance front carries … and I’ll tell you what – You’ll never go back if you are man or WOMEN enough to accept the brutality of the sport and SURVIVE anyway!

I promise it’s a lifetrip worth taking.  Well, maybe not a trip all the way to Kansas worthwhile but I hear the north east is nice this time of year.  Better bring your UnderArmour cold gear :)

Keep Strongmanin’


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