The 7th Annual Krank'd Strongman Contest was held on 02-08-15 at NEPA CrossFit in Wilkes-Barre, PA. One of the 57 competitors, who joined hundreds of spectators, in filling the massive NEPA CrossFit venue, was fellow member of The House Where Muscle Is Built, Nick Hickey. I was one of the spectators.
This was Nick's first Strongman Contest. Nick entered the Novice Heavyweight Division in this North American Strongman Level 1 Contest. The Novice division is for competitors who have never finished in the top 3 in the novice division of a previous contest and the heavyweight classification is for all competitors 231 pounds and over. Nick weighed in at 281lbs and he is 6'6" tall. There were 9 competitors, including Nick, in the Novice Heavyweight Division.
The first event was a Carrying Medley, in which competitors first lifted and carried a 200lb sandbag 50ft. After dropping the sandbag, the competitors then carried a 230lb keg 50ft and had to stand the keg on end once over the 50ft line to complete the event.
The order sequence of competitors in the first event was based on the order they signed up for the contest in reverse. Since Nick was the 3rd competitor, out of 9 total, to sign up for the contest, he was the 6th competitor to compete in the Carrying Medley. The order that you compete in each event is important. If you go later in the order (preferably last), you know what you have to beat to win the event.
I could tell Nick was nervous going into this event. Who could blame him? This was his first Strongman Contest ever. I tried to get him to calm down a little, but at one point when I was telling him to try to relax, he interrupted me by saying, "I just threw up in my mouth."
What I was hoping for was a "clean run", meaning I did not want him to drop either the sandbag or the keg, once they were lifted, and I did not want him to fall down. Not only did Nick complete a "clean run", he actually WON THE EVENT! Awesome. Nick was off to a great start and finishing first in the Carrying Medley earned him 9 points.
1st Event -- Carry Medley
The 2nd event was the Viking Press. In many contests they would have reordered the sequence of competitors for this event, from last to first place based on the previous event. They did not do that in this contest. For this event they kept the sequence of competitors as the previous event, so again, Nick was the 6th competitor to do the Viking Press, in his group of 9 competitors.
The weight was 230lbs. Once the weight was lifted off the ground it could not touch the ground again or the competitor was done. They had 60 seconds to complete as many reps as possible. There also was a line on the ground, which the competitors feet had to stay in front of for the entire event. Nick was able to grind out 8 reps. This earned him a tie for 2nd place in this event and 7.5 points. He now had 16.5 points and was still in first place after the 2nd event.
Nick did well in this event, but he will be the first to admit he did not think it would be one of his stronger events. Being 6'6' he has very long arms, which is helpful in many Strongman events, but not overhead pressing. After looking at the video of his performance he also acknowledges that he needs to work on getting more leg drive in this event.
The importance of the sequence of competitors in each event was very important here. The competitor who ended up finishing 2nd place in the entire competition went 3rd in this event and completed an amazing 19 reps. It was a very impressive feat, but in hindsight it became apparent that he only needed to complete 9 reps to win the event. Unfortunately for him, there was no way for him to know that since he had to go 3rd in the sequence.
I could tell this competitor was really wiped out after this event. It sure would have been nice for him to know he didn't have to complete those 10 extra reps that were not needed for the win. Bottom line -- if you compete in Strongman, get your entry for the contest in early (so you can go close to last, or preferably last) in the 1st event and then really try to get off to a good start, depending on how they reorder the sequence of competitors after each event. I believe this will give you an advantage.
2nd Event -- Viking Press
The 3rd event was the Car Dead-Lift. Before this event they reordered the sequence of competitors. Since Nick was in first place after two events, he got to go last on this event and that was a key factor in the outcome of the entire competition. This is the final time they reordered the competitors, so guess who would get to go last in the sequence for this event and the final two events?
From here on out, by getting to be the last competitor of each event, Nick would know what he would have to do to win each event. The way they reorder competitors after each event can be different depending on how the contest is run. Personally, I like reordering the competitors after each event depending on overall position in the contest, from last to first place, but again it just depends on how the contest is run.
When Nick stepped in for the Car Dead-Lift (since he got to go last) he knew the number to beat was 20 reps. This was a big number and it was going to be a monumental feat for Nick to pull it off, but if he could complete 21 reps, he would win this competition and things would be set up very nicely for him to get the overall win in the competition.
Nick "pulled" it off (pardon the pun). He completed 21 reps and won Car Dead-Lift. Afterwards he said,"That was one of the hardest things I have ever done." He also admitted that if he wouldn't have known that he had to do 21 reps to get the win, he would not have done 21 reps. The 9 points earned for winning the Car Dead-Lift gave him 25.5 points overall and solidified his 1st place position overall.
3rd Event -- Car Dead-Lift
The 4th event was the Conan's Wheel. This was actually the one event I was most worried about for Nick. When I competed in Strongman I did not like the Conan's Wheel and I was not very good at it. Compounding my worries was the fact that Nick had not been able to practice the event at all going into the competition.
It turns out I had nothing to worry about. Nick easily handled the 600lb weight on the bar and won the event easily. After the event he reported that he did not even give an all out effort. Being able to go last in the sequence of competitors he knew what he had to do to win the event and he did just that.
This is a sign of a savvy competitor and shows maturity beyond his age and experience level. With another 9 points added for winning the Conan's Wheel he now had 34.5 points overall and had solidified his overall lead in the competition.
4th Event -- Conan's Wheel
The 5th and final event was Stones. Nick had been able to put in some really good preparation work for this event. We were able to get some stones and a platform for him to train with. (The stones and the platform are actually in the basement of the same building we run HouseOfMuscle.com out of.)
There was some strategy involved with this event. The competitors had to lift a stone over a bar and then the stone was rolled back to them so they could attempt another lift. The strategy came into play when deciding what stone to use. Nick had the option of using a 220lb stone, which counted for 1 point each time it cleared the bar, or he could use a 275lb stone, which counted for 2 points each time it cleared the bar. The competitors also had the option of switching between stones anytime they wanted to during the allotted 60 second time limit.
All of the 8 other competitors in Nick's division decided to use the lighter 220lb stone. The competitor who got 2nd in the overall competition, did the lighter, 220lb stone 13 times, thus earning 13 points.
Nick tried a different approach. Nick lifted the heavier 275lb stone 7 times over the bar, but because each lift was worth 2 points instead of 1, be earned 14 points overall and won the Stones event. Smart thinking Nick!
The 9 points earned for winning the Stones event gave him 43.5 points overall and he earned the overall win in the Novice Heavyweight Division.
5th Event -- Stones
Strongman is an individual sport in the sense that you alone are the one out there in the arena competing. With that said, a successful Strongman does need support from other people to be successful. Case in point, Nick's fiance Caitlin was there every step of the way supporting Nick.
After the 2nd event (the Viking Press), when they did the reordering of competitors for the remaining 3 events (the one time they would do this), Caitlin went up to the scorer's table with her own personal score sheet to confirm they had things correct. Guess what? They didn't. They didn't have Nick in the proper sequence and if Caitlin would not have gone up there to confirm this, Nick would not have gotten to go last in the Car Dead-Lift, and the remaining events, which would have been a big disadvantage.
So there you have it. That is my recap of Nick's First Strongman Contest. I was very impressed by Nick's overall performance. He exceeded my expectations. The sky is the limit for Nick when it comes to Strongman.
He is the right age (he is 25 years old), meaning that he's mature enough to handle the futile nervousness and anxiety that comes with being too young for this type of competition, yet he is not too old to be past his prime in terms of his overall strength potential.
He has the frame (6'6" and 280lbs) which is the perfect starting mold to use to make himself into an elite strongman.
But most of all he has the correct attitude, mindset and determination to accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.
Watch out Strongman World, here comes Nick . . .