strongman lifting weight

HOTSHOT: Preventing Muscle Cramps at Strongman Competitions

Chris Vachio is a 44-year-old year old Strongman competitor and contest promoter from Columbus, Ohio. The athlete, who has been involved in strength training since high school, finds lifting to be great therapy and a wonderful escape from troubles of normal life. After years of dabbling in bodybuilding and powerlifting, injuries from lifting led Chris to Strongman. Chris met Steve Slater, the man behind constructing the wooden logs for the major Strongman competitions, and was invited to attend training events with his crew. He fell in love with the camaraderie right away. Seven years later, Chris is more active in the sport than ever and with no end in sight — especially now that he’s got HOTSHOT to prevent one of the biggest issues in Strongman. Here’s his story:

On June 11th, I competed in the United States Strongman National Championships, the largest amateur Strongman contest in U.S. —perhaps even world — history. A gathering of 314 athletes from across the country converged on Louisville, Kentucky to lift heavy things at 4th Street Live.

The competition took place outside, albeit in a covered space, with temperatures well over 90 degrees. The contest consisted of five events completed in about 10 hours. With so many athletes competing, there were long waits in between events, making for the perfect environment for cramping issues. With the heat and the strain we put on our bodies, the downtime was crucial for hydration and keeping limber for the next round.

My age and weight group participated in the five events: Wagon wheel deadlift with 585 pounds (maximum reps in 60 seconds); Log Press with 260 pounds where you pick up the log from the ground and press it overhead each rep (maximum reps in 60 seconds); Conan's Wheel, where you cradle a 600-pound clock hand in the crooks of your arms and carry it in a circle for maximum distance; Fingal Fingers, where you flip a 400-pound, 8-foot-long, 10-inch diameter pole back and forth five times as fast as possible; and finally, Atlas stones, which are 20-inch diameter concrete boulders, ranging from 260 to 365 pounds, loaded to 50-inch high platforms as quickly as possible, running back and forth between platforms set 20-feet apart.

I took a HOTSHOT immediately before we left the hotel, about an hour prior to my first event. I did 14 reps on the Wagon Wheel deadlift with zero cramping. My second event went equally as well, achieving seven reps at Log Press. I drank another HOTSHOT immediately after, knowing that Conan's Wheel was a huge potential moment for cramping. I was able to grind through about 100 feet with the Conan's Wheel successfully with not even a slight hint of cramping. I flew through the Fingal Fingers in 37 seconds. No problems there! I took a third HOTSHOT in my downtime between Atlas Stones, again knowing that cramping would be another huge potential issue. I made it through that event without any cramps or spasms.

I placed 6th out of 20 athletes in my weight and age group, which is outstanding for me — especially in an outdoor event. I tend to have major issues with cramping and just general weakness when competing outdoors. HOTSHOT definitely helped A LOT and will be a permanent part of my contest gear from now on. I can’t wait to see the positive results over the longer term in my training.

With the conclusion of this contest, my main focus will be on continuing to get stronger and set or break some national records in December. I currently hold the Log Press record for the masters heavyweight division with a 350-pound press. I’d like to get that number closer to 400. I good friend of mine broke my 18-inch deadlift (a deadlift where the bar is 9 inches higher off the ground than a normal deadlift) record with a 950-pound lift and I’d like to take that record back! I think with some good training and a little luck, 1000 is a possibility for me.



Heading to the Summer Games: Read about Steeplechase champions Evan Jager and Colleen Quigley

8 Questions with Champion Marathoner & HOTSHOT Ambassador Amy Hastings: Nutrition tips, HOTSHOT and more. Read on. 

The Nerve is the Boss of the Muscle: Take control with HOTSHOT.  Here’s how


Back to blog