In a world where every fat kid who shows up, every so-called victim with a sad story, and every proud weakling with a wheat allergy seems to deserve a trophy, I had to get mine too.
The weekend before last I participated in my first strongman competition in over 5 years. For the last five years I’ve been on a hiatus, a break from competition, and have been focused on the mission of making men strong again.
Today Strength Camp gym is fully established in our city, as well as in over twenty “ Strength Camp Ambassador” cities worldwide. Grounding Camp, my “men’s initiation camps”, is also in it’s fifth year and we just completed our tenth event.
Things are going well, men are growing stronger, so I’ve turned my focus to strongman training and competition again.
The Strength Camp Challenge has been an annual event since 2014. Each year we invite men and women from all of the world to test their strength against barbell, iron, sled and stone. Every year we send home a winner with a huge cash prize for putting in the work and dominating on the day of judgement. This year I decided to throw my hat in the ring with the young beasts and take a stab at winning back my own money.
This year we had three competitive categories: women, novice, open (heavyweight / lightweight). The winners took home trophies, and cash. I won a silver metal, but even more – I was filled with pride and gratitude for the all the competitors, staff, volunteers and the men and women who won.
Over the last five years I’ve been healing from a barrage of injuries, including torn biceps and achilles tendon, so I’ve lost quite a bit of strength.
In order to prepare for the Strength Camp Challenge 2019 I followed my old favorite and forever faithful 5 x 5 strength program, modified for strongman competition.
Within three months I was able to go from a rusty, fucked-up looking deadlift to pulling over five hundred pounds in the competition. I attribute most of the gains to so-called muscle memory, lifting heavy and practicing good form.
My 545 pound deadlift was good enough for second place, behind Strength Camp member Julian Hooks who pulled over six-hundred pounds for the win (he was also the final LW winner).
For the remainder of this year, and leading up to the Strength Camp Challenge 2020 I plan to train my deadlift with obsessed intensity.
Of course I’ll be following a modified 5 x 5 program, supplemented with “rack work”. I’m super confident that I’ll be pulling well over six-hundred by next fall.
The 225 bench press for reps was the second event. I may have taken third place in this one. The bench press has never been my slice of pie, so I didn’t expect win but I did far better that I thought I would with about 17 reps.
Having torn my right biceps about three ago, my left shoulder has become pretty unstable. In order to get my pressing up to speed I spent several months practicing floor presses and board presses. These kept the range of motion short, while I built up the stability in the joint. Next year I’ll be better prepared for this one.
Farmer’s walk for distance, with 250 pounds per hand was next. I fully intended to win this event, but I didn’t. I was inched-out by Julian who took the bars around one last turn (about 5 feet) to beat my run of about 150 feet.
Training the farms walk is one of my favorite things to do. I love taking a moderate or light dumb bells for long walks around the block in my neighborhood. With continued focus on rack pulling, grip work and long walks around the block I’m confident next year I will win this event (unless YOU train to beat me).
Atlas stone lifting was the final event, and a skill I was born to dominate (as long as the loading platform is under 54”). I practiced loading stones at Strength Camp every weekend for the eight weeks leading up to the challenge. At first I was unsure of how my healing biceps and achilles tendon would hold up to stone loading, but everything went well.
I took first place in the 265 pound stone-over-yoke event, which helped me take second place over all.
My love of stone lifting has been so strongly renewed that I decided to have my friend Will cook up some new stones for me to lift at home, in my garage gym. These stones are new, smooth and heavy. I’m planning on keeping them “tacky free” and pouring acid on them to rough-up the concrete and make it more grippable.
I am also going to build a stone loading platform from my old power rack and master stone lifting again leading up to next years Strength Camp Challenge.
If you’re on your path to becoming the strongest version of yourself come compete at the Strength Camp Challenge with me next year. You have twelve months to prepare, win money and have fun.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Strength Camp, meet me, compete against me, lift stones, gain new friends and get some prize money, then click here to join us.
Elliott Ignatius Hulse: Making Millions of Men Strong, Since 2007
Strongman, strength coach, CEO Strength Camp, father, father-figure, mentor to 2,000,000+ men world wide on YouTube.
Mission: to make men strong again.