Beard Power!

Posted: June 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

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You don’t need a beard of your own to have BEARD POWER. From California to D.C. all the way to Norway, these Beard Power shirts are popping up everywhere.

The first run of these shirts sold out within 4 days and a second order has been placed, along with some stickers that would look pretty good anywhere.

Available in sizes from S-XXL. They are $20, including shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S. Email me at strongmanclay@gmail.com for yours!

New Testimonials Added

Posted: May 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

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These last few months have been a flurry of activity for me in the gym. The number of athletes I’m working with has grown substantially and I’m proud to be able to share the stories of how they’ve improved since we’ve started working together. Check out the testimonials page to read more:

http://www.strongmanclay.com/testimonials/

 strongmanclay@gmail.com
(831) 776-0875

 

_MG_8277Ryan Boehme showing some hustle between events in the medley

 

The Northern California Strongman Championships and Boss of Mas Wrestling Tournament were held at Dan Green’s Boss Barbell Club in Mountain View, CA on Saturday, April 26th.

I had the pleasure of preparing four of the competitors for this contest – Tyler Miller (under 231), Ryan Boehme (under 200), Cortney Espinosa (Women’s MW) and Jessica DeNise (Women’s MW). This was the first contest for Miller and DeNise; Boehme and Espinosa already competed in their first last September at the Santa Cruz Strength Strongman Challenge.

All I could ever ask for as a coach is knowing that athletes came into a contest physically healthy, strong, and mentally prepared for the task at hand. I have high standards for my athletes and they did not disappoint; each of them hit personal records in two or more events!

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Ryan Boehme hit personal records in the medley, deadlift, and the stones on his way to completing the contest against a very stacked lightweight class. Ryan’s iron will powered him through the medley in a PR time, but his highlight of the day was hitting a 140lb personal record on the 18″ deadlift.

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Tyler Miller, who had previously competed in powerlifting and weightlifting, stepped onto the platform in his first strongman competition with only 6 weeks of event training under his belt. Despite his inexperience in strongman, his poise on the platform netted him a near-miss with a PR attempt at 243lbs on the axle, a PR time on the medley, and a huge PR on the 18″ deadlift – 655lbs – with plenty more in the tank.

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Cortney Espinosa, proprietor of Stellar Cupcakez, did most of her training from her home but worked with me on a few occasions to really dial in her technique on the events. In addition to setting personal records in almost every event, she killed the pre-contest weight cut which really paid off for her in the end, since there was a 3-way tie for 2nd place and Cortney’s lighter bodyweight helped her pull through to take 2nd overall.

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Jessica DeNise was only 2 months into lifting heavy before finding out about my strongman classes at Boss Barbell Club. After the first class, she signed up for the contest and we fast-tracked her competition preparation. On contest day, she executed everything we talked about and earned 3rd place in her division, setting personal records in every event along the way.

I couldn’t be more proud of the way they performed. We laid out a game plan, simulated contest conditions, and they executed everything exactly as we had discussed.

If you’re ready to go from spectator to competitor, I’m the guy to help you cross that line!

Even if your name isn’t Magnus and you don’t have any plans to make a run at the top of the World’s Strongest Man podium, you can still reap the benefits of practicing the penultimate strongman event – the atlas stones.

The origins of lifting a stone for sport come from modest beginnings in different parts of the world, but our knowledge of their history comes from primarily Spain, Scotland, and Ireland. Irish countrysides were littered with stones of different sizes, making it impossible to properly farm the land. In order to grow food, farmers would have to move all the stones by hand. These stones were often moved to the outer edges of the property lines where they were neatly arranged into small walls, separating their neighbor’s parcel from their own.

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Some of these larger stones made their way into the landscaping surrounding the farmer’s home as decoration. They later became a strength challenge for anyone who passed by. I’m willing to bet the conversation that started the first challenge stone went something like this:

Seamus: “That’s a big stone.”
Angus: “Yeah it is. I bet I could pick that up.”
Seamus: “Ah, no you couldn’t! You’re a f**king liar!”
Angus: “Oh really? Watch this!”
*lifts stone*
*fistfight ensues*
*drinking ensues*

Aw, that’s stereotyping! Totally not politically correct, Clay! Okay, okay, you’re right. I’m sure the drinking was first.

And thus began the proud and noble tradition of stone lifting.

But enough history for now my little quadzillas, let’s get to the event and why stone lifting should get put into your program.

Lifting a stone uses every muscle in the body, making it one of the most functional exercises in existence. But being amazingly functional is not always enough to convince people to try it. Functional, effective exercises aren’t sexy or exciting but they will pack on slabs of muscle in all the right places. Not to mention that stone lifting will help build strength in two gym lifts that trainees typically need more help with – the front squat and deadlift. It also teaches the triple extension commonly used in the Olympic lifts.

To set up, let’s draw an imaginary line around the middle of the atlas stone like the equator around a globe. Everybody take out their imaginary pens!

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Whoa, two round objects with equator lines around them? Did I just blow your mind or what?

Position the arch of your feet over the equator of the stone. Your feet should be spaced just far enough to allow your hands to get under the stone. Feet should be screwed into the ground to create tension in the lower body and prepare it to bear load. Bend at the hips and reach your hands as far under the stone as your flexibility will allow. Your hips should be high, knees slightly bent and slightly bowed out to allow your arms to pass by, and your back should be rounded.

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“Isn’t round back lifting dangerous? I read something about how you can hurt yourself lifting that way.”

Everything’s dangerous if you’re not careful! You can tweak your back picking up your car keys if you don’t set up properly.

“Hey, this position looks kinda like something that we’re already doing in the gym. I think they call it a deadlift or something?”

Why, yes indeed! My, you are quite the astute trainee. Of course, most times you aren’t deadlifting the bar when it’s all the way down at your toes. A deadlift from a deficit and stone lifting are very similar movements; one will help the other too!

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From here you will squeeze your hands and forearms onto the stone as hard as possible and begin to pull the stone off the ground. Your hips should stay high as the stone rises. As soon as the stone gets to your knees, bring your knees together slightly (remember, they were bowed out in the beginning) and roll the stone onto the tops of your thighs.

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From here, roll the stone high onto your lap against your stomach and drop your butt down. Then regrip the stone, reaching your arms as far over the top of it as you can

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There are a few different ways to grip the stone:

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                            Overhand grip                             Underhand grip                              Middle grip

The underarm position should be avoided at all costs. This is a bicep blaster and not in a good way. A grip around the middle of the stone is okay in most situations where the platform is a little higher or if the stone is too small to easily grab over the top. But the preferred method is to reach over the top of the stone. The stone should be firmly pressed against the top of your stomach. Having a bit of a belly will help, as will wearing a lifting belt. Our lovely strongwoman model Cortney isn’t so lucky to have a powergut. Poor girl.

Retract your shoulder blades and keep that stone tight against the belly as you start to stand.

A quick note about standing with the stone and where to place it on the belly. If the platform is lower, you don’t have to squat all that low when regripping the stone. But if the platform is high, you’ll need to squat much lower before regripping. Take a look at how high the stone is when the lifter holding the stone in the higher squat position when he stands. Then look at where the stone is where the lifter squatting much deeper stands with the stone.

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                                       Squat high…                                                              …to load to a low box

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                                         Squat low…                                                             …to load to a high box

You can squat to rock bottom every time you practice stone loading and build some good strength that way, However, it’s a more efficient use of your energy to only do as much work as is needed to get the stone to the platform. If you are in a contest situation, squatting to rock bottom every time is going to eat up more time and may keep you from performing at your full potential. But if you’re just adding stone lifting to get the ass of a 20 year old, then drop it low grrrrl.

Stone lifting also hits the same muscles and has a similar stimulus on the body as a front or back squat.

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In the back squat, Cortney’s back is flat and the load is balanced between the heel and arch of the foot The load in the front squat and stone squat are directly over the middle of the foot. Her rounded back is a little more upright to counterbalance the load of the stone.

The next step is the triple extension. Getting the timing right on the triple extension is a matter of practice; getting everything firing in the right order will take a number of reps to get right.

Now that you’re standing with the stone and you have your eyes set on the platform, begin to fully extend your ankles, knees and hips to get as tall as possible. This position is similar to the extension executed in the snatch or clean.

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The final piece of the puzzle is the release and load. Now that your ankles, knees and hips are fully extended, pull your shoulders back hard to roll the stone a little higher up your chest and pop the stone as high as possible.

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In addition to simply loading a stone onto a platform, there are a couple other stone lifts you can do to build functional strength and all-around badassery.

One such lift is the stone squat. To execute this, simply lap the stone, regrip, then stand to full extension. Instead of releasing the stone at the top onto a platform, carefully roll the stone back down your chest and bend down into a full squat again. Stone squats recruit more muscle fiber than your standard barbell squat, so don’t be surprised when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck the next day!

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Another of my favorites is the stone to shoulder. Once the stone is in your lap, squat as low as you can and reach your arms around the middle of the stone. This lift is easier if you supinate your hands and reach all the way under the stone, but it puts a lot of strain on the bicep tendon. Strain the tendon and it may tear, which will require surgery and leave you with a misshapen muscle. And if you don’t have aesthetic symmetry in your biceps, do you really have anything anymore?

Once you have the stone locked in, stand up and explosively roll the stone up your chest to the shoulder. It should be noted that you should have a game plan going into this lift; that is, figure out which shoulder you’re going to roll the stone onto before you even touch it. I know that sounds remedial and borders on insulting, but I’ve seen lots of people start to roll the stone onto their chest only to get confused about where it’s going and drop it again.

The last part of getting the stone to shoulder takes a bit of finesse, balance, and proprioceptive awareness. Let’s say you’ve decided to load the stone to your right shoulder. As the stone comes up high onto your chest, quickly shift your left hand under the stone to help hoist it onto the right shoulder. Once you have the stone balanced atop your shoulder, lower it under control and bend back down into a squat position to perform another rep.

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Stone loading can be done with many different volume/intensity schemes. For example, you can work stone lifts into your conditioning drills by using a light stone for many reps as part of a circuit or heavy singles and doubles to build some serious strength. Here are a couple sample workouts:

Conditioning:
5 Minute AMRAP
5 Stone Squats
3 Stone to Shoulders Left
3 Stone to Shoulders Right
5 Stone Rows

Strength:
3 Stone Squats then Load to Platform @ 70% of 1RM
3 Stone Squats then Load to Platform @ 80% of 1RM
2 Stone Squats then Load to Platform @ 90% of 1RM
1 Load to Platform @ 90-100% of 1RM

Now go dig up your neighbor’s yards looking for stones to lift!

1510883_337007586437135_959597505_n Clay versus the 105kg+ champ Henrik Hildeskor

The first Norwegian Open Championships was a great success for all involved. Many thanks to Knut Bjorvatn for putting together a fun and well-run contest.

There were 31 competitors from 4 countries and all walks of life – students, professional strongmen, and even the mayor of Tvedestrand.

The USA was represented by yours truly and I finished tied for 2nd place, but was bumped down to 4th after taking into consideration the bodyweight of the other competitors. I lost my first match against Henrik Hildeskor but won my next three matches 2-0. Odd Haugen also tied for 2nd with me but was awarded 3rd because of bodyweight.

Congratulations to Vasilii Alexeev and Tatiana Grigor, the men’s and women’s absolute champions, both from Russia. Also congrats to Henrik for kicking my ass and winning the 105kg+ title and Glenn Bjornsen for beating some much heavier and stronger opponents with his tenacity and technique.

As for me, I’m gonna keep livin the dream.

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Join me every Wednesday at the world famous Boss Barbell Club in Mountain View from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. for strongman training classes! Ever wanted to try the strongman events but didn’t know where to begin? Well, this is the place. They’re located at 241 Polaris Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043.

Every Wednesday we cover a different event including a brief history of it, technique instruction, some time practicing the event, and then finishing off with some type of strongman circuit.

Last Wednesday’s class had 8 people in it who all learned about the penultimate event in strongman – the atlas stones.

The class is free to all BBBC members but if you’re not a member the drop in fee for the gym is $15.

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Strongman Clay Headed to Norway!

Posted: December 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

1484088_10202796311087900_1168931777_nDoes your trainer do more than talk?

It’s an honor to have been invited to compete in the Norwegian Championships taking place Friday, December 27th and Saturday, December 28th in Tvedestrand, Norway. This two day contest combines strongman, grip strength, and mas wrestling into one awesome weekend of strength athletics. The strongman and grip events are:

  • Apollons Axle (2″ thick barbell) clean and press
  • Thick handled dumbbell one hand clean and press
  • Thick handled dumbbell deadlift to 15″ box
  • Max deadlift

On Saturday, there will be a mas wrestling tournament against the country’s best. You can bet I’ll be rocking my American Flag fanny pack and USA socks from The Sox Box.

Make sure you follow me @3colorstrong or @clayedgin on Instagram for pictures and videos of the event as it happens.

A special thanks to The Sox Box for being instrumental in getting me to Norway to compete. Make sure you go to their website and buy some awesome socks!