Sunday, September 29, 2013


No official post this week.  Instead, a chance to watch my video and learn from my experience as a powerlifter trying strongman

Didn’t cut weight for this, because it was my first time competing and I didn’t want to mess around with extra variables.  Weighed in at 197lbs.  Ate a light breakfast of 4 cherry poptarts, a McDonald’s sausage biscuit and a large diet coke.  Was sipping on half Gatorade/half water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and the comp was right across the street from a Costco, so I was able to have pizza for lunch, which is always a good day.
I did practically no warming up for events.  One reason for this was because there was a pretty big turn out for the comp (9 people alone in the 200lb division, and probably about 25 people total), so getting access to the implements was tough.  The other reason was because I simply don’t spend much time warming up in general.  Never really felt a need to.  While other people were foam rolling and stretching, I was sitting on the floor drinking Gatorade.

First event was the 200lb axel clean and press for reps.  Clean each rep.  This was the event I was the most worried about, mainly because up until a month ago I had never done a clean in my life.  I made an axel to train with in my garage, and the very first time I attempted to clean, I sprained the holy hell out of my left wrist.  Since I only had a month to get good at events, I kept training with the injury and went through 100 motrin tablets in a month, but the most worrisome thing was that whenever I sprained my wrist, my grip was shot in my left hand.  I knew that if I re-aggravated the injury, my grip would be done for the rest of the comp.  Also, since cleaning injured my wrist, I was never able to train very heavy for high reps.  I could either go heavy, or light for high reps.

Amazingly, everything came together for the event.  I thought for sure I was going to need to continental clean after the 3rd rep, but I was able to get the weight up with a double overhand for 7 reps.  My biggest problem was overcoming my body’s natural instincts to set up for a deadlift instead of a clean.  You can see it in the video where I go to do the first pull and roll the bar too close.  Once I got out of my own head, I could move the weight.  Also, after watching most of the other competitors, I realized I was one of the strongest, if not THE strongest guys in the 200lb weight class (in terms of actual static, 1rm strength), and wanted to make a point by strict pressing the first rep.  It was a dumb thing to do, but it made an impression on the other competitors.  It didn’t really matter much anyway, as my leg drive was purely cosmetic whenever I did try.  I had managed to get decent at it in the gym, but fell back into old habits on comp day.  7 reps put me in 4th, with 1st doing 10, second doing 9, and third doing 8.

Next event was the 500lb yoke walk/300lb sled drag medley.  I was able to practice the sled, but had never even seen a yoke in person before.  There was a chance to warm up with the implement, but I turned it down, mainly because after the first event I knew my cardio was crap and I basically had to save every ounce of energy I had for each event.  I wore my elitefts SHD knee sleeves for this, and was thankful I had them, because the support went a long way.

Just like on the clean and press, I set up for the yoke like it was a squat, which was a big mistake.  The bar was too low on my back and made it impossible to control.  I could get a few steps before my hips shot out from under me and my legs went wonky.  I did this a few more times before the judge told me to put the bar higher on my neck.  This made a huge difference, and I was able to walk much further with the implement.  I was also holding my breath the entire time, trying to use the valsalva maneuver, which was a mistake that the judge told me to quit doing, and that helped as well.  I still wasn’t comfortable with the implement by the time I got it to the finish line, but I at least managed.

Grabbing the sled was an entirely different problem.  I had trained up an incline with a wide sled with long straps, so I was used to putting a LOT of force into my backwards drag.  This was a rogue sled with two skis on a level surface with a short chain, which meant that as soon as I grabbed the v handle, it went flying.  I ended up losing my footing and falling backwards from walking too fast with it, and actually had to move slower because I couldn’t coordinate my feet with the rate of the sled.  I barely made it to the finish line before the event ended, having to fall backwards and row the sled the last few inches to make it in time.  In general, I knew footspeed was going to be my weakness for this comp, and it’s something I need to work on.

Farmer’s walks with 180lb per hand for 40 meters with a turn at the mid point was next for me, and since my wrist was feeling good I wasn’t too worried about this.  I knew my footspeed would be mediocre, and I posted a pretty average time of about 39 seconds.  Amazingly, it was my right hand that lost its grip rather than my left.  I think I may have set up the right poorly at the start, because it started to slip before I made the turn, and once I had made the turn the implements bumped into each other and it forced me to drop.  Otherwise, pretty uneventful, my training with the implements helped out.

Next event was a deadlift medley with a 500lb 18” pull, 405lb trap bar, 315lb barbell and 365lb axel.  I had pulled 600 in a powerlifting comp at 181 a year before and 620 for a double with straps a few months prior to this, so I came in confident.  Only thing I was sweating was the axel pull, just because I had issues with it in training because of my wrist, so I chose that as my first pull.  I hit up a smelling salt beforehand, because I’m still a powerlifter, and blitzed through the course.  Only thing I could’ve done to do this event faster was move quicker between the implements, because I managed this in under 15 seconds.

Final event was 220lb atlas stone over a 40” bar.  I had built a stone trained out of 2 45lb bumper plates, but was only able to work technique with that.  This was my first time with a real stone, and at a real weight.  Also my first time using tacky.  When the event started, I lapped the stone first thing just to get a feel for the weight and the technique.  I did this for 2 more reps before I realized I was strong enough to just move the stone form the floor to the bar in one movement, which saved a lot of time.  I used a deadlift technique of getting the stone rolling toward me before the pickup so that I could use it’s momentum to roll back onto my heels, which really helped me move fast.  Sometimes, the judges would deadstop the stone, which would kill my strategy.  I managed to get 12 reps with this, and knowing what I do now, I’m sure I could’ve got another 2 reps in.

All in all, I had a blast, and am really proud of my showing.  I’m going to continue to build my static strength, because I love powerlifting and I’m good at being strong, but I’m going to ensure that I work an event into my training at least once a week to improve my conditioning and technique.  My cardio and footspeed were my weaknesses coming in, along with just my general inexperience, and I think I can definitely improve those come next go-round.  I would love to see a contest with a max rep or weight deadlift and a log press next time, and will keep my eyes peeled for what is available to me.