Toughman 2018

It's been a year since my last blog post.

Some major life commitments have forced me to go somewhat "underground", but fear not ... Advanced Training is alive and well.

As always, we have a small crew of overachievers pushing each other to take themselves to the next level.

Having said that, it is only fitting that I come out from the cave and write about our 2018 Toughman.

The Event

The event is the same as it has been since 2015

The Crew

The crew was a bit different.

We had a nice combination of washed-up "old-guys" competing with college athletes.

The Write-Up

The write-up will follow the same path we path as last year, where we show full film footage of each person's event plus a short bio on each athlete.

Special Thanks to James Uske for expertly filming our competition.

And with that ... let's begin.

7th Place: Andrew Cortese
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 45.5 seconds
  • Previous Best: 1 minutes 29.6 seconds (2017)
  • 2018 Pre-Test Rank: 5th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 2
  • Best Event: 1st set of High Handle Prowler (had the 2nd best time at 7 seconds)
  • Worst Event: Sled Pull (had the worst time at 34 seconds)
I can say without hesitation that Cortese's 2018 Toughman performance was THE most wild and uncoordinated event I had ever seen.

He lost a slider within seconds of his start, he kicked the other slider about 20 yards, and then he threw the farmer's walk (and almost himself) down a hill.

He then proceeded to wipe out every cone during the Prowler Station.

This comedy of errors put Cortese at the Sled Pull at 55 seconds.

This is a critical point for 3 reasons.

1. This was the longest it took any competitor to get the Sled Pull (the average time was 45 seconds)
2. In 2017, Cortese had THE FASTEST TIME to get to the Sled Pull (43 seconds)
3. In 2017, Cortese had THE LONGEST TIME to complete the Sled Pull (an "honor" he was able to achieve again in 2018)

Putting all of this information together leads me to believe Cortese came in with a strategy ... a strategy that on paper looked really good.

  • Maximize my strengths --> use my speed to fly through the first 3 events
  • Minimize my weaknesses --> give myself a buffer for the sled which I know will give me a hard time
  • Finish Strong --> use my stamina and grit to finish strong on the last set of sliders
While I agree with the Strategy, the wild execution took valuable seconds off the clock and valuable energy from his soul.

As a wise man once said, "The Best Strategy Is Execution"

6th Place: Drew Olsen
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 36.4 seconds
  • Previous Best: 1 minute 19.6 seconds (2017 Toughman Winner)
  • 2018 Pre-Test Rank: 6th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 4
  • Best Event: 2nd set of High Handle Prowler  (had the 2nd best time at 7 seconds)
  • Worst Event: Sled Pull (had the 2nd worst time at 31 seconds)
As another wise man once said, "Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn't Work Hard".

In the 2018 Toughman, Drew Olsen was the embodiment of this statement. Getting a new job with long hours and a horrible commute had really cut into Drew's training time.

Unfortunately, the prowler didn't care about his job or his commute.

The end result was a 15 second increase from his title winning Toughman time from 2017.

Knowing Drew, this dip in his performance is not sitting well. I expect him back at his 2017 form (or better) by next year's event.

5th Place: Joe Mreczko
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 25.5 seconds
  • Previous Best: 1 minute 35.5 seconds
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 8th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 2
  • Best Event: 1st set of High Handle Prowler  (had the best time at 6 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 1st set of Sliders (had the 2nd worst time at 12 seconds)
At the risk of being repetitive, I am obliged to repeat the same quote again.

"Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn't Work Hard"
- me ... 30 seconds ago

Like Olsen, Joe Mreczko was also the embodiment of this statement in 2018 ... except on the polar opposite side of it.

He was not born with nearly the same talent as many of the other competitors, but he trained like an animal and changed his diet to help get him on the same playing field.

After losing over 20 lbs, Joe was able to trim 10 seconds off of his 2017 time.

This is an incredible feat, considering Joe was physically unable to compete in Toughman Events prior to last year.

The biggest question for 2019 is will his success kill his motivation to trim another 10 seconds off of his time?

4th Place: Jacob Buser
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 22 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A
  • 2018 Pre-Test Rank: 4th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 1 (Rookie)
  • Best Event: Sled Pull (had the best time at 19 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 2nd set of Sliders (had the worst time at 18 seconds)
In his Toughman debut, this Advanced Training Rookie put on a pretty impressive performance.

He recorded the fastest times in 3 different events.

  • 1st High Handle Prowler (6 seconds)
  • Low Handle Prowler (8 seconds)
  • Sled Pull (19 seconds)

Unfortunately, Jacob had one major weakness.

To the untrained eye, people would say it was the Sliders.

Given that he had the slowest time of any competitor on the first set of sliders AND  the second set, this would make sense.

But to the trained eye (which I clearly have), Jake's one weakness was the rookie mistake of DOMINATING individual events and now flowing from one event to the next.

If you carefully watch his video, take note of the valuable seconds lost during the each of the following:

  • The extra steps taken after dropping the farmers walk
  • Pushing the prowler too far past the end line
  • Pulling himself off of the bucket during the Sled Pull

Major, major side notes:

  • Past winners have always flowed from one event to the next (watch footage of Ryan Smith or Drew Olsen)
  • Joe Sarno lost the 2015 Toughman to the great Ryan Smith by 1.2 seconds. The reason ... he did the same thing Buser did with the Sled Pull. He dominated it and then stared at it before  going to the sliders.
The good news for Jacob (and the bad news for everyone else) is that he has both talent and an insane work ethic. 

I wouldn't be surprised if he pulled a Mreczko and trimmed 10 seconds off his time next year.

3rd Place: Joe Trunzo
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 17.4 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A (performed under another Toughman Format)
  • 2018 Pre-Test Rank: 7th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 2
  • Best Event: 1st High Handle Prowler (had the best time at 6 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 1st set of Sliders (had the 2nd worst time at 12 seconds)
At the ripe age of 31, Joe Trunzo is the self-proclaimed oldest man to compete in the Toughman.

Rather than talk about how he optimizes his body through training and nutrition, I am going to  take a completely different angle.

In all of my years as a coach, I have never seen someone combine the perfect blend of the following 3 items.

1. Hating to Lose
2. Playing Head Games
3. Learning from the past

Think carefully through Advanced Training History.

Which guys do you know truly had all 3?

Side note: off the top of my head 2 guys come close, but they fell a bit short in one category

  •  Ryan Smith --> He definitely played head games, but he just made people angry. Trunzo makes people angry. He has them doubting themselves. He has them thinking they are better than they really are. The man is a hypnotist.
  • Frank Torres --> Frank's "head game" game is legendary and he definitely hates to lose. Having said that, I can say without a shadow of a doubt he does not learn from the past. In fact, I think he takes pride in making the same mistakes over and over again.

Back to Joe ...

By studying film of past competitors, Joe took full advantage of the flowing from one drill to the next. If you watch the clip below, you will see very little wasted time going from one drill to the next.

In fact, he finished in the top 3 of every event ...

.... except the first one ... sliders.

In my not so humble opinion, I believe this is where Joe lost it.
I think he wanted to start slow to not outpace himself, but he may have started a bit too slow.

Being the master strategist that he is, there is no doubt this will be corrected next year.

If he fixes that (and his banged up shoulder), he is trimming another 5 seconds off of his time.

2nd Place: Pete Amerosi
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 15.8 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A (performed under another Toughman Format)
  • 2018 Pre-Test Rank: 2th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 3
  • Best Event: 2nd set of Sliders (had the best time at 11.8 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 2nd set of High Handle Prowlers (had the 2nd worst time at 11 seconds)
If I had to explain Pete Amerosi's 2018 Toughman Event in one word it would be FLAWLESS.

While he didn't come in first, he maximized his performance by combing the perfect blend of finesse, strength and stamina throughout the entire event.

Some would call Pete the "OG" of the Advanced Training Toughman. He started his journey in 2011 (where he and many others tapped-out) and continued in 2012 (where he placed 9th)

He then came out of retirement in 2018 and trained insanely hard, resulting in a 2nd place finish.

His time of 1 minute 15.8 seconds is the fifth fastest time ever recorded in this Toughman format. The only people that have ever beat him were Ryan Smith (2015, 2016) and Joe Sarno (2015, 2018).

For those of you who want to study what good looks like, watch this film ...

1st Place: Joe Sarno (Gold Medal)

  • Finish Time: 1 minute 13.9 seconds
  • Previous Best: 1 minute 15.6 seconds
  • 2018 Pre-Test Rank: 1st
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 3
  • Best Event: 1st set of Sliders (had the best time at 9 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 2nd set of Sliders (only came in 3rd at 13.4 seconds)

2018 was the year of Joe Sarno, as he won both THE CHALLENGE and the TOUGHMAN.

He is only the 3rd person to ever do that in Advanced Training history (including Drew Olsen and Eric Heedles).

While training for the Toughman, Joe won 8 of his last 9 challenges putting fear into his competitors ... and rightfully so.

As each Challenge passed, he seemed to get stronger, faster, and gain more endurance.

This progression carried directly over into the Toughman as Joe blasted through the first 5 events in record breaking time.

While I used the word FLAWLESS to explain Amerosi's event, I would you use the word GLORIOUS to explain Sarno's.

He had the fastest time on 4 of the first 5 events and hit the Sled Pull a full 5 seconds before any other competitor.

Had he not lost a slider, he would have easily been the first person to break the 1 minute 10 second mark in the Toughman.

There is not much more I can say about this performance. 

I believe the video speaks for itself.


Advanced Training has always been about creating an insane competitive environment, where people can push each other to take themselves to the next level.

This is the first year where I had to do very little pushing.

The guys in this crew did it all by themselves and it has been my proudest moment as a coach to watch them develop into men.
  • The final results can be found HERE.
  • Event splits can be found HERE.
  • A list of every past Toughman Winner can be found HERE.