Written by Chad Wesley Smith
Yesterday was my first Pro Strongman competition and it was right here in my backyard at the LA Fit Expo. Pretty stacked field including World’s Strongest Man vets Nick Best, Dave Ostlund, Mark Felix and Jerry Pritchett, as well as very accomplished guys Robert Oberst, Joel Dirks, James Rude, Dan Harrison and Andrew Palmer. Let’s just get right into things…
Event 1-Tire Flip
Here we were flipping an 1100 pound tire over a 60′ course. This event was changed last minute from a Truck Pull, which was fine with me. My first 4-5 flips were very solid but the last 2 got away from me a bit and cost me a good 7-10 seconds. I hadn’t trained the tire flip in about 8 months, with the exception of a few flips on Thursday but a 7th place finish in an event I would normally consider a strength for me isn’t acceptable and was definitely a wake up call to the true caliber of competition I was dealing with.
Event 2-Famers Walk
Farmers Walk was the event I was most concerned with because my grip isn’t a strength and the implements we were using are notoriously difficult because of their width which causes them to bump against your legs a lot, making them harder to hold. I only went 26’10″ with the 350 pound 1st implements which surprisingly got me a 6th place finish. Everyone struggled here. Not even Mark Felix, perhaps the strongest grip in the entire World, could finish the whole course which was 350 per hand for 60′, followed by 407 per hand for 60′. 6th place was good for me here, but I still have a lot of work to do on my grip.
Event 3-Viking Press
I had the opportunity to train on this implement at Odd Haugen’s home a few times which paid off with 8 reps of 330 pounds and a tie for 4th place. 5 reps was my best in training on this, so 7-8 reps was my goal and I accomplished that. My overhead press still has a long ways to go but I felt encouraged by my performance here.
Event 4-Front Squat
Obviously this had to be a strong event for me and it was. The apparatus we were using gave a lot of people trouble. It was a 1 1/2″ axle with giant fixed steel wheels for plates. Once these wheels started turning it was hard to stop the bar from rolling away from you. I took extra thought to keep the bar deep against my neck and didn’t have too much trouble with the role, but did have plenty of trouble with the bar choking me. I could barely breath and felt that I was on the verge of blacking out. I knew that strength wise a 6th and probably 7th rep were there but would have been unconscious for sure. After I racked the bar, I couldn’t hear for a minute or so, as my ears were just ringing. I was glad to tie for the victory here and event happier that I didn’t black out.
Event 5-Yoke Walk
This was a HEAVY event. 925 for 60′ and then 1070 for 60′ and to add to it, the 1070 was loaded with about 200# of chain, making it very unstable. My run with 925 wasn’t very good but because of the no drops rule, this wasn’t about speed really, particularly as Nick Best had already blown the field away with a 33 second effort. I dropped the 1070 after only 4′! Luckily, there was a 4′ safety zone at the start of both sides where drops were allowed. I dropped at the absolute end of this zone and was allowed to pick up and go again. I almost finished the whole course and took 4th, but it was difficult for me to not be frustrated because 1) The yoke is a strong event for me and one I want to become one of the World’s best in and 2) Going only 1′ further would have given me 3rd place in the event.
Event 6-Loading Medley
I went into this event in 4th, only 1 point out of 2nd. We started here with a 250# log, then moved to a 300# sandbag, 320# aluminum block and 330# keg. The keg load was easy but I had a hard time standing it up on its end and it cost me several seconds. Then I came to a 388# field stone which I just couldn’t load, which frustrated me because the next implement in the series was a 426# field stone which I have loaded before fairly easily. I just couldn’t find a good handle on the 388# stone. My difficulty on the keg load cost me 3rd place overall, as only .25 seconds faster would have moved me from 8th to 7th in this event.
This was a very competitive and heavy show. I am happy that I beat some big time guys but more frustrated that with 1′ more in the Yoke and .25 seconds in the Loading Medley, I would have been in 2nd overall. This is definitely a game of inches and fractions of seconds. First pro contest is in the books and I know what needs to be worked on.Chad Wesley Smith is the founder and head physical preparation coach at Juggernaut Training Systems. Chad has a diverse athletic background, winning two national championships in the shot put, setting the American Record in the squat (905 in the 308 class, raw w/ wraps) and most recently winning the 2012 North American Strongman championship, where he earned his pro card. In addition to his athletic exploits, Chad has helped over 50 athletes earn Division 1 athletic scholarships since 2009 and worked with many NFL Players and Olympians. Chad is the author of The Juggernaut Method and The Juggernaut Method 2.0. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter