The strongman life of van pulling and burger eating

The strongman life of van pulling and burger eating

It feels like just yesterday I was competing in the England’s Strong Woman Championship qualifier, and yet I’m now only 12 days away from my next comp. Last week, all 12 competitors’ names were announced for the ESWC final and it made me nervous, despite not knowing who most of the women are. There are a handful of beastly women I’m afraid of going up against – the thought of competing against them makes me want to hide under a blanket!

But first thing’s first: I have to focus on my competition next weekend. I finally got a chance to practice the vehicle pull last week, so now I have practised every event at least once. I know it will look like a lot on paper, but I feel like I did nothing last week – my sessions were all a bit half-arsed and I skipped leg day!

Monday – Van pulling and atlas stones
This training session was very last minute. I was due to be training a client but she cancelled a few hours before, so I seized the opportunity to pull some vehicles instead. I started with a four tonne van. I was sceptical of moving the thing at all, but my coach asked me to push it first. I could do that, so he said pulling it would be a piece of cake. I did all right, until the terrain went slightly uphill and I couldn’t budge it an inch. We were practising in a huge yard with about 100 metres of space, and I had two big strongmen yelling at me which certainly helped.

(I didn’t get any pictures of me pulling the van – I’m saving that for competition! – so you get a selfie instead. I just realised I must have given my coach, who was steering, an eyeful in these shorts…sorry, Mike!)


I did three lengths of about 40 metres at a moderate pace. Once it gets moving, it’s quite easy (you just get a massive cramp in your legs!) but getting it going is the challenging part. And when it doesn’t move, it really doesn’t move. I have to stay down on all fours or else I look like a stumbling drunk.

We then switched over to a “light” one tonne minivan and did “sprints” pulling it. I did one length of 100 metres pulling it as fast as I could, in an upright position for this one. It was enough cardio for a year, I think!

I then practised some stone loading. My coach only brought a 50kg and 105kg stone, so I just practised a lot of reps with the 50kg. I focused on loading the stone on to a platform which was about one metre away, which basically involved throwing the stone using hip drive. My best attempt was nine reps in 60 seconds.

My coach has a 70kg stone, but nothing between that and the 105kg stone, which I have no chance of lifting. My gym has an 80kg stone (which is the weight I have to lift in my comp) but they are really funny about bringing them out – it’s a bit stupid to have all that equipment if you can’t even use it! Tomorrow we are hoping to do another van pulling session, and we are going to borrow the 80kg stone for me to play with. I have only loaded it once before and that was almost a year ago, so here’s hoping my muscle memory kicks in!

Afterwards, I had a burger. Naturally.

Bye bye, burgers - only for a little while!

Wednesday – Pressing
Narrow log press: 30kg x 8, 35kg x 8, 40kg x 5
Wide log press: 40kg x 5, 42.5kg x 5, 45kg x 3, 47.5kg x 1
Viper press (narrow log): 32.5kg x 5
Incline DB press: 14kg x 12 x 3
Bar pushdowns: 25kg x 20, 30kg x 12, 35kg x 12

I felt a bit weak today, and my technique was slightly off. This was the day I officially started “dieting” to make weight, so I had a sad little Nandos meal post-workout instead of a burger.

Am I the only one that always feels hungry after having Nandos?

Am I the only one that always feels hungry after having Nandos?

Thursday – Deadlifts
Trap bar deadlifts: 55kg x 10, 75kg x 5, 95kg x 5, 115kg x 2, 120kg x 9 (max reps in 60 seconds)
Partial squats: 20kg x 10, 60kg x 10, 100kg x 8, 120kg x 7 (failed rep number 8!)
Bent over rows: 50kg x 15, 15, 55kg x 12, 12
Banded hip thrusts: 20 x 4

I was well chuffed with getting 9 reps at 120kg, seeing as I had only ever done three consecutive reps before. Partial squats were still as embarrassing as ever (please see this post as to why I am doing them!), especially when I failed my last rep.

A post-deadlift selfie, oh yeah!

A post-deadlift selfie, oh yeah!

Friday – Sprints
50 metres x 20 repeats

Sunday – Pressing
Barbell clean and press: 30kg x 8, 35kg x 5, 40kg x 3, 40kg x 10 (max reps in 60 seconds)
Viper press (narrow log): 30kg x 8, 35kg x 5, 5, 5
Z press: 25kg x 8 x 3

This workout was very short as we were planning on doing stones but weren’t allowed to. I was really tired and did a pathetic 10 reps for my max reps attempt. I think there is nothing I hate more than barbell clean and press for max reps – all that up and down movement seriously makes me want to vomit.

I didn’t order eggs rancheros this week as I was trying to be healthy and get a smaller portion, but I probably ended up with a bigger breakfast in the end: a three egg omelette with toast, beans, a hash brown and a smoothie!


I made up for my “diet” portion (lolz) by having a burger later on. My life would be so much easier if I could just stop eating burgers!

Beef, bacon and blue cheese!

Beef, bacon and blue cheese!

Have you ever pushed or pulled a vehicle before?

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