How Strong is Kentucky Strong?

TAGS: strongman championships, husafell stone carry, farmer's walk, deadlift medley, sandbag carry, Kentucky Strong, yoke, Chase Karnes, weigh in, arnold classic, strongman

Months of training, dieting, and sacrifice all came down to my performance at the Arnold on February 28. While I’m a little disappointed in how things played out, I enjoyed competing amongst the best in the world in the 185-pound division. Every competitor earned their place and belonged there. There is no doubt that this was the most stacked field of competitors I’ve ever competed against, where one second makes the difference between first and tenth place. I’m honored to have competed with such a tough group of guys, but I wish I could have represented Kentucky better.

I knew going into the competition that I needed a top-four finish to compete again on Sunday. Here is a day-by-day breakdown of how things played out for me:

Wednesday

My father and I left Paducah, Kentucky around 7 a.m. for our six and a half hour drive to Columbus, Ohio. It was a smooth ride and we settled into the hotel around 3 p.m. I hopped on the scale to check my weight and was right around 192 pounds. I wanted to go to bed weighing 187, so I headed over to a local gym to spend some time in the sauna. After two and a half hours of 15 minutes in: 15 minutes out, I was 187 on the dot. I went back to the hotel to relax, but struggled all night to fall asleep. My heart was pounding, my head hurt, and I couldn’t do anything to get comfortable. This is the first time I’ve used a sauna to cut weight, and it is also the first time I’ve had trouble sleeping while making weight. I managed to sleep a little from 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. and then woke up to check my weight. I was perfect where I wanted to be at 185.2. After being unable to fall back asleep, I headed to weigh-ins.

Thursday

At the official weigh-ins, I stepped on the scale at 183 pounds. This is 2.4 pounds under what I needed to lose (185.4 is the cut off, because they round down). Either the competition scale was light or my scale was heavy. I began the refueling process and over the next 12 hours I consumed an amazing amount of food in the form of eggs, bacon, beef, potatoes, Pedialyte, water, orange juice, and dark chocolate.

Thursday evening I laid down to go to sleep around 8 p.m. I felt better than the previous night, but it still took me until 1 a.m. to be able to actually fall asleep. I spent the next few hours waking up every 30 minutes, until finally waking up for good around 4:30.

Competition Day

I headed to breakfast around 4:45 a.m. and had three eggs, three strips of bacon, and half an order of hash browns. I felt pretty good overall, but still wasn’t myself. I was tired from the lack of sleep and started caffeinating closer to the time of the competition. I arrived early, foam rolled, and got in a full body warm-up using the elitefts™ bands I carry in my gym bag.

Event 1: Circus DB Clean & Press for Reps with 150 Pounds

My biggest strength in strongman is my pressing. I’ve always been good at all things overhead, so I was ready to kill this event. In training, my best performance was 150x8 and 157x7. The number I had in my head for this event was ten.

When it became my turn, I approached the dumbbell and waited for the whistle to blow. I cleaned the circus dumbbell up and nailed an easy first rep. I continued my rhythm for two more very easy and fast reps. On the fourth rep I heard something I didn’t like: the weights inside the dumbbell shifted and clanked against the outer dumbbell cap. The collars had come lose. The dumbbell was now unbalanced and I made my fourth rep very difficult. I switched to my left side and got the dumbbell up, but could not hold it at lockout long enough for the judges to give me the down command. I missed four more reps on my right side, and then the whistle blew to end the time. I told him the collar was loose, and he said to rest and I’d get to go again.

Unfortunately, the head judge overruled this decision. I then watched as they took the end cap off. Sure enough, the collar was completely loose. They put the plates back in and tightened it for the next competitor.

I ended up with four disappointing reps. Eight reps won on this event, and my four reps was only good enough for a fifth place tie. There were multiple ties on this event, so I actually placed behind ten other competitors. This was not the start I had envisioned. At this point, all I could do was try to put it behind me and move on.

Event 2: Super Yoke — 630 Pounds x 75 feet

After the first event, I tried hard to put the rough start behind me and clear my head. It wasn’t easy. On the yoke walk, I got set and took off quickly, but felt my feet start to slip on the smooth concrete surface. I chose to keep a steady pace and not risk dropping the yoke by going too fast on the smooth concrete. Any time you drop the yoke, you can add three to five seconds to your time by having to re-pick the implement and accelerate again. There is also a two-second slide penalty if you drop the yoke and it slides forward. I finished in 13.43 seconds, which was a little off from my best in training. This put me in thirteenth place for this event.

Event 3: Husafell Stone Carry

By this point, I needed a big distance in this event to have a chance at placing in the top spots. In training the past few months, this event had improved quite a bit for me, despite not being one of my bests. When the event started, I picked the stone easily and took off. The pick could have been more stable, but instead of wasting time trying to readjust the stone, I decided to move as quickly as possible to cover the most ground I could.

My hamstrings usually fail first on this event but my biceps and forearms fatigued quickly this day. They were pumped so full of blood that I had to stop around the 235-foot mark to readjust the stone. I only made it a few more steps before dropping the stone at 237 feet and four inches. This gave me a sixteenth place finish for this event. I was disappointed.

Event 4: Farmer’s Walk  — 225 pounds (each hand) x 75 Feet

This is one of my better events. After my feet slipped during the yoke walk, I took a wet rag to the bottom of my shoes and dried them with a towel. This helped for the farmer’s walk. As soon as the whistle blew to start the event, I picked them up and took off as quickly as possible. I had better traction from cleaning the bottoms of my shoes, so slipping wasn’t as much of an issue. This was my first time competing on smooth concrete and was a valuable lesson to learn.

I ran these in 10.21 seconds and finished in seventh place.

Event 5: Sandbag Carry/Deadlift Medley

Going into the final event I knew, based on the points, that there was no way for me to make it into the top four and move on to Sunday’s events. This was disheartening, to say the least, but didn’t stop me from putting everything I had into this event.

We had to carry a 100-pound sandbag 75 feet, load it into the deadlift apparatus, sprint back, carry a 150-pound sandbag 50 feet, load it into the apparatus, and then deadlift. It was a deadlift-for-reps event, with no suit and no straps. They estimated the weight to be 550 pounds, and allotted us 75 seconds for the entire event (including the carrying and loading of the sandbags).

I loaded the sandbags quickly as soon as the event started. At the deadlift apparatus, I grabbed the handles and pulled like hell. I didn’t count reps. They didn’t matter—I wasn’t going to stop until the whistle blew or my body would not move for another rep.

I pulled 28 reps. At 29, my lockout failed as the time ran out. I was done. My glutes, hamstrings, low back, traps, and lungs were screaming. I sat down, recovered, and then was told my performance gave me a second place finish on the event.

My Placing

When the final points were tallied and scores were figured, I was in seventh place for the weekend. Since only the top four advanced to Sunday, I was finished. I came up short for this competition, but I had a good time and learned a lot. I realized a lot of my weaknesses and know what it will take to improve them. I also learned that I will never cut to 185-pounds again. It’s very hard to explain, but something just wasn’t there after that big of a cut. For now, it’s back to the drawing board. It’s time to improve my weaknesses and make my strengths even stronger. I’m not even close to done yet.

 

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...