If you want to throw a keg of beer 24.5 feet into the air, like 'Game of Thrones' character Mountain (his real name is Hafþór Björnsson) recently did during the Giants Live Sweden competition, you’re going to need to do more than 12-ounce curls to prepare.
“You need to focus on your legs, back, butt, and hips; that’s what’s actually propelling the keg. Your shoulders and arms are just guiding it,” says Jedd Johnson, a Pennsylvania-based personal trainer and former Strongman competitor. And you need an empty keg to practice with—though whether you buy it full and kick it yourself or find an already empty one is up to you (we suggest the former).
Here’s how Johnson’s athletes prepare for the keg toss.
Step One: Warm Up
This is not a workout you want to jump into cold. Start by doing at least five minutes of dynamic stretching, foam rollin,g and bodyweight movements like pushups, fire hydrants and donkey kicks.
Step Two: Squat
Load up that barbell. Johnson says you need to go heavy to really build the thrust you’re going to need. “You should be able to do 4-5 reps at a weight where the fifth isn’t an all-out affair but the six of seventh would be,” he says. Keeping proper form, focus on generating power as you push up and out of the squat.
Step Three: Do Your Dead Lifts
“A lot of Strongman competition requires core and butt strength; a lot of Strongman guys have these really big butts,” says Johnson. You’re going to need one too, and dead lifts are a great way to get there. Again, aim for a weight on your barbell that you can do 4-5 reps with, but that would be too hard to get to reps six or seven. Keeping your back straight and your head and neck neutral, focus on engaging your back and glutes as you pull the bar up.
Step Four: Clean It
You’re going to have to get that keg up and off the ground, and the best way to do that is by practicing your cleans. Grab your bar, load it up, and do 4-5 reps.
Step Five: Strengthen Your Grip
Here’s the thing, a keg is kind of an awkward object to work with. Johnson says that a big part of any Strongman challenge is having the grip strength to grasp whatever projectile you happen to be chucking. To get strong hands, Johnson recommends doing farmer’s walks, an exercise where you essentially carry a heavy barbell in each arm (like two sacks of groceries) for 50-100 feet. He also suggests that you swap out your regular bar for a thick bar. While a standard weightlifting bar is generally 2.8 centimeters, thick bars can be 5 centimeters or more. The extra width challenges your hands and forearms to do more of the heavy lifting.
Step Six: Practice
You’re not going to throw a keg perfectly on your first try. “It’s not like throwing a kettlebell, it’s really long and drawn out,” he says referring to its strange shape. “It can be hard to control that mass and you could end up hitting your face.” Start by simply cleaning the keg before you try and press it up and overhead. Once you’ve mastered that, press it a few times before adding the final toss towards the heavens. Repeat until you feel like an adequate badass.