Big Man Got Jump


Vidas Blekaitis celebrating his World Loglift Championship win!

I used to be amazed at the common misconceptions of Strongman by those who were starting out on their strength journey. I’m being kind here by saying “starting out on their strength journey” because it’s usually little douchebags who have a few months of lifting under their belt and think they’re something special because they just hit a leg press PR (no, I’m not against the leg press. It has it’s usefulness but so do squats, get under a bar or STFU.) We all know them. Someone hit a 185# push press and thinks they’re ready for Champions League (yo! dude, girls push press 185#. Ease back on the false lat spread walk through the gym, eh?)

Anyways. I’m not amazed anymore. The audacity of the ignorant that exudes in gyms these days fail to surprise. The notion of what it takes to become an advanced athlete stunted by mama’s all across America telling their 30 year old little babies that they’re the bestest in the world RIGHT NOW and if some old mean coach (or boss for that matter) tells them they’re not, well don’t believe them because they’re just jealous of little baby’s awesomeness. (Think I’m wrong? Think again.)

The Strongman, the top ones and those working up to that point (Tebow), have been working a lifetime in some fashion to achieve what they do. If you’re just starting out at 30 years old, congratulations. Starting is awesome, keep working. But the big guys, those we watch achieve amazing feats of strength (and delude ourselves into thinking we can do the same thing), they’ve already been at it for over 15 years cuz they started back in childhood. It’s one of my favorite responses of Matt’s when a man asks him how to get as big and strong as him, Roll back the clock 15 years and start training. Good luck.” 

There is a perfect storm for these top athletes. Those we watch on Sunday’s running up and down fields, crushing each other in hopes to come away with a pigskin ball (no really though, do they still use pigskin?) Hard work, proper training, a positive support system, determination, a little bit of luck and GENETICS! See how many of us can have everything leading into the last, most important, characteristic?

Genetics. That one little piece of the puzzle that will determine if you’re Log Pressing 200 kilos or 200 pounds. Now, there are many who do a fine job of making up for their genetics not stacking up against a Big Z or a Walter Payton but in most cases, tapping into that genetic potential will give you that extra jump.

Jump. There’s a reason why testing of the vertical jump in younger athletes is an integral part of determining potential.

Cuz ya gotta have jump.


Andy Vincent doing the Caber turn happy dance. Photo Credit: Douglass Sisk, (check his photo’s out, they’re amazing. We’ve bought some to put up in the gym.)

Now, I’m a huge Walter Payton fan. I miss his style of play. Never quit, even in his personal life at the end. Class on the field. You knew you would see something of beauty when watching the Bears in the 70’s and 80’s. Walter Payton had jump:


Sweetness. I’m guessing after this play he just handed the ball back to the ref and jogged back to the huddle. I miss Walter Payton.

But, as you know, I have a soft spot in my heart for those big guys and there’s just something fun about catching a photo when those big guys show why they’re the best of the best…


Olympic American Weightlifting Shane Hamman would often hit a back flip after a good lift. 350# folks.


Having Randy White coming at you had to be slightly terrifying…or wonderful (depends who you ask I guess;)

The explosiveness needed for those amazing jumps is also what’s needed for top level Strongman. I understand that while we watch on television the few minutes of World Strongest Man we’re allowed each year, we see strong. Strong is recognizable. But there are too many young lifters and athletes out there who don’t understand JUMP and that’s a huge fail.

In this video, you get a “through the stairs” glimpse of Big Z’s jump game. I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again,  watching him in action is a gift. To see his strength, power, and explosiveness is nothing short of mystical. Big man got jump. FoSho.

My hubby has jump. I forget that sometimes like when I hit him with a drive-by bratty comment and keep walking, it’s actually surprising how fast and explosive he can be to catch me (truth be told, I don’t even try to get away;)


Matt after his 5th place finish in the 2013 World Loglift Championships in Vilnius, Lithuania with Champions League co-founder Ilkka Kinnunen and World Strongest Man Svend Karlsen.

Matt’s “JUMP” is part of the reason why he still has an open invitation to any Champions League event he wants to attend. (Do I smell another Lithuanian trip next fall????)

But see, he’s 40, and he started training when he was 15. And he has JUMP. So catch up if you can, but to ignore this vital piece of training (especially WITHOUT the genetics of the best), well…good luck on that dude.

Never die easy. Why run out of bounds and die easy? Make that linebacker pay. It carries into all facets of your life. It’s okay to lose, to die, but don’t die without trying, without giving it your best.

Walter Payton

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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