Part of the strategy and sport of strongman is the design of your training leading up to a competition when you know what events you will be facing. Since I have to plan out my attack for Eastern Canada's Natural Strongest Man anyway, I thought it would be helpful for newer athletes to see the breakdown of the process when you have a competition in your sights that you want to do well at and are striving to win.
One afternoon; thirteen events.
Having the good fortune to compete in a strongman competition in the winter in Canada is a rare treat indeed.
The Sons of Samson 2017 was a charity event run for Big Brothers and Big Sisters and took place in the mall in Brockville, Ontario. As it was meant to be a demonstration of the sport of strongman and the broad range of events we often compete in, we were subjected to the mentally gruelling and physically draining task of thirteen events. Admittedly, for the preservation of the mall floors and to make it a good show the implements we used were all pretty light. The challenge with light events is that everyone is going to perform well, so it becomes a matter of milliseconds who will come out on top for most events.
What did 2016 look like for you?
For me it came in like a lamb and out like a lion. I started out feeling hopelessly beaten by nagging injuries and lacklustre gym options and ended the year making incredible progress and proactively treating any pains that stood in my way.
Have a look back at highlights of competition, articles, and training in strongman this past year for me.
November is a time of transition for strongman in Canada, as the weather changes and the opportunities and venues available for competing drop like the falling leaves around us. Hence, most of us are forced into some sort of offseason.
For strongman in general, I believe that even if you have the ability to go somewhere to compete every month of the year, you should take some time at some point in the year to have an “offseason." Not only will this allow you to give your body some much needed R&R from the tremendous strain of our sport, but will also give you a chance to work on improving any lagging lifts and build additional muscle where it is most needed to strengthen your defenses against injury and breakdown next season. No matter if you look at it as the end of this season or the start of next season, let's take a look at what the options are and what you should do during the offseason to come back better than ever the next time you compete.
I love competition day. You get to reconnect and put everything on the line with some of the only people who “get” what it is that you do and why you do it. When the whistle blows and you start the event, nothing goes through your mind for the next 90 seconds or less. It’s nice to get the chance to look back and reflect on your performance in competition, because if you’re really in the zone you’ll have no clue of how you really performed.
I’m very grateful that my mom captures video of most of my competitions when she can make it there. I finally got the footage from Kingston’s Strongest Man 2016 off of her phone, as well as the Battle at Quinte team competition that just took place.
Thor was vengeful. The skies opened up on us. It was a slow start to the Battle At Quinte: Strongman Team Grudge Match as we waited for the torrential rains to pass in order to allow us to get started. The two teams, CSA - Colborne Strength Athletics from the Big Apple itself and their comrades and rivals from Kingston, Clydsdale Powere Team - yes we spell it without the E because we don't actually have horses for sale- faced off in two-man lift events along with the final showdown being the Stone of War...
"You're going to hurt you back deadlifting that much weight."
"You can't deadlift that much weight, it's too noisy."
"There's no chalk allowed in the gym."
As a strongman, if you don't have the luxury of a strength training gym around you or have spent any time in your average local fitness centre, you've probably dreamt of starting a home or garage gym.
These are my thoughts and experiences with building a minimalist home gym that still allows me to get stronger and make progress with very limited space.
If you are actively competing in strongman or powerlifting, you are more than likely trying to do every little thing you can to make sure that your performance on competition day is as good as it can be. In my free eBook Maximizing Your Strongman Competition Performance, I shared with you the strategies that any strongman (or strongwoman) athlete can use the week leading up to a competition to ensure that they come in feeling their best physically and mentally for the day of the competition. This is an excerpt of a much larger project I’m working on for a complete year-round training and nutrition guide for the sport of strongman. If you’ve already checked out the eBook, you’ll probably have noticed that I allude to the topics of the night before a competition and the day of competition as separate chapters in the part on competition performance.
Today I want to go into a little more detail on what I cover on the topics of the night before and day of competition and compare and contrast it with how powerlifters tend to approach their competition preparation.
This past weekend marked the 2016 Kingston’s Strongest Man and Strongest Woman competition. It was a scorcher of a day without a cloud in the sky, but silly things like the weather conditions never stop strongmen from doing even sillier things like deadlifting cars. Due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, there were only three men competing this year. While I like to hang out with and go up against more competitors, I had trained specifically for this competition, so what it really came down to was trying to improve on my own performances in training leading up to the competition. I was confident that I would perform well regardless of who showed up at the competition.
Eight years ago I sat enraptured in a tiny hotel room in Texas while watching a 12 inch television screen unblinkingly. I was away for work in the States and all eyes were on Michael Phelps as he dominated his competition on the way to winning eight gold medals. I remember it as if it were yesterday and am indeed reliving it, as Phelps is still crushing his competition almost a decade later at Rio 2016. As a Canadian, for a while I found it a little odd that I was cheering SO intensely for an athlete who wasn’t even representing my own country. As I’ve been glued to Olympic swim coverage once again, I’ve been pondering why it is that I have such a veritable man-crush on Michael Phelps. I don’t aspire to swim competitively, or even look like Michael Phelps, as that goofy-looking big-eared guy would not hold up very well under the crushing weights of strongman, but there is something about him that resonates with me. There’s a fire in his eyes when the pressure is on that I’ve rarely seen before.
He’s got the motherfucking eye of the tiger.
When it comes to training, we all have our relative strengths and weaknesses. In strongman, having a practically unlimited selection of events that can show up in a competition, everyone is going to have a weaker event or event category. Dedicating time to working on bringing up lagging events or honing strengths will boost you towards long-term goals.
A couple of months ago I wrote about how I was going to be addressing the issue of my lack of pressing strength. Between competitions this summer I spent six weeks targeting my overhead pressing in an attempt to create a better balance between upper and lower body capabilities. Having gone from making pretty good progress with pressing last summer, I was setback with a shoulder problem over the winter that left me in a weakened state.
What follows is what has worked incredibly well for targeting my weakpoint of pressing and has built bigger triceps and shoulders, allowed me to set new pressing PRs, and even eliminated my shoulder pain!
Unlike with Olympic Weightlifting where there’s really only one answer to the question, or powerlifting where there’s just a few popular opinions, with strongman footwear is almost as variable as the events. Most of the top strongman athletes in the world go to events with a whole gym bag of footwear in tow. This is a quick guide to the types of shoes you might want to invest in, based on typical strongman events, if you plan on delving down the strongman rabbit hole.
As a strongman or strength athlete, you will almost certainly need to pack on some serious pounds at some point in your training career either to build muscle or simply to move up to the next weight class to pursue a different challenge. If you’ve ever tried to put on weight when you are already the size of a bear, you know that it is a much more daunting beast than cutting weight. As a hard-training athlete I’m sure you’ve experienced the reality that maintaining your current weight takes an enormous effort and you’ll lose weight fairly quickly if you don't wolf down all of your meals each day.
Today I'm going to show you what it takes to gain 10 pounds in a month and why you would want to do it that quickly, based on my clients' experience, personal experience and the advice of professional strength athletes.
As strength athletes, our pursuit to get stronger, bigger, and set PRs is individual and self-centred. You may have a training partner, or team you train with, or maybe even an entire gym of like-minded individuals, but at the end of the day your goals are just that - your own. That being said, the greater community of Brother and Sisters of Iron is a strong one. We bond in blood, sweat, and tears and push each other to become greater. As overwhelmingly, eye-rollingly stereotypical as the quote is, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and I believe that the strength community as a whole should harness their power towards contributing to greater missions. When you have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger, you should take it.
competition recap and and a review of what I learned and why I chose this competition over the concurrent Ontario's Strongest Man competition. Unfortunately I did not get any video footage of this competition, so I will be more detailed with my competition review.
Train like an athlete, even if you have no intention of ever competing in your chosen sport. If you want to make greater progress and improve, you should treat yourself more like a competitive athlete.
Being a competitive athlete, whether in strength sports or a more professional sport, takes serious commitment and sacrifice. Not everyone wants to take their fitness and training regime to the level of a competitive athlete, but applying the 5 laws that dictate an athlete’s life to your own life will grant you the results you seek (or beyond) with greater success in less time.
Law 1 - Training
Treating your training and fitness like an athlete consists of one thing. Create goals.
My first competition of the year, the time to shake off the cobwebs and get into the competition spirit for another season, took place in Guelph in April at the Royal Cities Strongest Man competition. Here, I will break down the events in the competition and share what I learned from the competition. You can check out the attached YouTube video to see the events as well.
What I am doing to improving my weak link and how you can apply it to fixing anything holding you back in your own training.
Having a strong ability to press things overhead is a critical component to being a successful strongman. I really suck at overhead pressing and as a strongman competitor, that is inexcusable. This is my journey to making immense improvements on the number one thing that is holding me back. It will also serve as a guide to how you can balance out your own weak points.
Having just come off of a second place finish at the Royal Cities Strongest Man 2016, I felt pretty good about the start of my Strongman 2016 season. Just a few days later I received an invitation to compete at the “Hostyle Takeover - Eastern Canada Natural Strongman National Qualifier.” I was unsure at how I would perform given that by the time I got the invitation I had one weekend to prepare for the competition and then one week to recover prior to the competition, but I knew I had to take the chance…. As I am writing this the ache in my calves is still incredible and has me hobbling around the house like I was donkey kicked in both legs. This past weekend I finished tied for 5th place in the Eastern Canada Natural Strongman National Qualifier, but due to a count-back ended up 6th overall. The following is a recap of what I learned from each event in the competition.
It’s the night before a big competition and you’re cooking for yourself to prevent any risk of food borne illness affecting your performance on game day. You’ve just finished up a gruelling week of strongman training or are fresh off of a win in competition and are looking for a great meal to pack in the calories and celebrate with.