Written by Team Juggernaut
By Chad Wesley Smith
This past weekend I traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to compete in my 3rd ever strongman contest, the Europa Platinum Plus, where the winner would earn their American Strongman pro card. I felt good about my training cycle and knew that with a solid performance I would be in contention for the win.
It was a two day contest and like most strength sports competitions, got off to a late start. This threw off my eating and warmup schedule a bit, but everyone was in the same boat, so can’t complain. Here is a recap of my competition…
Event 1-Last Man Standing Log Press
This event had not been coming along as well as I’d like during training but I had a good last few sessions with it and knew that with a good peak, adrenaline, I should be in the mix around 380 pounds.
Everyone began with 300 pounds, that 320, 340 and 360 were all relatively smooth but I was frustrated when the announcer commented on how I was strict pressing everything, because that isn’t my aim. I need to be able to get a dip under the bar and that isn’t happening. Next was 380 and I got it over my head but couldn’t lock it out on 3 attempts within the 1 minute time limit. I was frustrated by this miss, but I still finished tied for 2nd here.
Event 2-Yoke Walk/Frame Carry Medley
The Yoke is my strongest event, so I was pleased to hear that the weight would be increased from the listed 900 pounds up to 975 pounds. My grip though is an issue and hearing that the frame was going from 680 to 730 was a bit disconcerting.
The Yoke went smoothly, I didn’t get an official split but I would guess that it was in the 12-14 second range for 50’. I took an extra second to set my grip on the frame, had an easy pickup and got going but right away I could tell my grip wouldn’t hold. I dropped about 20 feet in, picked it up again and went 10’ then had a few small picks and drops for 10 more feet. This was extremely frustrating for me, as with the pace I was at if I had been drop-free would have more than likely finished the entire event before anyone else even finished the Yoke. Alas, I had to settle for another 2nd place.
I had about an hour and a half drive to where I was staying, got a late (but big) dinner in me and had a good night’s sleep.
Event 3-Deadlift for Reps
This event was initially supposed to be an axle deadlift off of tires (18” pickup) for reps but because the axles were painted they switched to a deadlift with plates (9” pickup) and would allow straps. I was very excited to hear this because my deadlift training has been going great and with the straps taking the grip out of the equation I knew this event had to be a win.
Being in 2nd place, I was in the final pairing, so I knew that 10 reps was currently the number to beat. I banged out 14 reps in about 30 seconds, checked on where the other competitor was out and shut it down there because he wouldn’t be able to catch me. If I had gone for broke here I’m very confident I would have been able to do 600×22-25 reps. I really have improved my deadlift this training cycle and feel I could take it just about anywhere and hold my own.
Event 4-Giant DB Press
This event was definitely my most frustrating during training. Whether it was a technique or strength issue or shoulder pain, I always felt like this event was giving me a hard time. I was in the final pairing once again, as I was now tied for1st overall after the deadlift. I only managed 4 reps here and missed 3 other attempts with the 200# DB in 1 minute. One more rep would have tied me with the eventual overall winner and put me in a tie for 3rd in the this event, instead I had to settle for 4th place which dropped me back into 2nd, 1 point out of the lead.
Event 5-Husafel Stone
This event was a big question mark to me because I had never even touched the implement before the contest. I got a pickup with it in warmups and took a few steps and just saved my energy, basically just resigning myself to the idea that doing well here would just mean gutting it out.
As soon as I started to walk with the 400 pound stone, I knew I hadn’t gotten it high enough on my chest. About 75’ in my grip was already slipping. I got to 115’ and dropped. I think that once I learn how to get the stone into the right position to take the stress off my arms, that this could be a great event for me because of my posterior chain strength and foot speed. I took 4th here and fell 2 points out of the lead, now in 3rd overall, with 1 event remaining.
Event 6-Wheelbarrow Medley
This event was a bit of a mystery to everyone because the exact details of things weren’t known until the day of the show. The event would be to load a 250# DB into the giant wheel barrow apparatus (which was about 600# in hand empty) roll it 10’, load a 300# sandbag, walk 10’, load a 300# Husafel stone and then take the wheelbarrow the final 30’ of the course. I knew that my grip could once again be an issue but winning this event was my only chance to win the overall contest. I had also never used a sandbag before so I made sure to study everyone’s technique before me as closely as possible.
All the loads were pretty easy, my only mistake that I saw was taking the wheelbarrow a little too far in the 1st 2 pushes which made my transitions back to the handles a bit slower. I was in the 2nd to last pairing here and took the lead in the event, but both guys in the final pairing beat me.
Overall I was pretty happy with my performance here but it is tough for me to not play out the scenarios (Make 380 Log, 1 more rep on DB Press) in my head that could have gotten me at least a tie for 1st and into a tiebreaker event. I know what I need to work on before Nationals in November and will be there ready to bring home the title and my pro card.
Thanks to NAS for putting on a great show and it was great to meet all my fellow competitors, there were some very impressive performances.
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