It’s not the size of the person, It’s the size of their Heart

Been slacking on getting my new blog posts up here.  Have a few that I just haven’t finished but after seeing what I did a week ago at the event we hosted, I didn’t want to wait on this one, because as a trainer seeing this stuff is the coolest thing in the world.

I love competitions, serious ones, or just for fun.  I think it is healthy and teaches athletes young and old a whole lot of lessons that will help them in their sport and in life.  On the other side of the spectrum nothing drives me more crazy than hearing a capable athlete tell me they would like to do the competition and it sounds fun but they don’t feel “I can win” or “I am not ready for this one going against ________.

There is a lot more I could write on why doing these competitions are beneficial and why I try to get all my athletes to do them.  Instead I am going to share 4 stories of 4 very inspiring females with their videos who competed, and kicked ass.  These are 4 females who if you heard them say they were not ready for this competition, or didn’t feel it was for them, you would probably understand.  The contestants in this contest included at least 8 collegiate level athletes, 4 of which are division I, 3 top level strongman competitors and 1 that should be, and rounded out by some of the top high school athletes and strength coaches in the area.  Me, well, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that they did compete and did so well.  I am not sure anyone can read this and watch the video attached and not be motivated.

Athlete 1:  The athlete you will see first in this video is 15 years old, competes in cheerleading and track and field.  She was a member of the youngest team in the competition.  She also has 3 less fingers than, probably, everyone who is going to read this post.  I have worked with this young lady for a couple of months and not once has she ever used anything about anything as an excuse of what she can or can’t do.  The Friday before the contest I was not working.  My employee was working with her on picking up an Atlas Stone (an event in the contest and something she had never done). For anyone who has lifted a stone before you can imagine how hard it would be only being able to use one hand fully.  Even an experienced stone loader may not be able to pull this off.  I received a message on facebook from someone watching her try that said “_________ really struggles with the stone; I don’t think it is fair to have her do it, maybe we should have her do the keg twice tomorrow”.  No more than 5 minutes later I got a text from the young female competitor saying the same thing.  Here was my reply and the actual conversation:

Me:  Don’t worry about it.  You will load the stone, I will show you how in the morning.

Her:  Ok sounds good.

Not a question of how.  Not a doubt of ‘what if it doesn’t work?’  But you have to be around this young woman to understand that she knows there is nothing that can stop her, there are just some things that she doesn’t know yet.  Watch her load the stone, albeit unorthodox, no problem.

Athlete 2:  The second lady you will see in this video is 48 years old, an age where most adults have long since slowed down.  Those who haven’t slowed are usually trying to keep their weight manageable and/or doing what they need to play with their kids or keep up with day to day activities.  Not this woman.  She has quickly become a motivating factor for everyone who sees her at the gym.  Turning heads with every feat of strength she accomplishes and goal she reaches.  In about 6 months of lifting weights this 5’2 115 lb woman deadlifts 225 lbs for reps and carries farmer handles that weigh 140 lbs each as easily as she carries groceries.  Competing on a badly injured ankle this Saturday you will see her put the doubters to rest and guaranteed to impress you all.  Age doesn’t dictate old or young, you activity does.  She doesn’t train to add years to her life; she is training to add life to her years.  Nothing like a friendly competition to bring that out.

Athlete 3:  The third young lady in this video I have only had a chance to work with on a few occasions.  Still in middle school, everyone can learn a lot from observing her in action.  She is a member of our speed program and the first thing she ever said to me at the gym was, “I want to lift that” (this was in reference to a 650+ lb tire).  She has zero to very minimal weight training experience and would be called upon to load three implements that weighed more than she does to a platform 42 inches high.  In addition to this she would be required to carry an implement that weighed more than her, Put it in a wheelbarrow that also contained me (fatty), and a 60 lb sandbag and carry it 50 feet, push a sled that was 3x her body weight, and hold on for dear life while I lumbered like a bear for 80 feet.  The amount of heart, toughness, perseverance, and never-say-die, never quit in this girl is not even measurable.  As you will see in the video when she does the loading event, how happy I am.  Because I know exactly what she was feeling and I know how bad she wanted it.  Very cool to see from a (her) coach.  Loved every second of competing side by side with her and watching her fight for every inch.  In fact I didn’t even something so small could have so much fight.

Athlete 4:  The final athlete in this video is also still in middle school.  Had to take on a new partner the day of the contest due to her regular partner coming down sick.  She was nervous, she was uncomfortable, and she was smaller than just about everyone.  In training this young lady has already reached unbelievable levels of strength for her size and age, pulling deadlifts of 220 lbs just weeks after a broken arm had her sidelined for over a month.  She is little more tentative than the other females in this competition, she doubts herself more than she should, even questions her ability at times.  What I know with 100% confidence is that she is starting to believe in herself more and more, and when the day comes that she realizes and achieves what she is capable of she is going to astonish people with her feats.  Few have as much raw strength as she possesses, tolerance for training through pain and being uncomfortable, and ability to smile for over 34 hours each day (yep I don’t know how either).  My favorite part (yes it is in the video) was when she loaded the stone in the contest Saturday.  The stone was her third and final implement and I was right next to her.  She picked it up to her lap and struggled with a couple attempts at the load.  I saw the look on her face and knew exactly what was going through her head and what she was going through.  There were only 2 things that happen when you are in this situation (and I have experienced them both).  Option 1.  This is what you know is going to happen, because you have nothing left and you wasted it on your first two attempts, and you are about to disappoint your teammate.  You’re going to miss the rep and know that if you did it the first time right you would have had it.  You will be mad at yourself, disappointed, and for lack of a better phrase be really pissed off at the World.    Option 2:  You know this is impossible.  Your body is at exhaustion, everything hurts doing one of the most taxing total body exercises there is.  You dig down to that place only you know exists and you give one more leave-it-all-on-the-table lift.  Before you even know if it is reality yet you realize that you just pulled off what even you didn’t think would happen.  Then you see what you are made of and no one can take the smile off your face.  Unfortunately the video cuts off right before she makes the load.  I promise you that it was successful, and I also wanted to take a vote on who was happier after it happened.  Her or me.  Because I was right there, and it was nothing short of awesome.

Nothing more to say on this; just have a look at the video here:

Watch them in Action here

2nd Annual Coed Fitness Challenge Dec. 28th/Athlete Headlines

The 2nd Annual Holiday Coed Challenge is coming December 28th.  Grab you special someone, or the best athlete of the opposite sex you can find and come have absolutely awesome time.  The only thing more fun than competing is watching your fellow teams compete.  Below is the entry flier with details on the events and rules.  And of course the potential Mistletoe Medley, always a crowd favorite.  Ok that last event is made up, but could be good one in the future.

2 Divisions:  Open and 40 and over

If you are interested but don’t have a partner we will match you up and we promise to make it a good one.  Email me at strongmanathletics@gmail.com.

Check out the most recent Athletes in the News:

I unfortunately Couldn’t find the article to along with this picture.  But the picture was too good not to include of Kelly Klentworth:

Tim Haak wins Coach of the Year
I had the pleasure of working with Tim and his football team over the last 3 years.  No one is more deserving of this award, his players and staff are always a pleasure to work with.
All Area Football (lots mentioned):  Lee, Ortner, Olson, Evans, Nolan, Rogers, Miller, Daniels, Lavand, Williams, Giffels, Tomlin, Hines and Nirva all 1st or second team.  Too many honorable mentions to even mention on this list.  Very Proud.

DSC has 2 first team all area Volleyball players (Carly, Lauren), 3 Second Team (Annie, Avalon, and Taylor) and no less than 3 honorable mentions.

Athletes in the News-Lots to catch up on

Kelly Klendworth gets things started on the right foot for Prairie Ridge:

http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2013/11/19/359e81ba71d3436b96a0f2a9c9a517a3/index.xml

Volleyball all conference:  Lauren Leverenz, Taylor Otto, Annie Fox, Kassi Dvoracek, Krissy Pratt, All making all conference (Dave’s program added a couple others in this article)

http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2013/11/20/c5850ed060f9489e80b5964834586fdd/index.xml

Ephraim Lee, you know the drill he is almost a weekly addition to these posts

http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2013/10/26/3bf21e03e376452aa055b09659ec3b3d/index.xml

Big Shane Evans makes headlines a couple time, Congrats on the All State Big man.

Shane Makes all State:

http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2013/11/22/0947872b62744d74a050f3b8a5c2edf7/index.xml

http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2013/11/12/0e3b97ece3114d8bbff3e6adb5fd9a59/index.xml

CLC Hoops with Team Curran - Been a part of this program for years

http://www.mchenrycountysports.com/articles/2013/11/07/a092b08d93e6487c8cf8f018fae8ac8a/index.xml

Advice to Aspiring Strength Coachs/Trainers

I had decent from at a young age

Some of you out there are interested in a career in the health and fitness industry.  It is really a cool and humbling experience when you come to me for advice, or ask me for help, or want to shadow my classes or be an intern at the gym.  That is all great and I am here to help each and every one of you as much as I can.

But I witnessed something the other day that really bothered me.  I was inside a gym (one of the commercial varieties) and saw a young man working with a personal trainer.  It was clearly his first or one of his very first training sessions he had ever had.  I couldn’t help but hear this trainer pick apart everything this young man was doing wrong, trying to correct every bit of every movement he was doing.  By the time he finished I was praying for this trainer to just say “great job today, way to work I am looking forward to taking more steps in the right direction”.  Instead, he finished by telling the kid he still needed to work on his form.

I was so disgusted I actually made it a point to flag the kid down, tell him not to get discouraged, and to find a different coach.  I didn’t even tell him I was a coach, I wasn’t trying to steal business; I was trying to save a kid from being discouraged to ever work out again.

Here is the down right truth:  Every new client you ever train, or I ever train is going to have pretty bad form when they start out.  Some will learn quickly some will be more of a process to get things right.

Here is a truth some coaches are too scared to say:  It is ok for even intermediate lifters to not have perfect form.  In fact it is ok for them to still be working on their form and still make progress with their weights.

Here is what new Trainers/coaches need to realize:  In almost every situation you come across with someone you are working with, trying to change too many things at once isn’t going to get you anywhere.  The best way to go about things is to fix one issue at a time.

Now I am not saying form is not important.  It is actually probably the most important thing there is when it comes to training.   Without proper form will not be able to make significant progress, you will put yourself at a very high risk of injury, and you won’t get a whole lot out of your training in general.  You will make yourself really sore and your body will ache in places you didn’t’ even think possible, and if you do escape without getting hurt the gains you make are going to be minimal.

There is a huge difference between having perfect form and moving weight in a way that is going to get you hurt.  The best way to fix issues with form is also pretty logical.

1.  If the athlete or client is doing something that is going to cause injury fix it immedietely.  Lower the weight, make them do it without weight, whatever you have to do.  You can never let something like this go on.

2.  Then you want to try and fix all the little things ONE THING AT A TIME.

If the person has minor flaws that is keeping them from progressing; these are the things to start fixing.  It is ok for them to keep up with their training while they are fixing these issues.  The human body is pretty intelligent and as you work to fix certain things the body is going to start catching on all by itself.  It will probably learn the correct way to move the weight even before you brain fully catches up.  It’s a phenomenon called experience.

No matter who you train or who you work with; they are going to be more motivated and work harder when they see results and notice themselves getting stronger/better.  Furthermore, I promise you that they are more excited to hear about the things they are doing right far more than the things they are doing wrong.

I am not telling you to sugar coat everything and lie to them.  Be honest, but be encouraging.  Tell them what they need to fix, show them why certain things need extra attention. But don’t forget to commend their accomplishments, their hard work, and everything they are improving on.

I have shared this story before but it is a good one to show you that no one is above learning more or fixing their form.  At a point in time when I was already ranked as the 6th strongest person in the country, I worked with a fellow expert (Dave Davis) for almost a full year every week on my deadlift.  My issues were minor, but I still had them.  I continued to get stronger while these things got fixed.  Not one time did I get hurt while progressing and fixing things at the same time.

Don’t let people who only want to tell you what you are doing wrong get you down.  Most of the time it is because you have just accomplished something they never have.  Even more common is the advice is coming from someone who has no right to be giving advice on the subject in the first place.  Don’t get discouraged that the things you do may not look pretty.  Just focus on your progress no matter how slow it may be.  remember slow progress is still progress.  If you plan on being a strength coach in the future remember these things.  Don’t be the trainer I mentioned in the beginning of this post.  I know he meant well, and lifting with proper form does make progress, gains, and strength come easier and faster but you can’t fix everything in a day.  Give it time, remember when you started you didn’t have perfect form either.  You can correct the negative and be a postive influence at the same time.

2013 North American Storngman Nationals championships Recap

It has been a crazy and emotional week for me, and things have still not completely settled down.  I have been responding to messages from all you as well as people across the country who I have met and competed with, and most amazingly even people I have never met who watched me down in Texas.

I had been debating as to how much and how much detail I wanted to go into in this recap, as it is still almost not real to me.  The amount of support I have received and messages referring to me as an inspiration, from those both close to me and complete strangers has had my mind in overdrive, and quite emotional.  This is part of the reason I haven’t gotten into a whole lot at the gym.  I will be doing a more detailed write-up on this whole event in the newsletter that will go out later this week/next week.

For this I will keep it simple and give you a breakdown of how things shook out.

Wednesday:  Adam and I flew into Dallas already starving and dehydrating ourselves.  We got to the hotel.  Adam was already basically at weight, but I let the sweat-fest begin.  At arrival at the hotel I was 186.5 lbs, a little heavier than I wanted to be.  I ended up calling it a night when I was 178.6.

Thursday:  I woke up at 8:30 and was only down to 177.6.  I wasn’t able to make weight and weight in till 11:00 A.M., two hours after I had planned.  All in all though the weight cut was smoother than all my others and at no time did I feel that bad or on the verge of passing out/dying.  Immediately I drank a pedialite and headed out for breakfast.  I spent the rest of the day rehydrating and eating a ton of food.  Went to bed at almost 191 lbs and was feeling good.

Friday:  I went to the competition early as Adam was competing before me.  With weather being a factor, and safety reasons competing with wet implements we started a full three hours later than we were suppose too.  This didn’t shake me, I stayed focused got warmed up and I was ready.  This was the biggest 175 lb class in the history of the sport and they would all be bringing their A game.

Event 1:  220 Axle Clean once and Press Away.

I was expecting to put up a 15.  I had hit the number in training and was feeling very strong.  Clean was easy and I got into a nice rhythm.  I hit 11 pretty quickly and relatively easily.  I thought I had #12 locked out but was no-repped (I didn’t get video so I never got to see it on film to see if I agreed or not).  I tried one more rep, but was not close to locking out.  I set the bar down and still had 20-25 seconds left on the clock.  I took a breather and re-cleaned the bar, again the clean felt easy.  I gave two more pushes on the bar, but neither more than 70-75% to lockout.  I settled for 11.  A disappointing number for me but a good placing and ended up tying for 4th in the event.  Most guys numbers seemed to be down, not exactly sure why, nor did I give it more thought.  Just had to stay positive and move along.  Honestly this was the exact placing I expected, even with a number below my expectations.

Event 2:  Wheel Barrow Carry and Load:  150 lb keg 75 feet, 200 lb keg 50 feet, 250 lb keg 25 feet.  All in a wheel barrow with 400 lbs of plates on the handles.  The wheel barrow was easily over 1000 lbs and was estimated at 1375 lbs.

This year’s suicide medley being event #2 was certainly a change of pace, and being much heavier than last years, was sure to make the later events interesting and unpredictable.  I was able to load all three kegs extremely quickly and they felt great.  When it came to moving the wheel barrow the story changed.  It became apparent almost immediately that I was not going to able to walk this wheel barrow the distance without putting it down.  After a couple more picks it became apparent that I likely was not going to finish the medley.  In an event like this every foot counts.  I Fought with it till the end, and came about 15 feet from finishing.  Good enough to win the heat and take 10th place in the event.

Event 3:  Car Deadlift

My former nemesis.  This year the weight of the car was going to be much heavier than last year and they made us all well aware of this weeks before the competition.  This made me happy.  At the rules meeting the day before, they informed us that not only was it going to be heavy but instead of pulling off of three boards, we would be pulling off one board.  This makes pick lower, and makes the lift more difficult, at the time I saw this as an advantage to me.  Since we competed so late on day one I was able to see all the lightweights (200 and 231’s) earlier in the day do their car deadlift, and there were more zeros involved than the last 4 FIFA world cups put together.  This was going to be brutal.  My assumptions were correct as I saw nearly every 175 competitor in front of me unable to lift the car.  A Short conversation with Adam yielding me saying this, “I am picking this up, or this will be the last even of my Nationals.”  When Adam asked me why I said that I said, and for the first time ever I was 100% serious, “Because if I don’t get it I am going to hurt or kill myself trying.”  At the go signal, I pulled with everything I had, it felt like I was pulling every part of my upper body apart from each other, but it moved and it came up with decent speed.  With confidence, I pulled another.  Tightened my straps and pulled two more.  Took a breather and thought I had two more in me.  I was dead wrong, as my last two attempts barely even got the handles to start bending.  4 pulls was my number and I was very happy with that.  It was good enough for 4th place in the event.  On a personal level, huge victory for me for 2 reasons:  1.  The Car Deadlift really hurt me last year and I told myself I would finish in the top 5 this year and 2.  I had more pulls than anyone in the contest who didn’t wear a deadlift suit.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I don’t like suits and don’t like that they are legal in the sport, so being able to say I beat all the other raw deadlifters, was a big personal victory.

Event 4:  600 lb frame carry-Due to time constraints was pushed to Day 2.

I ended Day 1 in third place.  1 pt out of second and 5 pts out of first.

Day 2:

Event 4:  Combination of Original Event 4 and Event 5:  Yoke and Frame Medley

630 lb Yoke and 550 lb frame.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this.  The frame was my worst event going in.  The Yoke is always a strong event for me.  Rules changed for everyone so it was fair and I realized thinking about this was a waste of time, so I said F#^k it.  My start gave me a little advantage.  I was in a lane next to Pat Davidson, the best 175 lb yoke walker on the planet.  He is also excellent on the frame carry.  I figured if I keep up with him, or even stay within a stones throw I would be in good shape.  At the whistle Pat took off like he was running a 100 yard dash (as I expected) and I not only kept up with him, I was much closer than I even thought possible.  On the switch frame pick went smooth and I got off to a good start.  Boom.  I drop it, WTF!  My grip has never failed me on contest before.  I would drop the frame two more times, finishing in 36 seconds.  A respectable time, but just 14th place in the event.  I didn’t lose a whole lot of ground, but after my yoke going as well as it did.  I was disappointed.  My grip was more cashed from day 1 than I expected.  This would end up being a big game changer for me, but lesions learned you can’t PR in everything everyday.

Event 5:  Press Medley:  150 lb Keg, 220 lb Axle Press, 235 lb log, 130 lb Circus DB

If there was an event I went into nationals knowing I had a chance to win it was this one.  It didn’t matter if the weights were 30 lb heavier on each implement, I can move through this event.  I watched even the best pressers post times in high 30’s to low 40’s seconds.  I hadn’t heard a time faster than 35.  Before my heat I asked my judge if I was permitted to press the implements backwards so I would not have to look in the sun.  This was allowed as implements could be pressed in any order.  When it was my time, I told the judge to forget what I said, I would be pressing in counter-clockwise order all on the outside, and I would be moving fast.  I wanted him to know the order so he could be in position faster.  Axle, Dumbbell, Log, Keg went up as smooth as it did the hundreds of times I went through it in my head.  I dropped the keg and knew I just set the bar and set it high.  I didn’t even wait for my time.  The judge actually followed my celebration to show me the stop watch:  25.xx seconds.  Easily a full 6-10 seconds faster than anyone who had gone before me.  I was shocked to see a competitor complete the medley less than a second slower, and I could only applaud as last years World Champion would beat my time.  Still a second place finish, which closed the gap on the leader and with one event to go, I was not only not out of it, I was well within reach.

Event 6:  Stone carry and load.  Carry a 220, 240, and 260 lb stone in that order, fifteen feet each and load them over a 52 inch bar.

52 inch load is a tough one for a competitor my size so I taught and trained myself to carry the stones on my shoulder.  At the whistle I attacked the stones on a mission.  Loaded all three smooth and fast.  23 seconds.  A full 2 seconds faster than anytime I hit in training.  Personal Record.  Couldn’t be happier with the way I finished.  I would have to wait to see if it was fast enough.  After I saw the current leader load his stones, although I didn’t know his time, and nothing would be official for another couple hours, I knew in my heart my time was not quite fast enough.  I finished in 9th place in the event.  Again an improvement from last year as the stones were my 2nd worst event at nationals (besides the car deadlift).

I finished in 2nd place.  I went in knowing I had as good a chance as anyone there to win.  I didn’t disappoint myself.  At no point in time during the contest was I any lower than 4th place.  This group of guys is so strong I can honestly say that the field was even stronger than the World Championships last year.  I left the banquet with my awards, invite to The World Championships for the second straight year, a little prize money, and the confidence that this year I have the ability, skill, focus, and desire to be World Champion in 17 weeks.

My Competition Video (only 4 of 6 events taped):  Quint Zambon 2nd Place 2013 NAS National Championships

Extremely proud of my teammate and friend for also qualifying for the World Championships.

Adam Corra 7th place 200 lb Division:  Adam Corra 2013 National Championships Full Video

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