When you are trying to outlast the other competitors you need every little bit of help you can get. Here are our recommendations for equipment.
Choosing a Masskrugstemmen Training Stein
A stein is probably the most important tool you can get for training. Honestly, the only real piece of equipment required for Steinholding is, not surprisingly, a stein. Sure, you could do some of your training holds with a similarly weighted dumbbell, but it isn't going to feel the same and it isn't going to prepare you as well for a competition since the grip is different and you won't get the effects of having a liquid-filled vessel.
Steins come in many shapes and sizes, but you want a dimpled glass 1 Liter Masskrug style stein that weighs about 3 pounds. Filled with a liter (~33.9 fluid ounces) of liquid, it should weigh approximately 5 pounds.
In competitions, the stein is likely going to be filled with beer or sometimes water depending on the venue. There isn't a significant difference in the densities of water and beer, so for training purposes you'll want to go with water because once you start training hard you should be spilling all over the place and you don't want your house smelling like the basement of a fraternity house. Maybe you do, I guess I don't know. You probably don't.
What Type of Shirt to Wear for Steinholding
If you are entering a competition and it is being hosted at a bar after work or something, take a change of shirt with you. You do NOT want to be wearing a dress shirt for Steinholding. It is going to be too tight across your back, chest, and/or shoulders and it will mess up your range of motion. Go for a polo or t-shirt or something that has a little stretch to it. If you want to strike fear into the hearts of your opponents, you should probably be wearing an official USSA t-shirt.
For training, we just recommend whatever type of shirt you would normally wear for a workout, but again you'll want something with a little it of stretch to it.
Best Steinholding Shoes
Over years of training and talking to other high level competitors and national champions, we figured out that the shoes that you train and compete in can make a surprising difference in your performance. It might sound ridiculous, but it actually isn't.
Almost any athletic shoe you buy is going to have what is called a "heel to toe drop" or just "drop" value. This is the difference between the thickness of the sole at the heel and the thickness of the sole at the toe. The higher the drop value, the more the shoe will raise your heel up and pitch your posture slightly forward. To avoid the pitching action of traditional shoes, national champions Jim Banko and Deryk Lindsey as well as some other high level competitors have actually competed barefoot on occasion.
We have found this to be a bad thing for Steinholding so we recommend a "zero-drop" shoe. This means that the sole is flat, which helps you rest more naturally on your heels when you are holding a stein, creating a more stable base and helping you keep better posture. If you have a pair of zero-drop running shoes available, try it for yourself and you'll probably notice a difference.
We initially got into zero-drop shoes because of shin-splints during longer runs in normal traditional running shoes. Switching to zero drop shoes made a huge difference. Zero drop shoes cause you to change your stride from a rear-foot strike to a mid-foot strike, allowing you to absorb more of the forces via muscular control of joint bending at the ankle and knee, rather than absorbing those forces up through your calcaneous directly into your tibia. Or so our doctor tells us. Jim happened to wear those shoes a couple of times while doing practice holds and he found that it was way more comfortable. So double win.
We don't currently have any endorsement deals, so we don't necessarily recommend this brand over other similar brands, but in our experience with a handful of different shoe options, these were our favorite for comfort and durability and Jim I trained in and wore these during the 2015 season and championship, and beyond so we can say for sure that they're good shoes.
If you don't run, you can probably find cheaper options than some of the pricey zero drop running shoes out there. If you do any power lifting, you may already have a pair of flat soled shoes like Converse All-Stars for squatting or deadlifting for pretty much the same reason: they don't pitch you forward and compromise your form. You may find that these aren't as comfortable for long-term wear because their simple rubber sole don't offer much in the way of padding, but for training or competitions they will do the job and they are a lot more affordable.
Top Steinholding Pants
You probably won't be allowed to compete if you aren't wearing pants. We recommend something intimidating, like corduroys. If you sweat a lot, you may want to go with shorts.
Jim Banko is the founder of the U.S. Steinholding Association. He is the 2015 Hofbrau Masskrugstemmen National Champion and previous United States record holder for Steinholding with an official time of 17 minutes and 11 seconds.