My Experience with the CrossFit Strongman Certification

I’ve talked about it enough, most people know I’m obsessed with Strongman. I’ve competed at Nationals, and I’ll be competing at The Arnold this year. And I can’t seem to stop saying


Oh, GAWD, I’m so nervous.

Okay, now you know.

So when the CrossFit Strongman Trainer Certification Course came around, I didn’t think I would even go. I mean, I haven’t been to the CrossFit Weightlifting Certification course either. I’ve been a weightlifter for 6 years, why do I need any certification beyond USAW and on top of the fact I’ve competed and medaled nationally in the past?

Same here. I mean, I’ve been training strongman every Sunday for 3-4 hours each time with a Pro strongman. I’ve competed nationally and qualified for an international event. Why bother learning the basics?

But lo and behold, Kelly Starrett is friends with Rob Orlando, the head of the CrossFit Strongman seminar. Kelly holds Rob in high respect and talked up the seminar, offering to put me in touch with Rob so I could attend as a guest. So sign up and attend I did.

Zach KILLS the tire flip.

And you know what?

I had a good time!

The lead instructor for the seminar was Logan Gelbrich, owner of Deuce Gym in Venice Beach. We covered tires, kegs, atlas stones, logs, farmer's handles, and yoke carries. Apparently previous seminars have included the axle, but let's face it. Too similar to a normal clean and jerk which is kind of boring.

Overall, I had a great time and has some great conversations with the instructors about how technique can morph from a beginner to a competitor.I even made a PR, getting the 140 lbs keg overhead. I got a few bruises, got my heart rate up, and had more than a few laughs as my coworkers joked around and initially fumbled with the awkward implements.

Addressing Some Controversy Around the CrossFit Strongman Seminar.

Truth be told, there is some controversy around the CrossFit Strongman certification. Being in the competitive community, I’ve gotten an earfull of it, certainly. For instance, I saw a video being torn apart where the demonstrator squatted down and wraps his arms under the stone to pick it up.

I can’t seem to find the video now, but the standard technique is to be like a construction crane: leave your hips high, keep your arms straight, and shove your fingers as far under the stone as you can. Then you use your hamstrings to pull the stone into your lap to re-wrap like a cuddley, cement teddy bear.

This is me loading a 180lbs stone for max reps in 60 sec.

Why would this discrepancy be a problem? Curling your arms around the stone can strain, possibly tear, your bicep. You’re trying to lift the stone in a bicep curl. As the weight gets heavier, or as you get tired, you’ll be doing a very heavy eccentric bicep curl. That’s where the problem comes in. That’s where the bicep tears happen.

So this is what I was looking out for. Now, I can’t speak to seminars previous to Logan’s lead. But what I can say is Logan definitely taught the traditional approach first, making sure straight arms and high hips were used all around.

Then he addressed the “other technique.”

“This next method is controversial, but let’s face it. If you find stones in a CrossFit competition, it’s probably not going to be that heavy. So which ever stone you just used, move down three sizes and let’s do this other way as well.”

And you know what, I can get behind that.

You do what you have to do in competition to make the win.

If you want to try your hand at Strongman...

I’ll be interning the with CrossFit Strongman staff on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Diablo CrossFit.

Go to this link to register for it!