Introducing Lightweight Strongman Andy Deck

TAGS: pro strongman, lightweight, Zach Nicolay, Andy Deck, strongman

Lightweight strongmen don’t get the hype that the superheavyweights get. You won’t see lightweights on TV, not even for the national championships. The limelight skips over the “little guys,” even though they often lift a lot more relative weight than their superheavyweight counterparts when you consider their body weight in proportion to the weight lifted. Andy Deck is one of those guys, even though he’s by no means little, measuring up at 6 feet, 230 pounds.

One of the reasons Andy feels that lightweights don’t receive as much attention as heavyweights is because, as you’d expect, the lightweights don’t lift as much weight. The competitions are what build the fame of the athletes. As far as entertainment is concerned, spectators want to see a 400-pound log press, and most of them could care less if the man pressing it is 370 pounds or 230. But Andy holds no grudges. Rather, he is hopeful that the growing popularity of the sport will result in lightweight strongmen receiving their due respect.

Andy first got involved in the sport when he helped run a competition at Virginia Tech University as an undergrad. The following year, he came back to Virginia Tech as a competitor and has competed ever since. His first North American Strongman (NAS) competition was Maryland’s Strongest Man in 2006.

Lightweight or not, Andy deserves your respect. After earning his pro card in April, he placed third at the lightweight Pro Nationals this year, and received an invite to the 2011 Amateur Strongman World Championship at the world-renowned Arnold Sports Festival.

Andy has personal best lifts of a 320-pound log clean and press, an 840-pound yoke walk for 50 feet, and a 430-pound stone loaded to a 50” platform. His favorite events are the log clean and press and the farmer’s walk. He is constantly pushing himself and hopes to strengthen his log clean and press to 350, his deadlift to 700, and to continue working on loading heavier Atlas stones to higher platforms. One of the hardest things he has ever done was the car deadlift at Nationals last September:

"After the first rep, I pulled the second and saw the ghost of Elvis... I managed to grind out eight reps with something approaching technique.  The last three I don't remember because I was blacking out. I actually thought my arms might rip off at one point. Thankfully time ran out after my eleventh rep since my nose had just exploded like a virgin on prom night."

I asked Andy about the car deadlift earlier and his reply was, "Why not pick up a car instead of a bunch of plates? Picking up a car completely changes your perspective on what is possible. Next time the half-rep-doing, cow-in-labor-grunting, bird-legged, self-proclaimed "bench specialist" at your gym asks you how much you bench, ask him how many times he can pick up his Prius."

At this point, his life consists primarily of sleep, class, studying, and training. At Salisbury University in Maryland he writes the program for the baseball team, assists with the training for the softball team, and also helps conduct conditioning and agility training for athletes of any sport. Day and night classes take up the bulk of his time as he pursues a Masters of Science in Applied Health Physiology with a focus on Strength and Conditioning.

His training used to consist of a hybridized 5/3/1 program (Gasp… Blasphemy! Thou shalt not modify 5/3/1!) that was geared towards -and incorporated- strongman event training. Now, however, he has re-evaluated his weaknesses after Pro Nationals and plans to attack the weak links with a newly designed program that he is very excited about.  His work ethic is unparalleled. “I almost always wish the weights were heavier in competitions,” he said. If that doesn’t make you want to check out his training log, I don’t know what will.

Andy makes sure to eat five times per day, minimum. He keeps his diet clean, but doesn’t adhere to any specific macro-nutrient or calorie guidelines. In his words, “I eat clean, but if I want Taco Bell, I’ll get Taco Bell.” He keeps it simple with supplements, too, taking a multivitamin, protein, fish oil, creatine, and BCAAs. He likes to stay around 230 pounds so he doesn’t have to cut weight for competitions. In the pro circuit there are only two weight classes, with 231 pounds being the cutoff from lightweight to heavyweight.

He credits his high school strength coach, Skip Johns, for having a huge influence on his strength development. Skip was miles ahead of most high school strength coaches, as he was not only CSCS-certified through the NSCA, but also an ex-NFL player and an Army Ranger. He laid the groundwork for Andy’s programming and paved the way for his future success.

Andy is extremely excited to be a part of the Q&A staff here at EFS. He has experience with not only strongman training, but also powerlifting, recovery, rehab (he once dropped a 240-pound keg on his big toe), and almost any other strength and conditioning-related topic you could think of. He also hopes that his training log will provide a great platform for readers to learn about the unique training and programming that goes into strongman competitions. In his own words, "I want to help people achieve their strength goals and do things they never believed possible." Andy is a great source of information with experience to boot, and we are very happy to have him be part of our team.

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