Poise and Performance | The Stakes are High: Keys to success in Strongman competitions
Billy Petrinzyck, The Unbroken Rhino, is hands down our strongest iON Athlete! As he gears up to compete in the premier Strongman competition of the year, The Arnold Sports Festival, we asked him what does it really take to pursue the title of the strongest there is!
Strongman, Billy Petricynzk
How long have you been competing in Strong Man competitions?
I’ve only been competing in strongman since 2017. My first event was the Inaugural Arnold Disabled Strongman were I tied for 3rd.
What was your highest moment?
My highest moment so far was winning the Open Overall at The North American Strongest Athlete with Disablities Seated division in Columbus, Ohio last May. Which was the 6th year anniversary from my first TBI. It came down to the last event the truck pull. Which was approximately 26,000 lbs. i won the event with 50’ in 38sec. The year before, I was one point behind in the overall leader in the standings going into the event. It was a long day, and I hadn’t pushed myself that hard since my accident, so unfortunately my central nervous system became fried and my forearms and hands swelled to the point that I couldn't grab the rope and pull the truck. I literally had my placing slipping through my hands and the seconds ticked by. I did complete the event but ended up tied for 3rd as the alternate for Worlds.
What was your lowest or most challenging moment?
Even with that happening that was not my lowest point. The lowest point actually happened this past September during the first event at Worlds Strongest Disabled Man.
It was during the first event, the seated dead-lift. It was during my 3rd attempt of approximately 636 lbs. I was about half-way through the lift when I heard a pop from my shoulder/chest. I really thought I had torn my pec. I finished the lift and proceeded to complete 5 more lifts. After that I had trouble lifting my left arm overhead and across my body. I had to have my brother push my collar bone back in place. It really started weighing on my head that I was really hurt. But no bruising so no tear in my mind. I just pushed on with everything I had because I had traveled north of the arctic circle in Bodø, Norway to represent The USA, so I was not quitting or giving up. But a big part of me knew I wasn’t winning it, but i wasn’t going to quit. I ended up tied for 5th overall after all the events.
What type of sacrifices does one have to make to compete in Strong Man? Mentally? Physically?
Any strongman, able bodied or disabled strongman will tell you that to compete in strongman you are sacrificing your body first and foremost. We are all trying to lift/move things and do things that are not supposed to be possible. Mentally, like any sport you always know that almost everything else is taking a back seat. Eating, training, recovery become all the more important because you're still trying to stay as health as you can be come the day of the comp. Even as a Disabled Strongman our recovery time depending on our disability is just that much harder to figure out. So getting the most out of recovery is paramount
Let's keep it real, what are the other costs in terms of time, fees, etc.
Like every sport the costs to travel to competitions as well as the costs of prepping add up fast. I also travel with my brother because I do need a handler in case my ataxia acts up or my CNS goes out. Flights are anyway between 250-1400 depending on where in the world I can compete. Then there's hotels and food. Any strongman will tell you we probably spend more on food than the the hotels we stay in because that’s what fuels us machines. So food alone can be 100 dollars a day some times.
Why do you do it man?
I've always have been involved with strength sports even before my TBI’s. I just happened upon strongman. I saw it posted on the Arnold web site in December of 2016 and pulled the trigger. I've never been into cross fit where a lot of adaptive athletes end up going first. I also want to be able to show people that not all Disabled athletes are missing a body part. Most of my disability is neurological which effects the rest of me. So sitting down you wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong till I pull over my walker or get in my wheelchair. There’s a lot of disabilities out there, so there’s no reason that you can't try it. It’s s growing sport and more inclusive divisions are being created as the need arises.
Strong Men Eat Big! Billy is also a Master of Meat and has a snack for being great in the kitchen! More on that later...!
1 Don't worry about the weight class. In your first few meets, don’t worry to much about making it into certain weight class. A few pounds is ok, but trying to make weight to drastically will just effect your performance.
2 Train the events. There are ways to train in a commercial gym, but it can be a little tricky without some guidance. But if you can find a good strongman gym like Savage City in Hillsboro, NJ or even a good power-lifting gym like Skibas in Carteret, NJ there’s a lot of knowledge and weight to help.
3 Sleep and rest. It’s hard to do but having the drive to keep eating, and training is great but the self control to know to take a day off, stick to your program and go to sleep is more valuable than can be stated. sticking to the program means recovery which means using iON.
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annnd...one last thing...what's cool about iON?
iON is pure athlete created and drive recovery. Ion is paramount to my contest ritual. Soaking before and after has decreased my incidents of cramping and has defiantly helped me recover faster after each event. A 12hour day of events its a definite advantage.
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