The History of The Keg Toss
The Keg Toss is inspired and originated from the long traditions of the Highland Games. The Highland games are events held in spring and summer in Scotland and other countries with a large Scottish diaspora. These games represent a way of celebrating the Scottish and Celtic culture, especially that of the Scottish Highlands Games. The first historical reference to the type of events held at the Highland Games in Scotland, were made during the time of King Malcolm the 3rd, when he summoned men to race up Craig Choinnich overlooking Braemar, with the aim of finding the fastest runner in Scotland to become his royal messenger. They were also thought to have originally been events from which the strongest and bravest soldiers within Scotland would be tested for their strength and abilities.
The Keg Toss was created from the similarities of the Caber Toss, which was one of the favourite events within the Highland Games. Both the Caber Toss and the Keg Toss use the same test of pure explosive strength and power to judge the ability of the strongman or competitor’s that took place within the Highland Games. Although both are very similar at testing one’s explosive power, both require good technique and skill that is used alongside the immense power used to perform well within these events.
About The Keg Toss
The Keg Toss is a test of strength and explosiveness. The strongman has to throw a number of kegs, usually increasing in weight, over a specified height which is usually a 4.42 metre wall. The strongmen have to clear the wall or barrier with one throw. The quickest competitor to get all the kegs over the specific height wins.
The Keg Toss is always a crowd pleaser and so often appears in the World’s Strongest Man competition. Strongmen usually adopt a number of different techniques such as; holding the barrel horizontally, holding the keg vertically (usually favoured by the taller strongmen) or showboating and throwing the keg one-handed.
Over the years, the variations within this event have been changed up to challenge these strongmen forever more. In 2003 and 2006, the strongmen had to chuck concreate blocks over the wall rather than barrels. Within these years the variations that have changed, have been the height of the wall not the weight of the object used.
Although now the concrete blocks are not used, it is mainly only kegs that are tossed, hence the name “Keg Toss”. The kegs weight anywhere from 15-24kgs each and these are usually set to go up in weight as each keg is successfully tossed over the wall or barrier. As stated above, the kegs now do not regularly change in weight but over the years the wall has become higher and higher, making this event even harder for the strongmen. With the ever increasing heights, multiple barrels (kegs) and the different techniques used by the competitors, this event is one of the most exiting ones to watch out for!
Training for The Keg Toss: Training for The Keg Toss is not only simple but can be really fun too! Competing to throw a barrel up in the air over a wall or barrier is something I think most athletes or upcoming strongmen will really enjoy. With that said, if you want to practice this in a small garden at home with metal barrels, it is probably not such a good idea, unless you already hate your neighbours! The good thing about training for this event, is that you may be able to find some barrels fairly easy, go and ask your local pub if they have any damaged or spare ones you could have or use. Then find yourself a big open space (preferable on grass) to keep the noise down. Set up a makeshift barrier which can be done with some extendable tri-stand extension bars and a scaffold pole (or the equivalent) and start having some fun while training your body at the same time!
Before starting to throw these barrels up in the air, as always, it is advised to make sure that you have the strength and have developed the muscle groups that are needed, to be able to take the stress that you will put on your body. This is because of the explosiveness that is needed throughout this exercise. You will need to focus on training your legs, back, glutes, and hips as these muscles are what’s actually going to propel the keg in the air. Your shoulders and arms are just guiding the keg as it is thrown. So lots of squats and deadlifts, along with some explosive HIIT (high intensity interval training), will work great on building up the explosive strength and endurance needed for this kind of event. Also exercises such as “The Snatch” might help you to get used to throwing some weight up in the gym. Once you can throw some decent weight up in the gym (not literally) and have developed that explosive technique. You can then start working on your own techniques of tossing the keg, and start the real training towards and for this event!
The Guinness book of records names Benjamin Hedermann as the holder for the highest beer keg toss world record with a height of 7.3m.
In 2015 Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson tossed a 15kg (33lbs) keg, over a barrier height of 7.05 meters (24 feet 6 inches), this was stated as the world record for this weight and weight. Here is the clip or Thor tossing the keg:
In 2018 Brain Shaw set a world record of 33lbs (15kgs) over a height of 7.25m (23’9″) but this was achieved within the Kettle Bell Toss, although the weight of the kettle bells is the same as the barrels tossed, they are slightly different, so we cannot make a world title comparison. Strongman competition records are sparse, as the number of kegs, the weight of the kegs and time limit allowed, varies too much to set an official record.