Yesterday was the third Guernsey’s Strongest competition which is growing in popularity and pain ever year!
Apart from seeing people moving a lot of heavy stuff about, one of my favourite things is watching people go from being very nervous at the start to really working together and getting each other fired up.
The fact is most people haven’t even got the balls to put themselves to the test so everyone who even made the start line for the first event get a huge dose of respect from me!
Strongman events are a funny thing.
You need power, strength, grip, stamina and a big shot of determination and stubbornness.
When you’re giving it everything your body has and that truck is moving 4-5mm, it can be soul destroying.
I managed second place in the middleweights category coming in ONE damn point behind Chester Homan who took a deserved first place!
Unfortunately the log press let me down following months of having an injured shoulder but that’s what the strongman game is all about and I’m pleased with the progress made in other areas compared to last year including a 260kg deadlift with some more in the tank.
It was a great day up against Chester, Sam Yabsley, Andy Bailey, Paul McCabe and Nick Jenkins – awesome camaraderie and we pushed each other to the limit.
Thanks to those guys in particular but everyone was brilliant.
As great as winning and getting medals is, one of the most important things for me is to appreciate where you’ve made gains and what needs working on and you get going from the next day.
So here are some key lessons I took away and that you can apply no matter what your goal:
Surround yourself with people who push you
One of the worst things you can do in life if you want to progress with anything is to surround yourself with people who don’t push you to find out what you can do.
Watching some videos back I see my direct competitors punching the air when I made my PB deadlift.
I wanted to see people finish the truck pull even when I missed it by 3 metres.
Direct rivals having bromances after a great race.
That’s what you want in your life.
It can be people who are better than you and drag you up or just people who won’t let you listen to your own bullshit about what you can and can’t do.
Thank you to the people who made me better yesterday and I hope I did the same for you.
There are no small things
A phrase used a lot is ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’.
These events come with a lot of if’s and but’s.
Had I got 2 more reps on the log, got those 3 metres on the truck pull or one of the other guys gone 2 seconds quicker on the kegs, I would have won.
I can’t help but think had I maybe done some reps I gave up on over the last few months, it would have been the difference.
I’m not beating myself up about it but it proves the small things matter.
Whether you are trying to shed fat and keep having those biscuits or glasses of wine that ‘don’t matter’ or ignoring movement or injury issues that hold you back, the small things might be what make the difference.
There’s been a video going around about the British cycling team and their attention to improving as many things as possible by 1%.
It all counts.
Understand YOUR challenge
This day and age of constant distractions means unless you are totally focused and know what YOU need to perform at your best in your particular challenge, you will end up spending a lot of time wasting time and energy on things that don’t help.
I love having a good six pack but had to put that aside to gain weight and strength for this competition.
You need to know what each event requires and train those areas.
Maybe your back is weak.
Maybe your shoulders aren’t great.
Maybe your conditioning sucks and you gas after 45 seconds of tyre flipping.
Maybe your legs are fine on the truck pull but your grip goes.
Similarly, if your prime goal is aesthetics, don’t spend half your time trying to improve your 1RM on the powerlifting lifts at the expense of building muscle and burning body fat.
Know YOUR challenge.
Make the most of your strengths
Everyone has physical strengths and weaknesses. EVERYONE.
The key is amplifying your strengths as much as possible and eliminating or at least working around your weaknesses.
If you know your conditioning is good, then push as hard as you can from the whistle and trust that the other person will gas out first.
Know that in any race, the other person is hurting too!
If you know your strength is your ‘strong point’, make sure you get the most points in those tests or compete in competitions where that is the focus.
The same applies to any sport.
Attack weaknesses but don’t forget to play to your strengths.
You’ll often find a lot of hard work on your weaknesses will bring improvements of say 5% but the same effort on your strengths will bring 20-30% improvements.
Find the balance and how they come together.
Compete as often as you can
Too many people have a fear of competition.
Nothing will bring out your best like going up against other people.
It doesn’t have to be cut throat, UFC style, nose to nose, trash talking type competition!
The thing is that the gym will only ever tell you a small part of the story.
Only competition with others will take you to a new level.
Like a thermostat you then have a new ‘set point’ to start from in your next training block.
Sometimes you will win, sometimes you will lose but…
You only fail if you don’t try again
Did you watch the Olympics?
How many stories do we hear about people who made it, lost it, lost it again, then came back to take gold.
You only fail when you quit.
If you can take a ‘loss’ as a lesson, it isn’t wasted effort or an embarrassment.
How can you ever fail if you are still on the path to where you want to go?
The people who constantly start and stop are the ones who fail, not those who zig zag and take detours that are part of life!
You have the chance to never be the same again
There’s always talk of “I’m going to have a good rest now” after events like this or marathons or whatever.
Rest and recovery is important BUT, if you leave it too long, that mental thermostat will reset to your old levels.
You have the chance to build on what you just did when you complete an event like Guernsey’s Strongest.
You have the chance to never be the same again and to keep getting better but you also run the risk of an adrenaline and focus ‘dump’ where you go into No Man’s Land in the gym and waste the next few months.
Be excited and move forward.
Start planning IMMEDIATELY.
Recover with purpose and keep moving forward, all be it slower at first.
I have just sent an email to the guy I have chosen to be my next coach.
He is a movement, mobility and hand balancing expert.
My weakness is…movement and mobility and I know having more control over my body through complex movements will feed into my performances next year.
You don’t have to be huge to be strong
A few people in the crowd commented on how strong some of the girls were despite not being ‘butch’ and other such words often associated with girls in strength and power sports.
Whilst more muscle certainly helps in being ultimately strong, there is a lot more to it and amazing strength can be built without stacking on weight.
I like to train people for a high strength to bodyweight ratio through training the part of strength that comes from more efficient recruitment of the ‘nervous system’.
Get rid of unnecessary fat and get strong at the same time.
I have the privilege in life to coach Sam Gervaise-Brazier and Lucia Sugden who took the Lightweight and Middleweight female titles.
Strong, and look great with it through smart programming.
If you can get your head out of the old mindset of being strong means being a big bodybuilder, you can make amazing progress physically and your personal confidence will rocket!
Trust in yourself
At the start of Guernsey’s Strongest there were a lot of people taking part for the first time and were very nervous.
They soon learned that they were better than they ever imagined.
If you’ve done the work, trust in yourself to find something special on the day.
So many people take dreams and abilities to the grave because they never simply tried in the first place.
“Courage isn’t being fearless but facing the fear and doing it anyway”.
Much respect to everyone who competed yesterday and found out what they’re capable of.
Sam who you saw above, wasn’t going to compete 2 weeks ago because of an injury that left her unable to walk at times.
I knew she could do it and deep down she trusted herself enough to get the job done!
Many competitors have doubts before the event but a shout should also go to Tim Grantham who has been training hard and the night before told me he was very unlikely to compete due to illness but went on to medal in the lightweights.
It ain’t over till it’s over!
There were so many amazing performances I can’t even tell you about them without missing someone awesome out!
The videos will start appearing soon so keep an eye out on my Facebook page.
One of the biggest lessons was that it’s not over till it’s over.
So much can go right and wrong in a strongman event.
Someone can be great out the blocks but gas towards the end.
The grip can go.
The last keg can finish someone off!
Learn to trust keep going but accept it won’t always work out.
More often than not though you can overtake people and win at life if you just have the mindset to keep moving even when it gets tough.
Never, ever give up.
Thank you to everyone for being part of the event that took a lot of organising.
I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you’ll join us again next year.
I hope you suffered.
I mean that.
I did, and the guys in my category made me better because of it.
Don’t avoid suffering. Without it you will never really know who you are or what you can do.