Monday, November 26, 2012

Strongman, how most people approach and how to get better, faster.

In the last two articles I went over common misconceptions and common personalities/goals of strongmen. So now that I have kind of showed everyone what NOT to do, the next place to go is, how DO you get better? Is there a quick way to get better? Lucky for everyone I have been down this road and there is a quick way, there is a better way, but SURPRISE, it is NOT going to be fun (unless you are sadistic like me ;) ).

When I began strongman I was a natural, I was very talented in the sport with only one or two weaknesses, tire and pressing. I figured I could dodge those events and make up points somewhere else, WRONG! When you have a weakness you have two things that need to happen as soon as possible.

1. Do contests that you have weaknesses in.
2. Train your weaknesses often and first.

Now if neither one of these sounds fun, it is because neither option is any fun. But they are effective! I entered my first contest and there was an axle clean and press and a tire flip. I did well in all the other events but I missed out on a lot of points from these events. I did not press the axle for a single rep, and the tire was flipped maybe 4 times in 60 seconds. So what did I do to get better? I busted my butt! I let my embarrassment fuel my workouts.

I began training presses at the beginning of my week to ensure that my legs would be fresh and ready for any ‘leg drive’ that was necessary for big overhead pressing. Within a year my presses and primarily my jerks had came along quite well! My tire still suffered but I was able to avoid major work on my tire til about a year later after a tire flip event cost me the first “(2007-2008?)Washington’s Strongest Apple” title.

The tire story for me is very much the same, and out of anyone I know, the tire WAS my LEAST favorite event. There was nothing I liked about the tire, we did not get along to say the least. And again for about a year straight, every Saturday, 6am, first event was the tire flip. And a year later I returned to “(2008-2009?)Washington’s Strongest Apple” and I faced a field that had one year prior CRUSHED me at the tire flip and I flipped until I could not flip anymore. The end result was a First place in the tire flip, beating Breck Gault (I do not think he had ever been beaten in a tire flip in contest) and a first place in the contest.

Sidenote- I will never forget when Breck approached me after the event and told me I had won the tire flip, he was so happy for me it was crazy, just one of the many moments that will be in my mind forever.

The point I am getting at is simple, if you want uncommon results then put in uncommon work. You will never get better at an event you do not practice or devote yourself to.

This approach should not be confined to strongman but to life in general, constantly push your comfort zone and challenge yourself!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three types of strongmen (attitudes)

To better articulate the standpoint I am coming from these are personalities that all levels of strongman display, even many professional strongmen maintain a fun attitude.

-For fun (enjoy the sport, can still be competitive but are polite, compete with honor)
These guys are 95%+ of the strongman community, it is my opinion that they have it figured out, they do strongman because it is fun. They like to have a good time and are almost ALWAYS friendly to newcomers. When I say always, I mean always, I mean most guys would give you their shirt off their back if you asked for it (literally seen this happen and the shirt was used as a tacky rag, dude knew about it and was 100% for it). Always willing to lend a hand in technique or training and really like to help someone with the common interest of strongman.

-For serious ( “Win at all costs” mentality)
These guys are really far and few between, this may be due to the lack of money in the sport of strongman or the fact that most of the fun in strongman is through the social networks it builds, a real “brothers in arms” kind of mentality that (unfortunately) these guys missed the memo on. Now I understand being serious about winning but if you are not enough of a man to shake someone’s hand and congratulate them when they whoop your ass then I want nothing to do with you. I even once heard a story of some guy (really poor at stones) trying to lift a stone before the event began and realizing he could not lift it so he went back to his bag and coated himself in baby powder (a very slick substance) and proceeded to “try to pick the stone up” again. What a toolbag, if anyone sees this guy please, drop kick him in the testicles for me.

These guys are the transient strongmen, drifting from one sport to another, trying it for a few weeks then not coming around for a few months, then back again like they never left. These guys are often very cool and always a lot of fun because there are a million things to talk about with them.

I am sure I could think of a few other personality types in strongman but honestly over 90% of the people in strongman are cool to EVERYONE. There is no major divide from the amateurs to the professionals; at one time every pro was an amateur.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Strongman misconceptions

There are a few misconceptions about strongman. First thing that needs to be understood about strongman “the strongest man/woman always wins.” It is the person that does the best on the given events, now lets get into an extreme example. Imagine a farmers walk, Usain Bolt vs. Magnus Samuelson, but the weight in each hand is 100lbs/45.2Kg. I would place my money on Mr. Bolt. He is a fast man and with that weight I think he could move faster than Samuelson, now strength helps someone to win contests and events but in MOST circumstance it will be the person who completes the course or does the most reps in a given time wins the event. Only a small portion of the time, events are for a max, in which case the Strongest man does prevail. Be aware that it is often the man who does more reps or does an event fastest that wins, not the strongest.

“Bigger is better.”
WRONG!- I have beaten countless “bigger” men and it was not because I was strongest, it was because I was a better strongman. If you are serious about the sport then get serious about the events, tire, log, yoke, farmers, stones to start… Hussafelt, truck pulls, and everything you can think of to finish.

“I can get away with one or two weaknesses.”
WRONG!- No matter the level (but especially at a large National event) a bomb in an event (0 points) will take you out of contention for the contest.

“I can become a great pro simply by picking the shows I enter and earn a pro card that way”
WRONG!- I will keep this short a concise, since there are only a few pro shows a year this means if you do happen to be picky and have a bunch of weaknesses in your line up then you are going to get KILLED at EVERY pro show, consistency is king.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mindset "Fail forward"

Mindset is pivotal in life, you can let failures crush you and keep you down permanently or you can let them drive you. This mindset really is not hard once you see that each failure is building toward a new success. I see and hear about people being really down about an injury. But every injury tells you something new about how your body is reacting to the stress that is being placed on it. Now sometimes, in the circumstance of an injury, that event can tell you that you need to back off training a certain way, or it can tell you that more recovery time is needed. In either circumstance the injury is giving you positive feedback not only on how to train your training/recovery cycle but showing you how far your body can be pushed. In order to be your best you must always push those limits, but you must also respect those limits. There are two good indication of if you are really pushing your limits, one being PRs and two being occasional failure.

With this information do not go wild and think everyone should fail everyday, there are structure and goals needed in any successful training regime. But if you are not failing, you are not pushing hard enough. Remember, failure is not a negative thing, you must think of every fail as a “fail forward.”