Strongman competition winner (or “That Time I Got 31 Deadlift Reps in 90 Seconds)

May 13, 2018

*is this thing on?* It’s been a minute since I blogged about a competition, but now I have something to tell you, so here’s an update. Not bodybuilding or powerlifting: strongman!

I haven’t stepped on a bodybuilding stage since 2016 (no firm plans to do so again, but haven’t “retired” either). But I’m always up for any kind of challenge – the more fun and weird the better.

Strongman definitely fits the bill! Pulling a truck? Flipping a tyre? Deadlifting a car? That’s weird in anyone’s book.

(If you’re not sure which one Strongman is – here’s the handy cheat-sheet I wrote, mostly for the benefit of my Dad).

Last Sunday’s Strongman & Strongwoman comp was hosted by my lovely friend Nikky Ricks at her gym – Waugh Machines – in Ramsgate. Strongman comps are few and far between, and tend to be organised by gyms, so I jumped at the chance to do something relatively local.

I knew the events and weights long in advance but didn’t get the chance to train on the kit (for various reasons). So I showed up with the knowledge that I am strong but… that’s about it.

The thing about Strongman is that nothing is predictable. Yes, there might be a deadlift event and you might love deadlifting. But WHAT will you be deadlifting, exactly? Not a bar with plates, that’s for sure.

Strongman is about full body strength, power, speed, and thinking on your feet.

The comp was split into three groups – men (split by weight) and one open women’s class – with different weights (but the same events) for each. There were four women in total.

Here’s how I got on.

Event 1 – truck pull

When I turned up at the venue, a couple of us ladies asked if we could have a go just to see if we could at least move it. I’ve done vehicle pulls in comps before, but never a sodding massive actual truck. It looked…. huge. Anyway, I managed to pull it across the line. We then realised that it had been loaded up to the advertised men’s weight. So we said sod it, we can do that, so give us that weight and put on extra for the men.

  • 9.7 tonnes over 20 metres for time.
  • Not sure where I came in this (2nd?) but I completed it

Event 2 – log press

This is where you clean (lift) the log from around knee height to chest, then press overhead. If you place the log back down, it’s a no-lift. I had no idea how I’d do with this. I don’t do this move in my regular training, and a log is awkward compared to a barbell.

We started at 30kgs then went up in 5kgs in a knock-out format. I was OK til we got to 45kgs – as I was pressing overhead, the weights slipped off one side, the log tilted, then the weights came off the other side. I was allowed another go, but obviously that had tired me out a bit. Anyway, I got the 45kg on my next go. There were a couple of us still in at this stage. The other lady tried to get 50kgs and didn’t manage. I stepped up, not at all sure that I would. It took two goes (but I didn’t set the log down, so that’s fine). After what felt like a very slow lock-out, I got it.

  • Very chuffed to log press 50kgs
  • And shocked to win this event!


Event 3 – car deadlift max reps in 90 seconds

(Here’s a video)
We didn’t actually get to deadlift the car (the guys did). But we had a 130kg tyre on the car deadlift jack. I’ve no idea what that actually weighs – obviously the angle and lever movement means you’re not actually deadlifting 130kgs. I got to go last in this which was great because it meant I could see what the others did and commit to beating them at all costs. Deadlifting is my favourite, and I would be gutted not to win this event! The lady just before me was banging them out like a machine. I counted 22. Right. 23 or more it was then.

I still had no idea how heavy the thing actually felt, though. I set up, lifted, stumbled back into a more comfy position… and went to a dark place haha! I literally just jammed my feet into the ground, gripped the bar, and refused to stop deadlifting until the 90 seconds was up. It felt… OK. Not that heavy (I reckon it was 100kg-110kg?) But it was a lung-buster. You try deadlifting ANY weight for 90 seconds let alone that. My body felt relatively OK but my heart and lungs were screaming. The referee was in front of me making sure I locked out and came to a deadstop on each rep. At one point I just shut my eyes and carried on lifting. I lost count completely and asked “how many?” “how many!” 27 was the reply. I’d already won but wanted to keep going. Bam bam bam…

  • 31 reps. In 90 seconds. PMSL
  • I won this

Event 4 – farmers walk into tyre flip
(Here’s a video)

I probably should have remembered that the deadlift was only the 3rd of 5 events. I still had this horrorshow to do. Farmers Walk/Carry (55kgs each hand) for 20 metres, drop, turn, and flip a 130kg tyre back for 20 metres. I’ve done a Farmers Carry before (although not this heavy as far as I can remember). But I’ve never done a tyre flip. I’ve tried one or two just in training and always find it so awkward and just horrible. I completed this – the Farmers was OK and at least I didn’t stumble or fall! – but the tyre flip was disgusting. I made a big song and dance of it, with various dramatic squeaks and yelps.

  • 55kgs each hand Farmers (20m) into 130kg tyre (20m)
  • Not sure where I came in this but completed it

Event 5 – 50kg sandbag over 1.2m yoke for reps

If you’ve never tried to lift a heavy bag of sand off the floor and shove it over something at roughly chest height, let me tell you how it feels. Horrible, frustrating, aggravating, exhausting. A bag of sand does not want to be picked up, held, or manoeuvred. I don’t have a lot to say about this event. I asked how many I needed to beat (3) and I did…. 5. Because that’s the kind of person I am.

  • 5 reps
  • Won this event

All done. I really wasn’t sure if I’d won, because of the timed events. I didn’t know if I’d done enough in those to put me in first place. I thought I was second to be honest, because the lady with the 22 deadlifts had been very quick on the truck pull and carry medley.

Turns out I did win! I reckon there wasn’t much in it, and I know 2nd place lady is up for a rematch next year. Me too!

[Edited to add: since writing this, I’ve been sent the times and placings for each event and I actually won them all (!) But I do reckon it was very close on the timed ones:]

  • Truck pull 46.5 secs 1st
  • Log lift 50kg 1st
  • Car deadlift 31 reps 1st
  • Farmers into tyre flip 1 min 32 secs 1st (<<< longest 92 seconds of my life I might add)
  • Sandbag 5 reps 1st

I’ve put a few videos and photos on my Instagram (in my feed, but also as a Highlight at the top of the page) if you want to look.

Big thanks to Nikky and Paul at Waugh Machines for organising and hosting the comp, and to everyone who helped referee, encourage, motivate etc on the day. It really was a fun day with a fab atmosphere. Deadlifting + getting a suntan – what better way to spend a Sunday!

Have you ever done a Strongman event? Would you?

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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Strong(wo)man competition and a 140kg deadlift

April 9, 2015

What’s filthy, involves a lot of pulling, and makes you feel like your insides might burst out through your eye sockets?

Strongman!

On Easter Sunday I did something a little bit different: took part in a local strong(wo)man competition.

I’ve done one previously but that was a private, gym-run thing. Whilst this one wasn’t a huge event, it was open to anyone and so I had no idea who else would be in my category – other than my pal Linda.

Linda is a powerlifter but we manage to peacefully co-exist training together at the gym 😉 She sometimes makes me go in the monolift, and I sometimes make her do 20+ reps of something.

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We decided a while ago to enter this strongwoman comp, and headed up to Terry Hollands’s gym to train with real strongman kit (you can read about that here).

The events listed for our category were:

Farmers walk, 45kgs in each hand, 50 metres
Viking press, 55kgs, reps for 1 minute
Deadlift knock out starting at 80kgs
Seated hand-over-hand truck pull, 25 metres
Loading medley (“to be decided on the day”)

We did what we could in terms of training and preparation, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t really feel like I’d trained enough. I was hoping brute force and persistence would get me through. And my deadlift, which is decent.

Here’s how it went down:

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Farmers Walk

The weight was no problem, but in the comp we had to turn around a marker. I’d only trained to walk, drop the handles, turn myself 180* and pick them up to walk back. Turning around the marker seemed a tricky challenge, so I went for “slow but steady” (to avoid falling over). Result? I came last in this. So I was first up in the….

J3F_7377
Viking Press
This Viking Press looked nothing like the one we’d trained on at Terry H’s, but it didn’t feel too bad. 55kgs is heavy, mind you! I think I banged out 19 reps in the minute, which is more than I’d done in training. The referees seemed impressed, so I had high hopes. Until the women who went after me got 20s… and 30s…. I think I was 2nd to last in this event.

J3F_7435
Deadlift
I was looking forward to this! I love deadlifting lots, and rarely train for it in any kind of kit (not even always a belt). We were allowed belt and chalk, but no straps. 80, 90, 100, 110 went up just fine. 120 started to feel a bit heavy. 130 was a struggle but there was no way I wasn’t going to get it. 140 was scary. I have pulled 140kgs before, but so long ago I was beginning to think I made it up. In front of a crowd which included friends and family, I eyed that mofo up. If I started to lift it, it was coming all the way up. And it did… excruciatingly slowly and excruciatingly painfully. It felt like my insides were going to come out through my eye sockets, taking my eyeballs with them. A good look, I’m sure. Still, who cares, I legit pulled a 140kgs deadlift. With 3 of us left in at this stage, the refs put it up to 150kgs. I set up and gave it a pull. Nope. Not moving. I bowed out, chuffed to bits with 140.

Sled pull
We’d been expecting to pull a truck towards us, hand over hand, with a rope. That’s what we’d trained to do. For some reason, this event was replaced with a sled drag. The rope was attached to a prowler/sled which was loaded to (I believe) 140kgs. We had to sit and just heft the damn thing over the line. Trouble is, sleds aren’t on wheels, so there was no momentum. And we were pulling it over a muddy and stony surface. I went second or third on this, so the ground was still “fresh”. The sled got wedged behind a stone at one point and I genuinely thought I couldn’t shift it. With every competitor, the ground got worn down a little smoother until eventually the sled was (kind of) running in a groove. But I was still pleased with my time. This event was a lung buster!

Loading medley
I had no idea what we’d be loading. Hopefully not the stones, since they started at 80kgs. And ideally not those 55kgs concrete blocks. Oh, what’s that? We are loading those 55kgs concrete blocks? All 5 of them? And we’re picking them up and running them a short distance to a truck before chucking them in? OK, good. This was hard. I had no clue how to even tackle picking the blocks up (arms underneath and deadlift them up to lap them heft them in?) I truly didn’t know if I’d be able to do one, let alone all five. As it turned out, I managed all five with a few seconds to spare, and not before declaring “I’m going to die!” (rather dramatically if I do say so myself). “No you’re not,” was the response from the official!

J3F_7532
I came 4th (of 5!) by just 1/2 a point, to my friend Linda. We had always said we were representing the gym, and she very graciously offered to share her trophy with me. It’s now on the shelf at the gym along with various other bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman trophies.

J3F_7538
There was a big gap between Linda and me, and the two ladies who came 1st and 2nd. They were beasts (in the nicest possible sense). Whereas Linda and I are just only slightly beastly 😉

I didn’t ache the next day… but by two days later I was sore almost all over. Traps, front delts, biceps, neck and upper back were all suffering. Lower back was feeling the effects of my max deadlift followed by the awkward action of the loading event. And I was so tired!

But it was great fun and definitely a good way to spice up lifting and strength training.

Big thanks to the organisers of the event!

Have you ever done a strongman or strongwoman competition? What was your favourite event?

Thank you to Linda’s partner Jeff for the pics

Strong(wo)man competition and a 140kg deadlift is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Strong(wo)man training at Terry Hollands S&C Gym

March 10, 2015

I haven’t posted about training in ages. So here’s an update involving a truck, some large men, and a bit of falling over in front of my friends.

strongman training bodybuilding

Whether I compete in bodybuilding this year or not (#vague), I’m still in off-season, not dieting, and, y’know, enjoying living life not in a constant calorie deficit 😉

I’m taking the opportunity to do a few different types of training: I’ve been riding horses, going to the local boxing club, doing a bootcamp on the beach at 8:30am on Saturdays (!) and warming to the idea of a powerlifting meet.

So when there was talk of a local strongman and strongwoman event, all 5′ 5” of my good self said “sure, let’s do it.”

Happily for me, I know lots of strong men, and also some Strongmen.

And Terry Hollands’s (<<< apostrophe self-doubt panic mode) new S&C gym isn't too far from where I live. I’m sure you all know who Terry Hollands is but just in case my Dad is reading 😉 he’s the most successful British strongman competitor in 20 years, and has competed in 10 World’s Strongest Man comps (3rd twice), and has held the titles of UK’s, Britain’s and England’s strongest man.

And yes, to those of you who’ve asked, he was indeed there (but no he didn’t coach me). I borrowed his wife’s belt though if that’s cool enough for you?

My gym-pal Linda and I went over to Hollands Strength and Conditioning gym last Sunday to muddle our way through an approximation of the events which will face us on competition day.

Here’s what’s listed for the event:

Farmers walk 45kg in each hand for 50m. 60sec time limit
Viking press 55kg for reps. 60sec time limit
Deadlift knock out 80kg start weight
Arm over arm vehicle pull 25m
Medley load event to be announced on the day.

And here’s what Linda and I did:

Bit of battle ropes and light Viking press to warm up.

IMG_8024

Viking Press 55kgs for 60s x 2 rounds.
– OMG this was so very difficult. I am in agony today! I got 11 reps, then 7 reps, yes in one whole minute (!) It was killer though I promise!

Farmers Walk 45kgs in each hand, inside (4 “lengths” of around 10m)
– I was somehow quite good at this?

Arm-over-arm seated vehicle pull using Linda’s truck which weights around 2.5 tonnes (?) – we’ve no idea what kind of vehicle will be used on the day
– This was surprisingly easy once I got it going. I suppose the thought (and visual) of pulling a truck that people actually drive around in makes your brain think “nope”. But it’s totally doable. Think I did this in about 28 seconds.

Loading medley. Again we’ve no idea what we’ll be loading on the day, but we used a light barrel, a 30kgs-ish dumbell, a 32kg (I think) kettlebell and a 65kgs (I think) sandbag.
– This was OK, I found it a bit of a struggle being relatively short (for strongwoman!) but we’ve no idea how high the platform will be on the day. Sandbags are a b*stard to load!

Farmers Walk 45kgs each hand, outside this time (2 “lengths” of 25m)
– Again I was pretty quick on this – 23 seconds the first time round, then I fell over at the end of the second go (still 26 seconds even with the fall!) And no I am not posting the video!

Then some tyre flipping “for fun” with a 180kg tyre.
– I’m glad this isn’t in the event, it definitely favours taller people! Felt very uncomfortable (maybe a padded bra would have helped!)

IMG_8030

Strong(wo)man training was amazing fun and a brilliant change to my normal strength training. The two hours flew by and it didn’t really feel like training at all.

I’m really looking forward to the comp 😀 I’ll keep you updated (although I have no expectations and not a clue about how I’ll do).

Hats off to strongmen and strongwomen, your training is killer and I think I’ll be sore for a week!

Oh, and one last thing? In bodybuilding, “lightweight” is U55kgs. In this comp, U75kgs is the cut-off. In your face, bodybuilding! 😉 (Love you really).

Thank you to Linda’s partner Jeff for the pics (strength sports – not designed to look attractive! Haha!)

Have you ever done a strongman/strongwoman comp? Did you fall over?

Strong(wo)man training at Terry Hollands S&C Gym is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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