February and Flu 
10-15.2, Sami

-30 deg Celcius out there. It's now obvious that my car hasn't been designed for this climate. A bit like those "every weather" shoes they once tried to import here - those shoes must come from a country where every weather is sunshine, for they are of no use here.  

It's like people were walking a rope now; one slip and voice is off, fever is up. Jouko already missed one step, as did I, but I'm still trying to hang from the rope with a warm neckcloath. He said it's always like this before competitions, but I guess he didn't notice everybody is coughing.  

However, we had some kind of workout together last sunday (7th Feb). Ok, he did 3 personal bests (in those 3 events which he was up to), one was unofficial WR. But if we sum up his performances with mine, we get just an average workout, hehe. 

Just that there has been a lot going on lately, so I'll discuss some other things first:  

- Ed Coan is coming to see Helsinki GP, check out his interview from Jackal's Gym. Maybe he wants to see how his Viking friend does - or could it be the Graaf sisters from Sweden? Guess not... Oh, and about other artists performing there, my Finnish friends might shudder when I mention the name Frederik. Don't sell your tickets away yet! Still remember "Harva meistä on rautaa, moni taipua saa..." ?  (umm.. Only few of us are iron, many must bend)  

Later this year Jouko will also deadlift against Coan. The poundages will be so high, that it can't be called just a show. Could it have been in Arnold's Classic?? It would be nice to see, but Jouko will have to concentrate very hard on deadlift those days, if he wants to keep up with Coan there. Ed has been rumoured to max with 430kg, but was it before he was forced into sumo style because of an injury of some sort? I haven't been paying enough attention, sorry if I'm wrong. Who knows which one will drag the craziest loads - Coan has stronger legs, Jouko might have a stronger back. Then again, keep in mind Jouko isn't a powerlifter! He has to master about 20 events instead of three.  

- Riku Kiri is not coming, probably because of his sore leg. He has had a lot of trouble recent years - and also the challenge is so tough, he'd need to get back to his best shape to win again. The situation can't be easy even mentally; he was the best in Finland for so long and even superior in many events worldwide.  

But none of the youngsters have his backround and knowledge of this sport!  

Team Competition '99: The Chinese remembered Kiri from his tour in China around 93-94, that's how Finns ended up being organizers for their happening.  

- Ossi "Osku" Osala, the world's strongest cook, just shocked the Finnish ice hockey team yesterday: in the slam shot competition held during the half time of all stars match he clearly beated every ice hockey player with a 155,8 km/hour shot (outside of the competition, did he even train for it?). I don't think he was even on skates. I had a good laugh on this when I read todays paper. REAL athletes you know...  

... daybreak ...  

My car tire gave it's notice last night - it clearly thinks working in this cold weather wasn't part of our contract.  

- Finland's Strongest Man '99, 20th April, will be held on Silja Europa  (a car ferry cruising between Sweden and Finland). The competition starts in Turku harbour with qualification rounds: Only 8 competitors get a free cruise after truck pull, husafel stone and tire flip (nearly 400kg) (don't blame me then if the newspaper had the events wrong). The final events will include log press, Conan's wheel (bricks this time) and farmer's walk. The stage is the ship's deck, even if it blows hard and rains.  

"These competitors aren't made of sugar" - Markku Suonenvirta.  

The winner will represent Finland in WSM '99.  

Riku Kiri hasn't participated for years in events organized by Suonenvirta and Nummisto. However now he has promised to think about it. Jouko, despite of some news which have claimed otherwise, is not coming. If he'd win, the second guy would not as likely get to the WSM. And Jouko has already a fax in his car, which says he will be the number one from Finland who gets the invitation. Still: Virtanen, Ojanaho, Uppa, dear reader, YOU SHOULD BE THERE! Now you can get something for your money, tax free. Next year they might hold it again in some airplane shelter somewhere no-one has ever heard of. What could be a better time for a cruise? And what's some 100$ when it about includes the food already. Fill a cabin with friends and it will start to include the drinks also.  

The qualification events by the way are very good; only the most serious competitors will even bother trying those. Truck pull will definately eliminate smaller guys and those who haven't tried it before.  

- Svend answered Jouko's phone when I tried to set a time for our workout last week. It was a surprise for me he was still in Finland, but he hadn't been able to fly home because of an air-traffic controller strike. (Poor devils earn only 5000$/month with a relatively short training time.) But Svend got a flight home before I was able to meet him in Hämeenlinna.  

He also put an end to my practical jokes about marriage by telling me he has found a new girlfriend. Good luck! We will see her in Helsinki GP then.  

Svend, Jouko and Juha (note: JUHA not Juja) Tuhkasaari had done Helsinki events together in Jouko's new training hall.  


Jouko thinks Svend is now in best shape he has ever seen him, much better than last year. And they seemed to have gained a some sort of "yes, we will be the top two in Helsinki" mutual understanding there. Even though Juha won them both in loading (by 0.7s in an event taking about 30s), and might beat them both in Conan's wheel again this year etc.  

Both have tried very hard to forget Samuelsson. When asked about the Swede's chances, they both answered alike: "Oh... 'him'. No, I don't think he'll manage, the events don't favour him". Svend made some jokes about how Magnus has been preparing for this competition, and then remembered Magnus had told him (in November) he's not even coming if he doesn't feel he can win. But Magnus Samuelsson is coming! And somewhere in the back of his head I know Svend still remembers saying: "Guess why Magnus does so well in competitions? He's not really that strong, but he's crazy!!"  

This will be a very important competition for Samuelsson, and I'm sure he'll present us something different from last year.  

Svend reported having done 12 easy reps in Viking press (about 130kg, handles on the other end of a barrell row). Jouko and Juha did 8 or 9. More about this event and Jouko's improvement later. Svend also walked nearly two full rounds in Conan's wheel (nobody did that last year!). I added the "nearly" myself because Jouko told it actually touched ground a bit earlier (did they all get about the same result, maybe so?). In loading Svend beated Jouko by some fractions of a second, Juha won. Crucifix instead was Jouko's show. One minute against the boys' 30-40 seconds with 18kg. This is now a problematic event for Svend "because of his shoulder problem".  

At the end of the phone call Jouko told he can't train at saturday, when we were going to at first, but we had to move it on sunday. He made a contract saturday which will get him a motor bike for a year, and he had also caught a cold (this was thursday evening). My throat also started to feel worse and worse.  

There have been pills on the market which claim to speed up recovery from a flu. None of them has been proven to work. Funny, but the only methods by far which seem to work are the ones mothers knew centuries ago: warm socks and a neckcloath, maybe warm drinks. Vitamin C might help avoiding a flu, but it doesn't speed up recovery.  

Oh, and Jouko will appear in Telering's (mobile phones...) TV commercial next month. It doesn't pay much, but it's a way to get his face up, if someone else would get interested also. 

Sunday 7th February, and god damn it was cold. I ate before I left Tampere (1 hr drive), and visited my grandparents before Jouko. That was a mistake really... They made me eat more. Not much, when I kept saying no, but... enough, meaning a plate full of everything. I thought after an hour I would be fine, and Jouko can't start training right away. He didn't, but even after two hours I still felt satiated. Maybe I was just thinking my belly too much? 

After that meal, I weighed at least 106kg+training bag, more than ever. I didn't train too seriously last year (sorry but it's true), because I was trying to get my studies forward, and had lost much training motivation when trying to cope with other things in life. But this year I have trained hard and the last three weeks when I knew I should be going there, extremely hard. I'm not planning to compete in Finland's strongest or anything yet (not this year ;-). But at least I hope to get to a decent shape some day. Before this workout, I did a 145kg seated front press in smith machine, and some seated cable row funnies with 230.  

Ok, let's discuss the Viking press now, because I already mentioned the seated press. I knew it would be nothing like I had done seated, so the last ten workouts I did merely standing presses (both front and behind the neck, also with dumbbells). But despite of my relative good seated presses, I soon realized there's no way I can press 130kg standing (if the seated are of my strongest lifts, standing presses then seem to be just the opposite). I just wasn't able to hold the package together, ever. Everything over 100kg was painful. Maybe a belt would have helped a bit, but I don't even own one. And I'm not really interested even in loaning one! The worst part about standing presses is that I can't get any of my leg power to use; using legs rather takes kilos off from my press. Ok, maybe a bit help with a barbell, but you can't really support Viking press (comparable to using dumbbells) to your upper chest. Because there are just handles! Just now I'm so frustrated about this package thing, I will have to learn standing presses. Plain and simple, and I'm serious about it..  

I understand now, after seeing a good example, that one should hold shoulders like in behind the neck press or in squat. Otherwise shoulders give in, ie the weight doesn't move at all, just legs, when you kick the Viking press up. Mine did give in, partly because I haven't got any shoulders..., but also because I tried to do it like front press and felt no support. The weaker the shoulders, the slower you should kick. One time I maybe got it to the triceps area of lift (even taking a good stance is hard), but missed it because my back was not tight. I soon had enough for the day, but I know I would like to try it again when I learn to support the lift better (if I could even try it with just triceps, but I held it too low).  

Knowing that Janne Virtanen, officially the strongest in Finland, having done a 5x130kg military press, didn't get a single Viking press either (don't know about now if he has learned it), comforts me a little. But not much, simply because I feel so stupid for not even getting a good stance where I could try to press it. But enough of this, what did I expect then? 5 reps? I'm glad the other things I tried went somewhat better and two events, namely crucifix and farmer's walk, went great.  

Oh, and I got to comment this "five year time-out will make a difference" to one spectator after it.  

Some points:  
- Tony "Viking" Halme, having never tried Viking press before, won't even know where to stand at first (actually a bit uneven situation for him)? And if he hasn't got strong shoulders to support the weight, he won't probably even get one rep, because you have to kick it up to the triceps first (Jouko made it look very easy). I think Tony can do it, but if he doesn't start training with 60kg dumbbells (maybe also standing smith presses) now, the best strength will be lost in something else than in the lift itself.  

Jouko kicked it nearly all the way up before he even looked like using triceps. Funny how his shoulders held it steady easily. Ha ha, isn't funny. He now changed his technique after seeing what Svend did last time, from a stance where the other leg is in front (can bend more back, this is how he has done many log presses), to a normal shoulder width stance. I know he will do at least 12 reps in Helsinki (I won't tell what he did this time), and Svend maybe even more, but Svend will have to lock out in Helsinki, if he wants to get them all counted. Jouko estimated 10 was clean last time, but remember, Svend just told it was easy. Maybe it was; with a 210kg seated front press it should be. In my opinion if someone claims (like bodybuilders) to have done more behind the neck or otherwise, can't have been a full range press.  

We started (the other sneezing, the other complaining a full stomach) with loading. We got some spectators right away, later there came more, older that time.  


I like it in Jouko, that he doesn't mind even children around. As long as they don't lift his weights ;-) Well, the one with the red blouse was indeed able to lift the lightest (warmup/loading) barrell by the handle standing over it. That gave me some confidence, maybe even too much. I mean the barrells in loading were only up to 120kg and I already dragged most of them two times back to the start before I got my try. The problem wasn't really the weights, but the speed, and lactic acid gathering fast. Also most of my blood was still in my stomach - no, really: After six barrells I felt like not wanting to eat ever. I couldn't have imagined the amount of lactic acid gathered in muscles in just some seconds. Like in cross country skiing last time (not really a joke)! But it served as a good warmup though; when I got over it, my stomach was all right. Maybe I took some things a bit too cautiously afterwards, but hey, what would you do if you started your round stone training from 165kg because the others were "unavailable".  

... daybreak ...  
My car tire is fine now, but I'm feeling tired myself...  

In loading, Jouko had about every equiment on and I thought he wouldn't be able to run with all the knee warmers (glad not wraps though). And it did indeed look bit slow. Having not tried it myself yet... Maybe I was able to take the first barrell as fast, but then it began slowing down. This would be a good event in gym training! A bit like 20 rep squats. So, Jouko took a lot off from his performance last time (faster than anybody has done in this new gym). Maybe he felt he WILL NOT be the last in Helsinki.  

Next was Conan circle  

I psyched Jouko promising if he does bad, I'll put a pic of it seen everywhere, and he'd remember every time he sees the pic: "that was a sad performance indeed". So, he was forced to do better than ever. Well over two rounds, could be three in Helsinki already.  

The weight on hands is somewhere nearly 300 kg I think. After my "astonishing" barrell performance Jouko must have thought I won't even get it up. For when I did squeeze it up from ground, I got perhaps the best compliment in my whole sport history: Jouko said in surprise "jumalauta!" (nice sound, kept ringing in my ears). Later he told not many of his friends have gotten it up and even some guys in WSM have had trouble even holding it. So how long did I walk then? One step. Let me explain. I made some mistake with the grip and the box came up only 5cm or so. The moment I took the first step, it swang, and the other side of it hit the ground (and me backwards). So it dropped. But this is "light" I thought, I'll try again. Two minutes concentration (first time serious actually, but now I knew what I should do and it felt safe) and up again. Still the same mistake with grip (I didn't even know that time). Now Jouko saw it better and told I should take it higher. Look the pic above. I really thought I took it like that! Maybe not? Now I got two steps and third when it already touched the ground a bit. After some analyzing I understood what was wrong, but we were moving to the next event already. And I could still feel it burning in my hands.  

You can see Viking press barrells in the back! 

Tuhkasaari holds it even much higher than Jouko here, also because he's shorter. I'm about the same height as Jouko, but if I would want to stick with the technique I used first time, I'd need at least 3cm heels or something. I had shoes with absolutely no heels. Basicly the tall guys benefit in this event, even because the weight gets smaller (more weight moves to center pole) and because it won't hit ground so easily.  

Another event which I feel I must try again. Just with a higher grip. I thought it did swing more than it did the first time, never guessed myself it was going so near to the ground.  

Next was Viking press, but enough of that already. This time Jouko was absolutely sure I'd get at least 10 reps. Until I spent a minute just trying to get properly under it ;-)  

Because Jouko was in a flu he decided to call it a day. For a short moment. I was still going to test some events how would they feel, so he also ended up doing a simulated Wheel barrow with 131kg farmer's walk cases. See the picture. Here you can "see" Joukos brother Jouni, who has a slightly "different technique" moving these cases than his brother.  

However, even Jouni has held crucifix with 14kg for 35 seconds, and closed the number 3 Captains of Crush gripper. Randall Strossen once offered #3 for Jouko after some competition and Jouko gave it a try. Surprisingly he missed it by a millimeter! Later he has bought the #3 and #4, probably would be easier now. But I got the impression it was just for fun; in strongman events you don't have to squeeze/hold anything smaller than a barbell in diameter, so seriously speaking, it's enough that he can hold and close anything to a barbell diameter. And have you seen Jouko beaten in grip events lately?  


Jouko sprinted about 20m in about 6 seconds. I got only one pic of that, and it wasn't that good: One second the guy is 1cm tall in the pic, the other second he has already passed me. I should have had the 2pic/second mode on in my camera to get anything. I'm not that good a photographer yet ;-) I hope to improve before Helsinki. 

I tried that too, but meanwhile I also tested crucifix. Jouko, now after just having seen my viking press "performance" asked if I'm going to do it with the same weights they will use in Helsinki. "Naturally", I answered. Here's me holding 18kg for 35 seconds. I think I did beat Svend in this, and about tied with Juha. But they probably didn't even hold their hands as ridiculously straight as I did. Jouko tried to teach me the hold, and I ended up doing it a lot different than ever before: Shoulders rolled over (, and the reason you can't see my biceps isn't really that I don't have any, but because they are almost pointing backwards, ;-). The other pic could make me look "stronger", but the grin is too mean. This technique was NOT what Jouko instructed (as he pointed out later), but it was the way I ended up doing it with his instructions. When my biceps recover from that odd stretch, I will try if I can hold more with my normal style.  

Oh, did I tell you they all cheat? Their lower back, although tied, is never tied too tightly to the pole, but lets them hold the weight more with front shoulders. When Janne Virtanen shocked the Finnish strongman world by winning Jouko in crucifix two weeks ago, 58 secs to 52, they had this (same) belt set up differently, which let them cheat more than now. After being beated that time, Jouko got serious and held over 1 minute with the correct belt settings. So let's see what will happen when we get these guys on the same stage!  


I still think some martial artists would do well in this, just that the weight starts to be quite heavy. But if strongmen are able to hold it for a minute now, we will see at least 20 kg on stage some day.  

After my shoulders went num, I thought it would be a good time to try farmer's walk with 131 kg's. I was surprised when I was able to easily walk the same simulated Wheel barrow Jouko just ran in 6 seconds. Jouko thought I was having trouble, so he tried to psyche me for going the full distance. So when after two minutes I did it again, this time "running" (took still maybe 20 secs(?), running with that load takes getting used to), he told me I could have potential in strongman competitions if I keep training.  

In conclusion, even if farmer's walk is a speed event nowadays, using weights around 120kg in WSM is simply ridiculous. With 150 these guys wouldn't need track and field training any more, now they very likely do. And when the speed is lower, also is the risk of tripping over? 

So, there are two events which seem to be already good for me. Ha, the rest maybe 18 events could need some training. Truck pull in Finland's strongest - not with my bodyweight. But I felt a real change in my body when I started to train seriously again. Maybe I'll set a goal then: I have to call Nummisto tomorrow and see if I can enlist in Finland's strongest 2001 already ;-) Jouko has trained 8 years longer (14) than I have, and he's 6 years older.  

For those who have read this far, some extra notes:  

  • When Jouko was preparing for the "Wheel barrow", he did put his post-workout drink just next to the finish line. "Proteine drink just after a workout, right?" "Yep, that's extremely important (smiling)" Did the nutrition experts really mean this? 
  • Did I tell you already while I had eaten too much, Jouko hadn't tasted anything whole day. Again the same as before Helsinki '98. I don't think this is a good training tip though. Nor I would recommend either what I did. 
  • Talked about Svend's crucifix problem: I hoped Svend won't come last then. Jouko instantly snapped "hope he does!". Ok, he really thinks Svend could mess up his evening. That's a good thing really for the competition. Last year there were some competitions which Jouko won after 3-4 events already, so now we'll get to see him psyched to the very end? 
... daybreaks ...  
Downhill skiing for the first time in years, and I got a fever, figures! 
  • About the grip part: when the "boys" once teased Samuelsson about his grip, said "let's see what's the Swede's grip like", gave him a #3 and... Samuelsson did like ten fast squeezes without any problem!
  • Tony Halme will do his press during the half-time, all competitors having done it already. So the Finns don't have to do it twice.
  • Jouko wondered my attitude against all belts and straps. Like when I was trying Conan .. and farmer's walk later, he asked both times "are you going to do that also without a belt on?". But hey, how would my back ever get stronger then ;-) Actually I can understand him using those, if he wants to say ... die 5 cm taller, and for relative safety also. In Viking press the belt would have probably been helpful.
  • Jouko told me he does squats to 200kg and deadlifts to 300 without a belt.
  • When all the "small" round stones were already up after their last workout, I didn't bother dropping any to my feet (would make me agood swimmer but I don't think it's really possible to drop those on feet (note: ok I already heard of one...)). Next time more practice? In the very end of our workout I just tried one and yes, lifted a 165 stone (left there by Juha?) about to my knee level. I don't know if I could have lifted if furt.. course not, but actually what stopped me, was the thought: "So, what are you going to do next??". And without resin it's quite hard to keep the grip for long. Maybe even with resin. Oh, Jouko used something called Venice turpentine.
  • The grip in stones is not anything like in zercher deadlift for example, instead a bit like in sumo deadlift. But what was clearly my mistake, the contact surface between the stone and my hands was left too small and I ended up tearing my hands a little. And they also got some extra dark color two days afterwards. The resin comes off with oil I hear. It's poisonous (if you buy it from a pharmacy, maybe it reads differently in a strongman store, hah!).
  • About Jouko's new training hall: He didn't seem to like that some guys, who he had allowed to train there, don't care much for the condition of his equipment. He has made every piece himself, pays the hall rent alone; so I recommended him: Start learning to tell no!
  • That would have already saved him from his most serious injury by far: Remember that hole in his bicep? He told it happened in a TV-shoot; he hadn't got any time to warm up, and then this "long-haired" director tells him: "45 seconds to live". This happened in '97 I think, at least before he won the WSM. So in the second stone, he could hear a sound like cardboard being ripped. He lifted the third one (there was just three) however, "just because people were watching". But this won't happen again! It's always nice working with "professionals", ha! Well, you could check WSM'97 and squat again as well!
  • Jouko told Sami Heinonen could be the next world class competitor (he is already?) from Finland.
When I stated strongman training requires much mental strength, Jouko stated: "Just a really strong desire to win!" Also it shouldn't be a question of "bad day". 

So next time, I must try harder. At least I now know a little more what kind of training these events require. And they haven't started from those weights either.