“If you make a mistake they will eat you alive” Zack McCarley interview.
By Shukin Mark Moderski on 10/4/2014 Back to Articles

“If you make a mistake they will eat you alive” Zack McCarley interview.


Good morning Zack, thank you for taking this time to do an interview with us and also for getting up so early in the morning for it.  Before we get into how you feel going into the NAS Nationals in Reno and how you feel about your performance at the ASC Nationals in Vegas this year, can we take a few minutes to explain to our readers a bit about these two national events? From my understanding, ASC Nationals and NAS Nationals are two completely separate events under separate organizations?


Strongman in America has two primary organizations that run competitions, for amateurs there is NAS (North American Strongman) and for professionals there is ASC (American Strongman Corporation). The designation between amateur and professional has really became more of an honorific title (at least for LWs) then anything else in the last several years. I will not get into that because I could speak on that for quite a while. Once someone receives a pro card they can no longer compete in the division in which they hold that pro card, LWs can not compete at 231 and HW pro card holders can not compete at anything above 231. Another way to look at the ASC is that for some weight classes NAS is a feeder for ASC. The best athletes in the 231 and unlimited categories can become pro and then compete in the ASC. As separate organizations there are separate events for nationals, the events that I competed in 2 weeks ago was Lightweight Pro Nationals or ASC Nationals. The event that I will be competing in this weekend is NAS Nationals (for heavyweight since I can not compete as a amateur lightweight). It is extremely confusing and there are pros and cons to becoming professional in the sport of strongman maybe we will do another interview about that later.


Thank you for clearing that up, I myself was confused, your explanation makes perfect sense, and yes, let’s do that interview later in the month.  You are a multiple titleholder in both correct?


Correct, I am hold 6 National Championships, three under NAS and three under ASC.


How does that change the way you look at and train for a National event like the 2014 NAS Nationals this coming weekend?


I have been growing not only as an athlete but as am individual. I have been working on expanding into seminars, programming, consultation for strongman programming and performance nutrition. I am also in grad school at the moment working on inorganic chemistry.


Having won the ASC Nationals in the light weight division so many

times what were your goals leading up to the event this year?


Of course I wanted to win but my primary goals were to PR in the events and stay healthy. I zeroed the DL which hurt the score and the ego a bit but it would have been a big PR so I am realistic, it was a bit out of my range right now.


I know you took some time off from strongman do to an injury at the 2013 Arnold and then because of your collegiate wrestling season, how

has that affected you?


The injury just about ended my athletic carrier. I was lucky enough to have an excellent chiropractor, Dr. Bridgeman, in my corner. I also changed up my training and my focus for a while, I actually went back to wrestling for one season last year and plan to start wrestling again in about 9 days. They are on opposite sides of the strength spectrum, wrestling is a high endurance type sport that still requires strength and strongman is a high strength sport that requires endurance. Both requiring a high level of technique IMO (more so in wrestling).

Please tell us more about your feelings regarding your performance and placing at this year’s ASC Nationals.


I took 6th after three consecutive 1st places so a small part of me is a bit sad about my placing but it was a tough field with tough guys, I zeroed an event and made two additional minor mistakes so that is what I get. The pros are just that, PROS. If you make a mistake they will eat you alive.


I read on Facebook how you trained a fellow competitor who actually

made the podium?


I would usually not talk about my programming or clients but she was kind enough to thank me publicly so I guess I will talk about it. I programmed for Kristy Scott who went on to win the HWW category. Of course I can not take all the credit, she has amazing talent and came to me already strong as an OX! I just helped to show her how to use it and when to use it to get the best performance possible on contest day.


What are you goals for this weekend, the NAS Nationals?



I want to PR every event, I made a few mistakes at ASC Nationals but I can fix them here. Of course if I PR every event I feel I will win but that is not my focus.


Are you the dark horse or the guy to beat?


I fell I am the guy to beat but watch out for Ken Nowiki and Dave Daly. They are TOUGH! There are always other guys out there I may not know about but we will see.


What percent of training and competing would you say is mental? How did you develop the necessary toughness for being a six time National champion?


Mental is probably about 25-40% of the sport. I have seen guys who should have beat me fold under pressure because there head was not in the right place. That being said, mentality is something I work with a lot with my clients, mindset is such a neglected factor it is amazing. Strong body should come after a strong mind.


Thank you very much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us, I wish your internet was better there so we could continue. We are in your corner Zack and support you reaching your goals.


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