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Clay Edgin
interview by Shawn Baier

 
 
 

Clay Edgin is our Member of the Month, and many of the other board members may know Clay for different reasons – as a strongman, a grip master, and as a grocery store thug (Clay can touch on this one in our interview). No matter what you know about Clay… I’m sure you will find out something new here.

Clay, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. I really appreciate your contributions and posts to the board. You are a deserving Member of the Month!

Q: What are your current stats (weight, height, age etc?)

Thanks very much Shawn and Jesse for this honor. I am anxiously waiting by my mailbox for my “Member of the Month” sash and tiara! I’m 25 years old, 6'6" and currently 340lbs.

Q: I’ve read some of your background on other sites. I think it is safe to say that you have really changed your physical appearance since you started training. I think in one article I read you lost over 90lbs, but were still over 300. Can you tell us a little about where it all started for you and what got you involved in weight training and grip training?

In December 2002, I weighed 380lbs with 49% bodyfat. I grew up in a household where cleaning my plate was mandatory and $50 trips to the candy store was an almost weekly occurrence, so I didn’t know the first thing about being healthy. I just figured that people who were big were destined to be big so I didn’t fight it. Around that time, I started having some scary moments like my heart skipping beats, breaking out in cold sweats, and just feeling horrible after meals. So like a lot of people, I made a New Years resolution to get in better shape and join a gym. I didn’t want to do the same old 3 sets of 8 reps routine that was in every bodybuilding magazine, so I typed “strength training” into Google and stumbled upon Brooks Kubik’s Dinosaur Training book. The idea of getting stronger with barrels, stones and kegs was mindblowing and I was instantly hooked. I read the book in two days, then read it again 3 days later. I’ve probably read it more than 20 times now.

I joined a local gym and bought Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution book and started on the low carb diet. The first week of lifting and dieting I lost 10lbs, and I went Atkins-diet crazy. Over the course of 7 months, I went from 380 to 278. I was running miles at a time, lifting heavy in the gym, and had started to get into grip training from what I read in Dinosaur Training. The catalyst for my grip training was the day I did my first deadlifts. I did 135x5, 225x5, 315x5 then tried a single at 365. I almost had it locked out when it slipped from my left hand and I dropped the bar. I broke my left wrist twice when I was younger so I decided to make my hands strong enough to never drop another deadlift again, and I’m proud to say that since that day, I haven’t. Even on 2" thick bars. Due to a lack of discipline, I got complacent on the Atkins diet and went back up to 360 by the end of the year. Talk about a physical and emotional roller coaster.

Q:Who were some of the people that you learned from (whether from reading or one-on-one coaching) regarding grip training, strongman et al?

I got most of my training information from the internet bulletin boards. I would give anything to have a real life coach, even today. Dinosaur Training was a great resource for me and I studied it like the gospel. When I started participating in the highland games, I had a mentor named Carlos Borges who helped me transfer what he called my Freaky Retard Strength into a usable technique for throwing. Footwork was never my strong point, although I appreciated his time and effort in training me. I’ve had a lot of training partners come and go, so most of the time I have to rely on myself for motivation and learning. Because I train alone mostly, I rely heavily on video for feedback on form and such.

Q: What were some of your best lifts when you started and what are some of your best gym lifts now?

My best lifts then were laughable, and in 3 years I’m sure I’ll say that my best lifts today are laughable. My first training log shows a bench press of 115x2 (I missed the third rep), an overhead press of 95lbs, and a squat of 170. Today my personal bests are 320 push press, 645 deadlift, 635lb squat (in loose single ply suit).

Q: How did you get involved in strongman training and what were some of your first attempts at the events like? How much could you log press, stones, tire, etc when you first tried it?

I think my first attempts were pretty laughable too. I met Fred Cordova through the Power and Bulk internet board and drove up to San Mateo to train at his place. He had what I think was a 550 or 650lb tire that I could only flip 3 times before being thoroughly exhausted. I remember struggling with 220lbs per hand on the farmers, dropping it a few times over a 50ft course, and being unable to stand with 255lbs per hand. I also failed to break a 610lb yoke off the ground which really disappointed me. I struggled with 450 on the yoke as well. My first time with the stones I loaded a 180 but failed on a 220 because I couldn’t quite lap it. I thought strongman training was really fun because you got to move some heavy weights around, but wasn’t strong enough to do what Fred and the guys were doing. Of course, it didn’t help my ego that Jon Andersen was training with us that day and doing freaky things with heavy weights!

Q: I follow your training journal and have a pretty good idea, but what does your training look like and how do you view event training? What is the basic outline of your training week?

I like to do one day of gym lifting and one day of event training. Event training happens on the weekend, although with the longer daylight hours I’m thinking it’s about time to start doing events during the week as well. I try to structure my gym training to compound movements first, like push press or deadlift, and then doing accessory exercises to work the same muscles. On event day, I’ll start with the event that I think I need to improve on the most and then prioritize my event day from there. For example, these days I need to bring up my log and yoke so I start with those events first and go from there.

Q: What was your first strongman competition and how did you do?

I competed in Northern California’s Strongest Man in 2003 and came in second. The events were 255 farmers for 200ft, 250 log for reps, fire truck pull, 800lb tire flip and conan’s wheel. I wish I could have done better in the events, but I had a good time.

Q: What do you feel is your best strongman event? Is that because you worked the hardest at it or you just naturally took to it? What are some technical pointers you could give us about it?

I think I have a good chance at placing high in grip-based events, like farmers walk or axle deadlift. Before dedicating myself to strongman training, I was fully immersed in grip training and worked obsessively to develop hands as strong as humanly possible. I was doing anything and everything to build stronger hands, so grip isn’t a big issue now. I’d travel around the country to grip contests and grip gatherings and train my hands 12+ hours a week. In my mind, all the other strongman events can become too technical, but the farmers walk is so basic - “Pick up these heavy ass weights and walk over there with them.” That’s it. For someone looking to improve their supporting grip, I’d recommend one hand partial deadlifts on a non-revolving bar/handle, two hand plate pinches, and gripper holds to failure. I give a lot of credit to the one hand partial deadlifts for my supporting grip. Hanging on to 700lbs with one hand without a hook grip makes a 400lb farmers walk implement seem easy. Before specifically training my grip, I had a part time business with my dad making medieval armor out of sheet metal so spending 10-12 hours a day on the weekends swinging a 4lb hammer and bending metal with my hands laid a solid foundation. I fondly remember my forearms being so pumped and sore after a weekend’s work that I would sometimes have to call in sick on Monday because I couldn’t type.

Q: What is your worst event, and what steps are you taking to improve it?

Definitely overhead pressing. I don’t like to take the easy way out and say that because I’m tall with long arms that I am naturally bad presser, because truthfully I don’t train it as often as I should. When the distance from the ground to locked out overhead is 8 and a half feet high, it’s hard to get jacked up to train overhead lifts very often.

Q: What is your plan for competing this year?

I am doing the Precor Strongman Challenge in Albuquerque on May 21st, hosted by my friend and training partner Warren Wylupski. I’m also going to Indiana for Chad Coy’s pro-am, which will be my first pro-am. My other training partner Travis is hosting a contest in Farmington in August, and I’d like to put on the Iron Will Challenge again this year, hopefully at the State Fair in September. I’m excited to compete at a pro-am because I’ll get to feel two things that I only feel at bigger contests - (1) guilt that I didn’t train harder and (2) motivation to train harder in the coming months.


Q: What are your long terms goals for your involvement in the sport of strongman?

I want to represent my country in the World’s Strongest Man competition. I want to be an ambassador for the sport and eventually use my experience to help others become stronger both mentally and physically.

Q: In addition to competing, I know you’ve tried your hand at promoting contests as well. What is your take on the promotion side? Is this something you are going to continue?

Promoting is fun, but competing is more fun. For me, the process of loading everything into the trailer, unloading it, competing in two contests in one day, then loading everything back up was exhausting. I came home, ate a whole pizza, and didn’t even feel guilty about my gluttony. Next time I put on a contest, I’m going to start moving equipment well ahead of time so I’m not tired before the contest. I think that if I was ever injured or otherwise not able to compete again, I would have a hard time promoting shows because I’d want to get in there and compete so badly.

Q: I know you’ve also competed in highland games. Can you give us a little background on this as well? How did you do? What got you interested in this strength sport as well?

When I was certifying on the #3 gripper, my witness was highland games thrower Carlos Borges. He invited me to come throw so I began practicing with him. In my first practice, I lobbed the 28lb WFD 61' with one spin so Carlos insisted I throw with the B throwers at a meet just 3 weeks away. I did and came in second or third. Over the course of the season, I was doing a lot better and winning a couple games at the B level, so I moved up to the A’s. At that time, I started to have some big problems with my right wrist from the stone events and had to stop throwing. I’ve competed once or twice since then and hit personal bests, so I guess I haven’t completely lost touch.

Q: Here is a question that Mike normally asks folks, but I think I will use it. Who do you feel was the best strongman of all time and why? And, back to your roots, who do you think has the best overall grip strength?

I don’t really feel qualified to proclaim any one man the best strongman of all time since my knowledge of the sport begins around 2003 when I saw my first WSM on television. Kaz certainly comes to mind as a legendary figure. In terms of all around strength, I’d say Mark Henry. He is who I aspire to be like. No, I don’t want to be called Sexual Chocolate and wear dreds (although, that would be cool!) but I would like to be able to compete at a world class level in several strength sports. Really, is there anything he isn’t good at?

As for best overall grip strength, it’s even harder to say. I have pretty high standards when it comes to saying someone is THE best. If I could name a few, they would be David Horne, Steve McGranahan, Dave Thornton, Josh Dale and Tommy Heslep. All these guys could crush me in a grip contest today, so they have my utmost respect.

Q: Let’s take it a step further, who do you think is (are) the most impressive pro(s) coming up in the ranks? And, which amateurs do you see making the jump up to the next level soon?

I don’t know much about him, but Tom McClure’s domination at NAS Nationals last year makes him pretty damn impressive in my book. Also, Phil Pfister is kicking some major butt today and I’d say he is the best American pro today. As for am’s turning pro, I am definitely a Dan Harrison nutswinger. That guy needs to make it official already, and nobody knows it more than him. There are a lot of guys who are hungry for the pro card though.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t covered? (Now would be a good time to discuss your grocery store thug mentality)

I have nothing against grocery stores! Geez, accidentally break *one* cement ashtray and you never live it down! Actually, I have been thinking a lot about becoming a pro and it seems easier for those guys who are training with pros on a regular basis. As a result, I’m going to start saving up enough to travel to bigger shows and maybe even spend a weekend training with pros at their facilities. Heck, I would love to be able to just offer a pro a grand for staying in our guest room for a week and training me every day. Also I would like to thank all the awesome members of the Marunde-muscle discussion board who took the time to read this interview. Marunde-muscle forum is the best source of quality information on the net. And Jesse Marunde is really good looking. (editer Jesse added the last sentance...)

 

 

 
 

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