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, 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.

Workout
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!

Today I finally managed to make it out to training for me next event:

FAU Tough Owl

I’ve always wanted to do a strongman competition, ever since I was about 14 or 15 years old. Now I finally have my chance. Let me say this: this was hard as hell. I thought I had been working out recently with odd shaped objects or in awkward positions but nothing prepared me for today. Absolutely nothing.

FYI: Weights are approximate, I have no idea what anything weighed and neither did the coach/trainer. That’s either a tactical move to keep us guessing or he seriously didn’t know (my guess). Except for the farmer’s walk, everything was in one of three weight categories: light, medium, heavy.

Workout
Atlas stones, lift and drop:
1×5 – 125lbs
1×6 – 125lbs

Log clean and press, Slater Log’s Jr Log, approximate weight 80-100lbs (according to Slater’s):
1×5 , log only
1×3 , log+10lbs plate

Farmer’s walk:
2x100ft , ~85lbs each hand
1x80ft , ~135lbs each hand

Tire flip:
“Medium” tire, ~150lbs
2x100ft

“Heavy” tire, ~300lbs+
1x75ft

Sand bag (not an event):
~100lbs, 50ft walk each side

Sledgehammer (also not an event, ~12lb hammer):
2-hand slam, 3 rounds alternating 5/5
10-10-8 2-hand overhead slam
1-hand slam, 3 rounds alternating 5/5

2012 has been rolling on and school’s now started for myself and the girlfriend. Right now, my training schedule is a little off but starting next week, I’ll be running with some friends again, while training one of them for an upcoming 5k they’re registered for, exciting! I’ve also enrolled in a new class that, according to the professor, will be more difficult than normal: PET3361 Nutrition in Health and Exercise. Basically, it’s just an intermediary class on sports nutrition so I get to learn all those fun things that I thought I knew 12 years ago (when I was last interested in taking classes on nutrition): metabolism, food chemical interactions, how RDAs/DRIs are calculated for age groups and activity levels, and so on. I think our textbook serves two purposes, one to educate us, but the other is to make us physically stronger. It’s one of the heaviest paperback books I’ve ever owned, I was pretty much curling it last night while flipping the pages. I’m so glad this is an online class, otherwise I could substitute this book inside my backpack for wearing a weighted vest…or for use as a kettlebell.

Now that we’re well into January, I’ve been developing and integrating a new training plan into my life. This new training has included an expansion of my kettlebell workouts and I am now going to be including sledgehammer work and I want to integrate some strongman-type work such as tire flipping, farmer’s walks, and I want to add in some rope climbing work. I’m still shying away from the craziness of CrossFit, especially after seeing more videos from CrossFit gyms like this one (h/t to Conditioning Research) where all the CFers are visibly struggling with their workouts and are clearly setting themselves up to get seriously injured, without any worry from the trainers; in fact, they’re encouraging these people to lift weights they can’t handle or do movements they can’t complete. This gym should be ashamed of themselves for simply taking these people’s money without any concern for their well-being, just watch the video to see what I mean. I’m generally more interested in improving my GPP than just relegating myself to gaining fitness through running only or working to prepare just for races or events.

So far, this has worked to help improve the injury in my hip from last September although it does still hurt on and off, I’ve now realized part of the issue is my office chair so I’ll be getting that replaced as soon as possible as well. I’m not 100% sure if these changes along with ART will get that pesky ITB fixed or if it’s going to make it worse, but we’ll see what happens.

I’ve also moved into adding music back into my workouts only because it’s pretty boring listening to myself breath in and out while jumping rope, so I’m going through Bluetooth headsets like you wouldn’t believe. Since December, I’m on my third pair for evaluation. I’ve only returned one pair because they were just incredibly terrible and poorly thought-out, the Motorola S10-HDs. I don’t know how anyone can wear those things and say they’re comfortable. When I got them in the mail and plunked them on my head, I got a massive headache within 30 minutes from the neckband simply squeezing my head to death. I never actually got to test them during a workout because I couldn’t even wear them. I’ve since returned the Jaybird JF3 Freedoms as well, the wire connecting both earbuds would get caught on everything and that was just unbearable, so now I’m trying out the Arriva Leo headset. My first impressions are:

    Crazy design
    Incredibly light, you hardly notice them
    Getting them to fit is the hardest part
    Using the included Acoustibuds, they have great sound

They’re sweat resistant but we’ll see how long that lasts, I’m expecting a few months at most, if that. The worst part about them is getting them adjusted to fit your head since they use stiff-but-adjustable arms that need to be slightly molded to your head and ear shape. Once they’re adjusted, you’re good to go. Just be careful when removing the earbud tips, you may pull off the speaker mesh.

Now, I gotta get back to work, although I really don’t want to.