Strongman is a Jealous Lover

Mark Clevenger

I’m not going to lie, if “Strongman” were a woman, and you met her at a bar, she would be a solid 10. She would be incredibly hot, love to eat, lift heavy, and would confess that she “never does traditional cardio.” You’ve got to go for it, right? I mean, what could possibly be wrong with her? All of these first signs feel so right and then you figure it out… she’s a stage 5 clinger. If you don’t spend your every waking moment thinking about how you are going to incorporate “Strongman” into your life giving every ounce of your energy and time to her… I promise something bad is going to happen to you.

If she catches you thinking about another form of training she’s gonna key your car. Don’t have time to spend with her this weekend because of work? You’ll come home to your Playstation 4 and all of your games burning in the front yard. With all of this said, you should be asking yourself, “is she even worth it?” If so, how do you keep this stage 5 crazy at bay so you can enjoy this beautiful 10 on a daily basis?

Forgive me for sounding like a misogynistic pig while I’ve tried to illustrate a point about the sport of Strongman. The thing is, training and competing in Strongman can be the most appealing, fulfilling, and exciting sport on the planet, but only if you give it a prime spot on your priority list. This is going to mean devoting the time and attention needed for training, recovery, nutrition, and implement-specific technique work. Here are the top three things you should be ready to do to keep this dime piece happy.

Commit to her, there can be no one else

There can be no one else. If you think you can train for Crossfit, Powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and water polo and be safe competing in Strongman you’re wrong. Every sport has its own unique set of sporting demands that must be addressed in training to prevent injury. The more sports we compete in the longer the list of sporting demands that must be addressed becomes, but there are only so many training hours a week that we can fit in or recover from. Eventually, things on this important list get neglected and it’s not too long until the injury fairy ends up paying you a visit. If you’re going to compete in Strongman, commit to Strongman.

Eat

If you wanna wear skinny jeans and have ‘cut abs’ all the while being able to deadlift cars and run with hundreds of pounds on your back, you’re obviously in the wrong sport. Training for Strongman is hard and requires the proper fuel to keep doing it day in and day out. If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to recover, guess what? It’s going to break.

Active and passive recovery

When you’re not in the gym training, or eating to be in the gym training, you should be focusing on recovery. This includes 8 hours of sleep a night, lots of water all day every day, using a lacrosse ball or foam rolling problematic body parts every day, getting on a regular massage schedule, and going for regular walks on both training days and rest days. If you don’t focus on recovery, recovery won’t focus on you and that’s how you end up hurt.

It may sound like I’m trying to make this an all or nothing scenario, but I’m really just trying to stress the importance of sport specific training.  Do some athletes dabble in multiple sports and do just fine? Yes, but think about how many players you have you seen on the show ‘Cheaters’, that is generally the exception and not the rule. What I don’t understand is, why dabble with a 10, when you can simply have a 10? In the end, if you’re a weightlifting player who wants a side chick, Strongman is not the one to just play around with.

Commit to her or you’ll regret it.

Organizing Training Blocks for Strongman

Mark Clevenger

There are a lot of different ways to create training blocks for Strongman. Most people use the traditional ‘event day’ model where they train traditional barbell methods throughout the week and then meet with a crew on the weekend to train implements they have coming up in a show. While this method works for many very good strongman competitors I prefer to view Strongman implements not as a separate tool of training for a specific show but as a daily integrated piece of equipment meant to supplement my strength and conditioning program. This is easiest done using a conjugate model of training so that is how I will explain it here.

In order to understand how I’m organizing training blocks you need to be familiar with some terminology. I use a 3 week conjugate wave to organize my training with one maximal effort lower body and upper body day programmed, as well as one dynamic effort lower body and upper body day programmed. Maximal effort work is defined as working up to max lift on a variation of the main lift you are trying to strengthen. So for overhead days that is a variation of the overhead press. Dynamic effort work uses the competition lift itself at lighter loads to work on speed of movement and technique. Special exercises are those extra exercises in your training day meant to strengthen a perceived weakness in your main lift; i.e. upper back, lower back, hamstrings, ect… General physical preparedness (GPP) is the conditioning you use at the end of your training session. An example of this template is provided below for you to get an idea of where we are starting from.

Week 1
Max Effort Lower Max Effort Upper Dynamic Effort Lower Dynamic Effort Upper
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP GPP GPP GPP
Week 2
Max Effort Lower Max Effort Upper Dynamic Effort Lower Dynamic Effort Upper
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP GPP GPP GPP
Week 3
Max Effort Lower Max Effort Upper Dynamic Effort Lower Dynamic Effort Upper
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP GPP GPP GPP

For overhead events, the meat and potatoes of Strongman are the axle and log press. These events, and their alternate power variations, are trained every week with the use of other barbell/dumbbell press work used as a supplement to training to these two lifts. There are other Strongman lifts we see in competitions that must be integrated into training when you know those events are coming up, but if you’re strong in the axle/log strict press, push press, and push/split jerk you will be strong in those other lifts such as well (i.e. Viking press, circus dumbbell, ect..). This means you’ll just need technique refreshers for those various pressing events leading up to a show. Ideas of integrating these more odd events are provided a little later.

Press cycles should be organized so that you alternate between the axle and log for dynamic effort work which is performed as 12 sets of 2 reps for week 1, 10 sets of 2 reps for week 2, and then 8 sets of two reps for week 3. The relative percentages with accommodating resistance (AR, bands and chains) are 55/15%, 60/15%, 65/15% respectively. For those of you without access to AR simply use 70/75/80%  of straight weight for your working sets. For the push and power variations you should train those like Olympic lifts and perform them before your max effort work. I use straight weight for these at 7 sets of 2 reps weeks 1 and 2, with 5 sets of 2 reps in week 3. The relative percentages for this work is 75/80/85% respectively. To keep these max effort workouts from being too long use 90 second rest intervals between sets and cut out 10 minutes of GPP from the end of the workout day. To prevent accommodation rotate the power variations on the max effort day and rotate them into the dynamic effort work with AR from cycle to cycle. Below are several sample templates of these rotations.

Sample Table 1

Week 1
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Log Clean and Split Jerk 7X2 @75% Axle Press 12X2 @55+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 2
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Log Clean and Split Jerk 7X2 @80% Axle Press 10X2 @60+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 3
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Log Clean and Split Jerk 5X2 @85% Axle Press 8X2 @65+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min

Sample Table 2

Week 1
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Axle Clean and Split Jerk 7X2 @75% Log Press 12X2 @55+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 2
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Axle Clean and Split Jerk 7X2 @80% Log Press 10X2 @60+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 3
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Axle Clean and Split Jerk 5X2 @85% Log Press 8X2 @65+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min

Sample Table 3

Week 1
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Log Push Press 7X2 @75% Axle Press 12X2 @55+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 2
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Log Push Press 7X2 @80% Axle Press 10X2 @60+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 3
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Log Push Press 5X2 @85% Axle Press 8X2 @65+15%
Max Effort Press Accessory Lift
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min

You can see with each various cycle the log and axle lifts are rotated to prevent accommodation and the power variations are treated as Olympic lifts on max effort days, with the log and axle strict press rotated every 3 week wave for dynamic work. Now, if you had an overhead event coming up in a contest that wasn’t a log or axle you would simply replace a max effort lift with that specific event to get an idea of where you’re at with it and then let it be a special exercise you train on your dynamic day. You shouldn’t need any more than a single 3 week block of work to adequately prepare you for an upcoming competition.

Programming the different Strongman deadlift variations into training is probably the easiest lift to integrate into a 3 week conjugate training block. With so many different types of deadlifts used in the sport rotating all of them in on max effort days gives the athlete a good idea of where they are at with each lift year round. I then use the dynamic days to train the traditional deadlift since the higher that number goes the higher all the other deadlift variations will go. I don’t think it can get any simpler than this. An example is listed below.

Week 1
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
13” Deadlift Max Deadlift 12X2 @55+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 2
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Axle Bar 18” Deadlift Max Deadlift 12X2 @60+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 3
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Frame Deadlift Max Deadlift 10X2 @65+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Special Exercise 1 Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min

To this point everything seems very standard and I’m sure you’re asking yourself where all the other random Strongman events go? The easiest to place to start, on the coattails of deadlift/squat programming, is the yoke runs, farmers runs, and atlas stone loads. In order to use these pieces of equipment for specific strength and conditioning purposes we have to understand what parts/systems of the body we are using them for.

When we use the yoke properly, arms pressing out or wrapped around pulling in, we are engaging our upper and mid backs to stabilize the load so our legs can move efficiently. This load itself in conjunction with the moving weight challenges our core dynamically as we walk (quickly) from one point to another. So if you find your upper back, mid back, or midline stability are issues in your deadlift or squat with heavy working sets you can implement heavy yoke walks on max effort days in place of a special exercise. These runs should be shorter in distance and higher in intensity. If you find that these issues only arise with higher repetition sets after fatigue starts to set in then implement lighter yoke runs for a longer distance on dynamic effort days by substituting these runs for one of the special exercises. These runs should be longer in distance and of a lower intensity. An example of each is provided below.

Week 1
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Deadlift Variation Max Deadlift 12X2 @55+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Special Exercise 1 Yoke Run 5X100′ @60%
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 2
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Deadlift Variation Max Deadlift 12X2 @60+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Special Exercise 1 Yoke Run 5X100′ @65%
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 3
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Deadlift Variation Max Deadlift 10X2 @65+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Special Exercise 1 Yoke Run 5X100′ @70%
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min

 

Week 1
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Deadlift Variation Max Deadlift 12X2 @55+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Yoke Run 3X50′ @80% Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 2
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Deadlift Variation Max Deadlift 12X2 @60+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Yoke Run 3X50′ @85% Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min
Week 3
Max Effort Day Dynamic Effort Day
Deadlift Variation Max Deadlift 10X2 @65+15%
Squat Variation Squat Variation
Yoke Run 2X50′ @90% Special Exercise 1
Special Exercise 2 Special Exercise 2
GPP 10 min GPP 20 min

Much like the yoke walks, farmers runs are great tools to strengthen your upper back, mid back, midline stabilizers, and grip. These too can be substituted as the yoke is on max effort and dynamic effort days as shown above using the same distances and intensities. Lastly, atlas stones when performed with an emphasis on the ‘high pull’ from the upper back become a great tool for strengthening your dynamic hugger muscles (chest, biceps, and internal rotators), hips, mid and upper back. For general strength and conditioning purposes, not competition specific purposes, you can use these on lower body dynamic effort days with lighter weights for volume. Substitute these as a special exercise and perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps with only one pickup from the floor per set and resetting in the lap between repetitions. This will minimize the stress on the bicep while maximizing the strengthening effect on the hips, chest, mid and upper back.

In terms of implementing other random event training (tire flip, husafel carries, sandbag runs, sled work, keg carries, ect…) into your general strength training routine, use these implements as part of your GPP at the end of workouts. Rotate the implements carried, alternate distances traveled, use different timed sets, and add other various forms of external resistance to these carries (sled drag from the waist while carrying a sandbag, sled pulls with a weight vest, ect…). By rotating these implements into your GPP blocks you constantly work the technique of the implements, increase your speed with the implements, raising your general work capacity with the implements, as well as increasing your specific strength with each implement. Many of these different implements can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body or excessively strain on certain muscle groups so I always recommend working with light to moderate weights of each implement relative to the athletes strength to prevent excessive wear and tear. When you start prepping for specific items in an upcoming competition you can start to go heavy with these tools.

Some closing notes about organizing training blocks for Strongman. Strongman implements are not a separate piece of training equipment only to be used when you have a contest coming up, they are integral pieces of equipment meant to strengthen lagging areas of your body in order to lift more weight. Implementing these tools as I’ve outlined not only allows you strengthen weak points but also helps you become proficient at the individual implements themselves. This way when you do become contest specific in your training you’ve already established a broad base of strength to build your competitive performance from. Enjoy the process of experimentation with the plug and play framework provided until you find the right programming balance that works for you.

From Middle Weight to Light Weight; Making the Cut

Mark Clevenger

It’s human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side but there are some instances where you just have to find out for yourself. Last March I got the idea to cut weight classes for Strongman from a 225 lb Open Middle Weight (MW) competitor to a 181 lb Open Light Weight (LW) competitor. I wanted to perform better in the sport as well as experience the process of dropping weight classes. I looked at the MW event weights, then at the LW event weights and thought, “Hey, drop a few lb’s and I could totally murder that!!” Plus, as a coach, I understand the value of hands-on experience with the things we teach. Anybody can write up (or purchase) a macro template with a water cut for weight loss while training, but can they give you the intimate details on everything they will experience throughout the process? I wanted to be able to give my clients these details so they can learn from my experience and not just my knowledge.

In order to track this process, I have outlined my brief background in strongman and details of my experiences with weight cutting complete with some of the “ah-ha” moments along the way.

Diary of a 30-year-old Football Player

I started my journey into Strongman 6 months after my college football career ended back in 2015. I had dropped 15 pounds of ‘playing weight’ (from 240 to 225) pretty easy working out on my own and was looking to compete in something to fill the competitive void left by football. I coached part time at a gym that was hosting a novice Strongman competition and the owner asked if I would participate so he could have a coaching presence competing to represent his gym. I respected the hell out of this guy and agreed based on the request more than my desire to do it. As it turns out, this was the beginning of my love affair with Strongman.

Now, I was a blocking Tight End in college (at 30, mind you) who specialized in moving people where I wanted them to go, because of this experience my dynamic strength was through the roof. The downside of this experience was the fact that my shoulders and lower back were completely wrecked which severely limited my static strength in the press and deadlift.

“I was starry eyed for success and in March of 2016 I decided to purchase my Renaissance Periodization weight cut template and start my journey to the LW Open weight class.”

After a few shows where I bombed my static events I started looking at other weight classes. My wondering mind convinced itself that I had some excess weight to shed and that the static weights for the LW Open division were manageable at my current abilities. Key phrase here moving forward, current abilities at 225 lbs. I figured with manageable static weights in those events coupled with my dynamic strength abilities I could go and compete at a high level. I was starry eyed for success and in March of 2016 I decided to purchase my Renaissance Periodization weight cut template and start my journey to the LW Open weight class.

Kentucky’s Strongest Man

Over the course of the next year, I moved 4 times (2 of those cross country) which made dieting and training difficult. The inability to consistently cook and prep my meals due to big moves and transitional housing stalled my weight loss to around 210 lbs. After finally getting settled with both my diet and training in July 2016 I set my sights on Kentucky’s Strongest Man in October. That title was too cool to pass up competing for.

“My deadlift dropped almost 100 lbs and my overhead progress had completely stalled. My dynamic strength had taken a hit too.”

I weighed in at 205 lbs and competed in the Novice LW Division (don’t judge me) which I subsequently won. Although I won, there was a noticeable strength decrease in my competition performance. My deadlift dropped almost 100 lbs and my overhead progress had completely stalled. My dynamic strength had taken a hit too but the performance effect was negligible considering how good I naturally was at it (thanks Depauw Football!). How much of this decrease in static strength was all the stress associated with moving coupled with inconsistent training and how much of it was losing weight I can’t really say. I can say that while cutting weight classes, don’t do it and move 4-5 times (several cross country) during the process. I equate it to pulling up your pants while you’re still going to the bathroom, it makes a mess and more work for you in the long run than if you were patient and waited until you were finished.

Goal Set- Eyes on the Prize

After this win I set my sights on the Open LW division for the Savage Strength Challenge in April of 2017. My weight drop from 205 lbs to 190 lbs happened from November 2016 to February 2017.

“I was totally ripped but had little to no fat left to lose.”

Over this time my deadlift progressed had stalled but I was beginning to make headway on my overhead. My shoulders felt like they were finally healing from football (2 years later) and I was able to lift the way I wanted/needed to improve their strength. After several years I could finally move my arms over my head without wincing and looking like an old man. The weight loss problem at this point became the fact I was totally ripped and had little to no fat left to lose. This is great if you like being ripped more than you hate being hungry but most of us don’t operate like that. Plus it was the dead of winter so I couldn’t even walk around in public without a shirt to show off. The timing for this all around was very poor.

If It Fits Your Macros

From February through the beginning of April I adjusted my macro’s and was able to get my weight down to 186 lbs. I was eating like a rabbit, always hungry, tired all the time, couldn’t train with the intensity that I was accustomed, and constantly felt like trash.

“I felt like an angry troll, with abs!”

I had become short tempered and pissy to everyone around me. The best description I can come up with is that I felt like an angry troll, with abs (put that in your mental image bank). I attributed this continued drop in weight to a loss of lean mass because my lab values came back with low testosterone and excessively high values of Creatinine and BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen). My continued strength loss was an obvious physical effect of my body catabolizing my lean mass which the lab values verified since the byproducts of protein breakdown were reflected in both BUN and Creatinine.

The Water Cut and Rehydrating

The week of the competition I used a water cut to get me down to 178 lbs the Thursday night before the 24-hour weigh in on Friday. By that night my skin started to turn grey and my face was so dehydrated I looked like Skeletor from He-Man. I couldn’t stand up too fast because I would light headed and almost pass out, my pissyness was amplified, and just moving around in general was exhausting. At this point I didn’t even know if I could get on the board for any of the events on that Saturday which was a scary feeling.

“Weight goal met! I weighed in on Friday at 178.2 lbs.”

Before and After

Beforeandafter

After barely eating/drinking anything on Thursday I weighed in on Friday at 178.2 lbs. I immediately downed a gallon of Gatorade/coconut water/Creatine/and Pedialyte mix. I had looked forward to eating so much for so long, but knew I needed electrolytes and fluids ASAP. My plan was to down the fluids and eat everything within arm’s reach. After that gallon of fluids I felt sick and my stomach was totally stretched out with no room for food. It took over an hour until I had enough room in there to pound a double bacon cheeseburger with extra-large fries from Five Guys Burger and Fries!!

I Eat All The Things

I ate until I felt sick again and stopped. Over the next two hours I randomly snacked on maple butter blondie bites, Oreo’s, and Complete Cookies. Three hours after eating at Five Guys, I ate Chipotle with double meat and extra rice, again eating all of it to the point of being sick. Two and a half hours later I had Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese from Applebee’s with a Maple Butter Blondie. I got all the way to the last bite of desert and couldn’t finish it. I felt so sick I didn’t want to move. I went back to the hotel room and managed to down a Casein protein shake and pass out.

Overall I honestly didn’t care how sick I felt, I was food deprived for so long at this point that nothing, not even my own body, was going to tell me I couldn’t have the food I craved and missed. By the end of Friday (a 10,000 calorie binge eating fest) I was starting to feel normal, outside of the over-full sick feeling, but was still worried about being able to lift heavy at the competition.

Game Day- Savage Strength Challenge

The next morning I got up really early, downed another gallon of Gatorade/coconut water/creatine/and pedialite mix, went to IHOP for stacks of pancakes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, and bacon. An hour and a half later I had waffles and eggs from the continental breakfast at the hotel before getting ready to go compete.

“I left the hotel and weighed in at 194lbs. Yes, I gained almost 16lbs of water and food weight in 24 hours!“

I was amazed at how good I felt at this point. I almost felt human again and was looking forward to competing. I did one last weight in to see the difference before I left the hotel and weighed in at 194lbs. Yes, I gained almost 16lbs of water and food weight in 24 hours.

First Place- Men’s Open Light Weight

I walked away with my first, first place finish in an open weight class. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good gauge for performance because only one other guy in my weight class showed up and he zeroed several events. All I had to do to win was 1 rep for three events, carry a heavy yoke farther than 20ft, and carry a heavy Husafell father than 107ft.

“I beat the other guy long before we both got on the platform. I worked harder to prepare and it showed.”

I was there to win and didn’t want to risk injury and lose to lesser competition so I only did the bare minimum to win. I wanted to push my limits and see what kind of toll everything had taken on me but at the end of the day it’s always about the win, no matter how you get it. I felt guilty afterwards but a teammate put it best to me, I beat the other guy long before we both got on the platform. Even with the weight cut, I worked harder to prepare than the other guy and it showed.

We went out to eat that night as a crew and then drove three and a half hours home. I continued to eat everything in sight from Sunday until the following Saturday and watched my weight get up as high as 198 lbs.

“I felt amazing all week and was hitting numbers I hadn’t hit in nearly two and a half months. My body was finally back to functioning normally and I could feel it.”

I was able to resume training that following Monday in preparation for our next contest since the previous Saturday (competition day) only tallied up to a moderate event training day in comparison to the amount of energy and effort I put forth. I felt amazing all week and was hitting numbers I hadn’t hit in nearly two and a half months. Out of curiosity I went into the doctor the following Thursday after the competition and had my lab values taken again. My testosterone, Creatinine, and BUN were all within normal ranges. My body was finally back to functioning normally and I could feel it.

The Moral of the Story

So what was the purpose of me telling you my backstory into Strongman and the long road I traveled from MW competitor to LW competitor? I wanted to share this experience with you to give you a first-hand account of weight cutting for strength sports and what I learned from it.  In the end, the hardest lesson learned is the hardest to swallow, just get stronger. The grass isn’t greener on the other side, the process will not be fun, you will not be your strongest you on game day, and it’s just an excuse to play down to the competition. I’ve heard stories of other athletes traveling this path without losing strength and even PR’ing events, but I was not one of them. If your weight is close to the cutoff naturally and all you have to do is cut out a little bit of food a week or two before, go for it. If you’re 45 pounds off… just get stronger.

I find myself questioning how much stronger would I be today if I hadn’t wasted those 6 months or so of harsh dieting and just ate to perform instead of under eating to underperform. Granted the experience cannot be replaced and I can use this as a lesson to others but that doesn’t mean I would do it again knowing what I know now.

So go forth, eat to be happy, train to compete because you love it, and everything will fall into place where it belongs. If that’s on the podium, great. If not, at least you didn’t torture yourself for several months and were a complete a-hole to everyone you love around you. Depending on how you look at it, either way it’s a win.