|By: Chris Mavromatis
To recap for those new to this series, in the first month I had specified that there are 10 attributes that I feel are necessary for excelling as a strongman and they are:
1) Muscular and Aerobic Conditioning
Last month I detailed ways to improve upon ones performance in the first 5 of the 10 areas above, and this month I will do the same for the final 5 attributes.
6. Aspiring strongmen should get out of the
gym! Now that I have got your attention, I will detail what I mean by this.
In almost any gym that I have been in it is not allowed to walk around
with 500 lbs on a squat bar on your back, or bring in some beer kegs and
load them on to the front counter. To learn and improve on ones ability
to move effectively with weight, one has to go to the back parking lot
of the gym or to a field. As simplistic as it might sound the best way
to improve this ability is to perform the required movements. The most
important movements in this arena are moving with weights carried in your
hands, moving with weight carried on your shoulders and moving with weight
harnessed to your back.
7) Everyone reading this already knows two
things: 1) Where their sticking points are in their lifts 2) To work in
the rack to help overcome those sticking points and better their full range
strength. I would elaborate on this by saying that if you think that
you don't know where your sticking points are in some of your lifts, get
a friend to watch you as you perform your lifts and concentrate yourself
and it will be easy to figure out the sticking points. I agree that standard
rack work at various points in ones lifts can help. I would definitely
get in the rack.
8) How does one work on developing increased courage? Certainly this is not the time or place to detail every way to develop ones sense of courage, there are scores of psychology books on that. All I could really offer is the notion that one overcomes fear of something by knowing one can do that something. One only learns that one can do something by doing that something. I know this is a stunning revelation but it is true ;-) What I mean to say is that you have to practice the movements and try and compete regularly to develop the confidence and thereby courage to compete in Strongman because there are some pretty frightening events. I would like to meet the man who walked up to his first 400 lb rock, that defied to be picked up, without some trepidation or asking the question “Why am I doing this?” This fear lessens with practice and competing, it is that simple.
9) Start training like a strongman and one of two things will happen: 1) You will quit because of the intensity and pain associated with the training or 2) You will develop a thorough ability to accept varied and intense pain. Make no mistake that walking with 600 lbs on your back or carrying a jagged rock against your chest or pulling a 25,000 lb truck is quite uncomfortable. There are many more pleasant things to do to your body, but one must be able to accept the pain and possibility of scratches and bruises that come along with performing strongman events if one desires to be a successful strongman. There have been some strongmen that I have know that came from a martial arts background where they practiced “torture tests” and through these tests improved their ability to deal with pain. Am I saying this is necessary? No, but it is something that one might think about, it can be really beneficial. There is also the old motto too that simply states “Tough it up and go” and a lot of times this is where you will be at the start of an event. Remember that there is no way of altering the fact that some events are painful to practice and perform, but one can alter the way one handles that fact.
10) Ones ability to and desire to fight are certainly partly genetic but this attribute can also be learned and cultivated. When I write of fighting, I hope it is obvious I am not meaning street brawling or boxing. What I mean is the fire, the desire and the ability to “rage”. Rage against a weight, rage against a time needed, rage against your own fears and rage against an opponent (without doing any physical harm, only besting him in an event) are examples of the rage that I speak of. This ability to get pissed off enough to perform at your highest level is something that is imperative in strongman. This rage has to be controlled at certain points, so as not to overcome the competitor and backfire but this rage has to able to be exhumed at a moments notice. I really cannot tell one how to develop this rage for excellence, I suspect that it is already in you the reader to a certain extent since you are reading about how to excel at Strongman. You probably have some lifting experience or at least interest and knowledge; and you know that there are times when you have to get angry or the lift/event will not be at your best level. Many competitors go to certain places in their psyches to drawn upon something to fuel the required rage. I do not believe that this is necessary (one can simply draw upon the realization of the urgency of accomplishing the required task) but it does seem to work for some competitors.
That is all for this month. Next month I
will try to help sift through all the information presented the last three
months and present different ways of creating training schedules from it.
Until then best of luck in your training and thank you for giving me some
Reproduction of this article, in whole or part, for any purposed other than personal use is prohibited without written consent. Copyright 1998 Chris Mavromatis.