Nine Realms…of Awesomeness

Or something like that.

When I started training with Luke Ahlfield, he mentioned wanting to do a garage fitness challenge called Nine Realms…because we are nerds who dost thou hoist. Who doesn’t love a little Norse mythology in their lifting?

The premise is simple. Nine different lifts, from different realms of strength training. We settled on the three traditional powerlifting moves, three armlifting moves, and three strongman movements. And today was the day for that.

My Wheelhouse

I come from the powerlifting world, but after taking a couple years off from training heavy, just started training with a barbell again about six weeks ago. Not my typical meet runup.

Still, I totaled about what have in my last couple of meets anyway, and without knee wraps for squats. I just wore sleeves for it today. I still managed to squat 520 pounds. I don’t have many goals in training, or life for that matter, but one of them is to be able to squat 500 for as long as I can. My days of chasing 700+ are likely long gone, but if I can keep squatting 500 into my old age, I’ll be happy. Mission accomplished there.

The one of the first three that surprised me was I benched 315. I have not gone over 285-290 in about 15 years. So to hit 315, and somewhat easy all things considered, really surprised me. I came into the day hoping for 300 at most. Mission accomplished there.

Deadlifts were disappointing, although not surprising after hitting big squats and benches for me. I tell non competitive lifters the one thing that would surprise them the most is how much a bench can take out of your low back. I hit 500, but missed 525, stalling near the knees. I almost never stall on a deadlift. If it leaves the ground, I get it. But i just did not have the grind in my on that one apparently.

Grip? What Grip?

As for arm lifting, that one was all new for me. My grip sucks. I expected to suck at that one, and I mostly did. Load a pin, and lift it off the ground with one hand, using three different grips. The first is a fat block, then a circle grip you had to lift with a pinch grip, then a rolling fat bar. It does not take much weight for these to get heavy, at least for the me.


On to the strongman movements. We are doing a competition later this summer, so we have been doing event days on Sundays. For Nine Realms, we chose three different movements, sort of. We decided to do a log press max, yoke carry for 30 feet and then a stone load.

I worked up 225 pounds on the log clean and press, which was a 10 pound best for me. My top yoke walk was 500 pounds, then I got a 175 pound stone loaded. Not a bad way to finish the day.

Video recap of my day.


I have often said I was very fortunate to have been a part of some very good powerlifting teams. Training at Smitty’s gym in high school, then Main Street Gym about 15 years ago. I’ve done Crossfit and Olympic competitions with the local Crossfit gym.

Last year, my wife Sarah started training with Bridget in the mornings. She started going twice a week and training in their garage. But I continued to train on my own at home. We have a full gym in our house. Around December, I joined Main Street again to be around people training again, but the time of the day I was there was mostly the high school kids training arms every day.

Then I mentioned to Luke I would like to start training with him if he didn’t mind. Bromance rekindled. We click on the training and all the nerdy shit. So for the last couple of months, we have trained together four times a week. His son Jake, and another friend Aaron Book join on occasion. They all joined in today. Along with Bridget and Sarah, we had six competitors today, which makes for a fun day… and builds in some much needed rest periods. The nine events took more than three hours to complete. It is good to be part of something again, and not just training on my own in the basement. Love this group.

Yeah, Luke made shirts. Don’t try to out nerd us.

Favorite Part

My favorite part of the day was doing this with Sarah. She has tagged along to some of my meets, so she has seen my in my element. But this is not her element, testing herself in a group setting. Or at least it wasn’t until today. She tried all nine movements, and hit several PRs on the day. She started the day with new bests in squat and deadlift, and now has a total on the three powerlifting moves to try to beat in the future. It is a proud husband moment watching your wife push herself at something new.

The Scoreboard

Beasts all around I say. Beasts all around.


I typically take a week off after a powerlifting meet. We basically did a full meet today, then six more movements. So, I spent some time in a hot tub after and popped some ibuprofen. Monday is an offday from training away, then I’m taking Tuesday off, but planning on getting back at it come Wednesday as Luke, Jake and I get ready for a Strongman competition in six more weeks. It will be the first for all three of us.

Also, I made a playlist for this. Because that is what I do.

The below videos were made by Luke and Bridget.


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