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The Joy of Competition: Tactical Strength Challenge, April 2009


I got back Monday from Colorado, where I was able to participate as a judge during the International Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC). Adam and Heather at Core Elements in Grand Junction put on a hell of a show.

The TSC is the brainchild of Russian Kettlebell madman Pavel Tsatsouline. Three events are tested:

  • Deadlift Max (how much you can deadlift one time)
  • Consecutive pull-upsThese three events are chosen as measures of all-around strength. The deadlift gauges your absolute strength. The pull-ups measures your bodyweight-relative strength, and the kb snatches measure your cardiovascular endurance. It’s an interesting combination of events, and performing them one after the other in 1-2 hours is a real eye opener. Lots of us at the TSC have found that we are not quite as fit as we’d thought.

    Here’s What I saw

  • A man in his 60s who snatched for 5:00 without ever putting the kettlebell down.
  • A young woman who cranked out 13 pull-ups
  • A pre-med student from Logan, Utah
  • A group of rock climbers
  • A banker
  • someone who get into kettlebells to rehab a back injury sustained by a fall in Iraq.
  • A tiny gymnast woman who kicked everyone’s buttThese people were there for all sorts of reasons. They either got into kettlebells for rehab reasons, deadlifted competitively, loved the atmosphere…and so on.

    We talked about why we were there quite a bit and came up with a few common denominators in the group. We compete because:

    1. It gives you a goal to focus on. It’s just too easy to get distracted (for me) without a concrete goal to prepare for.

    2. You meet incredible people. This is what I love the most. The absolutely monstrous Greg Fedderson killed it in every event. He drove all the way over from Salt Lake, just like I did, and we had never met until we got to Grand Junction.

    3. In my limited experience, everyone at the TSC genuinely wants everyone else to do better. I had the paranoid thought before I competed in October of 2008 that no matter what I did, someone would do it better and then scream “In your face, Hanagarne!” before putting me in a headlock. But the opposite happens. Personal records drop right and left because everyone feeds off the energy (and it’s fun to show off).

    The informal nature of the TSC is also part of the charm. If you have any interest in doing a competition but don’t feel ready or comfortable with a powerlifting meet or bodybuilding show, the TSC is a perfect place to get your feet wet. The next one will be in the fall. It’s an international competition with plenty of U.S. locations. Visit the website to find the one closest to you.

    You won’t regret it.

  • Comments on this entry are closed.

    • Ben Owens April 16, 2009, 2:58 pm

      I agree 100%. It’s a great time.

      And Greg is indeed an animal.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 16, 2009, 3:12 pm

      Ben, I’ve decided that in September, You and me are going to North Dakota for Adam Glasses’ TSC.

    • Ben Owens April 16, 2009, 3:22 pm

      Sounds good to me. I’m sure I could work that out.

    • Greg Fedderson April 17, 2009, 6:52 pm

      Josh, Ben,
      Lets train hard for september and show ’em what us Utahn boys can do!

    • Josh Hanagarne April 17, 2009, 7:01 pm

      Greg, you and Ben already showed them, but I’m in.