An infantry soldier rewarded during a Strongman competition > US Department of Defense > Defense Department News


All or nothing. It’s pain and stress management. There’s a constant little bird in the back of your mind chirping that you might not get there. If you can’t do it, you’ve just spent months training and a lot of money to see your dream pass you by.

Army 1st Lt. Max Pippa’s mind raced as he pushed his body to its limits in the final stages of preparing for an arduous journey for greatness.

Heavyweight Strongman Competition

Pippa, a Headquarters and Headquarters Company infantry officer, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, fought against 29 of the world’s toughest 90-kilogram (198.4-pound) warriors at the 2017 World’s Strongest Man competition in Raleigh, North Carolina on 16-17 December.

The competition’s first day of events included a clean log and press, an 800-pound 50-foot yoke, a Jeep Wrangler deadlift, and a timed medley. The medley consisted of carrying a 650-pound metal frame, a 325-pound metal headstone, and a 265-pound sandbag carry, each for 50 feet.

“It was the event that tests endurance and speed,” said Pippa, a native of St. Louis, Missouri. “My forte is conditioning-based events, so I knew I could break through the rankings in that one. It’s pretty high on my list.

One of the keys to success in this style of competition is recovery and knowing how to manage energy and adrenaline between events, he said.

“It’s a long day of getting you fired up, then back down, then repeating that cycle,” Pippa said. “Most people don’t train that way – they warm up, exercise for a few hours, then cool down. Knowing how to ‘redline’ repeatedly throughout the day and recover effectively is all.


Included between events Pippa would sit down and eat a cup of white rice, a few ounces of beef jerky, and drink rehydration solution. Then he listened to non-aggressive music to relax and conserve his energy.

“As soon as an event is over, depress yourself and return to rest and relax mode,” Pippa said. “That’s what I did for every event I entered, and after every an event I would be better.

After nearly eight hours of rigorous competition, the bottom 20 athletes in the standings were eliminated, while Pippa, currently third, and the other top 10 advanced to day two to determine the champion.

“That night was nothing but a restless sleep,” he said. “At 3 a.m. I decided to stay awake and focus on being in the right frame of mind for the events to come.”

The final day of competition included two events; the first was a timed draw of a Ford F-350 truck with an attached trailer containing four other vehicles on a 50-foot course.

Second, competitors raced to lift a series of six concrete stones, increasing in weight from 250 to 375 pounds, onto successive platforms.

mentally focused

“Day 2 was my jam,” the infantry officer said. “I had been awake for most of the night, viewing these two events and watching silent videos from past competitions. I was mentally focused.

To help him stay focused, he thought of his 10-month-old son, Cassius, and his wife, Corinna, and all of their support as he prepared for the competition, which often included three to five hours of training. training three days a week.

Often training at JBER fitness centers, Pippa said he owes much of his success to Buckner Fitness Center manager John Limon, who supports JBER’s many athletes by procuring equipment. necessary training materials, such as concrete stones, which are not often found in typical gymnasiums.

“People like Pippa excite me. He’s set a hell of an example around here,” Limon said. outside the gates Pippa shows people here what is possible when you are disciplined and dedicated to achieving your goals.

Pippa has a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, so fitness, nutrition and health has always been a passion for him. He developed an interest in Strongman in 2006 with friends in St. Louis.


“I feel lucky and blessed to have been able to perform well in something I’m passionate about,” said Pippa. “Knowing what makes me happy, makes my blood pump and have the chance to be recognized as one of High in the world is super humiliating.

Competing with determination, Pippa won both day two events. Combined with the points he racked up on day one, the 27-year-old fitness enthusiast earned a second place overall in the prolific competition.

At the end of the contest, Pippa found herself standing on the podium with a silver trophy in one hand and baby Cassius in the other.

“I’m a pretty lucky guy,” he said. “I just feel blessed that all the variables lined up the way they did, especially my wife who has been extremely supportive, taking so much to allow me to pursue this.”

Pippa now plans to spend time with her family, pursue a career as a firefighter, and continue to compete and inspire others to pursue their passions.

“Regardless of what motivates you, I hope other people find what they are ambitious for. Find something that excites you and pursue it, and see where it goes. I feel so happy, humbled and grateful for this experience, and I hope other people can benefit from this same feeling.


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