Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Training Split

I'm going to give this a try,

Day 1 events
Day 2 Rest
Day 3 Deadlift, Upper Back, Biceps
Day 4 Rest
Day 5 Press / Shoulders, Triceps
Day 6 Squat
Day 7 Rest

I'm mainly implementing this because football season is fast approaching and my Saturday's will be mainly fixed on tailgating. Plus I've always typically been a three day a week person, but lately I've realized that I can't train my squat and deadlift on one day. So, on Day 6 all I'm doing is squatting, that will likely be the only exercise I perform that day. We'll see how it goes!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Doing It All Over Again

I stood heaving leaned over my bar on my last set of squats on Friday and watched a young man (maybe 19) walk into the gym and over to the squat rack adjacent to me, load the bar to 95lbs. and begin what would be the first set of many barbell curls.

Now, I have nothing against the barbell curl, in fact, I could stand to do a few more of them. I have a nagging left bicep injury from a run in with a tire in 2007. And, I try not to get discouraged when I see people like him, just wanting some beach muscle. Those type of people who lift strictly for fitness or "buffness" have as much right to the squat rack as I do. But it got me thinking...

As a beginner, I used to read bodybuilding magazines from cover to glossy cover, and digest every single word of their supplement selling garbage articles. I thought about all the time I spent wasted on eating like a bird, supplementing like a OCD chemist, and trying to get strong simultaneously. I thought about how if I were 17 again I would do it all differently, and build everything on the deadlift, squat and overhead press. I would have been there for the small scale NASS contests, when amatuer strongman was in it's infancy, and people were just figuring this sport. I would have gained experience regardless of strength level, or having never touched an implement before. In other words, some of the things that seem almost un-do-able to me now, I would have been able to grow into had I done a lighter version of them then.

But... Had I been there for all that, and fixed myself on such dedication to strongman... I would have missed out on a whole lot of living. And I've got memories with me now I wouldn't trade for millions of dollars, or hundreds of pounds on my deadlift.

So, maybe my hobbie will amount to somthing one day, maybe it won't. Maybe I'm doomed to be the natural nobody, or maybe my aging body will still let me turn pro by age 40, who knows...

I do know this. The path to strength is not paved by reading glossy magazines, or internet "experts", or taking supplements that only make your urine more expensive. There are no "secrets", magic beans, or miracles to be had, especially here. The only trick is years of steady, thoughtful, consistent training.

By the time all these things went through my mind, the young man was done defiling the squat rack, leaving his plates on the bar, he began wasting his time somewhere else. Had I been him, I would have curled that bar one time, to place it in the J-hooks, and put it on my back where it belonged.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Short and Sweet (Tea)Training on a Sunday

After church this morning my dear wife and I went and stuffed ourselves at the Mexican Restaurant. I drank about two gallons of sweet tea (my favorite), ate about a basket of chips and salsa, and got this Chicken Burrito, Flauta, soft taco combo the I woofed down like I had spent the last month in a concentration camp... That my friends is just one of many examples of the poor food choices I've made over the last week. Thursday I went to the Chinese Buffet for my nephews birthday and pigged out there and drank another two gallons of... you guess it... Sweet Tea.

Anyway, upon returning from The Lord's House and then Durango's Mexican Restaurant I slept like a grizzly bear for about two hours. Then drug myself out of bed and managed to do some training despite my severe lack of motivation. Here's how it went down, short and sweet.

Log Press
empty x 8,135 x 5 x 2, 175 x 5(strict), 195 x 3,
235 x 1,
205 x 3 x 2,
175 x 5(strict)

Tire Flip
545 x 6, 750 x 4

- It's interesting how two similar tires must be flipped with totally different technique. The 545 I can "snatch grip deadlift" up and over, The 750 you have to drive forward using your shoulders like a football sled, gotta work on that technique, overall I was pleased with how it felt.

After that I took a 40 minute walk with Gracie the Wonder Hound, and my sister's Boykin Spaniel Angus (who we are babysitting), and my lovely bride, it was a great afternoon.

I sweated like 4 pigs, and I'm still thirsty... You know what sounds good about now.... Yep you guessed it.

Seriously though, I can tell the dieting is affecting my strength, I might have to just be pudgy. We'll see what I weigh tomorrow after squatting, there is a slight chance I lost a couple of pounds... Maybe?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mark Felix Interview

I discovered this interview with Mark Felix that I thought would pass it along. It's short and sweet, not to in depth, but still interesting.

Mark Felix Interview

You can follow Mark's updates on Twitter :

You can also see video of Mark including his bicep tear recovery on his YouTube channel :

The more I learn about him, the more I like him. I've always had a special place in my heart for the older strongmen... Especially since I'm becoming one. ;-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sunny Saturday Strongman

Well, today was it. Back to work, and back to the events. My strategy right now is, as you may have read, to keep the main thing the main thing (Deadlift, Stones, Press). So that's what I did today. I started out with a clean and press / push press with a barbell and some bumpers. With the heavy floor presses on Thursday I kept the volume low on the pressing and really wanted to get back into moving a barbell quickly so I lightened up on the cleans. Squat cleaning a barbell is just about the most difficult and un-natural movement in the world for me to perform. I tried a few at 135lbs and just wasn't feeling it. So I went back to what I do best... doing a barbarian high pull/upright row and hoping it lands on my shoulders just right so I can press it. It worked.

I performed the frame deadlift with zero back pain, and even got the 620lb. deadlift that I missed 12 days ago relatively easily. Good form no back rounding, stayed tight, I'll take it. Tim wanted to give yoke walking a try, so whilst I deadlifted he walked up and down the driveway with my old trusty yoke, worked up to ~600lbs with relative ease (not bad for a first timer, but then again he is a big mac daddy powerlifter).

Last was the stones... a little on the light 215lb with no tacky, then 240 with tacky... now we also have this stone that my training partner and I tried to pour with some styrofoam in the middle. Well, the string anchoring the styrofoam down came loose, the foam floated to the top and we ended up Jerry rigging a stick in there to hold the thing somewhat in the center. then the mold came apart and now we have a ~300lb egg shaped reminder of what not to do when making a stone... But being that it is the only intermediary between 240 and 335 we gave it a shot. Tim likended our stone situation with having to train your bench press and all you've got is 100lb. plates, never the less he got the egg in his lap a couple of times, I got it off the ground, but nowhere near my lap. We managed to make a nice big mess in the carport gym this morning, I Kept my back healthy, trained my weanesses, I was good with that.

This afternoon me and the wife got out and tried to declare war on the Wysteria that has taken over our yard... I'm counting that as my cardio.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays

I took off work for a whole week, and we are headed to the beach tomorrow. It picked today to rain and that was fine by me. Hopefully, it will get it out of it's system before we arrive on the Alabama Gulf Coast tomorrow.

I wanted to get in a "main thing" workout today and then take off a few days before getting back into a regular training schedule in the coming weeks. As you read previously, my primary weaknesses are stones (from lap to platform) and side-handle deadlifts. I tackled both today in sort of a primer for the coming weeks just to gauge where I'm at.

I stacked up my bumper plates on a loading pin to do some keg squats. This really reminds me of those ring stacker toys for babies... This is the strongman version. Here, I simply wanted to replicate the transition from lap to platform involved in stone loading. I also felt like this was a good accessory to the front squats. I worked up to 220 x 2 sets of 3 (all I could do to hold onto it).

Next I did some frame deadlifting. There is somthing about a side-handle deadlift that ties my lower back in knots. I broke out my frame that I made up to practice for GSM (turns out it was almost the exact dimensions)and I worked up in sets of five. I've got a dozen red Panatta Sport 15kg plates that Sue Kazmaier sold me when Kaz Fitness Center closed in downtown Auburn. I have no doubt these were some Kaz had made when he was in the fitness equipment business. Likely, from his personal collection. I always wondered if I should Ebay them...

Anyway, I loaded it up to 480lbs for 5 then went for 620 for 1, couldn't budge it, could have knocked me over with a feather. So I dropped down to 580lbs pulled for 1 with excellent form, pulled again, my back rounded, back tied in a sailor knot, and I was done for the day. Good form is going to be key in keeping my low back healthy, and I went totally raw on all sets because I wanted to work on tighness and not rely on a belt. I've likely pulled my last heavy single on these for a long time. Now I'm just going to work in sets of five and eight until I get my strength back.

It was a rainy day under the carport, but I got alot of work done. My old faithful hound was my only audience as she sat behind the storm door as she usually does and watched me work. Apparently all that watching made her tired she's slept on my foot the whole time I've typed this. So tomorrow I'm headed to the beach and I'm going to take a few days off. Much serious training is ahead of me in the coming weeks, but, for now, this strongman is going to get some sun, listen to the waves, eat some seafood, and take a few dozen naps. Thanks for reading, have a great week.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Front Squats and Tomato Sandwiches

Today was a day of firsts. It was the first time I front squatted in at least 5 years (and you could tell). Today was also the day I walked to my garden on the side of the house and picked my first red, ripe, juicy big boy tomato. Now, well get back to the training here in a minute...

I'm born and raised in the south. In addition , I'm a connoisseur of fine southern cuisine. The finest of that cuisine may just be a tomato sandwich.

Now, I'm going to make a bold recommendation to Southern (and all ) Strongmen everywhere - Eat more tomato sandwiches. Here are some easy steps you can follow.
  1. get a red, ripe, (not store bought) tomato.
  2. get two pieces of white sandwich bread (unfortunately all I had was wheat)
  3. get some mayonnaise
  4. slice the tomato
  5. apply the mayonnaise to the bread
  6. make the sandwich
  7. feel the molten hot surge of strength go to your muscles and go deadlift like a Gillingham.
So, back to training. I front squatted and my vastus medialis's are feeling the burn. I plan on alternating these with my band squats. My back has really been giving me fits since the contest, so after my front squats I did some leg pressing just to take the heat off my back. I also threw in some heavy abdominal work just to see if some muscular imabalances might be the issue with the back pain, I'm going to keep these steady in the routine.

Now, go eat yourself a Tomato Sandwich... and some biscuits, and some grits, and some fried chicken, and some watermelon... Feels good to be a Southern Strongman...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Out of the hole

Competition is the only means by which a strength athlete really discovers their limitations and weaknesses. With my second contest behind me, I was quickly able to identify areas that need attention. I could have made a list a mile long, but I can't fix a mile long list before October. So, instead, I picked three things. These are the three things that cost me a decent placing at GSM and since they are applicable to my next contest (I think) they are the three things I will address most heavily in the coming weeks.

  1. Log Press / Overhead press strength

  2. Stones

  3. Axle / Sidehandle deadlifting

Simple enough. Let's start with #1. Traditionally I have been a poor presser, but that is no excuse. Being that my next contest features a Max log press, I can put the notion of pressing for reps out of my head and focus on getting a respectable maximum lift. I have always been able to move anything off my chest, the bottom portion of the lift has never been an issue. Lock out and mid range strength has been. I likely will abandon bench pressing in favor of floor pressing with a shoulder width grip, just to work the top portion of the lift and my triceps. I also plan on including Heavy weight low volume log pressing in my weekly routine and plan on being a technician in regard to the push-jerk technique, which means I'll have to be comfortable catching a heavy log overhead in a half squat position (and not just during warmups). Something I find difficult to do. So, to summarize, Log press alot, Triceps alot, and put some Olympic in my log press. Goal = 300lb. press in October.

#2. The stones cost me and I failed to finish strong. So Saturday I'm going to pour me a ~290lb 21" stone, because, as someone told me, it's not necessarily the weight as much as the diameter that matters. I need to get used to a larger stone as well as a heavier one. Also, sigh, I guess I'll start front squatting. I tried to avoid it, but I think it's necessary if I'm ever going to get out of the hole. What I am doing right now instead is box squats to a 9" box with medium bands. I'm going to rotate these into my front squats until I can go heavier on them. I can lap a very heavy stone, I just can't get started up. Other accessory exercies are going to be keg squats (probably going to use a loading pin and bumper plates), handle squats standing in a tire, and Svend Karlsen presses. Goal = 4 out of 5 stones in under 30 seconds

#3 If you had told me at the beginning of the GSM contest that I wouldn't have been able to budge a 650lb. frame I wouldn't have believed you. Three weeks prior I picked up a 670 frame and held it for a several seconds. My deadlift strength, in any regard has always been hit or miss, So I'm going to work good form sidehandle style deadlifting and axle deadlifting. To help we these I'm going to go back to my old friend the good morning. I haven't done these in a while and it shows. My hamstring and erectors are obviously lagging and out of shape, so in addition to the deadlift, the good morning is going to be my bread and butter. Goal = 600lb axle deadlift, 750lb frame deadlift.

So there it is, my big three. The things that seem most important to me right now in terms of showing well at the October contest in Tennessee. I'll be establishing baseline numbers in the next few days so I'll know where to start. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let the Overhaul Begin

As I mentioned earlier, back pain, foot pain, and fatness were some of the problems I wanted to deal with after the contest was finally over. So today it began, sort of. The Overhaul must a happen or I imagine by the time I'm forty, I'll have a host of other problems to deal with.

I decide to spend the next few weeks working on barbell strength and overall conditioning before going back to the heavy events days in prep. for the Contest in TN in October. The only two events I plan on working on during this time are the Log and Stones, my worst two events. I plan on including lots of dog walking, swimming, and stretching and sled pulling for conditioning work. At least that is the plan. Plus I love a barbell, and sometimes the stark cold simplicity of a heavy bar that resists movement is a delight to hold.

I got to the gym around 6:30am and ran into a friend of mine that's done a couple of olympic weightlifting competitions. We talked about the GSM contest, how I came in last, and how it might best be prevented next time. He joked about how at his first Oly. contest last summer he got beat by a girl... Granted that girl went on to place at Weightlifting Collegiate Nationals, but she was still a girl.

I kept things light today, I didn't realize how sore my sinews still were from Saturday's show until I grabbed a hold of that barbell.


Axle barbell complexes40lb X alot of rowing, upright rows, presses ect.

130lb. x more of the same, several sets of overhead press x mult. reps, and rows of various kinds, I even praticed my continental clean a little, rainbow presses ect.

Lying dumbell tricep extensions 35lb x 15 x 3sets
Hammer low row 180 x 10, 240 x 10 x 2, throw in a few DB curls for my sore lt. bicep 25 x 15

Walked into Chinese Buffet x 50 feet
Filled Up Plate with Chinese Goodness x 3sets
Fork to Mouth x 247 reps
Pulled handle on Soft Serve Ice Cream Machine x 2

did I mention I needed to deal with the fatness?....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Georgia's Strongest Man 2009

We arrived at the Fitness Depot on around 9am Est. yesterday morning, the sun was already getting hot as we were setting up our canopy next to the venue. I was as anxious about this as I have been about anything. My goals for my second outing in strongman were simple; set personal records, don't scratch on any event, fight to the end, and don't come in last place. I got three out of the four, but considering the talented group across the board, I was happy to hang in there.

After going through some warmups on the equipment and playing around on the Conan's Wheel, Scott Helms(the meet promoter) and Tom Kaufman (Head Judge) gathered us all together for the rules meeting, And then we were off to finish warmups and get ready for the contest.

The log clean and press for reps with 255lbs. was up first. And I tied my best log press on the first press with a good lift. My second press attempt I lost control of when it drifted behind me, forcing me to drop the log, after that failed attempt I cleaned it again but just didn't have it in me to get it overhead. Lonny Fehr, who holds the amateur world record in the log press, came up behind me a tried to talk me through getting one more good press, but it just wasn't in me. Lonny, who was also competing in the SHW, consistently did this for many athletes during the day, taking time to motivate, coach, and contribute to the success of the other competitors. I can't say enough good things about him, Mark Cummings (LA State Chair for NAS) and all the Louisiana crew that came to the show. Lonny, Jim, and some of the other guys got up and showed how it was done as their reps on the log dang near entered the double digits.

The Conan's Wheel, which I had been apprehensive about, turned out to be not as bad as I thought, I actually beat a few folks on this one, but it was a beast.

The Medley is where I had a meltdown. The 270lb farmers never felt comfortable in my right had so 8ft. from the finish the I dropped the weight, it rattled me. I then did a second pick with the farmers to get it to the finish line, and ran over to the frame only to find it glued to the ground. My new friends Brad Stanford and Jim Whisman both got the unwieldy frame off the ground and went a considerable distance with it. One of the highlights of the day, came with Mac McAllister finishing the medley of 270lb farmers./650lb frame/~350lb tire sled drag. In talking with Mac shortly before the event I said "I've been dreading this all day", and he said "I've been looking forward to this". He no doubt came prepared and knocked it out. In the picture to the right you see Master's winner Cedric Woriax chalking up for a great medley run himself.

The tire flip was the fourth event... I hate a tire flip. But the tire they used for the heavies was a 750lb beauty that is nearly identical to the one next to my carport right now. So I managed five flips and was glad to get 'em, another pr for that big a tire, I'm sure plenty of folks got all ten flips. I know Jim "oak tree" Whisman did.

The stones were last, I taped up and slathered my self in tacky and waited my turn. I had run out of steam, but I just had to gut out one more. I loaded the heaviest stone I've ever loaded by putting up the 290lb second stone. I got the 310lb third stone in my lap but just didn't have the juice to put it up. Fellow strongman Jim Whisman had the gas in the tank to make it through four stones and secured his second place spot while 1st place Lonny Fehr and 3rd place Mac McAllister looked on.

I've spent the last few months training for GSM '09 and I knew I wouldn't be the strongest, but was glad to hang in there and have a good time. At the end of the day it was time to pack up and head back to Sweet Home Alabama. Now to rest up, go back to the gym and get ready for the next one. I want to thanks Scott Helms and Dane Garreau for running a smooth, entertaining, efficient show. Thanks to Tom Kaufman for spot on judging. Also thanks to Lonny Fehr, Mark Cummings, Jim Whisman, Brad Stanford, Kevin Morgan, Cedric Woriax and all the other competitiors for all the advice and motivation before during and after the contest. It was a great day, and what strongman is all about.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Last Day of Training

Well, today was it. I'm managed to escape my training without any crippling injuries. Now only to eat and sleep and wait for Saturday.

Today looked like this
squats- bar x 10, 135 x 5 x 2, 225 x 5 x 2

2" bar Bench Press
Bar x infinity, 135 x 15, 185 x 10, 225 x 10

Push Jerks 2" bar
bar x 5, 135 x 5 x 2, 185 x 3

Parallel Grip Lat Pulldowns
135 x 15, 180 x 12, 225 x 10

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Week Before

Two weeks ago I couldn't bend down to tie my shoe without a bolt of lightening ripping down my back and left leg. The second toe on my left foot is killing me and goes numb if I stand up too long. Both my knees ache pretty much all the time, a recent development ever since my Earth suit turned 30. And I haven't slept through the night in quite a while due to the fact the to lie down is to drown in my own fat, a phenomenon amplified by the fact that I can sleep no other way than on my stomach, my ever growing stomach...

I am a strongman.

It takes a special form of insanity to put your body through this. An insanity more dignified, noble, disciplined than all the others. Eight months ago I was a svelte 263 pounds, sporting a 40 inch waist (one more size and I could have shopped in the normal people section), my double chin had faded, and I would even get compliments consistently on my weight loss...

Enter the posting on NAS for Georgia's Strongest Man 2009. This was it, my chance to get in the game and do it on a shoestring budget. So training began shortly after New Year's and since then it has been a steady diet of "all you can eat" combined with gym lifting and events training on Saturday's. Twenty Seven Pounds later here I sit, winded from typing, limited to clothing with drawstrings and elastic waistes, only four days from my second debut (we won't talk about my first).

I don't expect to win, I'm realistic about my abilities. But one thing is for sure, I'm stronger now than I've ever been, older than I've ever been, and more excited about the challenge in front of me than I've ever been.

So before I go guzzle yet another Protein Shake here is a rundown of my last events day. Saturday the 6th of June, just wanted to do a dry run and take it easy:

Log - empty x gagillion, 135 x 5, 175 x 3 (working on push jerk>), 205 x 2, 225 x 1, 235 x 1
Frame Carry - 210 x 100ft, 340 x 50ft. x 2 (set down turn around pick up), 480 x 50 x 2 (held it a few extra seconds did some shrugs)(also, did a couple extra deadlifts with it)
Tire Flip (540lb.) flip x 2,flip x 15
Gasped for air and tried not to vomit x 5 minutes
Stones over 54" bar 215lb x 1, 240lb. x 3 x 2
Tried to close my friend's #2 CoC gripper x unsuccessful, wow that is tough

Walked dog x 45 minutes
Watered Tomato Plants x 5 minutes