Monday Bacon: What’s The Payout?


One of the more common occurrences (about even with drunk chicks wanting him to lift them onto his shoulder) of hanging out with the Bigg guy is that people want him to lift things. Like, stones. Or heavy axle’s laying around their gym. Or come and lift at a local event. For free.

When folks (to clarify, by “folks” I mean people having fun. Not the organizers)  in Scotland began asking Matt if he was going to do the Atlas Stone challenge, Matt’s reply was, ‘what’s the payout?’ Cuz sure, he could obviously lift the stone. While fun, it really wasn’t that heavy for him. But if people want a Professional athlete to participate, that Pro athlete will instantly do a risk to rewards analysis and may just decide to sit on the sidelines, smoke their cigar and keep enjoying a beautiful Scotland fall day without any further exertion it took to walk over to the field.

See, when it comes to Strongman, Matt is a competitor rather than a participant. There’s a difference. NOW, if they happened to be the Dinnie Stones then that may be a different story. He’d train (anyone who know’s Matt know’s his grip is probably his achilles heel) for it, hard. And then give it a go. Because sometimes the payout is satisfaction that you gave something difficult a go and maybe found success or maybe didn’t. But to participate in it is good for the soul.

However, when it comes to competition, it’s a different mindset. Competitors train hard for an event or a season of events. Because they want to win. The risk of a torn bicep must be accepted if the Strongman show you’re competing in has a tire flip. The risk for participants? Too high. Silly really. Now, are tire flips silly for fitness enthusiasts? Yes. Very. But I get that it’s fun and different and gives us that ‘badass’ feeling I guess. Dunno. I don’t go for “badass” feeling in the gym. In fact, I think I’m only squatting 50kg today, I’ll have to look. Rarely is recovery/off-season training badass. I’ll save that for the field. Where I compete.

But my first Highlander and Highland Games? I was a participant. I had no idea what I was doing and if not for the help of Ms. Brittney Belle down in Texas and Erin (now) Valenti here in ‘Sconsin, I’d have participated even more poorly than I did (I nearly fell on my arse with the Heavy Weight, I consider that recovery a PR.) When I decided I’d kinda like to do well in this fringe sport, I started working on it but still would consider my first season as participating rather than competing. Success found was spotty and inconsistent, much like my current hammers. But they’re coming.

And through hard work and great coaching, I was able to become a competitor. My risk to reward of tight muscles; seized up spinal erectors; added weight cuz I wasn’t focused on it; sore feet and right hand; and just god-awful tired was high. Go for it. My predictions?


And it’s worth it. For me. It’s still not as demanding as many sports out there including Weightlifting which I’ll still practice, why not? It’s fun and I’m the tosabarbell invitational world champion and will probably remain so, I should buy myself a trophy.

But in general, I wish more people would ask what the payout is for participating in events. Why are you driving your body into the ground day after day, specializing in one form of training while leaving other very ‘high reward’ training options by the wayside? COUGH*runners*COUGH. Why is it acceptable to tweak or outright hurt yourself in the gym just because someone has talked you into the fact that it’s badass? Being hurt isn’t badass. Not being able to train isn’t badass.


Are you a competitor or a participant? There is nothing wrong with being a participant. Lots of new events (Spartan races, color runs, mud runs that have you leaping into mud water with bacteria in it) have gotten people off the couch and into the gym or at least off the couch. That’s a good thing. The payout is being (hopefully) a little healthier than before. But before you decide that knee’s you can’t walk on; torn apart hands; injured backs from crappy deadlift training is a “price you’ll pay” you better know just how much you’ll get paid. Cuz Ortho Surgeons like their vacations and you’ll be funding them. True story, I’m sure Matt’s ortho misses him. Poor guy.

But today, I’ve decided to take a risk, and wear a new sweater. It was sent to me by a recovering sex addict, Melissa D., who knitted it herself , she said it gave her something to do with her hands.

Stuart Smalley

Training Log

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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