By Michael Battaglino
At the beginning of this year, I decided that I would do my first heavyweight Platinum Plus competition in 2015. I knew I needed to find one where the events were reasonable for my current strength levels. The LA Fit Expo was just too heavy for me, and the timing of the Chicago show wasn’t right. So, I settled on San Jose because the weights were reasonable and I knew I could hang out with Kalle with his horses and dogs all weekend (it was totally worth it just for this). Once I got a little bit into my training cycle, I set the following goals:
-I would place inside the top 10 (I figured there would be 15+ competitors)
-I would take the 800lb Yoke down the entire 60’ course
-I would at least clean the 300lb Log (and have a 50/50 shot on the press)
-I would go at least 150’ with the 300lb Farmer’s implements
-I would win at least one match of MAS Wrestling
-I would Deadlift 650 at least once, hopefully twice, and three was my limit
You’ll notice I titled this article “setting S.M.A.R.T. goals”. Here’s a breakdown of why my goals are S.M.A.R.T.
Specific– I would do my first Platinum Plus in June 2015, in San Jose
Measurable– I wanted to place in the top 10
Achievable- All of the target weights/events were within my current strength levels
Relevant- I’m giving myself until I’m 35 (just over 5 more years) to get my pro card and if it has not happened by then, I will self-evaluate and see if I want to keep going
Time-Bound- First Platinum Plus in 2015, pro card by 35. I set goals in this way to remain focused. Some people write them down, and that’s fine. From the moment I wake up until my head hits the pillow again, I think about these and other goals that I have set for myself. I don’t know any other way to be. The reason I am passionate about strongman is because it does not come to me easily. There are goals in my life that when I achieve them I think “that wasn’t that bad”. Strongman is not like that for me. My progression, although moving in the right direction, has not been an overnight process, and that’s probably why I am so passionate about it.
Anyway, here’s how the competition went, briefly. It started off with the farmer’s walk, 300lbs per hand, max distance, set it down every 60’. The goal was 150’, and I hit 169’. The next event was a 300lb log for reps. I cleaned it and missed the press. This was not a PR log for me, it was a brutally tough log that very few people made look easy. I expected a few people to hit 8 or 9 reps, and the winner hit 6. MAS came next. I was way overpowered my first match, I had no chance, and lost 2-0. My second match went the other way around, and I secured a few points with a 2-0 win myself. Then, came the Yoke. It was supposed to be 800’x60’ and became 850×120’ with a set down and turn around at 60’. I made it down and then back 19’ for a total of 79’.
Half of the competitors also failed to bring it all the way back, and I picked up a few more points. Last event was the Deadlift, 650 for reps. The Deadlift and I have a unique history. We were once great friends, and then we were on the outs for a few years, now we’re boys again. I am happy to say my friend was there for me. I hit 584 for my last warm-up, waited 30 minutes or so, and went after the bar. After my third rep I quoted Jón Páll Sigmarsson and said “there is no reason to be alive if you can’t do deadlift”. Why? Because I pulled my 1RM for 3 reps, and at the end of the hardest competition of my life at that. It’s the little victories.
When the dust settled it looked like I had placed 12/15. Oh well I thought, I hit most of my goals. Once the final standings were up online however, I was 10th! Mission accomplished. You don’t here a lot of people cheering for a 10th place finish, but I am not most people. I did not walk through the doors of the Fit Expo at the strongest person there that day. I did however walk in as the best that I could be on that day. I was the strongest I’ve ever been, most conditioned I’ve ever been, and with the highest work capacity that I have ever had. Some people say that strongman is about being the most well rounded on a given day and taking advantage of opportunities/openings to gain an advantage on your competitors. To an extent this is true. However I contend that strongman is less about beating your competitors, and more about successfully demonstrating everything that you have worked towards to display your strengths. Sometimes, it just so happens that what you brought to the game was just that much better than what everyone else brought with them, and at the end of the day you’re on top of the podium.
Mike Battaglino is both a competitive strongman and powerlifter. He has competed twice at the Arnold Sports Festival in the USAPL Raw Challenge and aims to return there in 2016. His strongman lifts include a 330lb per hand Farmer’s Walk, 650lbx3 Deadlift, 370lb Atlas Stone, and an 850lb Yoke Carry. His best lifts in USAPL (raw) are a 606lb Squat (with sleeves), 358lb Bench, and a 628lb Deadlift. He also plans to compete in his first USA Weightlifting meet in 2016. His next major strongman competition will be at the 2017 LA Fit Expo. He can be reached for strength training programming through his business Chronos Strength at [email protected] and you can find him on Instagram and Twitter