Now that I’ve had a week to recoup and decompress from participating in FAU’s Strong Owl strongman competition, I can concede that I was clearly unprepared for the competition itself. This wasn’t like training for a race where training, for the most part, is fairly easy. You register for the race and train to that distance. But for something like this, there’s a reason the guys on World’s Strongest Man competitions are the size of cars: training takes years. Even if you’re juicing or darksiding — that is, using anabolics or other steroids — training takes gobs of time. Once you acquire your base level of strength needed for a competition, you then have the fun option of training with a bunch of oddly shaped objects. For the most part, running a road race only depends on your level of fitness and ability to stay injury-free during the race. But my gosh, Strong Owl taught me that even if you’re the strongest guy in the show, you’re going to struggle. We had one competitor, Davis, who is about 5’10” or 5’11” and basically built like a brick outhouse. His arms are as big as my legs and has a barrel chest. I talked to him afterwards and he’s currently training for America’s Strongest Man, which was literally no surprise if you see this guy. But even he struggled with some of the events because it’s notoriously difficult to train for flipping a 600lb tire. After all, what gym can you go to that actually has a 600lb tire or has Atlas Stones sitting around for use. Not many, that’s for sure. Hell, it’s easier to train for pulling a car than it is for flipping massive tires.

So even though I was severely under-trained, I’m going to be doing the same competition in the fall and now that I have a rough idea of the weights that will be used, I can train to that much more easily. Going into this, I had no idea what weights I would be doing in the farmer’s walk, so I trained in the gym with 55-65lb dumbbells using Rogue Fitness Cannonball Grips, which would be literally ripping the weights out of my hands by the time I’d completed my third set. However, I severely underestimated what we’d be doing, which turned out to be 170lbs each hand. I was training at more than a 2.6x deficit in weight and I suffered for it. But now, I can hit the gym over the summer — luckily, no one will be there — and I can drag out the hundred pounders and walk around to my heart’s content. I also need to begin training the deadlift since that was the lift that replaced the sled push – something I was sure I’d do well in. Even if we don’t do the DL in the next comp, it’ll benefit my training overall.

While I have no specific programming in mind just yet, I just know that I’ve got to get stronger across the board and for now, I’m looking to stick to mostly classic lifts: deadlift, squat (and variants), overhead press (and variants), and so on. I don’t care about doing isolation exercises, I’m not working out for a beach-ready body, I just want to pound out some weight. I’ve got about six months to prepare, so I’m going to blitz my body into it.

Well, only one week of school left and this was the first workout after Strong Owl, which I’m still beaten up from. I went heavier than I expected but I got in what I could, the Delta Bravo vultures were hounding the racks all day. The run was a fun addition that I hadn’t planned.

Warm up
Lots of static stretching and foam rolling
2mins jump rope

Workout proper
3×5 pull-ups
3×10 GHD sit ups

Front squat
2×7, 95lbs
2×5, 115lbs

Overhead press
7-5-3 95lbs

1.73mi, 21:24, slow-as-dirt pace

Well, today was the day for the Strong Owl. I certainly wasn’t trained enough, but I did it. I took 4th in my weight class (170-200lbs) but it was a good day overall. Overall, this was a “workout” that took less than 6 minutes to complete but took 3 hours lol.

Tire flip: 400lbs x 100ft 49.23 seconds
Farmer’s walk: 170lbs each hand 100ft 37.8 seconds
Deadlift: 275lbs x 10
Atlas stones: ~150lbs x 16
Log clean and press: 165lbs x 2

Overall, Atlas stones was my best event and I busted out 3 more in the competition than I did in practice. Farmer’s walk was a disaster, I did not expect 170lbs to be loaded up, I was expecting 155 at most. Today was the 2nd time in a decade that I did deadlifts so I was sort of pleased with that but my forearms are blasted. I could barely hold the bar and it ripped out of my hands a few times during my lifts. Oh well, there’s always the fall competition to train for!

Another Tough Owl workout. Overall, this one was a little easier than the first one but only because I was acclimated to the exercises and the guys competing. I managed to get in some time on the tire and became very acquainted with the Atlas stone…to the tone of smacking my chin with it. The tire decided I wasn’t beat up enough and left some nice bruises on my arms.

All weights are estimates, we have no reliable way to weigh a tire this huge or a safe way (on the field) to weigh the Atlas stones.

Farmer’s walk: 100ft , 125lb each hand (I think, I slapped 2x25lbs on each handle)

Tire flip: 2x100ft , 1x75ft in ~45secs. Approx weight ~200lbs

Atlas stones:
3×5 150lbs
1×12 150lbs (AMRAP 1 minute, competition time)

Slater’s Log clean & press: 1×3 135lbs (weight is approximate since we don’t know what the log itself weighs. Weight is log + 2x25lbs plates)

So far, my weaknesses are still the C&P and Farmer’s walk. In the gym, I can regularly do standing military presses or overhead shoulder push-press up to about 115lbs without struggling too much but we have to reset after each rep, so we’re forced to clean and press this god awful log each time. Farmer’s walk is another story altogether. I can easily walk the handles, even with a transition at the end, their dead weight is about 80-90lbs. I’m OK with added plates until we get to add 25lb plates to each side, that’s when my grip starts going out. It’s not so much that I can’t lift the weight, the handles are shearing my grip apart after about 60 feet, which is 40 feet short of the 100 ft distance we’ll use in competition. According to the lift sheet, we’ll be adding 2x45lb plates to each handle in competition and I literally cannot even lift that. Not only are my hands not that strong, my traps aren’t that strong yet either.