Toughman 2017

The event was still the same ...

But many of the players were different ...

6 of the brave 9

As was the belt ....

And the highlight video ... 

It is much shorter, shows only the highlights, and does not reveal the winner.

At the request of the competitors, the reporting of the results will also be different. 

A mini-bio will be provided for each athlete, along with their test results, and the raw footage of their entire Toughman Event.

With that, enclosed are the results of the 2017 Toughman.

9th Place: James Uske
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 43.6 seconds
  • Previous Best: 2 minutes (2016)
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 7th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 3
  • Best Event: 4th place in first set of Sliders (11 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 9th place in Farmer's Walk (11 seconds)
The 2015 Toughman Champ put in a very solid effort by trimming almost 17 seconds off of his 2016 Toughman time.

This is quite impressive given he had to miss formal Toughman Training for a few weeks due to a family vacation.

A normal person would have just bailed from the competition, but Uske made the most of his situation by doing plate pushes, rows, and db farmers walks at the local gym in Ocean City, Maryland.

8th Place: Joe Mreczko
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 35.4 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 5th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 1 (Rookie)
  • Best Event: 1st place in the Farmer's Walk (7 seconds) and the Sled (22 Seconds)
  • Worst Event: 9th place in both sets of sliders (13 seconds and 25.3 seconds)
While Joe has trained with us for years, this is the first year he ever competed in the actual Toughman Event.

His strong grip helped him dominate both the farmers walk and sled pull, but his size got the best of him on both sets of sliders.

If Joe improves his relative body strength, he will finish in the Top 3 of the 2018 Toughman. He already set a PR for pull-ups last week by getting 15. Not bad for a guy who weighs 245 lbs

7th Place: Joe O'Neill
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 33 seconds
  • Previous Best: 1 minute 43 seconds
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 9th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 2
  • Best Event: 1st in both High Prowler Pushes (6 seconds and 8 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 9th in first set of sliders (13 seconds)
Last year's HONORABLE MENTION winner was predicted to come in last both in 2016 and 2017.

When Joe saw this year's pre-test rankings., he questioned the morals and social habits of every other guy in the program. He also took his training to another level in order to prove everyone else wrong.

And that he did ... not only did he not come in last ... he took 10 seconds off of his 2016 time.

It probably would have been lower had he not had to redo his first set of sliders due to a mental error.

My bet is that he breaks 1:25 in 2018.

6th Place: John Esposito
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 30.1 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 3rd
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 1 (Rookie)
  • Best Event: 1st place in the 2nd set of sliders (12.9 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 9th in the 2nd set of High Handle Prowlers (15.5 seconds)
Before the event, I honestly had no idea where I thought John would place. While training for the competition, he would have events where he was mediocre and then he would have events where he smoked everyone (including me). What made it more confusing was that this would happen on the same day with the same Toughman tool.

If the stars happened to align and John had a good day, I knew he had the potential to win the entire thing.

Unfortunately, John had two major errors during the event.

1. He dropped the farmer's walk.
2. He fell doing into the low handles on the prowler.

If you watch the video, you will see that John is the only one to attempt to carry the farmer's walk with one hand.

Even though he dropped it, I respect his grit.
It's exactly how he plays on a football field.

5th Place: Andrew Cortese
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 29.6 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 6th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 1 (Rookie)
  • Best Event: 1st in second High Handle Prowler Push (8 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 9th place in the Sled Pull (32 seconds)
Cortese's Toughman Event was the Tale of Two Cities.

He dominated the first 70% of the competition.

He actually got to the sled pull faster than any other competitor. Unfortunately, it also took him longer to do the sled pull than any other competitor. (The exact timing for these event splits can be seen at the end of this article.)

While he is certainly very strong for his 155lb frame (he is ranked 18th on the overall Power Point List), his hand size and grip strength wasn't good enough to get an effective pull on the chain. He took ten seconds longer on this than the faster person on the sled pull. Coincidentally, he lost the Toughman by those same 10 seconds.

Being an overachiever, I know he will close this gap in 2018.

If he does, he will be certainly be in the Top 3.

4th Place: Bobby Wing
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 27.7 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 8th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 1 (Rookie)
  • Best Event: 1st place in Low Handle Prowler (7.5 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 7th place in both High Handle Prowlers (7.5 seconds and 15 seconds)
For 95% of the Toughman, Bobby Wing proved why he was the best running back in NYC 2 years in a row.

If anyone is a Tough Man, it is Bobby Wing. He would grind out yard after yard for St. Peter's High School even when the entire defense knew he was getting the ball.

Why his opponents would project him to come in 8th is beyond my comprehension.

Back to the 95% part ... Wing was on pace to push for a top 2 finish when he completely lost it on the second round of sliders.

It was the worst collapse I have seen since the Yankees blew a 3-0 playoff lead to the Red Sox in 2004.

While some people lose one slider, Wing found a way to lose two.

This easily cost him 5 seconds and a shot at the title.

3rd Place: Fred Carpentieri
  • Finish Time: 1 minute 25.7 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A (did other Toughman format)
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 4th
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 2
  • Best Event: 1st place in First High Handle Prowler (6 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 9th place in Low Handle Prowler (12.3 seconds)
Carpentieri signed up for the Toughman about halfway through our training sessions. Had he had the full summer to train, he probably would be in the mix for the top slot.

What I like about Carpentieri is that he doesn't know mediocrity. I say this because he either does really good or really bad at each event of the competition.

Here is how he fared at each event compared to his peers, with the good being green and the red being bad. Notice there is no yellow for being mediocre.

  • 1st slider - 9th
  • Farmer's walk - 6th
  • 1st High Handle Prowler - 1st
  • Low Handle Prowler - 9th
  • 2nd High Handle Prowler - 6th
  • Sled Pull - 3rd
  • 2nd Sliders - 3rd

Side note: Carpentieri showed up late for the Toughman event and was technically banned. His time does not officially count, which is why he did not receive the Bronze Medal.

2nd Place: Mario Mock (Silver Medal)

  • Finish Time: 1 minute 21.9 seconds
  • Previous Best: 1 minute 21.5 seconds
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 1st
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 3
  • Best Event: 1st in First and Second sets of Sliders (9 seconds and 12.5 seconds)
  • Worst Event: 8th in the first High Handle Prowler Push (8.5 seconds)
Over the past few years, Mock has proved himself to be a fierce competitor.

He is ranked 12th on the overall Power Point List ,he was the 2014 Challenge Champ, and he came in 2nd in the 2016 Toughman.

Unfortunately for Mock, he also came in 2nd in the 2017 Toughman.

While some would say this is an honor, a true competitor knows this is devastating. To come so close to glory 2 years in a row, only to lose it, is truly heart breaking.

Mock definitely had a disadvantage in this event.

The person who attended the most training sessions got to pick who went first. They also got to pick when they went.

That person picked Mock to go first and himself to go last.

That same person will be spoken about more in the next paragraph, as that person came in first place.

1st Place: Drew Olsen (Gold Medal)

  • Finish Time: 1 minute 19.6 seconds
  • Previous Best: N/A (did other Toughman format)
  • 2017 Pre-Test Rank: 2nd
  • Number of Years in Toughman: 3
  • Best Event: 1st place in the Sled Pull (22 seconds) 
  • Worst Event: 5th in the first High Handle Prowler (7 seconds)
In the 2011 Toughman, Drew Olsen tapped out.

In the 2012 Toughman, he finished 12th. His finish time was 2 minutes and 20 seconds worse than the #1 competitor.

Long story short, Drew wasn't even close to winning a Toughman ...

... Until 2017 when he won the entire thing.

A few things to note:

  • Drew attended the most training session of any Toughman Competitor this year. Not only did this get him prepared, it also allowed him the opportunity to place himself in the last slot and Mock in the first slot.
  • Drew only came in first in one event in the competition. On the flip side, he never came in lower than 5th. This shows you are better off being pretty good at everything rather than really good at 1-2 things and really bad at everything else.
  • Drew also won the 2017 Challenge, giving him 2 awesome belts that no one can ever take away from him.

To me, the best part was watching Drew scream immediately after he won. It is always great to see a man soaked in emotion after his hard work and preparation brings him glory. (Check out around 1:35 in the video below.)


I hope you appreciated the new format of the reporting structure for the  2017 Toughman. If things got a bit hard to follow, much prettier pictures are provided in the links below.

To me, the most interesting link is the last one. This is where you can really break down how each athlete fared at each moment of the competition.
  • The final results can be found HERE.
  • A list of every past Toughman Winner can be found HERE.
  • The 2017 Toughman Training Attendance can be found HERE.
  • The splits for every event in the Toughman can be found HERE.

Challenge "2017"

This blog post is being written specifically for those in the inner circle of Advanced Training. I don't want to waste their time talking about what "The Challenge" is or how it works or how it is the best / worst thing that has ever happened to our program.

If you are the one person who randomly found this page while googling a similarly named show on MTV, please click HERE to find out more about the Advanced Training "Challenge".

Almost as popular as the Advanced Training "Challenge"

Challenge 2017

2017 was one of the most interesting "Challenge" years ever. 

Here are just some of the record breaking statistics.
  • 72 different "Challenge" events (the previous best was 50 in 2015)
  • 84 "Challenge" points by one person (the previous best was 49 in 2015, held by James Uske)
    • 2 Other People also beat the previously held 49 point record (collecting scores of 79 and 69 points)
  • 21 "Challenge" losses by one person (the previous worst was 7 in 2015, held by Nick Fugallo)
  • 21 "Challenge" wins by two different people (the previous best was James Uske in 2015)
Some haters will say that old records were broken simply because so many "Challenge" events were held. (See bullet #1)

Those haters would be right.

Those same haters would also say that we had less people in the program, so the competitors had more of chance to collect more "Challenge" points.

Once again, the haters would be right.

What the haters may not want to admit is that this is the first year we had a "Challenge" at almost every single session. There was never a time where someone was too tired, too unimaginative, or too craven to make or accept a "Challenge".

For the first time ever, the "Challenge" turned into a habit and simply became part of the workout.

Here are how our top 4 competitors fared.

Third Place: Joe Mreczko (17 Wins, 18 Losses,  69 Points)

Joe has been in and out of Advanced Training since 2008. 

In his first 8 years, he only competed in 7 challenges. 

In those 7 challenges, he only won 1 time.

Joe turned things around in 2017 by competing in 35 separate challenges and winning 17 times.

Due to surgery, Joe had to miss the first two months of training. Had he had more time and more opportunities, he would certainly have been a contender for first place.

Take note, many "Challenge" champions have had similar pasts (Smith, Uske, Kuyan, Mulligan). They have some tough years, some decent years, and then ... BANG!!! they become CHAMPS.

Second Place: Andrew Cortese (21 Wins, 16 Losses,  79 Points)

Cortese had the most impressive rookie "Challenge" season of any member of Advanced Training ever.

Never before (and possibly never again) will a first year guy collect so many points or have so many wins. (His 21 wins ties him for first all-time "Challenge" victories in a single season.)

In addition, he was the first person to truly ever master the "Versus" challenge, where two people compete in separate events and compare those results to determine the overall winner. 

For example, he would challenge another person to do more reps of pull-ups than he could do reps of his own body weight on bench press. Whoever does the most reps wins.

Cortese in 2020

To me, utilizing this "Versus" technique is what revolutionized the Advanced Training "Challenge" and enabled so many competitions.

Essentially, it removed the excuse for people to deny the challenge, especially if both competitors got to execute something they both thought they were good at.

Cortese was on pace to break 100 points until life happened ...

And by life, I mean the prom, graduation parties, vacation, and everything else your  opponent won't care about when step on the field.

You Couldn't Train on Vacation ... Good

These things got in the way of him competing and he lost precious points because of it.

Being the ultimate competitor and overachiever, I would bet Cortese doesn't let this happen again in 2018.

1st Place: Drew Olsen (21 Wins, 21 Losses,  84 Points)

Before I talk about Drew, I would first like to draw attention to how awesome our new "Challenge" belt is. While I loved the old school WWE children's toy we used to sling around, I think we can all admit that carrying around an 8 foot leather belt with a cloth interior is pretty legit.

And fortunately for Drew, he now gets to carry around this masterpiece for the rest of his life.

And speaking of Drew, let's finally start to talk about our 2017 Challenge Champ.

  • He set the record for the most "Challenge" points (84)  --> his previous best was 13
  • He set the record for the most "Challenge" wins (21) --> his previous best was 3
  • He set the record for the most "Challenge" losses (21) 
Unless you are a legit hater, there is something to be learned here.

Life is not about always winning. Its about learning from your losses, growing from the experience, and being persistent in your quest for greatness.

Like the previous "Challenge" Champs I referenced earlier, Drew never did well in challenges in previous years.

In addition, drew had many reasons to quit this year, one being that he is in a tortuous accelerated academic program. This program also requires him to work clinical sessions in the hospital for 12 hours shifts. He is essentially working, going to school with an enhanced curriculum, and training with us all at the same time.

It should also be noted that, like me, Drew's college football days are over. He is training for no greater goal other than competition, camaraderie, and greatest "Challenge" belt Staten Island has ever seen.

Despite all this (and even though he often wanted to), Drew never gave up.

And for the rest of his life, he will be remembered with the Advanced Training Challenge legends HERE.

Honorable Mention: The Alarm Clock (13 Wins, 0 Losses, 39 Points)

Like father time, the Alarm Clock was and will always remain undefeated.

By special request, the Alarm Clock was awarded points when the "belt holder" missed a training session because they overslept.

It doesn't take the World's Greatest Detective to see that this happened 13 times this year.

What makes this even more fitting was how the "Challenge" season ended.

On the last day of training, when we were planning a head-to-head battle for the belt, only Olsen showed up to the session.

Apparently the other competitors overslept because of their alarm clocks.

I saved their text messages for both your entertainment and mine.

Fortunately, the alarm clock only mustered up enough points to finish in 4th.

If you made it this far, you may want to check out the actual results of all competitors and a listing of their exact Challenges HERE.

The Season is Coming ...

Like the Winter ... the Season is coming ...

What season you ask?

The Football season, of course!

... and like many on Game of Thrones, football players across the nation ignore these wise words.

They skip training sessions, they eat garbage, and they sleep comfortably in their beds thinking that football camp is a million miles away.

I know this blog is not read by many, but I aim to please the few that do.

With that, I am going to provide you with my Top 10 quotes from Game of Thrones. I will do my best to link each quote to football, training, and / or life in general.

The Season is Coming ...

Or ... maybe it is already here ...

Quote #1

"Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?" 
- Bran Stark

"That is the only time a man can be brave"
-Ned Stark

Many a man has felt fear on a Friday night in Melville, Long Island.

The long bus ride, the black helmets, and an 80 man squad are enough to make even the most manly man "craven".

The Friars

Do you freeze?

Do you freak out?

Or do you turn that fear into ferocity and give it everything you got?

Bobby Wing ... Savage

Quote #2

"The man who passes the sentences should swing the sword."     
- Ned Stark

"A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is."
- Ned Stark

This one is for the head coaches and the coordinators ...

If you want to bench a player, don't make the position coach do your dirty work.

Do it yourself.

Quote #3

"Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle."
- Jon Snow

There is no one best diet.

There is no one best training program.

There is no one best offense.

Loved by few ... Feared by all.

The "best" anything is the one that works for you.

The good program you have passion for is better than the perfect program that you hate.

Quote #4

"It is one thing to be clever and another to be wise."
- Catelyn Stark (about Littlefinger)

A few years ago, I acted clever by having our punt team shift to multiple formations before the snap.

I realized I wasn't wise when they blocked the punt.

Enough said ...

Quote #5

"Every hurt is a lesson and every lesson makes you better"

- Arya Stark (quoting Syrio - her sword fighting instructor)

Having the above mentioned punt blocked taught me a few lessons.

The Coach Who Never Punts ...

2. If you are going to Punt, focus more on stopping the punt block and less on trying to be cute.

Quote #6
"A man who can't listen, can't hear"
- Osha (about Rob Stark not taking his army North)

This one is for the athletes who do any of the following when being "coached up".
  • Say "I know" as the coach is still speaking
  • Look at the ground and feel like a victim
  • Turn it back on the coach and blame him for your failures
  • Bring up a time from 10-weeks ago where your coach messed up a drill, trying to show that not everyone is perfect.
It is not possible to do these things and learn at the same time.

Rob Stark listened, but he didn't hear ...

... and we all saw how well that turned out for him.

The Red Wedding

Quote #7

"If a man paints a target on his chest, he should expect sooner or later that someone will lose an arrow on him"
- Tyrion Lannister

The game of football needs passion and emotion.

What is doesn't need is a bunch of guys making it all about themselves.

This is especially frustrating to defenses who play in a an offensive oriented league, built to pad little Johnny's fantasy points.

Sooner or later this frustration is going to lead to some angered defensive guy "teeing off" on you.

If you make a big play, celebrate with your teammates ... the guys who did all the little things to make your big play possible.

It's not all about you.

Quote #8

"A craven can be as brave as any man when there is nothing to fear."
- Maester Aemon

As a player, it used to bother me when I was at football practice (in equipment) and I would see guys that had quit our team playing two-hand touch in the parking lot.

They were apparently brave enough to play football, but only when the risk of legitimate contact was removed.

To be very clear, I firmly believe that football without equipment is not real football.

I have coached many a player who looked great in shorts and t-shirts, only to have him break my heart when the pads came on.

To me, football is a game of bravery first and skill second.

If you can last through an entire football season, even if you don't play a down on game day, you have my respect for life.

Quote #9

"My first rule of war ... never give the enemy his wish"
- Blackfish (when Cat Stark wants him to attack Tywin Lannister Harrenhal)

I see the exact opposite time and again during "The Challenge" at Advanced Training.

Guys will consistently ask the "The Challenger Holder" what he wants to do. Unless your plan is to do the exact opposite, this is a very poor strategy that seldom works.

In the football world, you should never, ever let the opponent do what they want to do.

For example, if a team wants to run a high paced offense, you should run the clock while your offense is on the field.

If they want to throw the ball to one receiver 20 times a game, put a guy in his face and "Monster" him the entire game.

You may lose, but this guy isn't catching a ball all day.

Quote #10

"I made a promise to defend the wall and I have to keep it, because that's what men do"
- Sam Tarly

This quote was actually sent to me by the great Mike Fina the night before I wrote this post. I liked it so much that I replaced it for another quote that was originally on my Top 10 List.

This may be the most important quote of them all.


 ....because my relationship with today's athletes can be summed up in one word ... "Disappointment".


... because they place no value on their word.

They join a football team and quit without a second thought.

They sign up for training and miss sessions without the courtesy of an explanation.

If these guys were at The Wall, the White Walkers would have been eating dinner at the Red Keep since Season 2.


I hope this blog post was both entertaining and informative.

If you felt inspired ... GOOD ...

If you felt insulted ...

Well ...

The Season is Coming ...

Is It All Worth It?

"Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power"
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

You control every aspect of your life down to the microcosm.

Do you feel your desire to have this control has made you successful?

Has it hindered relationships?

Has it made you totally and unequivocally happy?

An athlete I train (Joe Mreczko) randomly texted me these questions.

Before answering them, I asked him to tell me why he asked them and what he thought I would say.

While I could have just answered, it wouldn't have helped either of us.

He wouldn't have learned the true "why" behind his questions and I wouldn't have learned how I am being perceived.

I now welcome you into both my mind and Joe's. I am sure you can find a little bit of yourself in either one of us.

You control every aspect of your life down to the microcosm.

Joe's Why:

My thinking behind the first statement is I know you control everything that is actually withing your control. 

You wake up the same time every day and not because you have to. You do it to stay on your schedule.

Jocko's Watch

You eat the same meals every day, which includes beans and sauerkraut. 

My daily breakfast

You even bring your own food to holiday parties.

No matter what, these things don't suffer no matter where you are or who you are with.

I don't know if it was how you were raised or if it came from motivation that derived from having a chip on your shoulder from sports.

My Why

I believe that if you don't set your priorities, someone else will set them for you.

This is why I always try to live my life on "offense" as opposed to "defense".

  • I wake up BEFORE my alarm clock because I don't want my alarm clock to control me.
  • I set-up meetings with people BEFORE they set them up with me, so I can dictate WHEN, WHERE, HOW LONG and in WHAT FORMAT they will be.
  • I make reservations at restaurants with healthy options, so I can control what I eat when having dinner with friends.
Why do I feel I need this control?

I believe it is because I am self-aware of my short-comings.

I do not have enough natural talent in any area of my life to simply let things happen.
  • I am not naturally ripped, so I need to control how I eat.
  • I am not naturally athletic, so I need to make sure I control how I train.
  • I am not naturally smart, so I need to make sure I control how and when I learn.
Some people say I am super-disciplined.

Others say I have tremendous willpower.

They are wrong about both.

The discipline they see is really the product of developing the right habits over the course of my life.
  • Waking up before 5AM is not a choice. It's a habit.

  • Eating beans and sauerkraut at breakfast is not a choice. It's a habit.

  • Training 4 times a week is not a choice. It's a habit.
These habits allow me to exert my willpower to where it matters most. 

There is only so much willpower you can exert in a day and I don't want to waste it on deciding what to have for breakfast or on what time to wake up.

Has it hindered relationships?

Joe's Why:

I can't imagine ever walking into my family's holiday meals with anything other than wine, especially Biotrust Protein bars.

Have you ever had to defend it? Is it worth it?

And when you are out with your wife, do you ever feel she thinks it's boring that you don't split cheesecake with her or anything like that?

My Why:

Any relationship that this lifestyle has hindered was not worth having.

The people that usually have the hardest time with it are those people who either don't want to see you achieve your goals or those who feel shamed.

As I have often said, people will give you a harder time for eating a grilled chicken salad than they would for eating three hot fudge sundaes.

This is why you need to surround yourself with the right people ... especially if it is the person you are going to marry.

Do you feel your desire to have this control has made you successful?

Joe's Why:

Joe didn't give one.

My Why:

Success has different meanings to different people.

To me, one form of success is maximizing your talent to help others.

If this lifestyle has helped me to inspire someone else to live a healthier life, than I would say it has been successful.

Has it made you totally and unequivocally happy?

Joe's Why:

Do you fight the thought of regret of what it would be like to let loose every now and again, or sleep in, or anything?

You have to understand that as much as I am skeptical of your need for control, I also believe in and am motivated by what you do. 

I know "happiness" has different scales for different people., but we have had totally different experiences as far as social life and everything like that.

George's Why:

I believe my article "Pick Your Own Pain" does a great job answering Joe's question, as does the picture below.


Thank you for taking the time to enter both Joe's mind and mine.

If you are comfortable enough, please reach out to let me know your thoughts.

I am sure many of you can relate to both of our perspectives on lifestyle, success, and overall happiness.