Danny Vega – The Samson Games

So the Samson Games. Yeah.

Alright, let me get this out of the way at the beginning. Hopefully it will keep me from bitching later on. Getting third place is losing. I HATE LOSING. I hate it more than anything. So much so that I was wired on Saturday night and couldn’t sleep because of it. So much so that I have made some big decisions on what meets I’ll be doing in the next six months or so (more on that at a later time).

I signed up for this knowing that I would be in the middle of meet prep and that I would not be able to prepare for it at all. It turned out that I would be in Miami for the weekend for a family function, and the organizer had contacted me and told me he’d love for me to compete and that he would comp my entry. I thought it would be fun to compete in something different for once.

The problem with this is that I don’t know how to just have fun. I want to win. Always. But I should have checked my expectations considering the level of conditioning and technique I would need on some of these events–two things I didn’t really have right now.

All that being said, I began my cut on Monday to stay in the 220 class. Yes, it’s an unsanctioned competition but there was prize money involved and a dry run for my next cut wouldn’t hurt. Especially since Brian has got this down to a science, and between his advice and going back to his cutting manual as a reference, this cut didn’t scare me. Here’s how it went:

Monday 237
Tuesday 233
Wednesday 231
Thursday 229 (magnesium citrate party)
Friday 223 at 6am. Made it down to 219 by 3pm.

The cut went extremely well, considering cutting sucks. The only thing that threw me off was the 6pm weigh in. That SUCKED. Only had about 15 hours to rehydrate. I ate, drank, got my IV fluids and still wasn’t 100% back by Saturday. Still, I felt great.

First event was the carry medley and my worst event. I placed 7th. It was a farmer’s walk, followed by duck walk (they called it the power pin), a stone carry followed by stone to shoulder. Everything went fine until it was time to try to get the stone up to my shoulder. I basically tried a few times and stared at the stone til time was up. Ended up 7th. Felt like an asshole after this. 

Second event (floater) about 20 min later. Bench 205 max reps. 25 for 4th place. At this point I was considering sneaking out. I hated myself and everyone around me. But then…

Deadlift ladder. 2 min time cap, 365*5, 415*3, max reps at 465. Hit 15 for 1st place. Not bad, considering I tore half my right hand off on a brand new bar with no real knurling. It was a nasty tear. Reminded me of my crossfit days. This would just add to the fun for the rest of the day.

I was cramping here and there by this point so I kept slamming water, electrolytes and pb and j sandwiches.

Next event was a 1 rep max squat in 10 min. I did a short warm-up, the clock started, and I hit a speed single at 495. Rested 3 min and hit another single at 535. I was pretty sure that would put me in first, which it did. So I shut it down to play it safe. This was a great decision because as of today, Monday, I feel fresh and I will be hitting some heavy doubles tomorrow morning.

About 10 min later it was on to the tire flip and log and press medley. Once again, no form. The tire was a joke, and the log was light enough that I could just reverse curl and press it. Not efficient, but enough to put me in 3rd.

Then we had one last event. By this time it was after 3pm. I started to warm-up and did a little butt kick to stretch my quads and cramped in my hamstrings. I was beat. It was a sprint with the sled followed by a sled pull, and 8 DB ground to overhead at 100. Hamstrings cramped during the sprint, biceps cramped during the pull, and somehow I survived and got to the dumbbell. So I had no idea what I was gonna do here. I figured let me try to snatch it. By snatch I mean pick it up off the ground and pull it up using all muscle and no power. Still was able to do it. Wish I had video because I was told it was funny to see me reverse curl and muscle snatching it. Ended up 3rd on this.

So there’s the breakdown. 3rd place and no money. On the bright side, my wife didn’t  kick me out for not winning, and Terry is still my friend.

One thing this did do was light a fire under my ass. I am more motivated than ever for this meet. I will shatter all my previous numbers. From there, I have a plan for the next off-season and meet prep, and what meets I’ll be doing next year.

Special thanks to Hugo Ruiz, Alex Ferret, Mike Osuna,  Rick Perrin, Matt Kunkle (not surprised these guys train with Mike de la Pava),  Sean for letting us use your tent, Brian and Scott and the rest of my teammates. On to the next one. 

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Danny Vega

Danny Vega is a 220lb raw powerlifter with meet bests of 640 squat in wraps (610 raw), 400 bench, and 700 deadlift. A native of Miami, Florida, Vega received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2004, where he was a member of the football team and a three-time Dean’s List recipient. Vega earned his masters of science in human performance from the University of Florida, where he worked with the national championship men’s basketball team along with women’s basketball, tennis, and golf programs. He then went on to become the Strength & Conditioning coordinator for VCU basketball. The Rams were 2007 conference champions and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
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