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Arnold Classic Survival Guide

This weekend is the Arnold Classic and counting this year, I will have gone 6 out of the last 7 years. I love the atmosphere and it always triggers a spike in my training.

There’s something for everybody at the Arnold Classic. Let me paint a picture for you.

The Arnold take place in a HUGE convention center covering I don’t know how many blocks in the city of Columbus Ohio. The event started out as mainly a bodybuilding deal, but it has expanded over the years to include Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, and Strongman contests as well as Martial Arts, Fitness and other competitions.

This year, they are also including their first ever Grip Contest on the main stage, called Mighty Mitts. I was lucky enough to get an invite and I am honored. I have been training hard and am geared up to get on the stage.

Now, here’s the deal. If you’re not prepared for the Arnold Classic weekend, you won’t maximize your experience, so here’s a few points to consider to get the most out of the Classic.

Take Water

It is extremely dry in the event center. They do sell water there, but it is like $8 a bottle, so pack your own and bring it with you.

Take Snacks

There’s very few places to eat outside the event center in the hallways, and it’s kind of expensive. There’s tons of free samples of hundreds of different supplements like shakes and bars and powders, but you can only handle so much of that stuff and some of it tastes like a pencil eraser during the SAT’s. So pack some good stuff to take in with you.

Bring Your Camera

There are lots of photo opportunities at the Arnold. There are Bodybuilders, MMA Fighters, Pro Powerlifters and Strongmen, Pro Wrestlers and dozens of Fitness chicks. They will often let you get a picture with them for free, but sometimes they do charge. Either way you’ll have photos that will last you a lifetime.

Wear Comfortable Cargo Pants

Get yourself a pair of loose fitting cargo pants with lots of pockets. This way you can easily carry your water, snacks and camera among other things. Make sure they are loose fitting and not a set of butt huggers. There are plenty of feats of strength to try in the event center, and you don’t want the seam in your ass to tear while trying to do them.

Bring a Back Pack

You may get the opportunity to get some free shirts and other swag while you’re at the Arnold. You’ll turn around and see some fitness model throwing them all over. Fight for the free shirt and stuff it into your pack. Aside from free stuff, you may want to buy shirts and stuff at the seemingly thousands of tables that are there, and the last thing you want to do is carry that stuff around in your hands all day. Now, if your back pack has the Care Bears on it, leave it at home. Some booths will hand out free plastic bags if you need them.

Try the Grip Gauntlet

Each year I have gone, the GNC booth holds the GNC Grip Gauntlet featuring IronMind Grippers, IronMind Rolling Thunder, and the Blob. If you lift the Blob, 207 on the Rolling Thunder, and close the #3 Gripper, you get a real nice gift certificate – I think it’s like $50 or $100! What’s a Blob? Check out this article = = > What is the Blob?

Bring a Towel

A lot of greasy sons-of-guns get their hands on the Blob over the course of the weekend. I mean THOUSANDS of people try this thing. The Blob is hard enough with the ultra-slick stove paint they put on it. It will just be harder if it is covered in hand sweat, so bring your towel to wipe it and the Rolling Thunder off before you make your attempt. A trip through the Gauntlet is worth just the opportunity to meet and shake hands with the Gillingham brothers.

Bring Some Cash, but Take a Deep Breath

You will have opportunities to buy a lot of cool stuff at the Arnold, so bring some cash or a credit card, but take it easy. Don’t just buy on impulse, because you could end up going off the deep end. If you are going with a friend, tell them to monitor your spending. Know what you want to look for, but set your limits.

Bring Your Diesel Shirt

When you walk through the event center, if you see me make sure to give me a holler, and wear your Diesel shirt so I can spot you easier.

Check out Mighty Mitts

Mighty Mitts will be taking place between events at the Arnold Strongman Competition on Friday Afternoon and Saturday evening. I will be competing with 10 of the top dudes in the world. Many, I have competed against in standard Grip competitions. Others, I have met before, but never competed against, and still others I have never met and never competed against. Some of these guys have tremendous Grips on them and have done awesome things Grip-related in the past, just never competed in standard contests before. With this event being all thick bar, it is going to be something to behold!

Wear Comfortable Shoes

You spend a lot of time on your feet at the Arnold and there is almost nowhere to sit down except on the floor, so make sure your shoes are comfortable or else your feet will be screaming by the end of the weekend.

Steal a Seat

It is a cut-throat process getting a chair in front of the stage. You basically have to swoop down immediately once someone stands up. This may mean if you are traveling in a group that you might get split up. The seat is worth it to give your feet a break, so steal your buddy’s seat if you have to.

Cell Phone on Vibrate

If you get split up from your crew, it’s very hard to meet back up, and it is so loud that it is almost impossible to hear a cell phone ring, so set the thing on vibrate and put it in your hip pocket so you will feel it.

Wallet in Hip Pocket

Not sure what the crime rates are at the Arnold Classic, but there are pick-pockets everywhere. it is slightly harder for someone to pick your pocket if you stick your pocket in your front hip pocket than your back pocket or leg pocket. Don’t stick it in a zipper pocket in your book bag. They are too easy to unzip by someone else while you walk and you will never know it. It’s a shame this tip even has to appear here, but it is a sad truth. Awareness is preparedness.

Alright, my friends, it’s just about time for me to hit the road and be on my way to Columbus, Ohio. If you have any more tips for the better of the order, then please leave a comment in the comment box below!

Thanks a ton and have a great weekend, especially if you are at the Arnold.

And if you see me and I don’t see you, yell, shout, hit me with a rock, poke my eye or something to get my attention. It’ll be nice to meet everybody.

Read about last year’s Arnold Classic = = > Arnold 2009

Arnold Classic Weekend Special on the Card Tearing eBook = = > 33% off on Card Tearing eBook Just $19.97!.

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8 Responses to “Arnold Classic Survival Guide”

  1. Mike Rinderle Says:

    Two words: Kill It!!!!

    Sorry I can’t make it bro, but I know you will do great!

  2. Dan Stover Says:

    I’ll be there, as always this year… I’ll keep an eye out for you!

    Good Luck!

  3. ega278 Says:

    You mean the Arnold Expo, right? That one’s at the convention center. The “Arnold Classic” is the bodybuilding competition that’s held at the Veterans Memorial.

    Great guide man! I agree with everything except “Steal a Seat”. I don’t agree with it because now it’s going to be even harder for me to get a seat! At least I retain my parking spot secrets (don’t post about that now!). I’ve been going with my buddies to the expo every year since I got out of the Marine Corps in ’03, we never miss it no matter what. It took a few years to discover all the secrets to navigating the expo. We have to adjust a little every year though because attendance continues to grow. We will definitely check out Mighty Mitts! I’m glad to see the expo becoming more real strength and MMA related instead of just vanity muscle related. See you there!

  4. Jedd Says:


    Yeah, I’m talking about the Expo. Good point!

    I have my own parking secrets about the Expo, that I am keeping to myself brother!

    Have a good one!


  5. ega278 Says:

    Hey man, got a seat for the show! Both days! I was ecstatic that they organized a grip contest for the expo stage. I REALLY hope this is a regular event from now on even though 95% of the people were completely oblivious about grip strength. The cheesy host they have every year didn’t help either because he didn’t effectively explain anything that was going on to the audience. Very anti-climactic. I wish an original grip master like Richard Sorin was the host for that event because he knows what’s going on. Just like I’d rather just have Bill or Svend host the Strongman. The cheesy guy is just completely out of place, not to mention he kept messing everybody’s name up. I believe you went twice in that one event according to him!

    I almost had to rub my eyes when I saw what looked like Dennis Rogers up on the stage, and my jaw dropped when I saw Pat Povilaitis too and knew it was them. I was fortunate enough to approach them after the show on Friday and had a nice long chat along with my brother and my buddy. Got some pictures and Dennis handed us out his destroyed toys too, I got the frying pan! I was also baffled that the audience was very uninterested in Dennis’ performance. He did feats of strength that are mind boggling and the audience just wasn’t very impressed. That was a blessing in disguise though because since no one really knew who he was I was able to talk with them for so long uninterupted. I didn’t get a chance to talk with you though, so that’s two years in a row I missed you. I was there last year when all you guys were messing around with the strongman stuff at one of the booths.

    Sorry about the competition man, I was rooting for you though! Just to be part of that competition is amazing enough in itself, so nobody really lost in my opinion. Rich is just an absolute beast! Last year I watched Big Tex rip a brand new CoC 3.5 out of the package and hand it to Rich and he set it and squeezed it shut. Crazy dude! Good luck next year man. Also, that Mark Henry dumbbell event is a little dangerous in my opinion with the whole box thing. I think the box could be a source of injury either to a hand or a tripping hazard while trying to man handle that monster.

    Oh yeah, I took you up on that offer on your card tearing ebook. I have been able to rip bikes before, but not without extreme difficulty, and definitely not consistently. Hopefully you’ll be able to set me straight and I can become proficient. Thanks man!

  6. Jim Smith Says:

    Dude, thanks for the great comment. I am glad you enjoyed it. i will come right out and say that announcer needs to be pulled out of the strongman and grip competitions. Not sure what he talks about during the other competitions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that stuff was hogwash as well.

    Very cool that you got the pan Dennis rolled up. He is awesome!

    Glad you picked up the ebook. I think it is going to help you out tremendously in refining your technique. let me know how it works out for you.

    Thanks again for commenting and please do so again! I love hearing from everybody. Take care and all the best.

    -Jedd- (logged in as Smitty)

  7. ega278 Says:

    “What the hell is Purell?”


  8. Jim Smith Says:

    Yeah man. That guy is a weird-o. There was no way I was going to admit to knowing what Purell was….

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