Conan’s Wheel

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History of The Conan’s Wheel

Although this event is known by many names, it is best known as the Conan’s Wheel. This is because of the similarities to the Wheel of Pain from the film Conan the Barbarian. In the film, Conan (played by the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger) and other slaves had to pick up a heavy arm of a rotating mill and carry it as form of their labour while awaiting sale. The movie came out in 1982 but this event was not called the Conan’s wheel for many years to follow.

This event was first introduced to the sport of strongman in the 1989 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) in San Sebastian, Spain. The event then was named the “Cart Circle” in the contest and was as homage to the heritage of the area. The Cart Circle was actually based on something from the Basque Rural games “Cart Game” or “Oxcart Game”. This name came from the object that was used to carry the weight in between the pivot point and the strongman, after many years of athletes and strongmen completing this event, they decided to up the game with the weight. As the weight increased to nearly 300kgs, some athletes started to collapse with fatigue before hitting a full rotation. Because of this gruelling event getting tougher, they made the connection with it being similar to the punishment felt by the slaves in the film Conan the Barbarian. So in 2002, in the American Pro Strongman Nationals, the name Conan’s Wheel first appeared.

About The Conan’s Wheel

In the Conan’s Wheel event, the strongman must pick up a heavy weight that pivots around a fixed point, by placing the weight on the strongman’s forearms or behind the elbows, and complete as many rotations as possible. The result is measured in distance (how many rotations are completed).

Because the strongman picks up the weighted arm and pushes it around in a circle for as long as possible. This is widely considered a brutal and painful event due to the way the heavy arm is held. The weight is usually placed right above the diaphragm and the bar digs into the forearms, making it both painful and hard to breathe while performing in this event. 

Different strongmen tackle this event in various ways. some will rest the weight in their elbow crease while others prefer to have it rest on their forearms as stated above. But If the strongman is particularly cheeky then they will rest their arms on their weightlifting belt to reduce the strain on their arms.

Training for the Conan’s Wheel: Training for the Conan’s Wheel without a proper weighted bar attached to a wheel that pivots, will prove to be very difficult. When you look at the strongmen performing this event, you would think that it is just carrying a heavy bar around in circles. But the way in which this works, with that heavy bar and the way a strongman must hold this on his forearm before pushing it round in circles, what you do not see is the great strain that is put on the strongman’s diaphragm. You can certainly mimic the heavyweight and walking in circles, but to be able to have the mental strength to battle through that immense pressure that is being placed on the strongman’s diaphragm is a different game altogether. That’s why training for this event would prove difficult, as you will have to train for the endurance and strength needed to perform the rotations with the heavy bar but also you would need to train yourself on how to still breath efficiently while you have an excess amount of pressure on your diaphragm. Many people build make shift Conan’s wheels to be able to practice this technique on. While others simply carry excess weight for a long periods of time to build their relevant muscles that will be needed within this event.


The record for Conan’s wheel is not distinctly known, as there are too many variants for an official record to exist unfortunately. We will however, say it is one of those events that will split even the best of strongmen. Some people will struggle with a single lap while others seem happy to run around in circles all night long. It’s a difficult event to train for so perhaps it is those fortunate enough to have a setup in their backyard that are able to perform consistently well on the day.

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