Matches for: “return of the lion” …

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…

WASM

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.

One Dusty Month

As my more devoted readers will know, the negative stuff that sometimes deters me from writing eventually gets recorded too. Everything does. I return when I have something worthwhile to post. And I do! But first…

CARL The Lion once said that I was “always either sick, injured or in trouble.” and I doubt a truer word has been spoken on the subject. Well, at least I haven’t been in trouble lately. But I have just seven sessions to record for the last month, the second half of which I spent with a cold, then food poisoning, then a worse cold. All the while nursing my latest injury, which struck just in time to end my prep for GPC states.

Fortunately my right quad is feeling better. I’ve been really babying it on the few occasions I have trained lower body this month, working up to tonight’s single of 250 which was strong and quick. It is healing; now I can pull without it sapping my strength. So long as I don’t do anything stupid, I am hoping to be more or less uninhibited come May. The jury’s still out on whether or not I’ll be anywhere near competitive for WA Strongman’s next qualifier though.

PULL WEDNESDAY APRIL 13th
Cardio: HIIT assault bike 5 minutes RPM:40/70/40/60/40
Stretch
DB super-set supine curls & rotators: 4 kgs x 2 x 10

Deadlifts:
75 kgs x 8
125 kgs x 5
175 kgs x 3
225 kgs x 1
250 kgs x 1 – beltless, strong and quick… and almost pain-free 🙂

Seated rows:
100 kgs x 10
120 kgs x 10
140 kgs x 10
160 kgs x 5 PR

Bent-over BB rows (underhand):
110 kgs x 10
120 kgs x 6

2015: An Early Retrospective

I know it’s not quite September but I’ve recently taken stock of what has transpired already this year and there’s a fair bit to recount. I don’t know when I’ll next have the time to do it, so I’m going to do it now.

150 kgs p:h farmers hold croppedWhen the year began I’d resolved to take a break from competing in strongman and switch my focus to powerlifting. I had in fact decided to quit strongman altogether for a season, and come back to it when I felt more capable. Fate had other plans, however. I was contacted  about an opportunity which I felt compelled to take. Soon I was running strongman training clinics at Performance Training Centre Perth, with appreciably greater success than my efforts at Genesis Bentley.

the competitors 1

 

 

 

In May, PTC Perth held its first ever strongman novice competition. Planned and executed by yours truly, with a great deal of assistance from the Rucci brothers and several PTC members. At every stage of the proceedings, from promoting the event to setup the day beforehand, reffing and cleanup when it was all over, there were many hands making lighter work for all. I was and remain extremely thankful for everyone who helped to make the event run so smoothly.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Three months prior to this, I competed in the GPC powerlifting state championships. I totalled 700 and won my division (under 140 kgs). It was my second full powerlifting comp, having competed in the first annual PTC Perth Cup. While this was far from a decent total for a heavyweight, I was happy that my knees had held up well enough in the squat this time, and my deadlift was strong.

me 1Trent 1Darwin 1

Throughout 2015 my saturday clinics attracted a growing number of dedicated lifters. This is perhaps the most exciting thing about the last several months: strongman has more in store in WA and I’m watching it all unfold. It’s deeply satisfying to introduce other people to the sport, help them get stronger, and then compete. The clinics have already facilitated the rise of one contender, with more stepping up to enter next season and a wild card entry into the under 90s at state finals this year, too. But regardless of whether or not my trainees decide to compete, they turn up every week, follow my instructions and push themselves hard. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The CAPO state championships landed in June. This was a bigger comp and saw a bigger total: 760, with a 250 squat, 175 bench and 335 deadlift – the heaviest of the 2 day event. I was, again, pretty pleased with the outcome overall but was, again, nursing a minor knee complaint from the squat. I took 2nd place in the superheavys and on the day weighed the most I’ve been since I guess 2011: 142 kilograms. This time not predominantly fat.

335 deadlift CAPO states 2015

Although I was not exactly in the condition I’d planned to be in before making my return, and I only really had about eight weeks to prep, I decided after CAPO states that I would make a gambit for the WA Strongman state finals this year also. My intention had been to qualify for Australia’s Strongest Man, before I found out it was now being held in Bendigo, in November. This year.

 

In the few weeks leading up to qualifiers I accidentally shed six kilograms (from 136 to barely 130). I have no idea how it happened but clearly I’m going to have to further increase my caloric intake. Years ago, weight loss was the name of the game. Now it’s on a list of things I’d rather didn’t happen ever, ever, but most especially when I’m prepping for a five event strongman comp.1st place WASM qual2 2015

Then came game day. There will be a thorough write-up on the comp itself coming soon. For now, I’m just going to leave this here. ->

It’s also here that I have to make the decision to withdraw from the Perth Cup this year. It’s only three weeks after the qualifiers I’ve just limped away from, on September 19th, which leaves not enough time to recover and prep effectively (or even ineffectively) while also staying on track for the strongman finals in October. But c’mon, to be fair, it’s not like I’ve rested on my laurels this year. I’ll be at the cup to assist and spectate. Lifting would be foolhardy.

Where am I headed? Well that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it. There was an Australia’s Strongest Men held at the first ever Australian Arnold, at the Melbourne Convention Centre in March of this year (the one where Eddie Hall pulled his record-breaking 462 kilogram deadlift). Next year the Arnold will apparently be hosting it’s own national amateur and pro-strongman comps. It would be nice to qualify for that, and be there to witness immensely powerful performances from some of the best in the world. I may not do too badly, either, in the national amateur heavyweight class.

To sum up, this year has been pretty spectacular. There’s still much more ahead, and some exciting prospects on the horizon. But I can’t not feel a sense of accomplishment, and pride. And the year’s not even finished.

The 1st PTC Perth Cup: Strength Through Pain

1556422_10151916862112568_1904632927_oThe annual PTC Perth cup is a 2 day event held at Coventry Village in Morley. This was its premiere, and it was easily the most well-run Powerlifting comp I have ever been involved with. The platform itself was placed central to the market square, and was fortunately surrounded by the air-conditioning ducts. Outside was a blistering 39 degrees, so the competitors were very fortunate to have this prominent indoor location. It drew a serious crowd, which was also well-catered for with a one hundred-seat arrangement, directly facing the stage, and plenty of other seating provided by the various al fresco cafes and restaurants surrounding.

The inimitable Adam Coe had the microphone for most of the weekend, and demonstrated once again that he’s the best at wielding it; heckling lifters coming late to the platform, spotting champions of yesteryear in the audience… and occasionally making chit-chat with the hangry-looking heavyweights who wandered passed, on their way to weigh-in.

Day one saw the ladies and the lightweight lifters, with some truly amazing performances from one of PTC’s only two geared lifters, Darwin. Darwin has a special name, and on the day performed a 290 kilo squat at under 90 kilos bodyweight… and nearly locked out a 300 kilo deadlift.

Day two was comprised of two flights of the heavier mens; under 90s and under 110s were followed by the under 125s and the super heavyweights. I was there with the main intention of breaking a new 1RM deadlift. More specifically, the aim was to showcase a 300+ lift… this unfortunately didn’t happen.

I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since dinner the night before, which was about two hundred grams of roast lamb and about 250 mls of milk. My slow, steady cut was not as on-track as I’d hoped, and the morning of weigh-ins my home scales read 126.3, so I had resigned myself to not making the under-125 weight division. But my hopes resurfaced when I got on the official scales at 9AM; 125.6. And I’d just been told I had another several hours to make weight.

People have quizzed me on this, and one of my coaches was adamant that I not cut to make this weight class. He saw it as pointless, and to his mind it may well have been; I could have jeopardised strength. But I did have a point, and it is this:

When I decided to change my life, I weighed over 150 kilograms. I don’t know how much over, because the scales only measured up to 150, so for the first several weeks, each time I’d get on the scales it would read 150. 150, 150, 150. Then one day, it wasn’t 150, it was 148-point-something. This was March 30th 2010; the day I started recording weight loss. Not quite four years later, and I wanted to be able to say I had done what I always said I would do, after attaining 125 kilos bodyweight mid-2012. I wanted to ‘walk around’ at a competitive weight for both Strongman and PL, and I wanted to be able to say officially that I had lost at least 25 kilograms of just body fat. I maintained this approximate bodyweight while slowly recomposing myself into a strength athlete. This was not just a weigh-in for a PL comp. Not to me.

Long story short, I made weight.

The disappointment came, as it has in the past, right at the beginning (I was actually reminded of my first event at the 2012 Am Nats); warming up for the squat, I was repping 140 and my left knee (fucking left knee this time) started hurting bad. No fluid, but pain. And the right was not much better, if I’m being honest. I had just re-injured myself (or I suppose, more correctly, aggravated an existing injury that had quietened down enough for me to think it had healed) and I hadn’t even unracked my first attempt. I wrapped up, walked out to my already low-balled 180 kilo squat, and hit it nice and deep. I’d like to say it was incredibly comfortable, and to Mr Markopoulos it must have looked it, but in fact it was incredibly painful, and I couldn’t continue in the squat.

Then came the bench press, and I did fairly well but couldn’t lock out my third attempt, which was 160. 145 was pretty strong and smooth, but on 155 I forgot to properly sink my humeral balls, which affected the press. I got it after a brief struggle mid-way from the chest. When I return to PL training (some time after ASM), I can see board press in my future. Board press… and deficits.

My biggest and best lift was already in jeopardy. I was applying a cold pack and wrapping my knees during breaks, just to try and push everything back together before the lift. It works, but only for a little while. My opener – which I stubbornly insisted must be a new personal record – was agonising. While I’ve always been a back-dominant deadlifter, my back had virtually zero assistance today. I was stiff-legging my warmups to, again, save my knees for the big pulls. It went up, to three white lights… and I had not enough left in the tank for the 305 that myself and Adam Coe had decided would be my second attempt. The angry squid was especially angry today, and I wasn’t prepared for it, but it did distract me from my throbbing kneecaps. It did not help with the lift itself. I was so whacked, I was leaking from the eyes and nose, and my setup suffered as a consequence. All piffling excuses for the fact that I just fucked up my 300+ kilo deadlift; a milestone I’ve been chasing since I pulled 260* at the Strongman Amateur Nationals in October 2012. I’ve been held back by injury and surgery and rehab. I’ve been held back by poor timing; by diligent and sensible programming; by the tenet that you never test 1 rep maxes in training. Now I’ve been held back by weak knees and not opening just a little lighter.

But I’m not overly concerned, not about that, at least. Right now my main focus is on getting my knees fixed so I can get on with training for Australia’s Strongest Man. And not that it matters, but I did walk away with a GPC gold medallion, taking first in my weight class (and putting up better numbers than the one competitor in the under 140s above me). The under 110s was where it was at though – some very impressive stuff from PTC’s own Tim Tomkinson (pictured far right, being bombed by Asha) and several other lifters, some travelling from as far as the Dungeon Powerlifting gym in Bunbury to compete today.

1526569_660020930706461_726232577_nIt was an utterly awesome experience, and some poignant moments were shared by the PTC family, who witnessed an all-round, record-setting performance from one of its youngest (and rowdiest), Brian Cook. The day was overshadowed by the tragic news that the Rucci’s father, whose health has been poor for some time now, had suffered a turn for the worse and was currently in a critical condition in hospital. Aaron Doyle, the third name behind PTC Perth, was brought close to tears when he took the mic during the award ceremony to advise why Dan and Paul had had to leave so suddenly. Despite their notable absence, the Perth Cup continued on without a hitch; a further testament to the many PTC crew who were running everything, on and off the platform.

There will, of course, be more pictures to come. Just as soon as I purloin the best ones I can find on Facebook.

Squat: 180 kilograms (injured)
Bench: 155 kilograms PR
Deadlift: 295 kilograms PR

*no… it was only 260. I planned 275 for my next one, but didn’t get it