A blog by the Next Level  2013 Advancement Team.  

This blog provides the insight, in-jokes and inspiration of a team in action.  Each post is by a team member as their journey continues.  

In The Next Level, an "Advancement Team" is a team built of experienced athletes designed to "advance" the program.  The spring 2013 Advancement Team is comprised of eight men: Tom Keon, Phil Cohen, Stephen Cyr, Seth Carbonneau, Stephen Forgione. Phil Biondo, Yarza Winn and Chris Noonan.  

Each post represents only the views of it's poster, and is not intended as a reflection of the opinions, views or beliefs of any other teammate, the team as a whole or The Next Level.  

Follow these men as they make their marks on a small corner of history.


Maine StrongMan 6: Event #3


Sunday April 30th saw a return of The Beast, when Chris Noonan, Steve Cyr, Ryan Aruck and Tyler Rabin all competed, along with their resource mentor and teammate Seth Carbonneau, at the Maine StrongMan 6 in Augusta, MA.

The guys were flying through their classes and none of them came even close to the time limit.  As always, Seth Carbonneau was in top form with his 500lb. load – so fast we didn't even get all the video!

Chris Noonan was struggling for much of the day until this point, but his stable core not only made up for lost time, but also saved him on a couple potential stumbles under the weight of his 600 lb. yoke.  Proof that keeping a stable midsection allows you to keep the weight up.  The guys were allowed as many drops as possible, but Noonan refused to use the privilege, instead favoring time.

Ryan Aruck has come a long way with the yoke, and getting under 800 lbs. with no drops is proof of his progress over the past year, when he would occasionally destabilize under less weight.

Both Tyler Rabin and Stephen Cyr moved 500 lbs. quickly, both gliding in to a sliding stop which shows how much momentum they were able to create.  The rules state that any part of the yolk can cross the line for the event to be considered "completed," so often competitors take advantage of this privilege by allowing the apparatus to slide forward just as they reach the line – a proven trick to ensure you "made it."

Maine StrongMan 6: Event #2


Sunday April 30th saw a return of The Beast, when Chris Noonan, Steve Cyr, Ryan Aruck and Tyler Rabin all competed, along with their resource mentor and teammate Seth Carbonneau, at the Maine StrongMan 6 in Augusta, MA.

The second event of the day was the descending deadlift during a 60 second time limit.  The bar begins 18" off the ground, and very time the bar is lifted a level is removed, causing the next lift start from a lower level than the previous.  

All the guys simply kicked ass in this event, with some heat firing up between Seth and Tyler, who both had to pull 450 lbs.  

Seth's remarkable form was literally the object lesson of the concept of "retrieval."  His ability to drop a little form and return to it for assistance made his lifts look not only effortless, but even poetic.  (As if the admiration didn't show by how many photos we took!) I'm bummed we couldn't find a video of it – it was the very epitome of skilled heavy lifting.

Ryan is clearly the King of Hitch Form, and pulled his 575 lbs. with all the fire he is known for.

Tyler's own hitch-form skills also came to his assistance as he snuck in one extra lift just before the time ran out.

Noonan and Steve-O both set PR's on this event as well.  Noonan had never lifted 500 lbs. ever in his life – from ANY height – so even if he did not finish this event, he proved that strength is not always about sheer bulk.  Meanwhile, Steve proved that graduated practice makes perfect, as he was finally able to use his hip thrust to his full advantage.  Pulling 450 lbs. for consecutive reps was more weight than he has ever pulled over 60 seconds.  (Way to finally get that gigantic ass DOWN, Steve.)

Maine StrongMan 6: Event #1

Sunday April 30th saw a return of The Beast, when Chris Noonan, Steve Cyr, Ryan Aruck and Tyler Rabin all competed, along with their resource mentor and teammate Seth Carbonneau, at the Maine StrongMan 6 in Augusta, MA.

The first event was the press medley, which consisted of four lifts: an axle bar, a log, a keg and a circus dumbell.  All competitors had to execute two lifts with each implement, but could do them in any order, to allow them to mix and match towards their strongest talents.  As with so many events in StrongMan, they had 60 seconds to attempt completing the event.

Watch the blog for updates as the Advancement Team competes tomorrow!

Watch the Advancement Team's team blog page tomorrow, Saturday the 30th of March 2013, for posts about The Next Level's showing at the annual Maine StrongMan 6 contest.


We have a team of four Next Level athletes competing, along with a few PhysiQademy friends and resources.  We'll try to post here any updates, photos and clips from the event, as close to real time as possible.

Seth Carbonneau (Advancement '13)returns to competition after healing a broken foot.  (He probably got it from kicking so much ass!)  He is the outstanding team leader in StrongMan and we're excited to see how he does.  He enters with a slight cold, but we're sure his performance will be stellar.

Chris Noonan's (The Beast, Advancement '13) second contest of the year, and he is hoping to continue his placing streak.  He has, as always, brushed up on his form and his focus for this event is astounding.

Steve Cyr (The BeastAdvancement '13) is has been prepping for this event since January, and his winter has seen a string of PR's - personal record after personal record fell before him on his way here.  He is playing the numbers game, trying to stay at the top of his novice heat.

Ryan Aruck (The Beast, Advancement '13) is a monster of a man, nearing 300 lbs, and all brute force.  He has been maxing out for several months, in anticipation for the outrageously heavy Heavyweight Class of competitors.  What this man can do is amazing.

Tyler Rabin (The Beast) is already a veteran even though one of the youngest at every competition.  He has already eclipsed his weights for this contest, and is going in as his usual bundle of fire and enthusiasm.

We're excited to share their work successes with you!  Check back often on Saturday March 30th!

How to Tan for Bodybuilding

This is a step by step instruction that I wrote out for a friend in Florida who is doing a bodybuilding show by himself and has no one with him the day of the contest. Either way, this tells you how to tan prior to the contest, and at the contest if need be.

Posted by: Stephen Cyr

My Tan Plan (how to tan for a bodybuilding contest)

Step 1: Get the products

Pro Tan
Muscle Juice
Jan Tana Ultra One (just get the cheap one)

You don’t need to actually buy the products from these very sites; these links are merely meant to show you what I used.

Step 2: How Much to Buy

2-4 Pro-tan

1 Muscle Juice

1 Jan Tana-One (if you don’t wanna spend the money you can do without this)

Step 3: When to put what on

So like 2 -3 days out start put on your first coat of pro-tan. Do it outside! Or lay down a tarp. Wear socks over your toe nails, and wear rubber gloves. This will stain your nails. You are gonna put this on starting as early ads 3 days out from the show, with the last coat potentially being the morning of the show.

The day of the show you should put on the Jantana-one. This will go on the day of the contest, in the morning, prior to the show, same rules for this with socks and gloves and tarp.

The muscle juice goes on like 20-30 mins before you go on stage. Lube yourself up.

Step 4: How to put this stuff on:

The pro-tan is kinda confusing. Read the instructions. If the top part doesn’t work just rip it off and spray it like it was hair spray. I would put on like 3-5 coats of this if you want to avoid using the jantana-one.

Don’t spray your face til your last coat, your face skin sucks this shit up. So you wanna get someone, mom, dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, to spray your whole body with this for each coat. Don’t worry about the runs in the tanner, it will drip everywhere and they give you a little brush to fix the streaks. Don’t worry about that. Make sure the person (victim) who is tanning you wears gloves, otherwise they will hate you for their oompa loompa orange hands.

This should literally take 10 mins. You have that person fully spray you, then get in full sweats and chill. That is it!!! Seriously. If you do this 4-5 times you will be nice and dark and evenly colored. And it will be good enough for your first show.

As for the muscle juice, just rub that shit on like oil, like Arnoldzzzzz didzzz.

As for jantana-one if you wanna do this, it is like a foam that you rub all over yourself. Honestly, if your gonna be a lone just avoid this. However, if you have someone there, they are going to rub this all over you, face included. Then again, get into your sweats and chill.


• If you have questions ask people there.

• The reason the dream tan won’t work is because you need to put it on right at the contest. And then you cannot put any clothes on. If you can have someone do it for you that is fine, but if you are alone at the contest it would be kinda impossible from my understanding.


The poster for the event. Click here to go to the informational PDF.

The poster for the event.
Click here to go to the informational PDF.

On the last Saturday in March, the 30th, a pack of Next Level athletes and alumni will be in Augusta Maine for the Maine StrongMan 6.  

Seth Carbonneau (Advancement '13), Chris Noonan (The Beast, Advancement '13), Stephen Cyr (The Beast, Advancement '13), Tyler Rabin (The Beast), Phil Biondo (The Beast, Advancement '13), Ryan Aruck (The Beast) and Nick Cambi (Wolfpack) will all be entered in one of the Next Level network's largest presence at a strength event along with other friends and resources.

If you are in the area, take an afternoon in Maine and come see some amazing work! This is the first "big event" of our Next Level competitive season, and we expect it to be a tremendously kick-ass day!

Confidence vs. Cockiness in Strength and Physique Sports

I think everyone who lifts weights has moments when they impress themselves with the way they look in the mirror, or the amount of weight they are moving. When you set a goal and you realize that you're making progress it's a great feeling and we all deserve to have an air of confidence when that happens.

However, too often I observe or interact with people that either elevate this confidence to a point of cockiness, or are overly confident without any evident progress.

I know that everyone reading this can picture the people in the gym whom I am taking about.  Maybe it's that guy spending an entire workout in the squat rack doing curls, staring at his arms in the mirror and grunting to make certain that the entire gym is aware of his presence.  Perhaps it's that guy walking around giving everyone advice like he is an expert – even though he only does partial squats in the Smith Machine.  Maybe it's that woman with a tight body that only does cardio but claims she is getting ready for a figure competition which never seems to arrive.  Or maybe it's the guy using all the space in the gym because he thinks he is entitled to it – like because of his build he is somehow better than everyone else training. While these types exist at just about every gym, they also exist in perhaps greater numbers in competitive strength and physique sports.

When I competed in my first strongman competition three years ago I was impressed by the general attitude of the other competitors. While everyone seemed relatively confident, there were very few people who came across as cocky. Most of the competitors were willing to give advice to each other, as well as cheer each other on during events. At first I was completely taken back by this because I expected that since we compete as individuals it would be every man for himself. I started to realize two things; many of these competitors had been doing this for a while and they wanted to share their knowledge and get new people excited about the sport and also, since they had been competing for a while, they were confident in their abilities because they have been making progress.

Over the last three years I have noticed a steady increase in the number of cocky competitors in strongman. Competitors who feel self-entitled to win and act like they run the show. I have seen my fellow competitors cheer or get excited when their opponent bombs an event, or even if that opponent gets hurt and has to drop out of competition.

I think the influx of cocky competitors comes from the fact that strongman is gaining popularity very quickly as well as the fact that I am becoming one of the guys with more experience. I am very willing to give advice to my competition if they are new to an event or ask questions as long as the advice is appreciated. Yet unfortunately there are several competitors who will act like they are entitled to my advice and have no reciprocal appreciation. I try my best to avoid people like this because it can ruin a competition day – and really piss me off.  

Yet – as much as I don't want to say it – some overly-cocky competitors are also actually very strong competition. This is probably because, while they may have gained their confidence through gradual progress, they now express that confidence in an overtly self-congratulatory and offensive way.  Unfortunately for them, while these competitors do well on their own, they will probably miss out on useful advice from more advanced competitors because no one wants to offer advice to a cocky prick.

One of the things that particularly frustrates me about many cocky lifters is their unwillingness to heed the advice of others when in comes to lifting with correct form. For all movements, there are right and wrong ways to move the weight. The way "wrong" is generally defined in weight-lifting is that you are at increased risk of injury if you lift that way. Examples of this are rounding the back while deadlifting, trying to press something without both arms moving at an even speed, or leaning far forward while squatting. Most people who know better will try to correct the form of someone lifting wrong as a common courtesy.  But cocky lifters either don't want to hear it, or are too confident that they are lifting the correct way.  Look: if you are truly confident, you should be willing to take the advice of other lifters.

Ever since I started lifting I have tried to learn as much as possible from everyone around me because I realized early on that weight-lifting is a complicated sport littered with contradicting information and opinions. The importance of having an open mind and willingness to listen and learn in the field of strength and physique sports cannot be understated. Athletes that are overly confident and thus cocky are not only at risk for making less progress, but they are also at serious risk for injury. If you want to be a serious lifter, you have to heed this advice.

Lifting weights, being strong, or having big muscles doesn't automatically make you better than everyone else. You have to earn your confidence. Once you have earned confidence, don't let it control you.

You have to control your confidence if you want to be successful.

-Posted by Seth Carbonneau


Recently, Stephen Cyr made a mistake in his post seeking to be the "first Next Level athlete to do both bodybuilding and StrongMan contests in consecutive order and post in both."  His mistake was that this has already been done before.  

This was done by the incomparable little powerhouse (and Next Level asset) Regina O'Brien during her time on The Shadow.  Within a mere matter of WEEKS she placed in both an NAS StrongMan contest and an OCB bodybuilding event.  She was, indeed, the first Next Level athlete to hold this distinction.

Meanwhile, the first athlete to hold the distinction of competing and placing in THREE seperate physique sports within one season (USAPL Powerlifting, NAS StrongMan and BLNPA Bodybuilding in 2009) was the amazing (and also Next Level essential) Gina Melnik (The Drive(n), Triskele).

Yes, both who accomplished these incredible feats were women.  

Meanwhile, Stephen should not be too harshly judged, as his mistake occurred via an oversight from head coach XN (Christian Matyi).  

Stephen Cyr (The Beast, Advancement '13), Phil Biondo (The Beast, Advancement '13) and Nick Cambi (Wolfpack) are vying for the distinction of being the first to accomplish this feat on the male side of the game for Next Level athletes as of the date of this post.

Awesome Hybrid Athlete

This dude is a beast. I mean his achievements in both Strongman and Bodybuilding are just astounding. While there are no listed wins under bodybuilding, he is still shredded and def competed at a high level.

This just goes to show, steroids aside, that it is possible to be a world class athlete in multiple disciplines.

It can be done.
The gauntlet has been laid down.

First person to place 1st in both strongman and bodybuilding wins.

Posted by: Stephen Cyr