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Another 'First Strongman Competition' Person Looking for Advice

Okay, I took a big leap today and signed up for a strongman competition on November 11th in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. I think it’s at least in my reach to not zero any of the events, as long as I can make some trips up to KC between now and then and get some time on implements that I’ve never used, up at Stone and Barbell club. Here’s the events and weights for Novice/Masters:

Max Log – 10” log, starts at 55lbs, 3 attempts Wessel rules Belt/sleeves/wrist wraps allowed

Deadlift Medley – 1 rep barbell, 1 rep 18in barbell, Axle bar max reps Belt/straps/sleeves allowed, conventional stance, no suit - 315#, 455#, 315#

Yoke walk – 60 ft., unlimited drops, and 60 second time limit - 500#

Farmer’s walk – 60 ft. no turn, unlimited drops, and 60 second time limit - 200# each hand

Sled Push and Pull – Push sled 25 ft. then pull sled by TRX handles past start line - 450#

To give an idea of my current strength levels, I’m on a 5/3/1 program, this is my 3’s week, and my top sets this week so far have been squat 3x365#, press 3x180# and deadlift 3x405#. I’m 52 years old, 200# and 5’7". Stone and Barbell Club in Kansas City has all of the implements, but I’ve never used any of them, and I can only make it up there maybe a half dozen times between now and November 11th.

My plan right now is to continue with my 5/3/1 as it’s going, add in some heavy squat walk-outs and rack pulls just to let my body know what those heavier weights feel like, Continue doing trap bar farmer’s walks on my deadlift days, and make it up to KC as many times as possible between now and then, and see what it feels like to use the various implements, on either Fridays or Saturdays. Hopefully I can get one of the coaches at Stone and Barbell to help me out for a few sessions, but we’ll see since I’m not a regular member and I’ll be paying by the visit.

Does anyone have any advice? Comments? Suggestions? Anything would be appreciated.

@brady888 @littlesleeper @flipcollar

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Your plan looks good. You’ll at least need some practice on a yoke when in KC - it really isn’t anything like squat walkouts. I’d even consider unracking from pins and taking a step ahead of it.

If you can deadlift 400, the 18" will probably be okay just get practice using straps in. You don’t want to waste 20 seconds trying to figure straps out. I like the figure 8 straps but you will need larger ones for an axle.

Sounds like a cool show.
I am a terrible deadlifter, I will leave that to the rest.

For the log: learn to use your legs in the press of you are used to strict pressing.

You have the strentgh for the farmer’s, assuming that your grip isn’t terrible. I would suggest working in foot speed with lighter weights.
Focus on moving quickly before going heavy.

First, congrats on taking the plunge and signing up for a competition, that’s a big first step.

It looks like you have a good base of strength with your 5/3/1 numbers and the competition weight is not that heavy in comparison to your strength.

If you have never done Yoke and Farmer’s walks, they are going to be important to spend some time with. They are definitely a different animal than working with a barbell. Having no turn on the farmers walk is nice, that’s the part I can’t seem to execute properly. Focus on footspeed here. If you’re not already familiar with @Alpha on here go over and check out his log and YouTube page. He has so many informative videos out there on the different lifts and preparation strategies.

Deadlift medley you shouldn’t zero looking at the numbers.

I seemed to get solid carryover from my other pressing work to my log pressing but it would be a good idea to feel a log yourself and the see how difficult it is to breathe/brace with one up on your chest.

I’ve never done much in terms of sled work, but I feel like that will be more a matter of work capacity. Get the sled moving and have enough conditioning to not let it stop.

Only thing that I’d add to what’s already been said is practice your transitions. If you’re using straps for the deadlift, practice strapping up as quickly as possible.

To pass along advice from a more experienced competitor, @T3hPwnisher recommended to practice picks for the farmers and yoke. Try to pick and run rather than setting up like a traditional squat or deadlift and then starting to move. It seems like a speed dominant show, the seconds add up.

man, you’ve gotten GREAT advice so far! this is really awesome. I feel like everything I’m about to say has already been said so far, so I’ll just reiterate the points I think are most important that will likely need some practice.

  1. Practice getting your straps onto the axle, and DEFINITELY use figure 8’s. For reps, and just getting them on at the start, regular straps are garbage on an axle. They’ll slip, and they take forever to wrap. This would kill you in the event. It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen people fuck up on axle deadlift simply because they didn’t invest 15 or 20 bucks in the proper straps.

  2. Practice with the log as much as possible. Get used to incorporating leg drive, work on really getting substantial energy transfer into the log. And make sure you clean it right. Don’t treat it like a barbell. It should be rolled up. Watch videos, learn it well. If you have 6 sessions available to you with the implement, practice it each of the 6 times.

  3. The pick on the yoke and farmers walks also need to be practiced more than the full runs. Short sprints of 25 feet or less are really good for practice. It allows you to practice the ‘hard part’ more without gassing yourself too much. I would alternate between the yoke and farmers when you have access. so maybe 3 sessions for each.

  4. Practice the sled event at least once if you can, just to figure out how low you want to be on the push, how it feels, just get an idea of how you move fastest with it. Not a hard thing to learn, just don’t want your first time with it being on comp day.

  5. you’ll be fine on deadlift strength, it sounds like.

Great stuff in here!

A few other things I’d add:

  • Don’t count on a thorough warm-up on any of the events. Everyone in the room will be lining up for a single piece of equipment, and at best you’ll get just enough time to get a feel for it.

  • With the max log, there is a good chance that your 1st, 2nd, & 3rd attempts will be close to each other. In my last comp, my 1st & 2nd deadlift attempts were maybe one minute apart.

Wow, what an outpouring of advice! This is why I love these forums.

Thanks to everyone who has put in their two cents, and I will definitely take this all to heart. It looks like my biggest take-aways so far are:

  • get a set of figure-eight straps for the axle deadlift (I don’t know what those are, but will order a pair and learn how to use them proficiently). Also practice transition on the deadlift medley.

  • Watch @Alpha’s instruction videos on the implements. I’m already subscribed to his youtube channel, but there’s a lot of material to go through there. I’ll try to watch these videos before I make the first trip to KC, so I’m at least not completely clueless.

  • Learn to use leg drive for the log, and learn how to clean it properly and what it feels like on my chest.

  • On the yoke and farmer’s, work on foot speed, practice picks, and some time with the actual implements is important. Also, learn to use them with a lighter weight rather than try to go heavy right away.

  • It sounds like I probably need to spend less time with the sled than with the other implements, just figure out the right body mechanics that work for me.

  • Don’t count on a lot of warm-up time with any of the events, and expect multiple attempts to be really close together time-wise.

Now, here are some specific questions/concerns that I came up with between my workout last night, and this morning:

  • I tried to do some rack pulls at ~18" (didn’t have a ruler, just guestimated) to try to emulate the 18" deadlift, and I barely budged 455#. The height was right at my knees, which put me in a very awkward over-extended position where I didn’t have much leverage. Admittedly I did it after my deadlift workout yesterday, but it didn’t feel natural at all. I deadlifted 455# conventionally back in November of last year, and my strength level is about where it was then. Is a rack pull not a reasonable substitute for a higher bar pull? Will I be better off pulling off some sort of blocks?

  • I don’t use a belt or any sort of wraps right now. I have a lever belt I got from eliteFTS, but I’ve never been able to get comfortable with using it. I had a standard buckle belt that got lost somewhere in the move/divorce, and that always felt better to me. Should I keep going with what’s working for me now, or would it benefit me to invest in any of that stuff between now and November?

Again, thanks for all the awesome advice and suggestions, and I look forward to seeing how working out with a purpose affects my training.

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Try the blocks. Since with a rack pull the bar is on the pins, you won’t get as much flex out of the bar as you will be getting from an 18"/Tire deadlift

Haven’t ever seen an axle give much, I have to say.

bring a ruler next time.

little differences in rack pull height can make a big difference. but what you’re experiencing is not unusual. Some people have a REALLY hard time with the 18" pull, particularly with an axle. Just gotta work through it. play around with your positioning a little and make sure that isn’t the issue. But at the end of the day, it may actually be harder for you to pull an axle from 18 than a bar off the ground.

He said the 18" was with a barbell

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Right, 18" barbell @455#, then 315# Axle for max reps. I’ll definitely measure next time, but when I’m looking at an 18" bar, is that typically center of bar? Anyway, I’ll play around with it and figure out what it takes me to pull at 18".

Copied over from my training log. Any additional advice or comments welcome, as always>

Today was supposed to be a day off, but I had an opportunity to get to Kansas City and hit Stone and Barbell club, so I jumped right on that.

9/3/17 Strongman Implement work.


Log work - 12" 90# log. Played around with just the log, trying to remember everything I could from Brian Alsruhe’s log tutorial video, then:
Log clean and press:

Deadlift work:
18" deadlift off blocks:

Axle deadlift:

Farmer’s carry (20# implements):

Yoke carry (205# implement)
put on belt

Didn’t mess with the sled today.

Takaways from today’s session:

  • @Alpha’s video was invaluable in preparing for this. I was pleasantly surprised how well the log went.
    Although I had to fight to keep from letting 178# collapse my form, getting it up wasn’t really hard. I’ll keep working on my form on the clean, and getting a good rack position and good leg drive on the press, and I know I have 200# in me, maybe more. Push pressing the 178# log was easier than BB strict pressing 180#.

  • 18" deadlift off blocks was way easier than the half-ass rack pull I tried on Thursday, but it still felt awkward. after seeing the difference the belt made between my 2 semi-heavy yoke walks, I think I’m going to go with a belt for the deadlift too, and I expect it’ll make a huge difference. Stopped at 405# since I’m just testing my ability to do the events right now, not trying to gas myself. Just did the axle to 315# to see how different it felt with an axle, wasn’t a problem at all, even without straps.

  • Farmer’s carry with 160# in each arm wasn’t a problem at all. I don’t think 200# will be much worse. Grip was solid, without straps.

  • Yoke felt fine picking it up, but getting a rhythm down while walking is going to take some practice. 385# seemed like a good weight to practice with, 1 plate on each of the 4 posts on the yoke. I need some advice on what height to set the yoke at, though. How high above the ground should the bottom of the yoke frame be when I have it lifted? The parking lot was uneven and sloped, but it still seemed like the bottom of the frame was scraping the ground a lot… it may have been that it was swinging too much because I don’t have a clean stride down, not sure. I put the belt on for the second carry at 385#, and it was night and day easier to stay solid.

Overall, I feel really good about this meet now that I’ve played with all the implements some. I’ve proven to myself that I can definitely at least compete with all the implements and weights, so I won’t be zeroing anything. Still plenty of room for improvement, but a good confidence builder.


Okay, so I did it! If any of you folks want to give me any pointers on my performance, here is the link to my training log where I linked the videos. I had a blast, and I’m definitely going to do this again, and I want to be better next time.


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Looked good man. I have a few comments.

The last log just looked too heavy. Good effort to clean it, you’ll get it next time.
It’s hard to use straps and go mixed grip on the deadlift.
The yoke cross bar was waaaay too low for you. You also need to keep your chin up. That thing will fold you over if your head is down.

Anyway, great work. Glad you caught the bug hehe

Thanks. I think I have a 210# log press in me, I just got myself psyched out. 190# went up easy.

I was pretty happy with how the deadlifts went, but maybe I would have been set up quicker if I had used double overhand… I’ll play around with it. I just always go mixed grip when I’m either going for a max weight or max reps, and I didn’t think to change that when I added the straps.

I definitely noticed that the yoke bar was too low, I was having to half squat it every time I picked it up, and with as many drops as I had, that took a lot out of me. I’ll work on keeping my head up. I didn’t notice looking down while I was out there, but it’s pretty obvious on the video.

Thanks for the comments. I definitely caught the bug!

I’ll second the comment re straps and mixed grip. If you’re using straps, I don’t think there is much/any benefit to going mixed grip. If you compete in arenas where straps are allowed, would probably be best to get used to double-overhand with straps.

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