I’m very pleased to announce I took 1st place in the Men’s Light Weight division at the Santa Cruz Strength Strongman Challenge 2 this past Saturday.
It was a hard-fought battle and I’ll be sharing every detail and video I have with you here in this article.
Preparation for the Contest
One day when I was walking around my house, a couple months back, I thought about competing again. It had been some time since I competed in anything and I was feeling like I wanted to do it. Just an hour or two later I get a message on Facebook from Clay Edgin with details about this event.
With serendipity hitting like that you just gotta go with it. I signed up right away.
Last year was a similar event. I entered just for fun then. This time I decided that I would set out to win.
First of all, my weight is normally around 185 lbs. Last year when I competed there were lots of people that all seemed quite a bit bigger than me. I figured it would be easier and more advantageous to drop about 10 pounds to enter the light weight class than to put on extra weight or compete at a disadvantage.
Since I was experimenting with ketosis at the time shedding some weight was coming along with that anyway. (More details on this are covered towards the end of the article here.)
Although I do all kinds of training, the actual strongman events weren’t something I did as much. To really compete, I’d need to work with the tools and practice the events themselves.
The events were laid out as followed.
- Log Lift Overhead
- Farmer’s Walk
- Arm over Arm Truck Pull
- Deadlift for Reps
- Keg Loading
As you’ll come to see, there were a couple switches thrown in at the last minute.
I used stones in my backyard as well as barbells for the most part. And about once a week I headed to the gym where I could practice on the farmer’s walk, the log, and sled pulling. Never actually got to use kegs.
Preparation Falls Through
Everything seemed to be going quite well in my training…until I had to hit the road. I spent 11 days in Oregon for back to back seminars I was attending. And during this time I barely touched a weight.
My original plan was to find a Crossfit, but I got occupied with everything else I was doing, and didn’t get a chance to.
When I got back from my travels it was less than a week before the contest. I felt it was important to remain fresh. So I only got in one workout before.
Then it was time to make weight which we could do the day before the contest. Unfortunately, in my travels I didn’t quite maintain the leanness I had had before, and jumped back over 180.
When I went in to make weight I was at 179 and some change. This was the first time I ever had to cut weight.
I took a sauna while wearing a sweat suit and not drinking any water. That pretty much did the trick. Weighing in in just my boxers I came in a few ounces below the limit.
I hadn’t eaten any carbs besides leafy vegetables the past few days, trying to shed that water weight. But now that I had made it, I loaded up to be sure my glycogen stores were topped off for the competition. I just hoped that none of this would take its toll the next day.
The Competition Starts and Changes
It was raining. So the entire competition had to be done indoors.
Thus instead of pulling a cement truck (that I was both looking forward to doing and dreading) with the feet braced, it would be a standing sled pull indoors.
The farmer’s walk would be done on a shorter track indoors without needing to turn around with the weights. Just drop it, turn around, pick up and go.
And also the keg supplier fell through. Instead stones would be used in the same pick up, carry and load style.
Going in, I knew that this would be my worst event. In practicing, I didn’t actually get to use a log bar much. For some reason it disappeared from the gym. In my weight class the weight on the bar was 205 lbs.
Overhead lifting isn’t my strongest suit either. In the future I think I’ll be spending some time working on the Olympic lifts to develop that much needed heavy explosive power.
In the end I bombed out. I cleaned it a couple times but couldn’t quite get it overhead. Had it been 195 I’m pretty sure I would have had it, but alas, I was not successful.
Fortunately, it wasn’t doable for most of my competition either. Most of the other guys in my weight class missed it, but one almost effortlessly got it overhead, and he only needed the single rep to beat us all.
Not a good way to start the day for me.
In the bathroom I did a little energy psychology blow out to remove it from my mind as I focused on the fact that to still win, I’d have to win pretty much every other event. Although improbably it was still possible.
Sorry, I didn’t get video of this one since the storage on my iphone was full. But you didn’t miss much either. 🙂
I’ve got a strong grip so I knew I’d do well here. The goal was maximum distance in 60 seconds. Each hand held 205 lbs so it was a fairly heavy weight.
It was made more awkward by using these shorter handles, rather than the black ones that I had been training on, that the other side was using. The steps had to be shorter and choppier.
I made four distances. The second best was three and a half.
Even better news, at least for me, was the guy that had taken the lead in the first event, got last here. Thus we were now tied in points (though he had a lighter bodyweight so he was winning as that becomes the tie breaker).
As I mentioned above, the original planned event was pulling a cement truck. But due to the rain it had to be brought indoors. (Good luck trying to pull something heavy via a wet rope.) Even though it could have been loaded heavier and still with the feet braced, it was switched to a standing pull, for some reason.
I’d been training the other way, so this was a bit of a wild card. There was lots of discussion among the competitors as to the best technique too do this in, since few people had ever done it before. The consensus was that taking an even stance and squatting up with the pull was the best way to go.
I’m not sure the exact weight of the sled. I think it was somewhere between 300-400 lbs.
It turns out that I did quite well finishing it in just over 30 seconds, while most other people took mid to high 30’s or even into the 40 second range. I won this event in my weight class too. I was now ahead of the field.
Deadlift for Reps
Another event in which I knew I would do well. But, it turns out, so would my competition.
My best ever deadlift is 505 lbs., so in comparison, 365 is easy. But at this time I am not at my deadlifting peak. When I did that weight, both times, I think I was closer to weighing 190 lbs.
Since I was in first place I got to go last in my weight class. This can be a very big advantage as you know exactly what you need to get to place where you want.
The goal to beat was 20 reps. I couldn’t quite get there. But I did take second in this event by beating out the next best at 16, with my 17 reps.
Of all the events, this was the one that took the most out of me. My lower back was pumped up, and next came the stones.
Going into the last event I was up by one point. Basically I still had to win this one to win the whole thing. I had the height advantage which was good, but when it comes to stones, you never really know.
Five stones had to be picked up, carried and loaded onto the platform. Each one got progressively heavier. The lightest was around 100 lbs., and the heaviest 200 lbs. (One of them wasn’t a stone, but a bunch of stacked plates, commonly called an Atlas stone trainer.)
This had a 60 second time limit, but you’re also going for the fastest time to load each stone.
My competition went fast. The guy right behind me in points was so far the winner and I had to go fast to beat him. If I got even second to him here, he would be the overall winner. I wasn’t 100% positive I could do it, I just put out everything I could.
The Atlas stone trainer gave me a little trouble. As you can see, it was very awkward to walk with. With the last stone, which was a bit easier in the Zercher style, I went for an odd load at the end, trying to use the walking momentum as I twisted it up from the side. Fortunately it worked out for me, but it could have gone the other way. I was trying to go as fast as possible.
And I did. I beat him by a couple seconds.
It wasn’t just all about the physical. Several other components went into this.
Its not all brawn. There was lots of brain behind this win too.
I think you can see from reading this that I was thinking in terms of strategy the entire time. Even choosing to enter the light weight class long before we began was a calculated move. And then with every event the focus was on the big picture of what it would take to win.
Eating and Herbs
Earlier I mentioned how I’d been working with ketosis. While full on ketosis doesn’t seem to work that well for power sports, such as strongman, at least so far in my experimentation, I believe there are some benefits to having your body optimized for burning fat fuel.
Thus more recently, and something I’m continuing to experiment with more, is a cyclical ketotic diet. Carbs sometimes, but not always. One meal with them every few days, or even just at night time. High fat otherwise. Doing so your body is better able to use fat as fuel, which can sustain you longer.
I had “carb-loaded” the night before, since I hadn’t been having any the previous few days. I also ate a sweet potato that morning along with my high fat bulletproof coffee.
The competition was more than 6 hours in total. Besides sipping on some honey twice during the event I didn’t need any other fuel.
I watched other competitors drinking sports drinks and munching on pop tarts and white bread PB&J sandwiches. Not for me!
But I did have other support. I took quite a few herbs. With my coffee I had chaga and cordyceps. I had cissus to help with my joints. I took some Hercules Formula before the deadlift event. I also took a few squirts of pine pollen tincture throughout the day.
How much these helped is hard to say for sure. What I do know is that I won and I had great energy and felt strong (besides the log lift) the whole day.
You need the proper fuel for performance. These herbs have long been my allies, and I feel they definitely helped me on the day.
I spent a fair amount of time using different forms of visualization to help me prepare for this competition.
Throughout training I used it, as I did the specific lifts and events, to get better at doing them. Before each event I also visualized what I was going to do, overshooting what I ended up getting. I’ve done this a long time to help maximize the reps I get.
But what I think helped the most was one specific thing I did.
Besides using visualization to help in the exercises, it is possibly even more powerful to build drive. Using some of the “time line” tactics of NLP, I went out to my future and saw the handing out of the trophies, the saying “First place, Logan Christopher” and the clapping and cheers from the crowd.
I did this so much that when it actually happened I had a sense of déjà vu. And I realized then if you don’t have that sense, you haven’t been visualizing enough.
If you have an upcoming competition, you can be guided through this process, and some other useful ones, inside the Winning Competition Maximizer Hypnosis.
I also feel that had I not done this, especially after the terrible opening event, I wouldn’t have been able to make the dramatic comeback.
Thus a whole lot went into making this happen.
Now I move onto a few different training goals…