The Day of Deads: Proven Performance Strongman 1 Write Up

TAGS: Chris Vaughn, MEET, strongman

Before I even get started, I want to say that we were in and out of there (including weigh-ins and rules) in about six hours. We even had 44 competitors to boot! Strongman promoters - take note!

That Saturday, I slept terribly. I mean badly. In tandem with always sleeping poorly, I was excited about the contest. I might have shut my eyes for two hours or so that night. Luckily, I napped in the car on the way up. (This is one of the few benefits of being blind - the chauffeur service.)

We arrived in a light drizzle and got weighed-in. I was a little over 227 pounds, which is the same as what I weighed at Central Maine 4. CHEESEBURGERS. This put me in the middleweights, 200-231 pounds.

My first impression was that Proven Performance is a fantastic facility. It's large enough for anything that anybody would want to do. Very high ceilings, tons of floor space, great gear (like the TRX Suspension Trainer that I'd never seen before), etc. This gym and Total Performance Sports are two gyms that I'd gladly go to rather than my basement if I lived anywhere near it.

Rules were quick, and the contest began at ten, right on time. Joe Vitiello, the promoter, switched around the event order due to impending rain, and it turned out to be a good call.

First was the Farmer's Walk/Keg Carry Medley. It was 50' each way. The middleweights had 240 per hand for the Farmer's, and a 200 pound keg. To be honest, I haven't trained much with the Farmer's this year. I'm pretty good at them, so I've been focusing on my weaknesses instead.

I ripped the implements off the ground, did a speed walk to the keg, pulled it high and almost jogged back. 21 seconds.

Since it had rained on and off, a bunch of people slipped and dropped the keg. That sucks, but all strongman competitors should know that these things happen. Prepare for them. Just like while driving, would you go at a speed in which you aren't in control while it rains? Luckily, nobody got hurt, but a few guys did some interesting flips and pirouettes.

Next, the 700 pound tire flip for 80'. This is another of my favorite events. Unfortunately, the tire had V-treads rather than the nice, smooth surface of my tire. This makes gripping much more difficult. I spent way too much time feeling around for the treads. Watching the video, the endurance/strength aspects were there; it was just finding the treads. I finished just under a minute. Not great, but not bad either. Almost all of the middleweights finished in or above fifty seconds - if they finished at all.

Shortly after, I walked inside the gym right before the heavy rain started. The next class, with its 500 pound tire, had to go entirely in the rain. It was very motivational to watch those guys fight it out and finish in that environment.

Two hours gone, two events down. Very well ran and organized!

Next, the hated log press. I had 220 pounds for a clean and press from the ground on every rep. To make a long story short, I only got four reps. A few things:

1.) This isn't that bad considering I only got six a month ago with the same weight (and only one clean).
2). I didn't miss any reps. I always miss reps. Instead, I focused on...uh...not doing that. It worked out.
3.) I snapped the clean up very quickly on every rep.
4.) Tim Burke from Hybrid Athletics pointed out how awful my push press is--almost no leg drive. Looking at the video, he is exactly right. Therefore, I'm going to be scrapping my entire overhead technique in favor of the Viper Press - something used by pro strongmen Justin Warren, Zydrunas Savickas and Derek Poundstone. These guys are all incredible pressers. It's time to stand on the shoulders of giants and start pushing some serious poundage.

Afterward was my favorite event, the deadlift. It was on a truck with 15 inch truck tires. At Paxton 6 I pulled the same weight for fifteen reps. This time, with some almost blackout effort, I managed to pull twenty, including two in the last five seconds.

After about the fifth rep, I felt some searing pain in my right hamstring. I've always wondered how it was possible that guys like Travis Ortmayer, who hurt himself in the 2010 World's Strongest Man, are able to do well in contests after suffering injuries. Well, I got my answer. It simply must be blocked out. The only memory I have of that event is the pain from every rep, but I wasn't about to quit. I was the first competitor to break twenty reps, but I ended up third overall.

Encouraging to me also was that my hamstrings hurt instead of my back. I'm talking about muscular fatigue. I've been improving my form steadily, as I'm a mostly back puller. (Read: bad form.)

After the deadlift, I went into a corner to slather on the Blue Heat and down some anti-inflammatories. Neither did much. Still, I wasn't about to let a sprain or whatever keep me from finishing.

I changed into my stone loading gear, put on a boat load of Spider Tack and got set to go. The event was a 275 pound stone load over a 44 inch bar for reps. I had a great deal of trouble loading a 280 pound stone at Central Maine 4 simply because I'm weak at this event. I've practiced hard over the last month, and it was enough to get me two reps. Each one made me wince in pain from my hamstring. After the second load, I called it a day. I probably could have gotten another rep or two, but it wasn't worth a real injury.

I ended up placing sixth. Not quite what I wanted, but I've done worse. Three men - Eliezio Marchezi (one of Murph's guys), Matt Mills, and TJ Palmerino - routinely show up at contests and place first through third. They are all amazing athletes, and although I keep getting better, they do too. It's a little bit of an ego blow not to place, but considering I had a great day and only suffered a slight sprain (just some bruising today), I'm content just that I was there.

Seriously, there's nothing like it. Go to a contest. Get in the trenches. Listen to the crowd roar for every athlete, and even the competitors cheer each other on. That's why I love Strongman, and that, along with bettering myself, will always motivate me to compete.

I'm on the right track. My conditioning was spot on and the strength was there. Once I lose some fat, get stronger on the stones, and refine my pressing, I will be gunning for the gold.

Thanks to Joe Vitiello, Nate and Shayna Fitzgerald, Justin Warren, Christian Matyi for some interesting emceeing, and everyone else who had anything to do with this show. It was one of the best in which I've competed!

Of course, as always, thanks to everyone at EliteFTS for great info, support, and gear. I saw so many people pimping out the hoodies and shirts, as well as tons of Spud Inc. belts and straps. It's no surprise. You produce quality products and the stuff sells.

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