Let’s start back at the beginning on this. I normally compete in strongman in either the 200 or 231lb weight class. I qualified to compete in the National Championships in June 2012 and decided I’m going to make the trip and compete. Once the entry form for Nationals was posted, I noticed something kind of special about it. They were calling the 175lb weight class “Strongman Fitness”. Then I noticed that the top 4 Strongman Fitness competitors received an invitation to the World Championships at the Arnold Fitness Expo and Sports Festival(from here on out I think we’ll just call it The Arnold). So I set a goal. I wanted to be in that top 4 at Nationals and compete at The Arnold. Skipping ahead through the boring stuff, I made weight and finished 3rd at Nationals. The day before the national contest, they announced top 10 would get the invite to the Arnold, so that took some pressure off. The Arnold is a 2 day contest. However, only the top 4 competitors from day one would move on to day 2 and compete on the main stage.
We had 4 months to prepare for the Arnold. Oh, and that was over the holidays as well. Try to maintain weight during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I planned to start my weight cut Jan 1st. This time it was much harder. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but I worked my ass off for those two months. A few days out from weigh ins I started my water manipulation and contest prep diet. Weigh ins were Thursday and got in the car for the drive Wednesday morning. I weighed 183 Wednesday morning, so I needed 8 lbs in 24 hrs. After 10 hrs in the car, my coach(training partner) wanted to stop so he and his wife could grab some chow. I decided that would be a good time to check my weight. I went into the bathroom of a subway, stripped down and stepped on the scale. Somehow in traveling, the scale broke. Awesome. So now we’re scrambling to fine a store with a scale. We ended up in a Walmart on the border of Ohio. I bought the scale and headed straight to the bathroom to weigh in. My coach wanted to take pics, because how many people check their weight in their undies in a Walmart bathroom? It was a first for me. 178lbs, not bad. We drove a bit more and go to a very nice $40/night hotel about 1.5hrs away from Columbus. I did some water dropping techniques I’ll cover in a different article and went to bed. Woke up at 176lbs. We then drove straight to the weigh in site were I stepped on the scale at 173. 10lbs in 24 hours is a pretty good cut, now it’s time to refuel and rehydrate.
I woke up the day of the contest and decided to step on the scale. 186lbs, that’s perfect. Had some breakfast and headed straight to the contest. First event of the day was the 225# Axle clean and press for reps. I was in one of the last heats to go so I was able to watch what everybody else was doing. I didn’t pay too close attention to the number of reps guys were getting because I just wanted to focus on what I was doing. The guy that went before me passed by me and said, “Good luck, that bar is slick. It still has oil on it from shipping”. Great, sounds fun. Anyway I went in and hit 6 reps with some really ugly cleans. But 6 reps was good enough for 3rd.
Next event was the 630lb yoke walk/680lb prowler push medley. This was the event most people were nervous about because the floor was very slick. You have to carry the yoke 50′, then sprint back and push the prowler that same 50′. I was first to carry the yoke and make it back down to the prowler. The yoke just felt good and is one of my better events. As I started to push the prowler and get it in motion, my feet started to slip on the floor. Shit. What started as an amazing time fell quickly and finished in 6th on this event. I was pretty pissed.
Up next was the event I really love, the dead lift medley. In this medley we had to pull a 435lb axle, 585lb barbell, 730lb frame, and a car for reps. Sounds like a lot of fun. Most of the guys were pulling on their dead lift suits and curiously asking me where my suit was to which I would answer, “I don’t really need one”. I watched the other guys go ahead of me and I was surprised at how many of these 175lb athletes could pull the 585 barbell. These guys were pulling 3x their own bodyweight, that’s pretty impressive. So now it’s my turn. I hit the 435 axle with ease, step up to the barbell and start the pull. I started with it too far away from my body, but by the time I realized it I wasn’t going to start the pull over so I just ground it out for a very slow pull. On to the 730 frame. That felt like nothing, I wish it was heavier. I stepped up to the start and just started pulling my ass off. I hit 15 reps by the time they called time. It felt really good. I finished 4th in that event.
How it’s time for the giant wheelbarrow load and carry. They added 200lbs to the handles of the wheelbarrow for more fun. So we had a 175lb sandbag to carry 75′ and load, a 230lb keg to carry 50′ and load, then a 250lb keg to carry 25′ and load. After this we had to take that wheelbarrow back the full 75′. I was in the final heat of the day. One competitor in the heat before us had an amazing time. So out of the 4 of us who were points leaders, the guy who came in last would not make it to day 2. This event was chaos. One competitor went off the course, I was neck and neck with the guy next to me and we almost crashed. I slipped toward the end and dropped the wheelbarrow. I tried to regain control and pick it up again but I still go a 2 second slide penalty from Magnus Ver Magnusson. After much weighting for the results because nobody knew what the hell was going on with how the event ended, I would up in 3rd place at the end of the day. Woohoo, I move on to day 2 and the main stage only 3.5 points out of first.
Day 2, holy shit I actually made it. They called us each and introduced us out on the main stage. I walked out there and took a look at the group. There are a lot of people out there. That is easily the largest crowd I ever competed in front of. I went back and hit some warm up set of the first event, the 140# dumbbell. This isn’t your regular dumbbell though. 11″ bells and a 3″ handle for all your one arm pressing fun. I went out there and hit 5 reps. I wanted more, but that was still good enough for 2nd in that event.
Next up was the H-stone for distance. It’s a 300lb steel “stone” that you pick up off the ground and carry it for distance. I have been hitting close to 300′ in this event, but only managed 228′ here. I was NOT happy with that.
Last event of this entire contest was my favorite, 240lb stone load over a 52″ bar for reps. I’ve never been beat in this event, so I felt pretty good going in to it. At this point I had a solid 2nd place and no chance at first. I just couldn’t fuck up. We went two at a time on this one. The two guys before me each hit 10 reps. Holy shit they brought it and surprised the hell out of me. Now it’s my time to go. They blow the whistle and I’m off. For each time I dropped my stone I heard the other competitors stone drop. I’m pretty sure we were tied up until the 7th rep. Rep 7 I had it up on my chest and something happened. Pain and tightness fired up in my low back and I dropped the stone. I yelled in my head “YOU DON”T HAVE TIME TO BE HURT, SUCK IT UP!!!”. I managed to hit 4 more reps after dropping another one to finish with 11. 12 reps won the event.
End result of this 2 day contest weekend: Tim Kovach Runner Up in the 2013 ASC Strongman Fitness World Championships. I have to say, out of all I put myself through I feel pretty good about this whole experience and look forward to doing it again next year. You can watch my entire contest video here: http://youtu.be/iBNaIxvcmiE