Thursday, July 31, 2008

Training Day - July 31 - Thursday

Dot Mat Drills to warm-up, interspersed with kicking the soccer ball around.

Barbell Clean + Jerk
3 x 50 kg
3 x 60
3 x 70
3 x 80
3 x 90

Back Squat
5 x 135 lbs.
5 x 225
5 x 315
5 x 315 - belt
5 x 315 - belt

5 x 118 lbs.
5 x 162
5 x 206
5 x 272
5 x 360

Donkey Calf Raise
5 x 75
5 x 100
5 x 125
5 x 150
5 x 175

Seated Calf Raise
5 x 70
5 x 115
5 x 140
5 x 175
5 x 185

Crunches on floor - sets of 40

My body and legs were still pretty sore from the previous two days. I kept the weight down on the Clean + Jerks to work on my technique. I have a tendency to catch my clean while too far forward on my toes, which causes me to then lose the clean on heavy weights. Today felt much better in the squat clean, I hope this continues into heavier weights.

Squats were heavy. Next week will be better because I will take my normal two days off between leg days.

I am also doing more calf work. I have had some achilles tendinitis in the past and training my calves seems to help.

Training Day - July 30 - Wednesday

4 minutes Heavy Bag

Diesel Crew 2-minute Shoulder Warm-up

Standing Overhead Press w/ bands
100 lbs. + mini bands - 15 sets of 3 on the minute

Bent Over Row w/ bands
90 kg + mini band - 15 sets of 3 on the minute

15 minutes (EDT)
Renegade Row @ 32 kg
8 sets of 5 reps

Incline DB Press @ 80 lbs.
8 sets of 5 reps

Zulu Abs x 12
Zulu abs is an ab complex my uncle showed me back when I was in high school. Zulu was a local lifter in Toledo while my uncle was growing up and training. He had this ab routine where he would do 10-15 crunches on a flat bench followed by and equal number of leg raises, this was repeated 3 times with no rest. It works for me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Training Day - July 29 - Tuesday

Agility Ladder to Warm-up

Speed Squats @ 250 lbs. + Heavy (2") jumpstretch bands
15 sets of 2 reps on the minute

15 minutes (EDT)
Double swings (hardstyle)
13 sets of 5 @ 32kg
Donkey Calf Raise
12 sets of 5 @ 100 lbs.

Tabata Situps
10 sets - 15 reps per set

It felt good to be back training. The past 2 weekends really did a number on me but it was well worth it. I will not be training grip specifically this week until friday. Doing the short bends and rolling the frying pan on saturday after 3 GS sets fried my tendons in my wrist and I need to let them heal.

The squats felt very good today with the increased band tension (2" up from 1.5" wide bands). I dropped the bar weight back down to the weight I started with on the 1.5" bands and I will look to add 5-10kg each week for the next 4-6 weeks. I have yet to settle on a strongman comp in september, but my next major event will be the Global Grip Challenge on August 30.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Training Day - July 24 - Thursday

#1 - 3, 3
#2 - 3, 3
#2.5 - 2, 2, 2, 2

Diesel Crew 2-minute shoulder warm-up

Kettlebell Long Cycle @ 24kg, 5 minutes
1) 8
2) 8
3) 8
4) 8
5) 8

Kettlebell Snatch @ 24kg, 6 minutes
1) 20
2) 20
3) 20
4) 20
5) 20
6) 20

6" hurdle ankle hops
2 x 6 - straight
1 x 8 - lateral

Overhead Squat
10 @ 45lbs.
10 @ 65

Pinch Block
25lbs. x 3
35 x 3
40 x 2, 2, 2, 2

You will see me doing more and more grip specific exercises over the next month as I get ready for the Global Grip Challenge, August 30, which is the US National grip meet. Pinching is a weakness of mine and so I will be keying in on that area.

I will also be continuing my strongman training with kettlebell sport training. I anticipate entering another strongman competition sometime in September.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Western New Yorks Strongest Man

July 18 was the day before the Western New York Strongest Man competition. I wanted to make sure I was full of fuel for the long day ahead so a friend and I met at the local Longhorn Steakhouse. Three quarters of the way through the 22-oz. Porterhouse, I knew it was not going to be enough, so I ordered up a 14-oz. Prime to be consumed as well. With 36-oz. of beef nicely placed in my stomach I was ready for some sleep and the day ahead.

5am came quickly, but I was ready to get going and on the road for the 3.5 hour drive to Dunkirk, NY. I was among some of the first to arrive at the sight next to the Little League Baseball field and was able to check out some of the implements we would be using. Soon the rest of the competitors arrived and all weigh-ins completed, I came in at 218.6 lbs, I should have eaten more steak. I was in the Lightweight Open class, 231 lbs. and below.

The first event for the day was Incline Press with a 12” log for reps. The posted weight was 235lbs. (what we used was 245lbs.), but it was the same for all competitors and this is strongman, we didn’t come here to be picky about lifting heavy. The first event went in alphabetical order and that put me somewhere in the middle of my class. Strict pressing of any sort is not a strong suit of mine and I was only able to squeeze out 8 good reps in the 60 seconds allotted. I believe the top individual did 15-16 reps with a few others between us.

Next up was the Carry and Drag, carry 225lbs. farmers walk handles 60 feet and then backwards drag a sled weighing ~450lbs. back 60 feet. This event, like all the others was on grass, I did not bring any cleats with me so I was able to borrow some off one of the high school kids there with size 12 feet, a size small but I wasn’t planning on being in them for too long. The first competitors to go struggled mightily with the backwards drag which caused a group of us to start worrying about our own performances to come. Soon I was up and took my grip on the handles, the whistle blew and I was off….FAST. When it was all said and done, Mike Landrich, the promoter walked over to me and said that even if we doubled your time, you still win. So there is one thing I happen to do well.

Next came the Axle Clean and Press. I chose to start at 220lbs. which went easily and I continued to play conservative for my 2nd attempt at 240lbs. This also went easily, I guess today is a strong day. 3rd attempt, screw conservative, lets go to 280lbs. I first tried to power clean this weight without success. If it was to go, it would have to be a full squat clean, I do not have a belly to continental clean with. I pull and jump under, catch it on my shoulders and start my ascent. Unfortunately on my way up I lost my hands on the bar, so now I have 280 sitting nicely across my shoulders with my hands out in front of me. So I bounce the bar up and slide my left hand under first and then do the same with my right. Now I'm set. Dip. Drive. Lock it out in good split jerk style for a new PR on the axle.

It was not the top clean and press and it did not count for me because I took and extra 18 seconds than allowed, but damn was it fun and as my competitors commented, "we all saw you lift it." That meant more than points.

Soon after we all had the pleasure of watching Matt Dawson set a new American record for the axle clean and press. Matt lives in Mentor, OH and I hope to be traveling to train with him once a month. He came away with the 1st place overall for the heavyweights.

Next up was the 405lbs. deadlift for reps in 60 seconds. My goal was 20 reps and I came close with a solid 18. Unfortunately so did 2 other athletes and we had a 3-way tie for first in this event.

The last event for the day was the Loading Medley. We loaded 5 objects of increasing weight onto platforms. We had a ~130lbs. field stone, ~160lbs. keg, ~200lbs. square stone, 240lbs. field stone, and 300lbs. machine wheel. I was again very quick finishing in a time of 18.5 seconds for another first place event.

In the end I was the 3rd place finisher, my incline log press killed me. However, I did finish 1st in 3 events and competed a 280lbs. clean and jerk on the axle which was a new personal best. I met some great guys and caught up with some old friends. Mike Landrich organizes an excellent event and I plan to return again next year.

I don't know names, but the 1st, 3rd (me) and 2nd overall place finishers respectfully.

Training Day - July 22 - Tuesday

Clean + Jerk with 2 - 16kg kettlebells, 10 minutes
1) 5
2) 6
3) 7
4) 8
5) 9
6) 10
7) 10
8) 10
9) 10
10) 12

7 minutes rest

Kettlebell Snatch, 16kg, 10 minutes @ 15 rpm

7 minutes rest

32kg 1-arm Jerk
1) 4
2) 5
3) 4
4) 5

1) 8
2) 8

I definitely was still fatigued from this weekend and I still have a bruise on the back of my right wrist. This is rather annoying and is not helping me get back to kettlebell training at all. At least I have some other avenues to pursue in the meantime; strongman and the Global Grip Challenge on August 30th.

Wednesday will be another rest day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Training Day - July 15 - Tuesday

Speed Bench @ 165 lbs. + mini bands
15 sets of 3 on the minute

Kettlebell Clean + Jerks @ 24kg
1) 8
2) 8
3) 8

1) 8
2) 8
3) 8

Bench felt good today and i'm glad this will be one of my last bench workouts. The only reason I started benching again was because, Incline Log Press for reps is one of the events in this weekends strongman competition.

I went with KB long-cycle today because 1) I haven't done it in a while, 2) I wanted to take it easy on my spinal erectors, 3) kettlebell meet next weekend in Fenton, MI. I continue to wear a shinguard on my right forearm.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Training Day - July 14 - Monday

Speed Squats @ 305 lbs. + average jump stretch bands
15 sets of 2 on the minute

Axle Clean + Jerk
3 x 45 kg
2 x 65
2 x 80
2 x 95
2 x 105

Kettlebell Snatch @ 32 kg
1) 15
2) 15
3) 15
4) 15

1) 15
2) 15
3) 15
4) 15

Seated Calf Raise
15 x 45 lbs
10 x 115
5 x 170
5 x 180
5 x 190

Captains of Crush Grippers
sport x 10
trainer x 10
#1 x 5
#2 x 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

Squats felt heavy today, but the clean and jerks felt light, so it was just one of those days. I did some kb snatches because I talked to Valery last night and I felt bad for not doing any kettlebell lifting since returning from Germany. I still lifted with a soccer shinguard on the back of my right wrist. I hope to be healed soon so I can get back to more kettlebell training. I stayed with 4 minute sets because I did not want to over fatigue myself with a contest this weekend.

I trained grip today so I can train it again on wednesday. I will not train anything else on wednesday nor at all on thursday and friday. Saturday should be a good day at Western New Yorks Strongest Man.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Walking Among Giants

The weekend of June 21-22 I had the pleasure of attending and working the America's Strongest Man competition at the Del Mar Fairground in sunny San Diego, California. Not only did this competition display 15 of the strongest guys in America, but also Kristin Rhodes, 2 weeks removed from earning the runner-up spot as world's strongest woman while over in Poland.

Kristin (above) is no stranger to kettlebells and here she is shown snatching a 32kg bell. She completed 6-7 reps on each arm for fun in between some of the events on Sunday.

Also in attendance and guest announcing was 3x World's Strongest Man winner, Bill Kazmaier. Everyone involved with strength training knows the name Bill "Kaz" Kazmaier. I was very excited to meet this strength legend and was like a little kid when I asked to take a picture with him.

The American Kettlebell Club (AKC) is a proud sponsor of the American Strongman Corporation (ASC) and I am the AKC representative that gets the opportunity to walk among these giants. I have closely followed these athletes from Columbia, SC to Minneola, FL and now to San Diego, CA.

Saturday was a hot one we had 3 events on this day for the competitors to battle it out. We started it off with the Log clean and press for maximum weight. Jason Kristal and Nick Brugal tied with a weight of 380 lbs. Jason is the American Record holder in this event at 430 lbs. which I got to watch him perform on St. Patrick's Day in Columbia, SC. Jason's push jerk is impeccable and really knows how to get the most from his lower body. It was also during this event that Ryan Bakke had the misfortune of losing control of the log over head and falling backwards. Words do not describe the sight of watching 350lbs. fall from over head onto a man's leg. Ryan finished the rest of the day but did not come back on Sunday. I wish him my best and I know we will see him again.

Next up was the 600lbs. Axle Deadlift for reps. No straps were allowed and that 2" axle did not want to leave the ground. Grip strength became apparent as some of the competitors had plenty of strength left to pull, but not the grip to hold on. Jason Bergmann and Tom McClure gave it there all with 13 reps each. Nick Best, however, pulled strong and had great form for a solid 14 reps and the win.

The last event on Saturday was a new one, 360lbs. atlas stone for HEIGHT!! The platform height started at 54" and would continue to rise 2" until only one man remained. This was an interesting event in that some of the shorter athletes tried every trick they could think of to become taller. Chad Coy came out wearing boots straight out of KISS concert. Chad is a veteran strongman and tactically prepares for every event. In the end, three giants paved the way to 70", Jason Kristal, Jon Connor and Tom McClure. When it was all said and done, Tom McClure was the lone man at the top, being the only man to lift the stone to a height of 72".

With the first 3 events completed, Tom McClure held the lead with 41 points, followed by Jason Bergmann with 36, Jason Kristal with 35 and Brain Turner with 31.

Our second day of competition started with the American Kettlebell Club Press Medley, 6 items; 112 lbs. kettlebell, 172lbs. Thomas Inch dumbbell, 225lbs. keg, 250lbs. block weight, 300 lbs. Axle and a 350 lbs. log were used. The athletes could go in any order and must get full lockout overhead. Numerous strategies were used, some started light and worked there way up, others started heavy and went down and some just went done the line randomly. Five athletes completed the 6 lifts necessary but it was Jason Kristal who did it fastest with a time of 57.98 seconds, followed by Nick Brugal, Van Hatfield, Brad Dunn and Jason Bergmann.

Here is Marshall White (above) showing good form on the Thomas Inch DB and Nick Best (below) with the 300lbs. axle overhead.

Prior to this event, I gave the competitors a crash course on the most effective and fastest way to get the the kettlebell overhead to lockout. With the weight only being 112lbs. snatching was going to be the quickest. Below is a pick of me working with Jason Kristal, he listened well and then went onto win.

Next up was the 410 lbs. Shield Carry for 100 feet. If you blinked you were going to miss this event. I would have thought carrying 410lbs. would slow these guys down a little. Marshall White set a great time of 14.16 seconds. Then came Jason Bergmann who sprinted the 100 feet to a time of 12.56 seconds, truly an impressive showing.

After the first two events of the day, Jason Kristal and Jason Bergmann were out in front with 63 and 62 points respectfully. They were followed in order by, Van Hatfield, Tom McClure, Brad Dunn and Nick Best.

The third event on Sunday was the 930lbs. Yoke Walk. The distance for this event would be 100 feet. Speed was again and important and deciding factor in this event. Nick Best flat out dominated this event with a time of 16.87 seconds. His next closest competitor was Marshall White with a fast time of 20.44 seconds, followed by Jason Kristal and Jason Bergmann.

I also got the chance to walk the Yoke numerous times, albeit minus 360lbs. that we took off as we reset the course for the competitors. I had never walked a yoke before and the balance was very different from just a bar of similar weight across your back. The weights on the ends will swing if you do not maintain a steady gait.

The second to last event for the championship was the 2-part Farmers Walk. Athletes would first carry 320lbs. individual farmers walk handles 60 feet, set them down, pick up a 600lbs. frame and walk back. Speed would again determine the winner. Nick Best demonstrated to us all why he is the fastest man in strongman by blazing the course in 17.78 seconds. Marshall White was again his closest competition at 22.42 seconds.

This was another event I personally got my hands on while reseting the course. No weight was removed this time and even the Kaz took notice as I easily walked the 600lbs. frame back to it starting place. "Not only the strongest men in America, but also the strongest work crew," said Bill Kazmaier. I also signed a few autographs for this ability. Much appreciated but 600lbs. is not that heavy if you haven't already given your all in the prior 6 events.

We were now down to the last event, 380lbs. stone for reps over a bar. The bar height I believe was 48" but I could be wrong on that fact. What is not wrong is the fact that these strongmen were all fighting hard to be named America's Strongest Man. Brad Dunn raised the stone 4 times. Jason Bergmann and Van Hatfield completed the feet 5 times. However, it was Marshall White and then Jason Kristal that succeeded with 6 reps each.

Here Gerard Benderoth (above) is shown finishing off one of his 3 reps over the bar.

With the events complete and points tallied, one man can now call himself America's Strongest Man. This man is Jason Kristal.

Jason Kristal finished with 101 points followed by Jason Bergmann with 91.5, Van Hatfield 86, Nick Best and Marshall White at 84.5, Tom McClure 84, Brad Dunn 76.5, Nick Brugal 69, Jon Connor 58, Gerard Benderoth 49, Dan Ford 41.5, Chad Coy 37, Brian Turner 35, Warrick Brant 26.5 and Ryan Bakke 12.5.

My time with these giants has been tremendous and I have learned a lot about strongman technique and strategy from watching firsthand. They have also learned some of the methods I use as a kettlebell lifter to increase my strength-endurance. Overall, its been a great way for us to learn from each other and I expect to see many strongmen utilizing our kettlebells to help train for next years America's Strongest Man.

Training Day - July 11 - Friday

I'm starting to feel more confident in pressing. Its still a weakness of mine, which is why I chose to do more reps with dumbbells today. I went with pullups and db rows today instead of bent over rows because I did not want to overtax my spinal erectors anymore than what I had already done on Thursday.

Incline Log Press
5 x 164 lbs.
5 x 197
5 x 219
5 x 241
5 x 241

5 x bodyweight
5 x 12 kg
5 x 16
5 x 20
5 x 24

Incline DB Press
10 x 75 lbs. each hand
10 x 85
10 x 95
8 x 95

DB Row - 2.5" thick handle
5 x 100 lbs.
5 x 120
5 x 130
5 x 130
5 x 130

Captains of Crush Grippers
Sport x 5
Trainer x 5
#1 x 5
#2 x 5
#2.5 x 2
#3 x 2 attempts
#3.5 x 2 attempts

The grippers were hard today, but I think that is from cleaning and deadlifting on the axle yesterday and thick handle rows today.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Training Day - July 10 - Thursday

Back Squat
5 x 70 kg
5 x 120
5 x 150
5 x 164
5 x 170 - belt

Squats felt strong, most importantly, my spinal erectors felt strong and the weight felt good on my back.

Axle Clean + Jerk
3 x 55 kg
3 x 80
2 x 95 - belt
2 x 100 - belt
2 x 105 - belt

I had some difficulty on some of the cleans in keeping it in my hands while in the rack, but overall my technique felt the best yet and I feel 250 lbs. will go on July 19.

Axle Deadlift
5 x 231 lbs.
5 x 341
5 x 431
5 x 461
3 x 501 - belt

I chose to use the axle for these today because that is what I'll need to do next week. Felt very strong here again, but the thick bar did stop me 1 rep short of what I did last week, of maybe it was that extra pound..:)

240 lbs. atlas stone lifted to chest - 5 singles

I was pretty tired after everything else but it still went up and it was fun.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Training Day - July 8 - Tuesday

Speed Bench Press @ 165 lbs. + mini bands
10 sets of 3 on the minute.

I wished to go to 15 sets but my left shoulder was hurting (the reason I don't bench press any more).

15 minutes (EDT)
Standing Log Press @ 140lbs.
5 sets of 5
1 set of 2

Bent Over Row @ 250lbs.
5 sets of 5

Overhead strength again was lacking, but the high humidity wasn't helping on this day.

Grip Work:
sport x 15
trainer x 10
#1 - 4 x 10

2 Hands Pinch on IM block
1 x 90 lbs.
3 singles @ 115 lbs.

Training Day - July 7 - Monday

Speed Squats @ 294 lbs. + average jump stretch bands
15 sets of 2 on the minute.

240lbs. Atlas stone lifting to chest - 7 singles

10 minutes (EDT)
Double KB Swings @ 32kg each hand
6 sets of 5

1 set of 5
2 sets of 4
3 sets of 3

Legs are starting to feel strong.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Training Day - July 4 - Friday

Incline Log Press
5 x 164 lbs.
5 x 186
5 x 208
5 x 230
3 x 252

230 felt good today and went for 252. I tried staying with a 1 sec. pause on my chest as I do not believe they are going to allow a touch and go, better to be prepared.

Bent Over Row
5 x 70 kg
5 x 100
5 x 120
5 x 140
5 x 150

I cannot say the last set was super strict, but it was good to feel the weight.

Standing Press - Axle
5 x 50 kg
5 x 65
5 x 70
5 x 75
3 x 77

Strict Presses are still a weakness of mine. These felt heavy from the first set.

160lbs. atlas stone load onto 36" box - 3 sets of 5 - nice and easy today

3 x climb my 12' climbing rope - 1 1/4"

DB Speed Curls start at 45lbs.
- what I do is start at a weight I feel I can do 10 reps with and then continue to go down the rack doing sets of 10 til I finish with the 5 lbs. DB. Its a quick (speed) way of working your arms.

DB Speed Tris start at 85 lbs.
- same thing as bis but with french press overhead

Rest and stretch over the weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Training Day - July 3 - Thursday

Barbell Clean + Jerk
3 x 60kg
3 x 80
2 x 105
2 x 110
1 x 120

Felt decent today on these. As my leg strength improves so do my C+Js. I need to work my front squat more to be more comfortable in a squat clean. All of mine are power clean with only a little squat under.

Back Squat
5 x 70kg
5 x 120
5 x 150
5 x 164 - belt worn
4 x 170 - belt worn

Lock out holds - no belt
442 lbs. for 15 sec.
532 lbs. for 15 sec.

Squats continue to progress nicely. I through in some lock out holds at the end to strengthen my spinal erectors which i'm going to need a bunch come competition day.

Deadlift - conventional
5 x 206 lbs.
5 x 316
5 x 393
5 x 450
4 x 500 - belt worn

Deadlifts felt great for having not trained them specifically, which is a HUGE relief. 405 for reps on July 19 looks good, 18+ is my goal.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Got Strength?

I could not have said the below better myself, so I won't.

By Curt Dennis, Jr.


Who do you respect? Does that person have the strength to be who they are? As I sit here and type this, I can tell you that over the last year, I truly discovered what it means to have strength. I’m not just talking about being strong. Anyone can be strong. Strong has so many definitions today, but to me strength has only one.

To have strength means that you’re not only strong, but you have the strength to keep on being stronger every day. You can shoulder the worries and ups and downs that people go through and never give up hope. You have the strength to keep on keeping on when the chips are down. You have strength to lend to your family and your brothers in iron, and in turn, your strength creates strength in them and makes you stronger and vice versa. You have the strength to uphold loyalty and honor, the strength to have the unbreakable will and unstoppable attitude, knowing that you will do what it takes and what must be done to be what you want to become. You have the strength to become what many didn’t think you could be and you believe that you can. That’s what strength is all about.

I have seen strong lifters come and go. Some had that unbound potential to be something truly amazing but the strength wasn’t there. I know of a person who has God given genetics and physical strength to do many things, but he doesn’t have the strength to be that person that everyone knows he can be. He didn’t have the strength to help and support his brothers when the time was needed, but he wanted their help. In other words, he can be the strongest guy in the world but won’t have an ounce of strength to keep it. Another person I know has the strength to become something, the mindset, will, and attitude. It’s only a matter of time before his physical strength catches up. When that happens, he’ll have the strength to move mountains simply because he is willing to pay his dues in and out of the gym and sacrifice what must be sacrificed in the name of strength. He lends his strength to his brothers, and therefore, they lend it back in support. Does he have the strength to be the strongest? Yes, he does. He also has the strength to be patient and know that true strength is knowing when not to rush things.

Strength is about being the strongest guy in the state or world or whatever and having the strength to keep on being the strongest, to take the world on your shoulders like Atlas. That’s the strength I’m talking about. I believe my fault is finding lifters who don’t have the strength to be better, to be stronger, to be different. Everyone wants to laugh at the freak, but when he does something amazing, they suddenly want to be him. What does that tell you? That tells you that he has the strength to be who he is. Instilled with confidence, he’s ok with being called a freak. It’s a badge of honor for him. It means to him that he has greater strength than normal people because he isn’t settling for average. Being in the crowd and being the one the crowd talks about are two different things. Being one of the hundreds of 700-lb benchers and being the one freak who benched 700 lbs at 165 lbs are two different things. Settling for average doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t make sense. I’ll always want more. I’ll never be satisfied.

Having the strength to never be satisfied is truly being strong. Being the strongest is only a matter of time if you’re training with that mindset. If you see nothing but your goal and have the strength to get there no matter what or no matter how long it takes and you have the strength to endure and evolve, that is strength unbound. Repeat it to yourself. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Remember it when the tough times are around or when your brother is down. Remind him. Never surrender. Don’t even be satisfied! That is true strength. Physical strength is only the manifestation of the strength within. That’s how it should be represented.

In the last year of my life and lifting, I truly found out what strength means. I have came across so many lifters who have potential for the sport of powerlifting and some who are doing it but are missing that one important factor, that factor known as strength. I’m more impressed with a guy who hasn’t benched 600 lbs but is working his ass off for it and has never been known to give up and doesn’t even possess the benching ability at all than a guy who has the ability to bench 800 lbs and is strong enough to do 800 or more but doesn’t possess the strength to do it, the ability to do what it takes to get there and beyond and to not let anything stop him.

A good friend of mine exemplifies what strength means. He grew from a boy to a man and stepped out of a shadow of that man. People are amazed by him, and it’s not just his physical strength. He’s lending it to his brothers who train with him over and over again. He possesses the strength to be in the top 20 in the sport of powerlifting. It’s only a matter of time before his physical strength shows this. That friend of mine motivates me every day. I was confused as to why he changed so much when he went overseas, and now I know why. He has strength. The strength of character, unstoppable will, unbreakable attitude, and brotherhood. It’s only a matter
of time before his physical strength shows this, and it’s already speaking volumes for him.

A true man of strength is never complacent with what or who he is. This goes for the gym and beyond. Watching a person evolve is motivating for me. It fires me up because it reminds me of the strength that I must have to do it as well. I don’t want to be doing the same thing next week, next month, or next year. It’s simple. I evolve or I die. The reason why average people look down on those who are different is because they don’t get it. They don’t understand why they go through the hassle, and they don’t realize that that person has the strength to be who he is because he is never satisfied and it shows. People ask, “How do you do it? How did you get big?” How this, how’s all relative to strength. The challenges that person went through to get to where they are now were long and dark miles. In their eyes, they aren’t satisfied and aren’t there yet. True strength is about never being satisfied.

“Real men of strength speak not of their strength by words but by their actions.” Take a second and reread those words again. This pisses some people off. Why? I have no idea because I’m not average. To others like Chad Aichs, it’s self-explanatory. Anyone can talk big numbers, talk a big game, and talk shit to top it all off, but it takes real strength to put it out there on the platform and let your actions do the talking. I learned that last year, and it’s those words that I won’t ever forget. And that meaning can go outside of the strength arena into life itself.

A friend of mine told me, “It ain't bragging if you can back it up!!” That's strength right there brothers, nothing else, and it makes sense. That comes from someone who’s committed to strength and is willing and able to back it up no problem with or without words. It doesn’t matter what the mouth says. It matters what your actions do.

So strength is about having the power to walk and be who you are with confidence and pride. It’s about wanting to become something more than just average. It’s having those around you who have that same strength that you do and want it just as much, if not more, than you. It’s about facing what’s real, the strength to survive a bomb-out, embarrassment, humiliation, being owned, or whatever and rising like a phoenix from the ashes because a man with greater strength than a man without it will always be stronger.

It’s about the strength to lend to those who don’t have it and giving them the strength to do the same as well as your brothers in iron and your own family. Having strength isn’t selfish. It never should be. It’s about giving someone the strength to keep going, to never surrender and never give up no matter how long the fight. It’s about having the strength to recognize strength in others and respecting that. The people I respect have this and they know who they are. It’s also about having the strength that speaks for itself and having the strength to go above ego or arrogance. The kind of strength that even the mighty Hercules possesses. The definition of strength—“having the dedication, determination, desire, and discipline to believe and become.”

So ask yourself…do you have strength?

Training Day - July 1 - Tuesday

Speed Bench @ 135lbs. + mini bands
15 sets of 3 reps done on the minute

15 Minutes (EDT)
Standing Log Press @ 164lbs. (strict presses)
1 set x 5
4 sets x 3
1 set x 2
Total reps = 19

Bent Over Row @ 225lbs.
6 sets x 5
Total reps = 30

Tabata Situps - 8 sets of full situps (hands on stomach) 20 sec. On / 10 sec. Off
I was able to maintain 15 reps every 20 sec. total reps 120

Jump Stretch Band Curls, with mini-band, step in the middle and curl, 3 sets of 10
Jump Strecth Band Tri-Extensions, with monster mini-band, loop on heel, extend arm overhead, 3 sets of 12 each arm

Today was my first day ever doing bench press with the bands. It was easy and probably could have used more weight on the bar. My shoulders don't anyway like me benching so I erred on the light side.

The EDT set kicked my butt. Overhead pressing is a weakness of mine, I think my 6'6'' wing span doesn't help. I went with the Bent Over Rows to help condition the lower back for picking up heavy objects off the ground in strongman.

The Tabata Situps are great because I don't like doing ab work (its boring to me and so very rarely gets done). This gets them over fast and conditions them for fast, intense work.

The band curls and extensions were to shore up some weaknesses and I didn't have much energy for anything else.

Wednesday is a rest and stretching day. It will be very much welcomed.

Western New York Strongest Man Events

I've had some questions about the events I'll be competing with on July 19. Here is the list as it stands:

1) Incline Log Press for reps: 235 lbs
2) Farmers Walk 225 lbs each hand 25yds. Backwards sled drag ~450 lbs 25yds
3) Axle Clean and Press/Jerk for max weight
4) Loading Medley: various items and weights, sandbags, machine parts, stones, logs, etc.
5) Axle Deadlift for reps: 405 lbs.

Overall, not a bad setup for me. Incline Log Press will be a challenge because until I returned from Germany on June 9 I have not trained the bench press in any form for about 4 years. Its going well and I'll get ~10 reps come comp day.

Farmers Walk to backward drag should be a good event for me. My grip is strong and conditioning good. I do not have farmer's walk handle yet (they're being made as I type) so I cannot quiet replicate this to date. I have been doing some backward drags of my 550lbs. tire for this distance and hope to sprint with the 450lbs. sled.

Axle Clean and Jerk for max weight will depend on my competition. I feel 250lbs. should go easy, 275lbs. if I have too. I know the top pro-lightweights can do over 300lbs. so that is the standard I set for myself. I do keep improving every week which is a good boost of confidence.

Loading Medley. My conditioning is good which always pays off big time later in the day. I feel good and have been doing some moving/loading of heavy objects and feel good. It will all depend on speed.

Axle Deadlift for reps. Very confident in this event, which has me worried that i'm not training it enough. I've done well with this event in the past (12 reps @ 450lbs. for 2nd place in Febuary).

Just a couple of hard training days left to shore up some weaknesses. I generally feel very good and anticipate a very good day July 19 in Dunkirk, New York.