US Strongman Dave Ostlund – Mr Tacky


Dave Ostlund is a top US Strongman, but more than that he is the man who bought Elite Tacky to the Strongman world.

He has competed in over 60 strongman competitions, in a range of federations, and has placed highly in all of them.

Phil Burgess: You competed in 58 competitions between 2004 and 2010, which is almost 10 events per year for 6 years.

Looking back do you think you competed too often, or do you think your body handled it well?

Dave Ostlund: I think my body handled it pretty well for the most part.  Some of the contests were more regional level and the weights were not as heavy as WSM, Arnold, or other big international comps. 

Hindsight being 20/20 though, I should have been doing a lot more prehab work during my earlier years in the sport.

Phil Burgess: It appears that you have not competed since 2010, so what are you doing now? Or are you still competing?

Dave Ostlund:  My website,, is probably due for an update. 

I have still been competing the last two years, just trying to work around two knee surgeries. 

The first was in Dec of 2010 when I ruptured my right quad tendon slipping on some steps.  I rehabbed and competed in a couple of regional contests in the summer of 2011 as well as U.S. nationals where I placed 2nd. 

I then partially tore the same tendon while squatting in Oct. of 2011 and had to get the same surgery again. 

I took my rehab slower this year and was still able to compete in four Canadian contests between June and Sept this year.  The knee is feeling better, but is still not 100%.  Training is going well and I’m hoping to be back to high level contests early next year.

"Anchors Away..."

Phil Burgess:  What competition result is the one that you are the proudest of, and why?

Dave Ostlund: There are a couple that stick out. 

One was early in my strongman career while I was still an amateur.  It was Art McDermott’s 2003 Boston show where the am’s were competing for a pro card. 

We were scheduled to do 5 events between the prelims and finals of the pro show.  The prelims went a bit long for the pros and it was decided one of the am events would be cut.  They put it to an athlete vote and let us decide to cut hercules hold or a brutal yoke/tire/drag medley. 

I had been training this medley every week for the last 3 months, just about killing myself every Saturday on it, and felt it would be a banker event for me.  Of course, of the 30 or so am’s, only myself and one other person voted to keep the medley. 

The Viking press was first and my press was awful at the time.  I ended up performing below even my own pressing standards at the time and zeroed the event.  I was so pissed/upset/embarrassed at the time I just wanted to leave.  I convinced myself to just do the other 3 events  and get through it. 

I ended finishing top 3 in the rest of the events and 2nd overall in a tough field.  I learnt a very valuable lesson about not letting up on any event no matter how bad of a start you get off to. 

Janne Virtanen would always tell me, “It’s strongman, anything can happen.”.  I’ve learned over the years that more often that not, this is the rule rather than the exception.

The other contests that stick out are 2004 WSC in Edmonton that I won.  This made me believe I could compete with anyone on any given day.  2007 Venice Beach Super Series where I got 1st overall and 2008 World’s Strongest Man where I was 3rd.

Fingal's "very heavy" Finger

Phil Burgess:  What is your favourite event and why? And least favourite?

Dave Ostlund: My favourite event(s) are atlas stones/odd object loading and power stairs. 

I am partial to the stones/loading since I tend to have good results on them and I think lifting rocks embodies what strongman is all about; the ability to lift heavy, awkward implements. 

Power stairs I like since it is a great combination of static and dynamic strength.  It is also not done that often is US contests, so I have never become burnt out from training it or doing it too often.

Phil Burgess: What is the strangest event you have had to do in a strongman competition?

Dave Ostlund: The first contest I did was a little bit “low rent” with some of the events/equipment. 

The first event was a behind the back medicine ball throw for distance with no foul line for the feet. 

Then we had a yoke walk which was nothing more than a bar with chains and loading pins w/plates hanging off the sides. 

The final event was loading tree stumps onto an upside down car hood that we had to drag back using a very this rope as the handle. 

I have also had to do the tire toss, which was pretty weak for a strongman event.  I also think the duck walk is a terrible event.

Phil Burgess: You have competed across a range of different strongman federations, do you think it is better for the sport to have more or less federations and why?

Dave Ostlund: It is and it isn’t better depending on who you are. 

During the IFSA days from ’05-’07 there were more federations and some were in direct competition with each other.  As an athlete at that time it meant more opportunities to compete in pro level contests.  By pro level I mean expenses (airfare, hotel, meals) were all paid for and there was prize money for every placing. 

Promoters had greater incentive to make contests better for the athletes since they were competing with each other to get the best athletes they could. 

Alot of fans of the sport hated the split since it meant two world championships and possibly only seeing the very top guys go against each other once per year at the Arnold. 

Now there are far fewer contests that qualify as pro by the criteria I laid out. 

Ultimately, in my opinion, it is better to have more feds since this makes contests more competitive among promoters which in turn benefits athletes.

Worlds Strongest Man 2008 - Third Place

Phil Burgess: Did it surprise you to see no Americans on the podium in WSM 2012?

Dave Ostlund: Absolutely!  Mike and Brian were very impressive in the heats and looked like they were going to be among the top 3 as many predicted.

Derek also had an excellent result at the Arnold this year and was looking like he might come back into form at WSM.  Like Virtanen said though, anything can happen, and it usually does.  Thor and Lalas brought it in the final, so congratulations to them!

Phil Burgess:  Who was the most inspirational person to you in your strongman career?

Dave Ostlund:  Of course my family and especially my wife Kate have made it possible for my to accomplish the things I have. 

The three strongmen that have helped mentor me the most are Karl Gillingham, who I have trained with for the last 8 years and have learned a ton from, Odd Haugen who has given me great advice and let me train with him numerous times, and Chad Coy who has passed on so much advice. 

Last but certainly not least would be my past and present training partners.

Phil Burgess: Finally, if you could improve the sport of strongman in some way, what would you do?

Dave Ostlund: I think improve means more money for athletes and more televised contests for fans. 

Both of these require more sponsorship/advertising dollars.  As much as most people don’t want to talk about it, to appeal to more mainstream companies will require more drug testing/doping controls than currently exist in the sport. 

On a smaller note, I like to think that I have helped out in a small way by bringing Elite Tacky to the strongman market in 2005 and have since continued to put out a high quality and affordable product for my fellow lifters.


Helping out at the Airforce Base