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Beau’s Oktoberfest: the other, other Olympics — Train with this EPIC guide

This summer, lift, throw, even curl your beer… You’ll need to do that if you want to be successful in Beau’s Oktoberfest competition. Consider this annual event as a sort of other, other Olympics and think of summertime as the season in which to train. Training in summer? — It does sound a bit like a buzzkill, but it’s also a way to get closer to beer.

In case you’re new to the area: every year, Beau’s Brewery in Vankleek Hill throws a massive Germanic party. In fact, in 2015 Canadian Geographic wondered if it was the “the best little Oktoberfest in Canada.” Not so little anymore. Last year there were over 20,000 Alpine hat-clad Oktoberfesters taking part in the merriment. Held in the Vankleek Hill fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 23  and Saturday, Sept. 24 (early bird tickets are available until Father’s Day here) the event hosts dozens of local restaurants, bands, charities and guest breweries. And feats of strength. Which is why we’re talking about Oktoberfest in June, because you’ll need the coming summer months to train. Hence this comprehensive training guide.

Photo by Ben Welland. http://byfieldpitman.com
Photo by Ben Welland. http://byfieldpitman.com

I’m competing in September’s competition as well, and so after carefully vetting personal trainers, gyms, and sports therapists, I contacted EPIC Fitness — a personal training studio, gym and alternative health care company — to assist me in preparing a training regime that would whip me into shape.

The following guide is organized by event. Don’t forget that these activities fill up fast, so remember to sign-up and execute your training.

Photo by Colleen Johnson. http://byfieldpitman.com
Photo by Colleen Johnson. http://byfieldpitman.com

As per EPIC’s direction, there are 4 major phases of training for each event. In each phase there is a specific repetition range or range of time that needs to be achieved in order to get the intended results.

These 4 phases are: CONDITIONING (how much work can you do in a specific amount of time), HYPERTROPHY (building muscle), STRENGTH (increasing strength) and POWER (sports specific and increasing force generation). Each phase is ideally 4 weeks and EPIC recommends doing these exercises 2-3 times per week unless otherwise specified.

Photo by Colleen Johnson. http://byfieldpitman.com
Photo by Colleen Johnson. http://byfieldpitman.com

* All illustrations by Pete DeMontigny

The Guide

Keg_Toss_1

Event: Keg Toss (height)

Training: 
Exercise: medicine ball toss, straight up in the air

  • CONDITIONING PHASE: start with lighter medicine ball weight, toss 15-20 reps x 3 sets
  • HYPERTROPHY PHASE: slightly heavier ball, toss 8-15 reps x 3 sets
  • STRENGTH PHASE: heaviest ball you can handle, toss 4-8 reps x 3 sets
  • POWER PHASE: heavy weighted squat 4-8 reps followed immediately with light ball tosses with power 15-20 reps

Record: Men: 2013 | 27′ 6″ / Women: 2015 | 22′

Notes: 
Fun Fact: An empty keg weighs about 30lbs. Remember, after the keg goes up, it comes down. Small green Alpine hats do not double as head protection

Keg_Toss_2

Event: Keg Toss (distance)

Training: Exercise: medicine ball toss, throwing sideways against a wall or to a partner

  • CONDITIONING PHASE: start with lighter medicine ball weight, toss 15-20 reps x 3 sets
  • HYPERTROPHY PHASE: slightly heavier ball, toss 8-15 reps x 3 sets
  • STRENGTH PHASE: heaviest ball you can handle, toss 4-8 reps x 3 sets
  • POWER PHASE: heavy weighted squat 4-8 reps followed immediately with light ball tosses with power 15-20 reps

Record: Men: 2013 | 39′ 4″ / Women: 2015 | 30′ 4″

Notes: Can you believe these records? How strong are people from Vankleek Hill?! I have witnessed past participants attempting a hammer throw technique in their approach. It may have worked, had they not released the keg early in their spin and launched it in the opposite direction (i.e. the crowd)…

Malt_Sack_Race

Event: Malt Sack Race

Training: Exercise: Jumping!

  • CONDITIONING PHASE: two foot skipping and double unders, 30-50 reps x 3 sets
  • HYPERTROPHY PHASE: medium weighted dumbbells for jump squats, 8-15 reps x 3 sets
  • STRENGTH PHASE: heavy squats, 4-8 reps x 3 sets
  • POWER PHASE: skipping, 30-50 reps x 3 sets 1x/week, for your “long run” day — tie your shoes together, get outside and do broad jumps, 30 jumps x 3 sets 1x/week

Record: Not timed

Notes: Make sure to untie your shoes before you head to the office. Consider pump up tunes from the original Space Jam soundtrack.

Stein_Hold (1)

Event: Stein Holding Struggle

Training: Use dumbbells, your morning smoothies, or an evening glass of water

  • CONDITIONING PHASE: start with lighter weight (1-2lbs), hold item arm’s distance away from you for  30secs – 1min x 3 sets
  • HYPERTROPHY PHASE: slightly heavier weight, (5lbs) hold item arm’s distance away from you for 20-30secs x 3 sets
  • STRENGTH PHASE: heaviest weight you can handle (10lbs), do hammer curls 4 reps x 10 sets with a 5 sec negative (slow on the way down)
  • POWER PHASE: practice with medium weight (2lbs-3lbs) and do 20-30 sec holds 1x/week followed by your long hold day. This is like your “long run” day; try to increase your time on this day each week

Record: Men: 2011 | 11 min 49 sec / Women: 2015 | 6 min 23 sec

Notes: This is an event of willpower and self-control as taking sips disqualifies you. Feel free to feed off the crowd’s energy.

Carrying_Race (1)

Event: Partner Carrying Race

Training: 

  • CONDITIONING PHASE: weighted step ups onto a box or chair (sturdy) holding a duffle bag weighted at 60-80lbs 15-20 reps x  3 sets
  • HYPERTROPHY PHASE: static front loaded split squat weighted at 80-100lbs 8-15 reps x  3 sets
  • STRENGTH PHASE: farmer’s walk with kettlebell, dumbbell or duffle bag, 1 min x 4-6 sets
  • POWER PHASE: weighted step ups 60-80lbs 15-20 reps x 3 sets 1x/week followed by real event obstacle course: around pylons, up on box, turn one way and then turn the other way — weighted with 120-140lbs for time, 1-1.5 mins x 2 sets 1x/week

Record: Not timed. Winner receives their partner’s weight in Beau’s bucks at the gift shop.

Notes: I was unable to contact an expert on relationship counselling for guidance on how to repair your partnership after a drop or awkward fall. This event is worth a YouTube search, especially if you are attempting the well-regarded “Estonian carry.”

Eating_Contest (1)

Event: Sausage Eating Contest

Training: exercise: chewing and visualization/meditation

  • MENTAL PREPAREDNESS: before you go to bed imagine your belly expanding, imagine quick digestion and visualize the event on the day — feel fast, in the zone and ready to win
  • CONDITIONING PHASE: start with lighter food like a watermelon, chew 3-5 mins x 3 sets
  • HYPERTROPHY PHASE: slightly tougher food like a cucumber, chew 2-3 mins x 3 sets
  • STRENGTH PHASE: heaviest food you can handle, we suggest a red delicious apple, chew 1-2 mins x 3 sets
  • POWER PHASE: practice with slightly tougher food like a cucumber 2-3 mins x 3 sets 1x/week and then add in one “long run” with the specific food you are training for — either hotdogs or sausages 1x/week.

Record: 18.5 Sausages | 2014

Notes: This is a bring your own mustard event. One year, performer Kathleen Edwards awarded the winner with an indoor grill. In retrospect, that almost seems cruel.

I’m not confident in my chances for setting any new records, but no matter. Oktoberfest is always a great time, so see you in September!

Photo by Colleen Johnson. http://byfieldpitman.com
Photo by Colleen Johnson. http://byfieldpitman.com