By:  Chris Mavromatis  

 Greetings all, it is nice to be back contributing to this great e-zine!

Let me start off by responding to some possible criticism of this months article. “Chris, your articles are usually of good length and detailed and quite informative... this months article is so short?” Yes the amount of words in this months article will be somewhat shorter than many previous, but the information is probably the most important I have ever written. The article this month is short and very explicit, but contains information that must be followed if one ever plans on becoming a premier strongman. And so...

     What is the most significant axim that was verified time and time again at The Strongest Man Alive Contest 1998? PRACTICE MAKES A GREAT STRONGMAN!

     That is it, it is that simple. The competitors that did well (and all of those that qualified for the Finals) in the Qualifying Events, had practiced those events. Believe it or not, there were some competitors that called me 1 month out from the contest and asked if they thought it was necessary to start practicing the events (since after all they were very strong guys). Well all I can say is, the performances of those athletes corresponded well with the fact that they hadn't practiced them much. I go back to my previous article that used the example of a football player never getting out on the football field and staying in the gym squatting, he will never be a world class football player.  That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it. Well then why is it difficult for some strength athletes to believe that they have to practice strongman events consistently to get good at strongman?

       "But Chris, it can be expensive and very time consuming to make many of the implements for strongman to practice with." To a point, that is true. In future articles, I will go over some ways to reduce the cost of making some of the implements, but it is definitely true that there is a significant commitment to become a world class strongman. Any parent that has nurtured their son or daughter in tennis in the hopes of their becoming a champion, knows that there is a quite significant financial and temporal commitment that has to be made. How about those $200 an hour private lessons and so on, it takes a considerable commitment to become a world champion in most sports and strongman is no different, except for the fact that the financial commitment is quite a bit less than for many sports.

      Jouko Ahola had never seen or touched the Mavrocks before he attempted to lift them, yet he lifted all six (only one other competitor lifted No. 6 Phil Pfister) in an absolutely jaw dropping 22 seconds. He literally toyed with them, while most found No.'s 4 and 5 to be gargantuan tasks (which of course, the truth be said, they are incredible trials). Is he some supernatural stone god, who finds anything to do with stones a breeze whereas other mortal men are tested to the limit? Even though some of his strength feats do seem not from this world, the reason he is so great at the stones is because he has his own set. They are not exactly the same as the Mavrocks (mine are granite, his are concrete with a steel core) but it certainly is essentially the same event, with the concrete rocks only not being as pretty. This is absolutely his advantage, that and having a close to 900-lb deadlift! He also has his own Power Stairs, Hercules Hold and etc. He is young (27 yo) and is to determined to attempt to stay at the top of the Strongman game for some time to come. He knows that the way to beat someone that may be stronger at an event, is TO KNOW THE BEST WAY TO PERFORM THE EVENT! One learns this with practice, certainly others experience helps, but the only way that one can learn the best way for himself to perform an event is to practice it. Each individual has different leverages and learns through time, the most efficient way to perform an event. 
     Another great event to illustrate the power of practice is the Super Yoke. There were many 800-lb+ squatters at the event that had one heck of a time with the Yoke, and yet the winner of the event Phil Pfister has publicly stated that he has never squatted over 600 lbs. This is not to state that he does not have tremendous overall and trunk power, because he definitely does. It is simply to illustrate that one cannot rely on ones gym performance to carry over to the field at a strongman event. The competitors that did well in the Yoke, had constructed their own types of Yokes (all different from mine, but still gave the overall feeling for Yoke walking) and practiced steadily. If it isn't obvious, walking with 650+ lbs on your back is not a natural thing to do. No matter how strong your body is the first time that you step underneath a Yoke and attempt to walk with it, your body has no idea what to do to make the walk successful. It can be a very frustrating activity at first, just like learning the proper backhand can be at first. This is definitely one event where all the knowledge in the world of how to do it, doesn't really help that much until you get underneath one and start to practice. 

      Harness Pulling, Arm over Arm pull (watch some old tapes of Magnus ver and see a masterful style to pulling vehicles arm over arm) and essentially every event deserves practice. 
      "But Chris, with different strongman contests having different events how does one train for all of them?" The simple answer is to find out the upcoming years contests and events and try to make as much of the implements as you can and practice them in tune to which contest is coming up next. There are contests that have unique events (and I plan on my future events as having more unprecedented events), but there are definite mainstays in Strongman that you will never go wrong in practicing at because there will always be some contests that have those events in them. These are the obvious harness pulls, arm over arm pulls, some kind of over head pressing (a lot use different types of logs), some kind of awkward rock event, some type of grip or hold event and so on. 

      That's it! Take what I have written here to heart and you will make light year strides in your strongman performances. I expect that most all of my competitors have taken it to heart (since they learned first hand) and I expect many of them to turn in much improved performances next year!!

      Thank you and if I don't get an article out before then, HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND NEW YEAR TO ALL!
 Chris Mavromatis has a double B.S. in Neuropsychology and International Economics from Indiana University-Bloomington. He lived and Sweden and Belgium for 2 years and attended and learned from many strongman championships all over Europe. He has competed in Regional Strongman competitions in Belgium and Denmark. He has contacts and knowledge from numerous strongmen over Europe and North America. He  produced the premier strongman competition "The Strongest Man Alive Contest" in St. Louis, MO on November 7th and 8th , 1998. Results of this contest can be  viewed at 

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Reproduction of this article, in whole or part, for any purposed other than personal use is prohibited without written consent. Copyright 1998 Chris Mavromatis.