Andy Deck at the Amateur Strongman World Championships

TAGS: Andy Deck, competition, MEET, arnold, strongman

This past weekend at the Arnold Sports Festival I competed in the World Amateur Strongman Championships. It was a two-day contest with all fifty athletes competing on Friday. Only the top ten would continue on to compete in the finals on Sunday. Representing the USA were the top fifteen amateur heavyweights from nationals, the top three pro lightweights from nationals, and the two most recent lightweight pros. The remainder of the field consisted of the best amateur heavyweights from around the world, plus a few top lightweights. My training for this contest went very well, fortunately, since this is the heaviest contest in which I have ever competed. My bodyweight is usually between 225 and 235, but the last 2 weeks leading up to the competition, I ate an entire box of cereal and drank half a gallon of milk every night right before bed. This put my weight up around 242-245 before I left Maryland. Sadly, since we drove out I was not able to keep on quite the same nutrition schedule and competed at roughly 240. I should note that I was one of the 5 smallest guys in both height and body weight, along with most of the other pro lightweights.

We competed early in the morning around 8:30 AM, which was a problem for me since I always try to get 2-3 meals in before any heavy training. I modified my training schedule for the last 3 weeks as well so that I was training around 8:00 AM. The first day of this was a disaster and I felt like crap run through a sausage grinder. By the time the competition got here I had my diet and sleep schedule adjusted so that I felt almost as good as when I train at my normal time later in the day. These changes, along with adjusting my training by increasing the intensity and volume for the 8 weeks before I switched to morning training, put me exactly where I wanted to be going into the biggest competition of my life.

Event 1: Yoke Walk - Competitors had to pick up and carry a 950 lb yoke for 60 feet in under 60 seconds. Unlimited drops allowed.

I had gone up to a 1,010 lb yoke in training so that by comparison, 950 would feel lighter. However, the 1,010 took me almost 2 minutes to go 50 feet. Part of this was because I had the pick height set too high and I kept running the bottom of the yoke into the floor, which knocked me off balance. My last training had been just a 10 foot start with 950, and it felt pretty easy. My goal here was just to finish the event, since I figured a lot of people would not be able to make the full distance. I got a little bit of a slow start but was moving pretty well, but about half way through I started to get squirrelly and had to put it down. I repicked it and made it the rest of the distance, finishing in a time of 36 seconds. This was a big PR for me. Sadly, it was also a very slow time. I will be putting more focus on speed in my training for the next several months.

Event 2: Axle Clean & Press - Competitors had 60 seconds to clean a 2” diameter bar from the floor and press overhead for as many reps as possible. Axle had to be returned to the floor and cleaned again for each rep. Weight was 325 lbs.

I had hit 340 lbs with and axle for a single in training and 352 lbs with an Olympic bar at Super Swole Sunday (thanks, Steve!). I had also hit a very ugly and difficult double with 300 lbs a couple months before the contest. My goal here was 2 reps. Warmups felt great and I knew I had to make up some points after my turtle-paced yoke walk. The number to beat was 5 reps when I came up in the lineup. I hit the first one with ease and put it down to breathe. I should note that I can clean and press a log for 60 seconds straight with no problem, but the axle cleans absolutely kill me so I have to take rest between reps when the weight gets heavy. Second rep went up just as easily as the first. Break. Third rep, the continental clean sent me a little bit sideways, but I recovered to get the press. I did a brief Texas Two-Step while I was locking it out, but despite that, it was still pretty easy. I put it down with 10 seconds to go and called it there. I am pretty sure I had a fourth rep in me, but with the continental clean I would have likely run out of time trying to get it, and I knew I needed to save some energy for the next 2 events. 3x325 was a big PR for me and I was very happy with it.

Event 3: Frame Carry/Backward Drag Medley - 800 lb frame carry for 60 feet, followed immediately by an 800 lb backward drag for 60 feet. 60 second time limit. If the competitor did not finish the carry and begin the drag, a score of zero was given for the event.

This was the event that I thought I would do the best on. Every time I trained it, I had taken the frame for the full distance with no drops. Also, backward drag is the only event in strongman that I am naturally good at without having to bust my backside in training to improve. Pick, walk, drop. Pick, walk, drop. Repeat ad infinitum. I had trained just the pick a couple times and 3x800 was the best I could do. Good thing I was in Simple Jack mode for this because I ended up picking the damn thing up 5 times before I crossed the line. I think I almost passed out when I did it. I am a little foggy on the details, but I do remember falling forward across the line and hearing people yelling. It took me a minute to realize they were telling me I had to drag it back at least across the finish line or I would bomb the event. I have no idea how I did it, but I got it moving and then went to a happy place since my world was exploding in all kinds of pain. I think I made it about halfway back before the whistle blew. I actually got decent points on this since 29 of the 50 guys bombed, but I was still disappointed in my performance here. When I went back to watch the video, I figured out what I did wrong. The chain attached to the back looked like ½ inch or so, and the extra weight, probably about 20 pounds, caused me to lose the frame out the back of my hands every time, even though I had them shifted back from center. I think if I had moved my hands all the way back on the handles I would have been good to go. Sadly, my brain wasn’t functioning at a high enough level to realize this earlier. All I knew was I had to pick it up again every time I dropped it or else I would fail.

Event 4: Car Deadlift - Competitors had 60 seconds to deadlift a car as many times as possible. Both up and down commands were used by the judges, so no touch and go reps were permitted.

If I had to pick a weakness in strongman, it would definitely be the deadlift. It's getting better, but compared to the top guys, it is sub-par. So I took a page from the Jo Jordan Book of Gear Whoreism: use every bit of supportive gear possible. Straps, Metal King Deadlifter suit, EFS Super Heavy Knee Sleeves, swamp shorts, and third testicle. I actually am forced to wear the swamp shorts under my suit now to add girth to my quadzillas because I am less husky than when I got the suit back in 2008 before NAS nationals in Utah. I got in position, dug in, and started to pull. The first rep flew up, which I am always a big fan of. After a good start, they slowly got worse. Turns out that I was slowly shifting my weight from my heels to mid-foot, and finally almost up on my toes for the last couple reps. Also, somewhere around the 10th or 11th rep, my head decided there was too much blood floatin' around in there, so my nose opened up like a bloody faucet. I was happy with my performance on this event as I can definitely tell I am improving.

On the original score sheet, I placed 18th out of 50 overall and 7th among the Americans. However, I think I was credited with a rep I did not get on the deadlift, which will drop me back a couple points and a couple places. Overall, I was happy with how I did, except for not accounting for the chain weight on the back of the frame. Just to be competing with the best in the world was a huge honor for me

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