What I Learned From Winning Strongman

This past weekend I took home first place in my weight class (lightweights under 200) at the River City Strongman in Richmond, Virginia.

It was a great but grueling day of lifting and competing. I met some awesome people, had overwhelming support from friends and family, made a few mistakes, but most importantly, overcame and battled throughout the day to bring home the win for Primal Strength Gym. I was also honored to compete with another Primal member who took home third in the heavyweight class.

Through 7 hours of competition, and all of the preparation leading up to it, you learn a thing or two. These are valuable knowledge bombs that you can take today and apply them for a lifetime of training.

Here are the 4 most important things I took away from that day.

Read, process, and apply.

Rule #1: Clear Goals Can Lead to Quick Results

The key word here is “can” because, make no mistake, there are no shortcuts.

But…

In my preparation leading up to this event, I had been trap bar deadlifting for what seemed like an eternity. I hadn’t deadlifted on a straight bar in quite some time.

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My first training session was awful. My technique was way off, and my strength was diminished. The mid 300s were way rougher than they should be.

I was a little over a month out from competition time and one of the events was a deadlift medley. I needed to get up to speed fast, so my goal within 3 weeks of training was to be pulling 500 pounds.

I focused on that benchmark, and sure enough I hit it. I had a specific time frame, with a specific number, and it allowed me to craft a plan to attack and surpass that goal. That is how you should approach your training on a routine basis. Never freeball it…

Rule #2: Harnessing Mind Power is Key

Watching some of the videos from my competition, I was amazed at how loud the crowd got and how vocal some of my supporters were.

Only problem was, during the competition, I was oblivious. I can’t tell you how heavy things felt, I can’t tell you what went on around me, I can’t tell you what I was thinking during the action.

I was immersed in the task at hand and all of my mind power was focused on completing the event. I attribute my success that day to being so focused, and harnessing my emotions and focus to do what needed to be done.

Our mind has a limited amount of power. This has been scientifically proven, by the way. We are all capable of processing a certain amount of information, and the more distractions we have, the less power our mind has to throw at the task at hand. Why would you want to attack your lifting with less than 100% of your capability?

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Rule #3: Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

If you’ve ever been taught how to use a firearm, the most critical thing you can learn is proper trigger pull. Otherwise, your shot will be off. A mantra you are taught to perfect your trigger pull is “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

Guess what? That applies to lifting as well.

Do not rush your lifts. If you do, you will probably make a mistake and it will end up costing you.

It cost me valuable points in my competition during the second event of the day (the yoke walk). The weight of the yoke wasn’t an issue, and I knew to win the event, I needed to haul ass. In training simulations, I was blazing at under 15 seconds.

I took my grip, and started trying to move at my training pace. The problem was, this yoke was vastly different than what I used in training. It was very unstable. I took one step and was thrown off balance and had to set the yoke down. I recovered and finished in nearly 21 seconds, good for 5th place in the event.

No way in hell that should have happened and it put more pressure on me in the remaining events to ensure I kept the overall win.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Take your time, especially on your first rep, to make sure you are dialed in and don’t make any silly mistakes that cost you a good lift, time, or injury.

This applies to training as well by the way, not just competition. Do not waste reps or failed attempts in training because you are rushing things and throwing technique or mind focus out of whack.

Rule #4: Don’t Neglect Your Conditioning

The fourth event of the day was a carry medley consisting of a farmers carry, sandbag carry, and sled drag. I ran out of gas on the sled drag.

The fifth event was MAS wrestling, last man standing style. I was the top seed going in and at one point, I battled for 15+ rounds before I lost. I lost because I was tired, not because my opponent was stronger.

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Moral of the story? Conditioning is imperative, not only to improve your times, but also to carry you from event to event.

Not a competitor? Doesn’t matter. The better conditioned you are, the more prepared you will be in your training. You will be able to do more work in shorter periods of time, which is critical to making long term progress, no matter if you are a strongman, powerlifter, athlete, or just a gym rat.

Conditioning is key and you never know when you’ll need it.

All the best,

Tank

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