Saturday, February 3, 2018


I’m definitely not the most seasoned competitor, but I’ve at least been through a few.  I’ve competed in 3 powerlifting meets and manage to not die of boredom and 10 strongman competitions (3 unsanctioned, 7 under North American Strongman/Strongman Corp).  Through that process, I’ve learned a few tips, tricks and hacks that I’m hoping to pass on to you, the reader, so that you can learn from my mistakes and through my own nefarious and diseased brain.  In no particular order.

-In a powerlifting meet, for your opener squat, pick a super light weight and just absolutely completely bury it. Not because it makes you too cool for school, but because it will implant in the judge's mind that depth isn't anything they need to worry about for you. After that, you can ride your second and third attempts a little higher and be given the benefit of the doubt.  The guys that are always just barely hitting depth get more attention.

-Things to bring to a competition: chairs, food, drinks, cash, street clothes/shoes, first aid kit.  If it’s outside, bring some manner of shade.  Never expect anything to be provided, so if you like chalk and tacky, bring that too.  Believe me, after 1 competition of sitting on the floor, being hungry and thirsty and then going out to eat at a Denny’s wearing some sweaty ratty competition clothes/a singlet, you’ll appreciate all these things.

Image result for singlet in public
Yeah, no one thinks it's a tanktop

-If you travel by car, bring as much gear as you can.  This is so that, if someone asks to borrow your favorite belt/sleeves/wraps/whatever, you can be a good sport and given them your less favorite/not as good stuff.  Plus you won’t be caught unprepared incase something fails.

-If you travel by plane, pack all your competition gear in your carryon and check all your normal stuff.  If your clothes and shoes get lost, you can hit up Walmart and buy an outfit for $10.  If your Inzer belt and SBD sleeves get lost, you’re screwed.

-Make friends and be chatty at the competition.  1, it makes you not an a-hole, and there is a good chance you can learn a lot from other competitors.  But 2, it also takes a lot of people off their game because they like to get into super hardcore badass mode and if you’re over there cracking jokes and paling around it’s hard for them to focus.  On that note, be able to tell your new buddy “Hey, I gotta go get ready, and I can be an a-hole when I do that so I’m just gonna walk away for now”.  No-joke; I tell my wife that at competitions, and she knows to leave me alone.

-On the above, learn how to turn it on and off.  If you spend the whole competition being psyched out of your mind and blitzed on stims, you’re gonna be burnt out before it’s over.  If it’s a powerlifting meet, you’ll be dead by deadlifts, and if it’s a strongman comp you’ll have nothing left for the final event.  Switch on the hate, kill the event, and then go back to laughing and joking. 

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Even the biggest and strongest know when to laugh

-Goo gone completely wipes away tacky.  Way better than Baby oil, and smells better than WD-40.  Burns a lot less too.

-If you’ve never eaten/drank it before, don’t do it the day of/before the competition.  Stick with the same diet you’ve had all the way through training.  I’ve shown up to a lot of competitions with an upset stomach because, like an idiot, after a weightcut I went out and ate somewhere I had never been to before and ate a lot of food I wasn’t used to.  Stick with the staples.

-In a last man standing event, approach every attempt the exact same way.  If you’re one of those guys with an elaborate psyche up ritual, do it for even the smallest of weights.  If you can hold that in and just make every attempt look like a gym lift, do THAT instead.  Reason being is that you don’t want to telegraph to your opposition when the weight is getting heavy for you.  If you only start psyching up once you’ve reached near your limit, then your opposition knows you are there, and they might find it in themselves to dig JUST a little deeper for the next attempt or 2 to finally edge you out.  However, if you show no signs of slowing down, they may just decide it’s not worth wasting the energy on a bunch more attempts and end up shutting down early.  It saves you the struggle and you don’t “show your hand” regarding your abilities.  I even go so far as to look as bored as possible for every attempt.

-If you are doing a log clean and press each rep event, and the log is on tires, bounce the crap out of the log on the tires.  You won't damage the log, and you can conserve some energy on the clean this way.

-In the warm-up area, complain about everything.  If it’s powerlifting, talk about how the knurling on the bars are super slippery and you can’t get your feet to grip on the platform, or how the squat stands are too close together and you have to walk out a bunch of steps to get set-up for your squat.  If it’s strongman, complain about the frame being slippery and the handles being too far apart, talk about how slick the axle is, talk about how the car deadlift pick-up is super long, etc.  It’s not about being a pain in the ass; it’s about getting into the other guy’s heads.  You’ll start implanting these ideas to them, and it’s going to affect how they approach the platform.  None of it has to be true in the slightest; it’s just about creating doubt.  It can also make it that people don’t consider you a serious threat, which can mean they won’t spend much time strategizing on how to beat you.

-Wear the competition shirt at the event.  I was a douchebag wearing tanktops and my own t-shirts thinking it made me special.  All it does is show what a noob you are.  You wear the competition shirt because people sponsored the event, and you’re advertising for those sponsors in all your youtube/Instagram/facebook/whatever shots.  It’s really just being a good athlete and giving back.  Also, that means you should spend some time training IN a competition style t-shirt, because you might be hot stuff with your gripshirt on, but when that’s suddenly banned, your whole plan may fall apart.

Image result for mariusz pudzianowski
When you make it big, the promoters will make the competition shirt a tank-top

-In strongman, whenever it’s your turn to hit the event, give the implements a once over, and FIX them if you don’t like them.  Adjust the keg handles the way you like, ask for the stone to be brushed off if it’s covered in dirt, get the yoke feet even with the start line, etc.  Very few promoters will be upset about this, as long as you do it quickly.

-I stole this from Clint Darden; as soon as you approach the implement in a strongman show, start shaking your head “no”.  Keep this up while the judge asks “athlete ready?” until you actually ARE ready, at which point NOW you start nodding your head.  A lot of athletes think they’re at the mercy of the judge, but “athlete ready” IS a question, and if you’re not, don’t rush your set-up.

-Don’t drop the implements.  It’s just not a cool thing to do, and you can actually miss a lift that way.  This goes for strongman AND powerlifting.  That means you should also train not dropping them when you train.

-Don’t ask if things are allowed at the rules meeting.  If they don’t say it’s illegal, it’s LEGAL.  I swear to god I will throat punch the next troglodyte that tries to make MORE rules for the sport.  Also, this is the advantage of going first; you get to cheat first, and after you cheat THEN they will make a ruling.  I have never seen anyone have an event taken away from them because they did something that wasn’t briefed in the rules meeting; but I HAVE seen a new rule made either on the spot or after that guy went.  Talk about an advantage!

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"Ok, from now on, you have to wait until we say 'go' to start"

-Don’t confuse chalk with babypowder.  Also, this is why you should avoid community chalkbowls, because inevitably the 2 will get mixed together and suddenly everything will slide right out of your hands.

-If you loan 1 person your bottle of goo gone, consider it now community property and never expect it to come back.

-For a strongman competition, register as soon as registration opens.  I know a lot of folks like to wait and see who else is coming, but in a lot of competitions, whoever registers first gets to go LAST for the first event.  This is a MASSIVE advantage, because you’ll know what you need to beat for that event.  If it’s for reps, you can cap it once you’ve beat the top score.  If it’s max weight, you can play it conservative.  Compare this to a time I was in the middle of the pack for a car deadlift event and ended up pulling 34 reps when it turned out the next highest was 22.  Wasted a lot of energy, but didn’t have the luxury to know when to stop.

-Even if the rules say some piece of gear isn’t allowed, bring it anyway.  If you’re super evil, you can just try to sneak it in, but the main reason is because rules will change IN the rules meeting for strongman, and suddenly that “axle without straps” event just became “with straps”, and if you didn’t bring your axle straps, you’re screwed.


I’m sure I could keep going, but this is pretty lengthy as is.  Be sure to post your own in the comments!


  1. Cover your body with an assortment of sleeves to mask your soft lockouts!

    1. Pretty crafty. Reminds me I completely forgot to mention that you want a loose singlet for the bench so that you can raise your butt off the bench while still looking like you are making contact, while using a tight black singlet for squat so it's harder to find the hip crease.

      We are all so petty, haha.

    2. It's less a hack than good advice, but on the subject of squatting and clothes... for the love of fuck never wear one of those line-down-the-side designs when squatting. People will use it to judge your depth and it'll always make things look worse than they actually are.

      Or you can just compete equipped, wear three layers of gear and dare the judges to figure out where your hip crease actually is.

    3. That's a good tip. Never even considered the impact of the stripe on the singlet. Amazing all the little things that go together.

  2. Thanks for the reminder to register for Spokane! Got my plane ticket, just need to do the event registration.

    I know you aren't much of a warmups guy, but it is one of my tips to not assume you'll get much, if any, pre-event warmup, so bring your own stuff for whatever you need. Jump rope and resistance bands for me so I can get a bit of a sweat going and get some sort of muscular loading if I need it.

    Second tip from me standing all of 5'8 is chunky boots for stone events. I'm feeling tempted to do it for the powerstairs of Empire too. It means you have to be strong off the ground to overcome the deficit, but it helps with getting the load to the full height. If it's good enough for Jouko, it's good enough for me:


    1. Good advice on the warm-ups. I always bring a resistance band.

      Always was curious about boots for height. You find the tradeoff worth it eh? I might give it a try.

    2. Can be. I usually don't have a problem off the ground. Like I said I'm mostly tempted for the power stairs. How are you mocking that, by the way? Loading pin with 45s?


    3. Essentially. It's a pipe nipple with a flange and a t-fitting for a handle. The "Hungarian core blaster". I'll bring it up to a plyobox or stack of pavers.

  3. Very interesting points. I am new to powerlifting and not even remotely close for a meet (not even sure I want to, everyone's talking about how boring it actually is...) but I definitely come back to your points if I attend one. Thanks!