This past weekend I competed for the first time in a strongman competition. I enjoy competing but haven’t done all that much of it (for the reason that there isn’t really competitions in most of the stuff I do). Even though “strongman” isn’t something I’ve done a lot of, I figured it would be fun to enter and I’d learn a thing or two. I practice much more of the oldtime strongman style exercises and not the modern day strongman competitive exercises.
Another reason this was my first time is that it actually had weight class options. The first strongman competition that I ever went to had only two weight classes, 220 lbs. and over and 220 and under. I didn’t compete in that one. Strongman is typically a big man’s sport. Having that weight helps with moving lots of weight.
This time I was in the 176 to 200 lb. light weight class, weighing in at 189.1 lbs that morning. It also happened to be the class which had the most amount of competitors with nine people entering. Ever other class had between two and five people in it.
My experience in strongman is limited, despite being a physical culture renaissance man. The reason for this is I just don’t have the proper equipment to train these events for the most part.
I’ve done a little bit, like this strongman seminar a few months earlier (which was my first ever try at doing yoke walks and atlas stones). Still I figured all my other training would have some carry over to the events. And I would find out where I was weak in comparison.
My goal entering was to place (get in the top 3).
There were five events. I got video of a few of the events but not all. I simply forgot on the first one in my excitement, and recorded wrong on the second.
2” Axle Clean and Press for Reps (200 lbs.)
I had never actually done this exercise before. Cleaning a thick grip bar is more difficult then a thin bar. In fact there are all kinds of different ways to do it.
I started with a regular overhand grip which I managed for a couple reps. Having decent grip strength came in handy. I tried switching to a reverse grip, but making the transition during the clean was difficult. I also couldn’t do the continental style well either.
My lack of practice and technique in doing this (not to mention I also need more practice putting heavier objects overhead) led me to only getting 3 reps in 75 seconds.
Yoke Walk (500 lbs.) / Sled Pull Medley (300 lbs.)
From my one time doing the yoke walk before I knew this would be the toughest event for me. With my long body the stability required is tough for me.
It took me lots of attempts starting and stopping to cross the 20 meter line. This was followed immediately by pulling the sled backwards. The sled wouldn’t be tough at all, had it not been right after the yoke. My legs were dead and I just barely finished under the 75 second time limit. This one was a true max effort.
Farmer’s Walk (180 lbs. per hand)
Having a strong grip I knew I’d perform well at this. I was hoping to make up some ground. Based on the earlier performances with people dropping the implements it looked like it would.
The walk was 20 meters, turn around, and then walk back 20 meters. I finished it all in a single carry in under 30 seconds. The grip was easy. My legs were still a bit tired which slowed me down or else I could have gone faster.
It was the best yet, but then others went after me and did it even faster. Keeping me relatively in the same place.
Four deadlifts needed to be completed as fast as possible. You could do them in any order.
- 315lb. Regular Deadlift
- 365lb. Axle Deadlift
- 405lb. Trap Bar Deadlift
- 500lb. Partial Deadlift
I knew I’d be strong in this event. I was but it played out much like the farmer’s walk. I went fast but others went even faster. This one was easy for me I just hadn’t practice deadlifting in this manner going as fast as possible.
Atlas Stone Loading for Reps (220 lb.)
Only my second time handling heavy stones, and my first time ever doing it for reps as fast as possible, I figured I’d do okay in this one. As we were loading it over a 50” bar my height was an advantage here.
The problem was I forgot the correct form in the beginning which slowed me down. I was trying to pick up the stone by squatting instead of a high hip position. In the end I got 7 reps. I also got some big scratches and bruises on my chest and arms.
In the end I placed 6th out of 9 in my weight class. Not horrible, but not as well as I would have hoped.
I’ll probably enter another contest in the near future. In fact there may be another one at Santa Cruz Strength in February, or so they were saying. It’s nice to be in my hometown so there’s no traveling involved. I’m also now a card-carrying member of North American Strongman Inc. so I figure I have to do it more than once.
Next time I’m going to do some technique practice and work on the specific events. This alone should help big time. I don’t have the tools themselves but I can make do on some things and I can head to this gym and use their equipment maybe once a week or so. Just doing a little of this I think I would do much, much better.
I didn’t talk to all of the other people in my weight class but those who did real well had done this before. It also seems that some had cut weight to make it under the 200 lb. limit, thus giving them another advantage. Depending one where I’m at I could possibly drop down to the lighter class at 175 lbs. next time. We’ll see…
All in all it was lots of fun. Although I love just going into a place and doing things I haven’t practiced, since there was real competition here, to perform better next time I’ll need to actually train the events.
Are you planning on competing in strongman yourself? Get quality instruction on the events here.