Return of the Lion & Other New Tails

Carl S 1WHEN I started strongman training mid-2011, Carl was one of the boys I met in Dan Macri’s backyard. Short and stocky with a dirty blonde mane and a perpetual smile, Carl was the only guy in the bunch to almost keep up with Dan under the yoke and the log… I forget now what kind of weight he was moving back then. I just remember being real impressed. Of course, when we met him he wasn’t nearly this pretty. In fact I’m still not certain this pic (left) hasn’t been photoshopped. Carl has kept suspiciously quiet on the subject… and the fact the pic (and several others) were taken in a seedy hotel room, when he was just a teenager… by whom? We’ll never know. Let’s just hope he gots paid.

It wasn’t long after meeting Carl that he shared with me and the group his thoughts and feelings, as a kid, on the subject of being an adult.
“When I was little I thought you could be anything you wanted to be when you grew up. Like, anything. I used to tell people I wanted to be a lion…”
A moment of silence, then we all laughed hard. Carl ‘The Lion’ Skudder was born.

On January sixteenth, the second clinic for the new year, The Lion returned to strongman at PTC Perth. The past year and more Carl has been quietly and diligently focussed on PL, training the 3 big lifts and very nearly, if not already, hitting somewhere very close to 300/200/300. He mentioned after shuffling in that afternoon that this would be his first session of strongman in some years. He then viper pressed a 100 kilo log, followed by a couple of strict reps for good measure. Carl is an excellent addition to our small but dedicated group, who continued with their training during my absence in the final weeks of 2015.

The break was just what I had needed. I did the ‘human holiday’ thing; deactivated facebook, switched off all alerts to my phone, packed a bag and got away to Margaret River for a while, to consume a lot of great food and wine and just generally relax. Those two weeks went fast, but they were thoroughly enjoyed. Now I return, fatter and weaker but with an ostensibly rehabbed shoulder and a plan for mitigating my diastasis recti.

Ah, yes. Don’t think I have mentioned this yet. Essentially a precursor to an epigastric hernia, this is something I discovered while doing my shoulder rehab program. I don’t know when it actually happened (most probably during my last heavy deadlift session some months back), but while performing 1-arm triceps pushdowns I noticed a bubble in my abdomen. More than a little pissed at rehabbing a recent injury only to discover an even newer one, I went home and began my search for a surgeon who hadn’t already upped stumps to Tahiti for the holidays. Eventually I found one and made an appointment.

“It’s not a hernia yet. I can’t fix this.” Was the surgeon’s diagnosis. I fiddled with the sample of thin plastic netting he’d handed me. This is what he uses to knit hernias back together. It felt like I could rip it pretty easily

“And then, if you go back to training in a month or so, doing what you do, it will just rip.” he advised matter-of-factly.

It kinda threw me, as there was nothing I could really do to fix it. Based on what the specialist I spoke with told me, there was no fix. Not at this stage. It needed to properly herniate before surgery was warranted. But he also suggested that, for the moment, it was a cosmetic issue. It looks ugly and feels weird, but with the continuance of my rehab programming and a focus on strengthening the transverse abdominals (and shedding some more fat), it can be reduced, and a hernia might even be avoided altogether…


The two months of avoiding all heavy lifting were undeniably boring for me, and I’m now just a couple of weeks into pulling, pressing, squatting and doing strongman events like I used to. The loadings are nowhere near competitive at this stage. I am giving myself till June to be 100% again and hitting new numbers, which is not exactly a tight deadline. I just don’t want to rush things… I also don’t even know if I’ll be up to competing in strongman this season. I may switch back to powerlifting till I’m sure the shoulder is no longer a liability. It all just depends on how quickly I can get back to form.

Some of the new aspects of my training, which I’ve had to embrace for a number of reasons, are steady state cardio and more cable movements to work the transverse abdominals . I’m on the assault bike every time I hit the gym now, sometimes twice per session. This will improve my conditioning, reduce boy fat and, by proxy, the distension. It will also set me on the ultimate path of any strength athlete; getting shredded for Stereos.

I have gone many weeks without making a blog entry. My iPhone is where I record all my training sessions as they happen. It’s presently wadded with notes which, if I were meticulous (OCD) enough, I would post up here for posterity. That was, after all, the major reason for my blogging in the first place; to keep myself honest and chart my development.

There are big, big things on the horizon this year… such as a major sponsor for strongman in WA, and a prize pool of around $10,000 for those who place in the qualifying rounds. But more on that later. For now, it’s a (globally) warm welcome to strength sports in 2016 from yours truly.

See you on the platform.