Strongman competitors seem to lack an understanding of solid contest-day nutrition. For most, the day is usually started with a breakfast consisting of a huge stack of pancakes. Then the day is filled with Gatorade and protein shakes throughout the show. I frequently witness drop-off in performance due to fatigue or general lack of energy towards the end of a show. Sometimes, I even see severe muscle cramps during events. This can all be prevented with adequate contest day nutrition. Several of my athletes have benefited from my protocol and I am now going to share it with all of you. This has been in testing mode for five years with frequent modifications. I have reworked this until I dialed it in just right. It is built from lots of science-based methodology with several practical, anecdotal steps thrown in.

First you need to start the day off with an adequate meal — but what should that meal consist of? My recommendation would be some sort of omelet or, even better, over-easy eggs. The over-easy eggs don’t take a ton of effort to digest and they’re loaded with protein to fuel your day. Get in some bacon as well; the salt will be a start to balancing electrolytes with the long, hot day ahead of you. You can also have a small serving of potatoes or pancakes. It would be even better to have a couple large oranges but do not get the bottomless pancake stack. This is contrary to what most people practice, I know. But hear me out on this.

Bacon Omelet

I have yacked my brains out plenty of times on the first event of the day. The last thing you want is to have a heavy, full stomach getting smacked repeatedly by the axle from continental cleans in a max reps clean-and-press event. On this plan, you will later supplement specific carbs throughout the day to keep your energy levels steady. Your glycogen levels should be completely full from the week of rest before the contest and a proper meal protocol from the night before. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water. A little coffee is fine, but don’t overdo it. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic and the last thing you want is to encourage dehydration.

A half hour before the contest begins, drink a serving or two of a cyclic dextrin supplement. They will hit the GI tract quickly and disperse slowly over time so that the energy release will begin quickly and sustain for a longer period of time than a faster digesting carbohydrate. As soon as the first event is over, eat glucose tabs. Glucose is the simplest digesting sugar and will be very easy on your stomach and will also prevent your blood sugar from dropping after the event. Take a moderate size pinch of salt or two salt packets. The sodium plays an important role in creating an action potential within the cell during muscular contraction. Insufficient amounts of sodium will lead to cramping down the line. I see this mistake made frequently by competitors that are cramping. They continue to pound water without getting in enough salt. If you have a bad fit of cramps, down a huge serving of salt and start sucking back water. I guarantee it’s gone within half an hour.Ripe tangerine with slices

After each event follow the same procedure with glucose tabs, salt and water. Given that this is a 5-event contest, you can probably administer one to two additional servings of cyclic dextrin, depending on how long the show is. A good rule of thumb is to have some every 90 minutes. As far as whole foods, this is going to be a personal choice. My experience comes into play here. I don’t like to eat a ton on contest day because my stomach is particularly sensitive to it. Eating too much whole food definitely makes it hard to keep food down after a brutal suicide medley. Personally, I have found that trail mix is great for me to munch on. It’s just enough to kill the hunger, and the variable sugar profile of the candies and fruit seems to blend in nicely with the carb supplements I take. Additionally, the salt from the nuts will add to the sodium you’re taking in after each event.

You will still need more whole food. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches do the trick for me. I highly recommend using bread other than whole grain. Whole grains will be a little harder to process, so in this instance lean towards a more processed white bread or potato bread. This is a trick I learned from years of training events with Derek Poundstone and CT Strength. With them, a Saturday morning event session would sometimes stretch into a four hour affair. He always had a cooler filled with PB&Js. Then if you just need something really easy to reach for, a protein bar is best. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other because, to be honest, they’re all not that great. You’re just looking for something to cut the hunger and keep you going if the liquid carbs don’t cut it for you. As far as liquid is concerned, I personally recommend sipping on a BCAA supplement throughout the day as most of them have electrolytes in them. The L-Leucine and carbohydrate combo is a well-documented recovery protocol.

This is the program that has single-handedly fueled half a dozen pro cards and national titles. Go forth into the competition and dominate with this protocol.