Carry That Weight
November 4, 2014 11:16 AM   Subscribe

The amateurs will split $2,250 in prize money, plus two of them will qualify to compete at nationals, which take place in October at Circus Circus in Reno. The pros will split $14,000. They will lift tire barbells like the ones the amateurs are lifting right now, except heavier. They will also lift or press or carry 220-pound dumbbells, a 340-pound metal log, and an unwieldy 300-pound hunk of I-beam the contestants can’t quite figure out how to get their arms around. They will toss sand-filled beer kegs of increasing heft — 35 pounds at first, all the way up to 70 — up and over a high bar between goalposts adorned with the flags of Indiana and the United States. They will drag a 700-pound metal chain you could use to bind a kraken. The life of the seventh strongest man in the world.
posted by Ghostride The Whip (20 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This has some good turns of phrase in it:

Brian Shaw is built like something you’d point at the gates of a castle during a siege.
posted by lalochezia at 11:29 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed that. There's some interesting observations in it, although I wish he had described the events a little more
posted by Diablevert at 11:38 AM on November 4, 2014

I predict this thread will mostly be arguments about whether a 700-pound metal chain could actually bind a kraken.
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:56 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by lalochezia at 12:12 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

"later on, contestant will be required to eat every object they'd carried."
posted by boo_radley at 12:36 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Existing in Martinsville is a test of strength and endurance of it's own.
posted by Ferreous at 1:24 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Strongman as a sport is not free from the influence of the supplement industry.

LOL "supplements"
posted by thecjm at 2:00 PM on November 4, 2014

Turns out Andrew Palmer (the strongman in question) is a software engineer during the day. This necessitates massive poindextrose supplementation, which is a banned substance. Here's a photo of him struggling with what I guess are a couple of laptops or whatever?
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:06 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

(This is a great article but boy I wish there was an anecdote better than that Milo of Croton one, which I feel that I have read eleven million times in as many different places.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:10 PM on November 4, 2014

"A man trying to keep a 1,000-pound yoke steady on his back is all red-faced exertion up above, twinkle toes down below, like he’s trying to smuggle a stolen bridge past a snoring night watchman."

posted by turbid dahlia at 2:12 PM on November 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Do you mean the one about the lad who lifted a newborn calf over his head every day? And he kept doing it, and could still lift it when it grew to be a bull. He was the strongest man in the world, you know, and was a five-time Periodonikes, champion of all four of the sporting festivals in a single year.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2014

posted by turbid dahlia at 3:12 PM on November 4, 2014

I used to love watching the World's Strongest Man competitions on TV. I was recently trying to explain the Africa Stone to someone and they thought I was crazy.
posted by Sibrax at 4:07 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Dickishly handsome pitchbros" is the best description of supplement reps that I've ever seen.

Nice to see some recognition for a very cool and tough sport. In other news, the past few weeks saw the first public coming out of a pro strongman. Like most lifting sports it's long been dominated by a particular strain of blue-collar, macho conservatism, so it's a brave move by Rob and another sign of the sport opening up.
posted by Anonymous at 6:19 PM on November 4, 2014


It's "supplements", massive training, and 15-20,000 calories a day.
posted by anti social order at 6:20 PM on November 4, 2014

Turns out Andrew Palmer (the strongman in question) is a software engineer during the day.

I dunno what it is about software engineers and lifting, but it's definitely a thing. I'm a software engineer, and a former powerlifter. Back when I was lifting regularly, I'd say my gym was ~30% programmers. I've met tons of powerlifters at work. It's crazy.

I wonder if it has anything to do with the sport's focus on stats and numbers? But that's a total guess.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:26 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry to be picky, but surely for an "amateur" to receive prize money means he's no longer an amateur? That's my understanding of the word.
posted by Boggins at 6:22 AM on November 5, 2014

I think the definition of amateur, or at least this author's usage, has shifted from does not accept any remuneration for competing to does not compete as a primary source of income.
posted by thecjm at 7:12 AM on November 5, 2014

Generally the word "amateur" in strength or physique sports like strongman and bodybuilding tend to indicate someone who doesn't have a pro card in a given recognized federation for a sport. "Pro" powerlifters kind of sort of exist - I think in that sport the word would generally be reserved for athletes who are paid to attend/compete in meets, as opposed to paying to compete. I'm not knowledgeable enough to answer for that sport authoritatively.

Interesting article. It's not quite a gawking "hey look at these freaks" sort of thing like the VICE video about Iceland, but also not really pitched at a niche audience ("weekly strongman report"). It definitely touches on a few of the usual outsider-experience tropes that you see in writing about strength sports.

But it makes me wonder if the place for something like this really exists anymore: is Grantland a mainstream publication? It's not like an SI piece or ESPN bit where they go "CHECK OUT THESE FREAKS." If I want to hear about Robert Oberst's diet and training, I can check out his appearance on Mark Bell's Powercast (Mark Bell is the older brother of filmmaker Chris Bell who did the excellent steroid/PED documentary Bigger Stronger Faster. The Powercast is an amazing source of amazing disgusting poop stories, if you're into that). If I want to learn more about Brian Shaw, I can check out his series of visits to Canadian spine guru Stuart McGill to figure out how to get more mileage out of his jacked-up back.

Still, the allure of giant men consuming huge amounts of food and lifting large things is constant. Always nice when someone shows up with decent camera and lenses for it, though.
posted by faceattack at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2014

That Oberst video is AMAZING!!!!

I love how even his voice sounds fat. So awesome.
posted by faceattack at 11:49 AM on November 5, 2014

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