Just like the majority of kids starting their path of lifting weights and trying to get shredded, I looked at the world around me for ideas on what made a man, a REAL man. I saw the stud John Basedow (trust me, this is worth a google if you don’t remember him) selling his Fitness Made Simple and Six Pack Abs VHS tapes. John was sporting Sumptuous (fancy as fuck) Hair, sitting perfectly atop his head which was placed upon his statuesque (wicked shredded) figure. This is what Fitness was. He was standing there, on my television set, showing off the abs he earned (side note, just rewatched the commercial, Homeboy was seconds from passing out…oh and eat a sandwich…jeeze.) and the women who flocked to him. I was about 7 years old when I saw this. Though, as you can probably tell from my current physique, I did not end up buying his VHS boxset, but nevertheless the thoughts of six-pack abs, and overly fluffed hair stuck with me in my mind as the picture perfect, male physique.
During my Middle School years, leading up through the end of my high school years I was focused on baseball. If I wasn’t playing baseball, I was training for baseball, or talking baseball. It was the center of my life and my existence at the time. That being said, this was the time of the Home Run Race of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. I found a couple new legends to look up to. These guys were walking Abrams Tanks. With forearms and biceps the size of my legs, and seemingly endless power at the plate, they blasted their way into my brain as what sort of player I wanted to be. This is the point in my life where I found out what steroids were…Who knew…
See the ball...hit the ball....
Fast forward to the end of my senior year of my undergraduate degree. I had stopped playing baseball, and I found myself spending my time with my new favorite activities of “How many beers can I drink in an Hour” and “How can we get extra Ranch cups to dip our calzones in” Needless to say, I had gained quite a bit of weight, and lost my focus on a goal, or a direction. Hell, I didn't even go to the gym much anymore. What’s the point? It’s not fun, and I can just get drunk with my friends instead. Duh…
Oh look...Sam decided to splurge on Miller Lite this night...what a gentleman.
So essentially, the “Too Long, Didn’t Read” version of this story is that I had a brain full of “juiced up, unrealistic, airbrushed” ideas of what fit and strong was, mixed with a growing gut full of $.99 one pound hot pockets, and Keystone Light (always smooth). How the hell did I turn this struggle bus around? Enter Strongman.
I started off training strongman with one my best friends (and current training partner) Corey. See, he trained for strongman events, competed in a bunch, and even won a couple. He had, and still has, one of the best Strongman specific home gyms I have ever seen. Well, I see him one night out at the bar (weird I know) and he told me to come over to his house tomorrow (yes I was hungover) to give strongman a shot. So somehow, drunk Sam ended up taking him up on his offer. I waddled out of my truck, and walked down into his basement. Music was blaring, and he was setting up a deadlift. Not just any deadlift, but a 16 inch max deadlift off of spare tires he found. I didn't know what to expect, but seeing all of the atlas stones, the logs, the benches, and the dumbbells, I knew I was in a special place. So at this point in my life I have never deadlifted seriously at all…as explained above, my training revolved around the ideas of shredded (scrawny and emaciated) guys on television, or training for baseball. This was quite foreign to me. So we start working. He goes over form a little bit with me, and with my deer in the headlights look I start pulling weight. 135…225…315. I was convinced that I was pulling “serious” weight at this point. Corey cheered me on as I grunted and sweated my way up in weight trying to not embarrass myself too much. It was going well, and I thought I was going to be done for the day. This was until Corey decided to flip the script. He decided to put 4 plates on the bar…This was 405 Lbs. (turns out it was actually 430 because of the tires). Seemingly, an unmovable weight at the time. I was terrified. He told me to shut my brain off and just pull. At the time, I was wearing two different belts in hopes of keeping my lower spine right where it was. This thing was either going to move, or I was going to blowout my back. Music was blaring, I started to pull, and to my surprise…it moved…fast…I was hooked.
What you can't see is the sheer panic in my eyes...
Nothing in the world of working out or fitness impacted as much as strongman did. I started to learn all about the greats of the past like Kaz or Jon Pall Sigmarsson. I learned how to lift stones, logs, kegs, and sandbags. I flipped tires and farmers walked until I was blue in the face. Though, above all else, it changed my opinion of what “In Shape” was. No longer did the ghost of my “Fitness Made Simple” past haunt me. I didn’t want a six pack (I do want his hair though), instead I wanted a 500 pound deadlift. I didn’t want to “look good” as much as I wanted to perform BETTER. See it helped me take the focus off of what I looked like, and instead put the focus on how I trained to reach my next goal. I never once looked in the mirror, or gave a shit about my body fat because I was becoming genuinely strong, and that was the main priority for me, and in that pursuit, I started to transform myself into a real strongman competitor and realize that training with a purpose and a goal, is far better than training to “look good”. Strongman simply gave me a new focus and drive to become a better competitor, and I believe it did.
First Open Class Strongman Event in Ohio. The Battle of the Buckeye State.
This leads us to today, where I have competed in both the 231 weight class, and most recently the 200 weight class. I am getting stronger every week and still am a student to the game when it comes to learning everything I can about getting better and stronger in this crazy sport of ours. I will continue to train to get better, and improving my performance. I have another contest coming up next weekend down in Connecticut and I am looking to compete, just like I do every, single, time.
Still Training and getting ready for the next contest!
That’s all I got…time to eat.
Certified Underground Strength Coach