Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category
A couple month’s ago a client of mine named William Walden asked me to mentor him for a school project. It was for his Communication class, which made me laugh since we used to joke that Will was mute. He wanted to do something strength related, but didn’t know exactly how to approach it. The project consisted of a research paper and a presentation, but required the student to spend 15 hours with their mentor. In addition, their had to be quantitative, a finished product, a video, a journal, or some tangible to present as well. Immediately I suggested strongman. It would be great. He could train with our group on Saturdays, and we could document his increasing badassedness with a training journal, video documentation, or completion of a competition. He was game and began attending training regularly.
William has always been a really strong kid. So, I had no doubt in his ability to master the events of strongman. He was a three sport athlete: baseball, football, basketball. The problem with playing sports year round is it presents a really small window of time to train for strength. This creates a dilemma for an athlete like Will whose main objective is to get freakishly strong. See, Will has always been into strength. So when sports began to interfere with training, Will chose training.
I don’t encourage athletes to quit sports, unless it’s time to specialize. So, when Will chose to quit baseball this week to focus on strongman, I was not upset. It has always seemed to me that “ball” sports were secondary to Will. Strongman is a natural fit. When the actual sport itself is based on the ability to move massive amounts of weight fast ,and the payoff in the end is strength, how could a kid like Will not chose strongman.
Yesterday at training Will I Am shared his research paper with Chase and I. We were both impressed. I have copied it below. There will be additional post to follow ,as Will’s project wraps up, documenting his success in the classroom as well as under the bar.
The Sport of Strongman and Its Origins
Throughout history mankind has been obsessed with strength. From ancient drawings on stones that suggested men lifted them in competition, to the ancient Greek olympics and the Scottish highland games, man has always been trying to prove who is the strongest (“Bybon” Wikipedia). There are modern sports that test the strength of men, but the sport of strongman is the true test of practical strength for the modern age.
Although you can watch the freakishly hugeMariusz Pudzianowski compete in the World Strongest Man Series on ESPN, similar competitions of strength were held thousands of years ago. For instance, a block of stone found at Olympia in Greece weighing 316 lbs had an inscription that translates to “Bybon son of Phola, has lifted me over his head with one hand” (“Bybon” Wikipedia). This might have suggested that men competed in stone lifting competitions in the ancient Greek Olympics. There are many cultures that have a history of stone lifting, such as the Scots and Basques, who still hold competitions today that are similar to the atlas stones event in strongman (“Bybon” Wikipedia).
The Highland Games is an ancient event that involves Scottish traditions such as music, dancing, kilts, and athletic competitions. The Highland Games has been a Scottish tradition since as early as the 11th century and is now becoming popular in other countries such as the United States. The music, dance, and festivities did not overshadow the main purpose of the event which was the athletic competitions. Historians believe that the athletic competitions of the Highland Games were started around the times when the English occupied Scotland and forbid the Scots to bear or train with arms to prevent uprisings. The Scots decided to train anyway, but they had to replace their arms with implements such as farming equipment, tools, and common things found in nature. One of the most popular events today is the caber toss which features tossing a stripped tree trunk or wooden pole, commonly weighing a little over 150 pounds and reaching 17 feet in height, for distance (“Highland games” Wikipedia).
In the 19th century the term strongman did not refer to a person who competed in the sport of strongman, it only referred to a person who exhibited great strength. Early strongmen in the late 19th century and early 20th century would display bizarre feats of strength for show. Many of these so-called early strongmen were featured at carnivals or traveling circuses. They performed feats such as pulling heavy weights with teeth, metal-bending, or supporting a barbell overhead with one hand (also known as the bent-press) (“Strongman (strength athlete)” Wikipedia).
The barbell became the foundation of modern weightlifting. It was developed in the late 19th century and it consisted of two hollow globes that were filled with either sand or lead shot. As time went on more and more uses were found for the barbell and they became plate loaded versus having weight filled hollow globes. The barbell is still present in gyms today where it is the tool for all the major core lifts (the squat, the bench-press, and the deadlift) as well as many of the secondary lifts (the incline-press, push-press, hang-cleans, etc.) (“Weight training” Wikipedia, & “Weightlifting” World Book).
In the early 1900’s weightlifting started developing into various sports. Weightlifting started to show up in the Olympics in the form of what we call olympic weightlifting, which consists of two lifts: the clean & jerk and the snatch (“Weight training” Wikipedia, & “Olympic weightlifting” Wikipedia) . Later powerlifting was started which consists of the three main core lifts: the bench-press, the squat, and the deadlift (“Powerlifting” Wikipedia). Although these events became popular among weightlifters, they had a low public appeal and limited spectators.
In 1977, to increase public interest, CBS sports conceived “The World’s Strongest Man Competition”. The concept was under the direction of David Webster, a Scot, and Dr. Douglas Edmunds, seven-times Scottish shot and discus champion and twice world caber champion. These two men were in charge of inviting the competitors and choosing the events (“World’s Strongest Man” Wikipedia).
The events were chosen for their adversity and their ability to test each competitor’s strength, power, and endurance to their fullest extent. Some events were based on powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, and Highland Games heavy events. Other events were spirited by stories of mythological feats of strength. The events were swapped out or modified from year to year in order to prevent favoring certain types of competitors. For instance, one year they might have competitors do a clean and press with a log and the next year they might replace the log with a truck axle and tires. (“World’s Strongest Man” Wikipedia). The strongman events appealed a lot more to spectators because people could relate to the concept of someone being able to lift their car. Unless they were a weightlifting enthusiast they would have nothing to compare to a guy who is just lifting a bar weighted with metal plates (“Strongman Training Tips and Advice: Part 1”)
Since the equipment used in strongman events is not standardized it takes more mental ability to adjust to the adversity (Henkin). Common events in strongman are the airplane/semi-truck pulls, and the car/fridge carry (“World’s Strongest Man” Wikipedia). It would be hard for a competitor to obtain an airplane, and they certainly do not make all vehicles and refrigerators the same. Competitors have to visualize completing goals in spite of the overwhelming adversity that they face.
Just as lifting techniques vary so do different training methods. Many strongmen come from different weightlifting sports backgrounds, such as powerlifting, olympic weightlifting, and body building. Each require different training methods. In powerlifting competitors train limit strength, which is the maximum lifting capacity for a single repetition where tension is constantly kept on the weight in a controlled movement. Olympic weightlifters train speed strength, which is lifting a maximum weight in an explosive movement where one is required to rapidly get their body underneath the weight while it is being pulled upwards (“Strong Man Training Tips and advice: Part 1”). Body builders focus on the body tone and mass of their bodies which might require them to lift heavy weights for higher reps, but they are not focused on being able to lift a maximum amount of weight or to lift implements outside standard gym equipment (“Strong Man Training Tips and advice: Part 1,” & “Bodybuilding” Wikipedia). C.J. Murphy is an award winning trainer and competitive strongman who makes the distinction that “Strongman is a hybrid where all of the different types of strength are applied along with technical skills on a given set of events on a particular day” (“Strong Man Training Tips and advice: Part 1”). A strongman combines lifts and exercises that will hit limit strength, speed strength, and strength endurance in his training since all three types of strengths are crucial for being a competitor in strongman. Strongmen also develops the technical skills used to lift objects that are not always designed to be lifted (“Strong Man Training Tips and advice: Part 1”).
Another important aspect, along with training, is nutrition. It is not so much the quality of food a strongman eats, but the quantity. An enormous amount of calories is needed to support the energy and muscle development of a very large body mass (Wylie, & Neveille).
In body building, diet is probably even more important than the physical training. Body builders are required to have an extremely low body fat percentage while maintaining a very large body mass. They have to support their muscle development and energy demands by eating high quantities of quality well-balanced food and supplements in order to create the optimal physiques (“Bodybuilding” Wikipedia).
While one’s diet is personal preference, guided by desired physique and bodily demands, most strongmen and powerlifters tend to be on the “see food” diet. This means that they eat everything they want so long as it is high in protein and calories (Wylie). It is very common to see competitors with large round bellies along with huge muscles when watching “The Worlds Strongest Man Series” on ESPN. Unlike bodybuilding in strongman and powerlifting, a low fat body percentage does not matter a whole lot and some of the competitors obviously do not care about it. Mariusz Pudzianowski quotes, “I eat everything” (“Mariusz Pudzianowski” Wikipedia). He then describes his diet which consists of ten eggs and two to three pounds of bacon for breakfast, a double meal of Polish pork chops, sauerkraut and potatoes for lunch, and either steaks, pork chops, or bacon for dinner with sauerkraut and potatoes. On top of his meals, he drinks a protein shake before and after workouts, takes creatine, magnesium, and amino acid supplements, and eats lots of chocolate between each meal. Regardless of Mariusz’s diet, he still manages to have the physique of a professional body builder and perhaps that is what separates the five time “World’s Strongest Man” winner from the rest (“Mariusz Pudzianowski” Wikipedia).
In conclusion, strongman is the result of mixing new and old strength sports. Man’s obsession with strength continues through a sport that has evolved into a test of all the types of different strengths and the mental ability to adapt to lifting odd objects. Strongman becomes today’s true test of practical strength when all these aspects are combined with an added modern twist.
We were payed a visit today by friend and colleague Dr. Brooks Tiller. Brooks accompanied us on our presentation at Matt Hughes HIT Squad, and was a welcome addition to our crew. He was passing through on his way back from the IYCA conference that Chase attended last weekend. In addition to the conference, he decided to take the time to visit a couple other places along the way.
His first stop was to visit Carlos Alverez at St.X in Cincinnati. In case you don’t know, Alverez and St. X are one of the top high school strength programs in the country. This year St. X fielded 900 athletes on 43 teams in 14 sports. I have had the opportunity to hear Alvarez present and personally talk to him, and believe me, he is definitely on his game when it comes to dealing with multiple athletes. We watched some film that Brooks had made and were impressed at how systematic and efficient Alverez’s technique were when dealing with 60+ athletes at once.
His second stop was our place. I have to say, we have had teachers, administrators, and student interns sit in on our workouts, but this is the first time we have been honored by a Dr. of physical therapy wanting to see how we do things. My goal has always been to provide clients with the best, most sensible approaches to exercise. It pleases me to know that others want to see the product that our facility produces.
Get to know more about Brooks at his blog http://blog.drbrookstiller.com/