Saturday Events Training: Perspectives

warmup w/bands250 kg Hexbar Crossbeam

Walking presses w/cambered bar
40 kgs, 10 x 10 paces, 10 x 2 presses PR

DB OHP (strict)
left & right
20 kgs x 5
25 kgs x 5
30 kgs x 3

Farmers walk (speed)
25 meters @ 70 kgs p/h x 2
25 meters @ 90 kgs p/h
25 meters @ 110 kgs p/h
25 meters @ 120 kgs p/h

Yoke walk (speed)
25 meters @ 235 kgs x 5

Sack carry
10 meters @ 100 kgs x 4
10 meters @ 140 kgs


At events training today we were talking about what it takes to compete in Strongman. A couple of the newer members have been experiencing injuries that have kept them sidelined for several weeks, and one has been advised to avoid training for some months. These guys are young and have launched into Strongman because they love it, but there is a harsh reality to be faced by anybody who wants to do what we do.

This sport is about moving heavy ass weight. I’ve mentioned in the past that WA Strongman has a steep learning curve. By this I mean, for example, the original yoke I learned to walk with weighed over 200 kilograms by itself. We have a second yoke and more, lighter equipment now (which is essential as we also have a women’s division this year!). Nobody has ever been forced to move a weight beyond their own capabilities; pushing beyond muscle failure is dangerous under a heavy load and members are warned against it. Some choose to let machismo take control, and keep pushing until an injury is likely. For others, like myself, injuries are developmental; they are par for the course, as you try to meet the demands of the sport.

I guess I’m lucky I haven’t had a significant enough injury to have to quit training for an extended period. It is also true that my age makes me less susceptible because the musculoskeletal system is fully developed by age 30. But another thing that worked in my favour is the strength base I began building, some time before I met Dan and SMWA, and began training with them.

Almost two years ago today I loaded my hexbar with 225 kilograms and lifted it. I had to attach another bar to it and load that as well, in order to make the weight. It was the heaviest thing I’d ever lifted by a serious amount. The day this happened, I had been training with WA Strongman once per week for about four months. I’d spent the previous one and a half years building a beginner’s level of strength with my home routines. This was the day I knew I had to quit home training and get serious. My ‘cross-beam’ hexbar contraption – just like the chains I slung over my pergola for OHP and squats – was inventive, but far from ideal. My resources were now officially maxed-out and I was hungry to lift more, with decent fucking equipment.

2014 will be my fifth year of (more or less) consistent strength training. I’m still very new by anyone’s standards, and I do a bit of complaining about my own injuries. I acknowledge this, and I acknowledge that injuries are a part of the sport and I should just suck it up, get treated, and get back at it. Well, this is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’ve been sucking it up, getting it treated, and getting on with my training. It’s about perseverance. I recall a popular quote from Wendler, dealing with how to judge a person’s character and integrity in the iron game. He said:

“Train like a motherfucker for 10 years, no breaks, no bullshit, nothing but you and the bar, the rack and some chalk!

Once you do this, you’ll be able to read most things about training and realize if they’re full of shit or not. You’ll see people widely regarded as experts as the charlatans that they really are. Without ever meeting the author, you’ll be able to tell if he or she actually has calluses or if they just hide behind a keyboard. It’s like this amazing veil of shit will be lifted from your eyes and everything will be clear.

Every once in awhile you’ll lose track, but all you have to do look at someone’s shins and hands; do they look fucked up? Then listen to them.”

Always Use Lifting Socks

Well, I got the fucked up shins, and six years to go before I measure up to that self-imposed standard. But I’m willing to invest the time and effort, if my body is willing to keep getting stronger. Fucking perseverance.

Yet I’m hearing frustration from banged up guys who haven’t trained long and/or hard and/or consistently enough in the first place to have the necessary strength base to do Strongman? Get some perspective, fellas. This shit takes a lot of time and effort. And there’s no shortcuts in Strongman training, not the way it’s done at SMWA, at least. Things may be different at your average Crossfit box, but I’ve mentioned previously that some of the events at our state finals this year were heavier than those at 2013 Europe’s Strongest Man. We have a world class athlete in Daniel Macri, who sets the standard the rest of us attempt to meet each year.

And here I should perhaps mention that the winners of the Elite Performance Strongman Nationals, held today in Queensland, were both West Aussies.

Asha and Ant, SM champs

This was all supposed to arrive at a point, and it will now. Perseverance is another word for stubbornness. People often confuse perseverance with the clinical definition of insanity, which is to repeat the same task, again and again, expecting different results. That attitude will land you in traction if you rely on it in the strength game.

You need to be smart. Listen to your body, don’t skip treatments, meals, or a good night’s sleep. Eat big and well, don’t train to exacerbate injury, don’t push yourself past failure. Listen to those who are stronger than you. Be consistent. Persevere. And harshly assess yourself.

As of next week I begin several weeks of deload, to allow my body to fully heal and get over this CNS shock, symptoms of which I’m still feeling during training.