Workout of the Day

Beer Steins and Biomechanics


One of the classic events you’ll encounter at an Oktoberfest celebration is the beer stein holding contest. The event is as simple as it gets: contestants hold their beer stein (full of liquid) with a fully extended arm for as long as possible without bending, dropping, or spilling. Last person standing is the winner. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though. If you’ve ever taken part in a stein-holding contest, you’ll understand how even 60 seconds can feel like a lifetime. (Side note: one of our very own students is a two-time stein-holding champion at a local Oktoberfest competition. Can you guess who?)

Now, a beer stein, even when it’s full of beer or whatever liquid you prefer, isn’t all that heavy. The challenge of this contest is a matter of levers. I would bet all of the money in my wallet that if two people went head-to-head in a stein-holding contest, but one person was allowed to hold the stein at their chest while the other held it with a fully extended arm, the person with the stein at arm’s length would surely break first. The longer the lever (extended arm), the more torque (rotational force) at the shoulder. This makes holding a three-pound stein at arm’s length a more challenging task than holding even an oversized, ten-pound stein at the chest.

What does this all have to do with fitness? Well, other than perhaps giving you an intellectual leg up should you find yourself competing in a local Oktoberfest event, these same physical principles apply to any of the movements you do in the gym. Consider a deadlift. If you’ve been a student with us for any time, you’ve likely heard us cue you to keep the bar close to your legs during the deadlift. This isn’t some arbitrary standard -- it’s meant to keep the lever arm as short as possible, which decreases the torque at the hips. This equates to heavier weights moved more safely and efficiently. This also gives us an insight into why the strongman implements we use in our training are so effective at increasing hip and core strength (and why they’re often so challenging). The odd objects place the center of mass of the implement further from your body, which increases the lever length and the force you must generate to overcome the torque applied by the object.

These same beer-stein principles of physics can be seen in just about every movement you’ll encounter in your training. Feel free to share your beer-and-fitness-related wisdom next time you find yourself lifting a heavy object or sipping from a stein among friends.

- PS


  • “Fight Gone Bad”

  • 3 rounds for reps of:

    • 1 min max wallballs (20/14)

    • 1 min max SDHP (75/55)

    • 1 min max box jumps (24”/20”)

    • 1 min max push press (75/55)

    • 1 min max cal row

    • 1 min rest