Before I begin, I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Matt Falk, and I am addicted to Strongman. This is my story…
Sometime in early 2012, I stumbled across the LBEB page on Facebook. Although I was no stranger to the gym, the world of strength sports was still a relatively unknown and scary place to a guy who had spent most of his gym tenure in total ignorance. Back and bi’s, chest and tri’s, arms, and some sporadic deadlifting made up the majority of my “training”. I use the term training very loosely here because I wasn’t competing in, or planning on competing in anything at the time. I loved the heavy side of lifting, and greatly resented the gym bro’s checking out their abs in the mirror, but lacked purpose in my training. Powerlifting? No, I never did squats and my bench sucked. Strongman? Too weak. Weightlifting? I had never done a clean in my life. I knew I wanted to find a place where I could lift heavy with other real lifters, but I wasn’t sure what that place was, or who I would lift with… Yet.
After several months of following the page and feeling weak, I contacted Brandon with an inquiry as to where he trained. After a few emails back and forth, Brandon had convinced me to drop in and train with his weightlifters. The first session sucked. I was nervous, weak, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I left feeling inspired, but pretty depressed as well. How in the hell was I ever going to get to their level? I was a little tight on money as a student, and couldn’t put the money together for dues. Again, I sat and waited for a few weeks, thinking about what I was missing out on. Finally, I made some sacrifices and got the money to start training with AJAX.
At the time I began training, I could deadlift 520, but struggled with a 225 deep high bar squat because my hips were so incredibly weak. This was really the first time I realized the amount of dedication this was going to take. I trained as a weightlifter for about 5-6 more months and just before my first meet, I injured my shoulder in a mock meet and left the gym just as pissed as the day I walked in half a year ago. I had, and still have some serious preexisting damage to overcome in my right shoulder, and the snatch was my nemesis. Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Where are my gains? I quickly realized bitching was going to get me nowhere fast. After chatting with Brandon later that week, I made the switch to Strongman. To make things clear, I am by no means advocating quitting when it gets hard. I simply was not enjoying that style of training. The technicality of the lifts drove me insane, and I missed deadlifting too much.
Upon completion of the first week of Strongman, I was straight up hooked. Since then, I haven’t looked back (except to remind myself where I started). In just over a year, I have added over 100 pounds to my deadlift, 265 to my squat, and hit some big numbers I am proud of in my Strongman events. Above all, I have displayed what I am capable of as an athlete. I am still very far away from my goals, and because of this, I strive to stay humble and be a vacuum of knowledge. The road ahead is only going to get harder, and there are a lot of extremely hard working and talented athletes out there with the same goals in mind. I am merely writing this testimonial to show what someone is capable of when they are driven and set their mind to achieving the unthinkable.
If you are in the same boat I was, I challenge you to make a change. Pick a discipline, and compete. Sure, you will have friends who will say you can’t do it. Ditch them. No money to train and buy the necessary equipment? Stop drinking on the weekend with your buddies. No time? Bullshit, make time. If you truly care about reaching your goals and finding your potential, YOU will make it happen. Nobody is going to hold your hand. Few people are going to cheer you on. And furthermore, you had better be doing this for yourself because few people are going to care when you are excited about your new axle press PR. Family aside, in the three competitions I have been in this year, I can count the amount of friends who have attended on one hand. My training partners, fellow lifters, and family have been and continue to be a big source of drive and support on this journey. Surround yourself with good people who work hard, and it will rub off in a very positive way. Hard work will not always yield success, but smart, hard work coupled with some rips off of an ammonia cap will.