Find a set of Atlas stones and you’ll find a tub of tacky somewhere nearby. Tacky is that viscous, pale yellow ‘gunk’ that seems to be the must-have accessory for serious stone-lifting
“Elite Tacky” - the special ‘brew’ devised by Dave Ostlund - World Class Strongman Athlete from Minnesota - seems to be the brand of choice for many. I caught up with Dave to find out a bit more about this unique concoction.
SC: I realise we are here to talk about tacky, but having the attention of a world class strongman, I can’t resist the opportunity to ask you a bit about your career! How long have you been in Strongman?
DO:I’ve been competing since 2001.
SC: What got you into the sport?
DO: Watching it on TV and subsequently adding some events to the training I was already doing in the gym. I was hooked after that.
SC: What are your best competition results?
DO: 6th at 2007 World Strongest Man and 1st at the 2007 Venice Beach Super Series
SC: What are your goals for this year? What do you want to win?
DO: I want to qualify for the 2008 WSM and improve upon my placing.
SC: What is your strongest event? Do you have a ’speciality’?
DO: Stones have always been very good. Deadlift is usually pretty good as well.
SC: Do you have a ‘weak’ event?
DO: Overhead events and heavy grip events have been tougher for me, but have been improving a lot lately.
SC: Who do you admire in the sport?
DO: Jouko Ahola and Karl Gillingham.
SC: What is your training schedule?
DO: It’s different every week, but I usually get 4 or 5 very hard sessions per week in addition to 3 or 4 more light practice days on the equipment.
SC: Do you have a regular training partner?
DO: There are several amateur strongmen who train with me. In addition, I usually train with Karl Gillingham about once per week as well.
DO: The basic ingredient is rosin.
SC: What is the manufacturing process?
DO: Melting rosin and adding thinning agents. [Understandably, Dave couldn’t be too specific about this]
SC: Who came up with the idea?
DO: A lot of companies make handball glue which is what most strongmen used to use and some still prefer it. I started fooling around with some different formulations about 2.5 years ago because I wanted a stronger and more consistent tacky. I still have about 50kgs of prototype tacky of different blends that isn’t very good. The research phase was arduous to say the least!
SC: Was it made purely for lifting stones?
DO: Elite Tacky is made purely for stonelifting.
SC: What did people use before Tacky came along?
DO: Before Elite Tacky and handball glue people used spray adhesive, tape on the forearms, or just chalk.
SC: Do you have a ‘Secret Formula’ version for your own use in competitions?!
DO: I’ve found that I prefer tacky that is generally thicker than what most people like. Usually the regular stuff is what I use, but if it’s going to be hot I’ll make an extra thick blend for that day.
SC: Is there an optimum way to use it? Amount? Placement?
DO: Amounts are a preference thing. The best areas for placement are the hands, forearms, and a little on the upper stomach area.
SC: What’s the best way to get it off?
DO: WD-40 or baby oil and a rag is best.
SC: What would be the qualities of the perfect Tacky?
DO: For me, the tacky needs to be sticky enough so that if I miss a stone I know that I failed and not the tacky. Elite Tacky fulfills this requirement for me.
SC: There must be some trade off between sticking to the stones and leaving your skin where it’s supposed to be when you’ve finished (i.e. on your arms!). Do you think Tacky is about as Tacky as it will ever be? Could Tacky be Tackier?! Is there a “Super Ultra Tacky” waiting somewhere in the wings?!
DO: As for skin sticking to stones, that just means you haven’t lifted enough stones for the forearms to toughen up yet. I’m not sure how much thicker you can make tacky beyond some of my hot weather blends. If you don’t add enough thinner, it will still be solid.
SC: Have you ever heard of any unusual or inventive uses of Tacky?
DO: Nothing too ridiculous. I know at a lot of contests in East Europe they allow tacky to be used for tire flip.
SC: Do people train deliberately without Tacky to improve strength/technique?
DO: A lot of people alternate tacky/no tacky stone sessions. I go without it very rarely. If you have problems getting stones to the lap I think some extra tackyless training is warranted. My weakest spot is out of the lap though and I don’t think tackyless training helps that very much. I’ve found that when I lift heavier stones without tacky it forces me to slightly change my technique and it also makes me slower.
SC: I’ve seen events that state “No Tacky Allowed”, is that commonplace? Presumably if you’ve trained with it, competing without it could be a problem?
DO: That’s not too common and the main reason for it is usually the promoter wants to keep their stones clean. I’ve done it a few times at a contest and I just ended up doing my last few sessions without tacky and it wasn’t too big a deal.
SC: Is Tacky something that event organizers provide?
DO: Not usually.
SC: Does it give a clear advantage? Do some people prefer to lift without it (and have equal results)?
DO: I believe the majority of strength athletes are capable of bigger stone lifts with tacky rather than without. Magnus Samuelsson is the only guy I know who doesn’t use either Elite Tacky, handball glue, or some other homemade tacky when he competes. I think he still does use some stickum spray though.
SC: Thanks for your time Dave, I think it’ll be a long time before I ever find a need for Elite Tacky but it clearly plays a very important role in the Strongman World! All the very best for 2008!