When I asked a regular reader of Viking Strength for the name of a Strongman who I should definitely interview, I got my answer almost instantaneously, Vince Urbank, he said..
Phil Burgess: First things first. Where does the nickname “Machine Gun” come from?
Vince Urbank: The nickname “Machinegun” was given to me by Mike Johnston (vice president of ASC, and also a former infantry Marine) because I served for four years in the Marine Corps as an infantry machine-gunner.
Phil Burgess: In January this year you came 5th in the All-American Strongman Challenge 2012, in a high quality field of 9 strength athletes.
What can you tell us about this competition? Was this your best competition result?
Vince Urbank: I had a great time at the fit expo, it was my second strongman show as a professional. I was able to win the tug of war, which was a pretty tough and very unusual event, so I was proud of that.
Several events didn’t go as well as planned due to some injury concerns, but that is a part of the sport and with experience I am getting better at preventing and recovering from injuries.
My competition result I am most proud of to date was my victory at “Night of the Living Dead: The Andy Bolton Challenge”.
I trained very hard for this show and it was really a special moment for me to DEADLIFT 906lbs in a powerlifting competition and enter the 900 deadlift hall of fame where only 14 men had gone before me.
Phil Burgess: Where are you next competing? What are your goals for 2012?
Vince Urbank: The next competition I am planning on competing in, is Americas Strongest Man on July 21st in New York City.
Some of my goals for 2012 are to:
Keep increasing my overhead and bench press, I would like to see 420lb+ on overhead and 560lb+ on bench press before the end of the year.
I also plan on improving my strongman moving events and bringing my raw deadlift into the 950lb range.
Phil Burgess: How do you train your grip?
Vince Urbank: I use the double overhand hook grip for deadlift and don’t practice it much at all outside from using it on my heavy deadlifts.
I also train my standard grip with a high intensity and low volume/low frequency approach.
I have tried every grip exercise imaginable but in my opinion the best carryover for strongman comes from heavy farmers walks and holds.
Phil Burgess: How did you get into the sport of strongman in the first place?
Vince Urbank: While I was still active duty in the Marines I was working part time bouncing at night time on the weekends.
I met a good friend of mine there and when I told him I was considering doing a powerlifting meet he suggested I try strongman.
I found a contest a few hours away and I was hooked from there! I actually didn’t end up competing in any powerlifting until almost 2 years after my first strongman show!
I mostly compete in strongman, but I have done a full powerlifting raw meet as well as a few push pull and bench and deadlift only contests.
Phil Burgess: OK, Favourite Strongman Events and Least Favourite?
Vince Urbank: My favorite strongman events are deadlift, heavy farmers/grip events.
Any type of head to head event is also cool, I had a blast on the tug of war at the fit expo. For me it adds another level of intensity to the competition when you test competitors’ strength directly against each other instead of against implements.
My least favorite events are probably axle clean and press (because so many guys pop biceps on this event, it just seems too risky and there are better tests of strength.
I don’t care for the yoke very much either, as it is not a very strong event for me and I have collapsed the arch of my foot several times doing yoke walks.
Phil Burgess: How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
Vince Urbank: I am between 6’5”-6’6” and I compete in the 308 class in powerlifting but for strongman this last year I have been competing at around 320.
Phil Burgess: What are your best lifts in Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press?
Vince Urbank: My best lifts are 686lb squat, 530lb bench press, and 906lb deadlift.
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Phil Burgess: Who would you say are the two best strongman competitors ever?
Vince Urbank: The two best strongmen ever in my opinion are Bill Kazmaier and Zydrunas Savickas.
Phil Burgess: What do you love the most about the sport of strongman?
Vince Urbank: What I love most about the sport of strongman is the grit and determination it takes to be successful, it is a sport that takes years and years to become your best.
The top guys in the sport have truly earned their place by working hard at it for a long time.
Phil Burgess: Is the sport of strongman growing in popularity in US, and if so why?
Vince Urbank: The sport of strongman is definitely growing in the U.S.A.
The incredible performances by American strongman competitors over the last few years are a testament that the talent pool strongman is drawing from in this country is growing deeper all the time.
I have never met someone that has seen a strongman show in person or even on TV and didn’t come away impressed and wanting to see more…..