I started my first high school strongman contest back in 2009, in my first year as the head strength coach at our small, private school, and it quickly became an annual event (according to my sources it is the longest-running ongoing high school strongman contest in, well, anywhere). For 10 years running, “VCA’s Strongest Lion Contest” has been the biggest and most exciting campus event of the year. There’s always guaranteed to be excitement, drama, even controversy, as we crown the Strongest Lion (juniors-seniors) and Jr. Strongest Lion (freshman-sophomores).

The benefits of strongman-type training for high school athletes are numerous and well known. It’s great training for the football players, it creates a highly-charged competitive atmosphere, and it builds tremendous confidence in kids as they take on challenges that can be very intimidating. And the day of the event is the most exciting, action-packed day of the school year, with parents and students cheering to see who will be crowned the strongest!

Here is a Christmas list loaded with everything you need to have a professional-type strength contest at any high school.


The first obvious choice is the farmer's bars. They can be loaded to any weight suitable for any age/strength level, and can be used as a stand-alone event for distance or time, or can be part of a heavy-carry medley event. It makes for a quick and easy plate-change for both the JV and Varsity competitors.


The next obvious item is the loadable Log Press bar. Again, it can be used for any strength level, and the event is always a crowd favorite to see who can squeeze out that last, winning rep!


Nothing is better for the final event of the contest than a good, old-fashioned strongman Truck Pull! With this harness, all you need is a good chain or strap and a truck to attach it to. This event will often determine the final outcome of the contest, and it can make (or break) the strongest athlete!


The Prowler® push (in our contest it is uphill) is a great final event for the JV class of high schoolers that aren’t strong enough to pull the truck. Load it up heavy for a grind, or light to medium for speed, and just be sure to avoid the dreaded “Prowler® flu”!


Obviously, there has to be training involved in order to build the strength required to compete in a strongman contest. The box squat is a fundamental and necessary strength and power movement, and this adjustable “box” will make any training program complete.


Another necessary training tool, you must have bands, plain and simple. They’re the most versatile piece of equipment in the weight room, and at the high school level, they work for everything: prehab, rehab, strength, you name it, bands can do it.


While we use actual giant stones found out in the wild, I included this item to pay homage to our traditional strongmen forefathers from times past. We must always pay our respects to our strength roots.


To the victor go the spoils, and the Strong(er) tee shirt has been awarded to the overall winner for 10 years running! The wrist band can be an item that all competitors receive during training, or on contest day.

If Santa and his reindeer deliver these items, you’re guaranteed to have a great Christmas and an amazing strongman contest at your school!

Brian DeFiebre (known as Coach D by his athletes) is a PTA and a small school strength and performance coach at Valley Christian Academy High School in Roseville, CA. Valley Christian Academy High School is the home of the Lions Cage Strength Club (semi-private training), and the annual VCA’s Strongest Lion Contest. Our motto: “If you’re not strong, you don’t belong!”