Friday, September 4, 2015

Strongman Competition, Getting Down and Dirty with Heavy Things

Strongman Class! Me on Kettlebell right before falling off
For the last 18 months I have been going to a weekly class that leaves me filthy, hungry and feeling stronger than the half hour before I started. My Strongman class has a revolving group of people, originally it was a female-only class but due to minimal estrogen interest, pregnancies and injuries - it became coed. Things got harder when the boys joined the group and I really liked it because it made me push myself harder.

  • Heavy tire flips (up to #450 for me) 
  • Farmers carry with dumbells
  • Tire rolls
  • Heavy Kettlebell swings
  • Truck pulls (which will make a man out of any girly girl) 
  • Sledgehammer hits
  • Shotput throws
  • Sandbag clean and presses 
  • Tire stacking 

So, after a year a half of Strongman training and doing it without intention of anything more than getting strong, I started to get excited about the idea of seeing what I'm really made of. A competition came up and I signed up with about 8 weeks of time to train. As the event got closer, I started to doubt why I wanted to do it in the first place. But I was reminded that I was simply entering a world of the unknown, and if I decided I hated Strongman competitions, then I would never do another one again.

The weeks before competition, I went to my trainer's personal garage for some "bro sessions" where heavy lifting and manly sweat prevailed. I lifted atlas stones and kegs and did heavy farmers carries and would leave feeling super awesome in the way of strength. I started to LOVE strongman because I could feel insta-endorphins rushing from half a minute of lifting. Nothing else works that fast to fuel my crackhead level fitness high.

Dan! Mr Positive
The week before the event,I knew I had to take it easy, nice and easy to save my super power strength. Which I did, and considering most of my day hours revolve around working out, it actually felt nice to have extra time. What does one do when they don't work out 2-3 hours a day?

 One of the best things I did was to go to my favorite Crossfit-ish box Axistence Athletics because I knew they had a log to practice with. I was schooled in proper technique and given many tools to use to build my confidence for the comp. Thank god there are trainers out there who can look at the bright side! When I went to lift the 145# atlas stone and couldn't get it even close to putting it over the bar, Dan here said, "It's OK you were able to pick it up, now we know what to work on" And then taught me a new style that would save my grip strength.

This is the one! This beast had me power screaming!

Here is what happened: The morning of the event, we all got to play around with the apparatuses we would be lifting during showtime. Everyone went to lift the steel frame to see how heavy #300 feels. I watched everyone take their turns and when it was my turn I was distraught! I could not lift the dang thing up!! I tried 3 times and walked away in shame. Then my nerves hit. If I could not even lift this thing how could I even carry it 60 feet for the competition?! What was I doing here? Do I even lift?

Finished. Me and the other athletes I competed with.
 My trainer is the one holding me up like I'm a feather.


  1. Log Press #93 for 60 secs, I got 5 reps - this is more of  a clean and jerk but the log is really wide and totally acquward. It is a bruiser too, I still have bruises on my forearms. 
  2. Frame Walk #310 for 60 feet, I made it across after two massive power screams. This is the apparatus that destroyed my confidence before the comp started
  3. Axel Deadlift, #150, for 60 seconds, I got 22 reps. This is a very wide grip bar that is double or triple the girth of a barbell. Straps were allowed and I'm glad I decided the last minute to use them
  4. Yolk carry #310, for 60 feet, You put this thing on your back and it's only inches from the ground as you try to walk quickly to the finish
  5. Atlas Stone over 48" bar, Semi-Complete fail. I picked up my stone but couldn't get the heavy monster over the bar. No one thought this attempt was worthy of filming, thank god there's no evidence.

Good News, Bad News...
I completed all 5 events, the only one I really failed at was getting the atlas stone over. I figure since the bar was about neck level, failure was looking me almost square in the jugular. I realized my weakness wass the speed most the other ladies had. The other huge bummer was that I was not only the very first female to complete each event, but I was also the very first athlete to start the whole competition off. That just wasn't right. I lifted things heavier than I've ever lifted and that feels really good, like bordering on orgasmic good if I must say.

Did not stay for awards but I was told I got 8th place. I think there were 9 girls who competed. Got a finisher ribbon which my girls play with as a necklace. Good thing we got that.

Just as Mom tells you it's OK to fail as long as you learn something...What did I learn?

  1. I am stronger than I think. When I went to lift that frame, I had so much doubt in myself and I didn't think I was going to be able to make the lift. Having your body prove your mind dead wrong is a VERY good feeling. Something that I want more of.
  2. There is a lot of technique to all these Strongman events that takes specialized training. When I told people at Crossfit that I did a Strongman event and placed 8th, they said, "ya, that's because you are not a Strongman, you Steph are a Crossfitter"
  3. Participation ribbons are nothing to brag of but I fared far better than all the people who did not compete. There.