Intro to Strongman Part 1
Hey whats up everyone. Hopefully you enjoyed my first couple of articles concerning my personal introduction and then a Part 1 of a discussion concerning veterans issues. This time around we are going to be talking a little about my fitness background and dip into Strongman training and what I have been doing in the sport. Call this a Part 1 as well. Every few weeks or so, Im going to post my training information and some of my thoughts and “lessons learned” for those weeks. The intended audience is anyone in the fitness community or anyone interested in starting Strongman training. I want you guys to check this out as a resource for your own mental and physical training.
So my fitness background. I was a cross country and track runner back in Junior High and High School. I wasn’t too bad at both, I worked up to regional level. I loved to push myself further in long distance training and I eventually moved to Marathon (26.2miles) and UltraMarathon (26.2 and above) running. Did pretty good at that, I ran some national ranked times. At the time I loved distance because of how therapeutic it was. Running 20 miles by myself, late at night, really helped deal with stress and some of the drama I was going though as a teenager. Later on, when I joined the Marines at 17, I stopped distance running due to the physical training we did. Oh, when I joined the Marines, I was a super lean 130lbs at 6 foot. Yeah, I was strong doing body weight and military humps (hikes) but, skinny as fuck. So I started weight training with my best friend, doing the typical newbie 3 hours a day at the gym. Hitting every angle for every muscle group (didn’t know any better at 19), and taking loads of protein powder and snorting lines of Jack3D haha. I made decent gains, but the bodybuilding thing wasn’t for me. I loved to max out on lifts and I loved do strength based training.
At this time I was around 160 lb, I had a super low bench and overhead, I couldn’t press except for high rep pushups. I was pretty good at pull-ups, I did 43 for our fitness tests (PFT’s). I didn’t know shit about squats, I only did leg press (1400 lb max in a competition I think), did a mid 400 something DL and could still run a 15:303 mile. So not strong, but decent all around, especially for a skinny, didn’t-know-shit new lifter.
Over the next 4-6 years, it was a constant ebb and flow with building myself up physically and destroying myself on deployments as an Infantry Marine and as a Private Security Contractor. I know guys who work/ live in austere environments can understand. Despite what people read in fitness magazines, its not easy making gains (especially with a super high metabolism like mine) when you are on front line combat, up for days straight, having nothing for food, or just dog-shit tired. Add injuries to the list and it amplifies the difficulties. But I was dedicated and driven. Out on patrols in Afghanistan I used drink those nasty dairy shakes from MRE’s in order to prevent from getting super catabolic. In Africa there were times where all I could have was a single bowl of rice and goat fat for food a day. But I ate the shit out of that goat fat lol. I did everything I could to take care of myself and keep my health up. As shitty as it was, it was a good test for me.
I needed the iron, not for physical training, but for emotional and mental training. It helped me deal with stress, it challenged and pushed me, and it gave me a sense of personal accomplishment that can only be understood by other life long iron addicts.
Just a quick side tangent, the stuff I went through was easy compared to what a lot of guys have to go through. There are guys I know that lost limbs or have horrible debilitations and are fuckin rock stars with their training.
Anywho, up until about a year ago, I was doing powerlifting. I loved it! Overseas or stateside, that was my training focus. I did Jim Wendlers 5/3/1, and it was really good for me. I was competing and the training felt perfect for what I wanted to accomplish. My first meet was nothing special, I was 180, hit a 363 squat, 255 Bench and a 477? DL. None of which were PR’s but I was new to PL and I was there to learn. Before I went to Africa in late 2013, I had built up to 222lbs BW, a 455 Squat, my DL was 540, a 285 bench, and a 185 strict overhead press. All to legit powerlifting standard lifts. I went to Africa/ Middle East to do Private Security Consulting and the conditions were horrible. No gyms, and the food sucked. But it was good training, it taught me a lot of respect for the blessing in the US where gyms had weights haha and there was food to make them gains! I was carrying buckets of water and pressing rocks and whatever. I used to travel to a near by town where they had a soccer stadium with some weights just to prevent from having my legs waste away. Annnnnddd thats where I fell in love with the outdoor, heavy weight, functional, badass-ness of strongman style lifting. I don’t know how else to explain it or sell it, it just appealed to the strength athlete in me. I didn’t care about looks, I didn’t care about looking stronger, I wanted to fucking BE strong. I loved picking up big ass rocks, pulling cars, doing odd ball stuff out in the 110 degree heat. After a conversation over Skype with my brother, I decided to do my first competition right after I got back stateside in a few months. So after training in Africa, and a month or so of stateside lifting and coaching, I did the Central Texas Strongest Man last April.
I competed in the 201-231 category weighing in at 202 haha. I didn’t want to cut weight and I wanted the extra challenge of the heavier weight category. The events as how I did:
—Medley 1: Log Press and Axle Bar Clean & Press at 205 lb each, 60 seconds-I only did 1 rep of the log and scratched at the rest. Log and overhead has always been my weakness. Placed bottom of the pack.
—Deadlift for Reps, 405lb with 60 seconds-I got 10. I was happy with it, but I have a hard time with pulling conventional because it puts so much strain and pressure where my hernia surgeries are. So I try and pull sumo, but its not allowed in Strongman. They changed the weight from the flyer before the comp. btw. But I’m glad they did. Placed middle lower of the pack.
—Stone Over Bar, 300b stone over a 52 in bar. I got two which I was super happy with. Placed near the top of the pack in that one.
—Medley 2: Truck Pull and Farmers Walk, some big ass truck with people in the back and then 255 per handle for 100ft with a turn for farmers. I was only 1 of 2 to finish that one, super happy with it.
Overall I got 6 out of 13. Super happy with the results. Especially being as light as I was and having minimal prep time for it. Im going to stop here and continue later with a Part 2. Hopefully you guys reading my journey on this will be inspired to try news things and push your limits to find what you love to do. Doing strongman is tough, I am new to it and have so much to learn. But holy shit I love it and the thrill and excitement of it should attract different types of people from all walks of life. I have immense respect for many types of fitness competitors. The power and precision of Oly lifters, the truly inspiring dedication and faith of bodybuilders, and the ability of Crossfitters to make lifting a bar the weight of small child look extreme (being a dick on that last one). But Ive learned Strongman is in a class of its own and I encourage you to take from these articles what you can and seek to improve yourself and do what you love. To be continued…