Ironmill recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Co-Owner of Spider Tack and ASC Pro Strongman Mike Caruso.
Where are you and Spider Tack from?
Spider Tack was originally developed and manufactured in Fargo, ND by myself and the co-owner of Spider Strength LLC, James Deffinbaugh. I currently reside just outside Detroit, MI; where my wife, Leah, handles distribution. Janessa Vandeen has generously created all the art work for Spider Tack.
Steve Buschemi better in the movie Fargo, Or Sopranos?
The Big Lebowski
Good Answer. I’m mad that slipped my mind. How long have you and your wife been married? Has strongman changed for you in that time frame?
My wife and I have been together for almost 6 years but didn’t get married until recently. Leah’s always been very supportive of my lifting. She also is a competitive powerlifter and knows what it takes to succeed in strength sports.
Where did you get the idea for Spider Tack?
Like most competitors I’ve met in strongman, the training crew in Fargo and I were always working toward optimizing event-specific training. Attempting to develop a better tacky was just an extension of maximizing stone loading performance. Spider Tack was originally intended for personal use only, but after years of development we decided we had an exceptional product and it would be worth manufacturing on a larger scale. Our goal during development was to have a tacky that exhibited enhanced physical properties, such as maximizing stickiness, ease of application and removal, and temperature resistance. Each property was something that we felt could be improved upon over other tacky at the time.
Was there a “we got it ” moment for Spider Tack? When you knew this was going to be something special?
It was really more a systematic trial-and-error method; although, there were a few epiphanies along the way.
What obstacles have you found in operating your business?
The biggest obstacle is that James and I both work full-time jobs away from Spider Tack. Between work, training, and family we have to put in the extra hours to make Spider Tack possible
Could you go into your education?
My post high school education consists of a BS in biology and economics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from North Dakota State University. Toward the end of my undergrad education I attained a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the NSCA but have since let it expire. I’m currently a post-doctoral fellow at Wayne State University investigating insulin signaling in type 2 diabetes. Like others I know who are obsessed with lifting — whether it be in the gym, on the platform, or under a giant circus dumbbell — my interest in science stemmed from an inquisitive nature to better understand and improve human performance. There are several varying opinions on training, supplements, and/or nutrition, but usually are given little sound reasoning. My goal for continuing education in the sciences was to better understand and elucidate the properties of growth in relation to hormonal function/dysfunction and nutrition.
I’ve been giving diet advice to the strength community for a few years now. After studying type II diabetes for so long, any knowledge you can drop on us? Advice /Warning ?
An explanation to the etiology of type II diabetes could be somewhat limitless. To be laconic * barring a congenital predisposition, the most conscientious actions you do on your part is to maintain an active lifestyle and monitor carbohydrate intake.
I think most eat way too many carbohydrates, simply because they’re cheap, copious, and desirable.
*(Short; to the point)
Best Moment in Strongman ?
Winning my first contest. I was hooked after that.
How has your training been going?
Training has been going well. As long as I continue to stay healthy I always see gains; however, sometimes it feels like the gains don’t come fast enough with the rate at which everyone else is getting better.
Care to divulge any of your current training numbers?
Recently, I’ve hit a few PRs, including a 750 squat for a double (belt only); 405 log strict press (out of the rack); and 875 16″ deadlift for a triple (with suit, straps, and rocket jet pack).
Strongman Trainer Mike Westerling has named you one of his clients. How has training with Westerling changed your thinking / training ?
Training for multi-day contests with a total of 7 or 8 events — some events with multiple parts — is always a challenge. In powerlifting, you’re able to train each contest lift at least once a week if not more, if it suits you. With so many events in strongman it’s always a delicate balance on how to set up your training. If I program myself, most often I will end up overtraining. I always try to get at least one outside influence on how to structure my training plan.
Mike’s (Westerling) programming is direct and realistic. With Mike’s training you get out of it what you put into it. At first glance it doesn’t appear to have a lot of volume, instead, he asks you to put everything you have into each exercise. This is where effort is measured in terms of intensity, not just adding in extraneous movements to get more work in. Mike and I share common beliefs when it comes to training, but I will tweak something if I feel it requires more attention.
Where do you see the sport right now as opposed to five years ago? Where do you see the sport progressing to in five years.
The sport continues to grow and I believe it will stay that way within the next five-years. The addition of “fitness” and/or novice divisions will only draw more into the sport — the more people we can get involved, at one level or another, the better. This is the best route to introduce more individuals into our sport and, consequently, bring more support to the pro level.
The most discernible difference within strongman over the past five-years is the increase in weights. Several have gotten exponentially stronger and this has lead to heavier and heavier weights at the national and world level. Not that we won’t see world records continue to fall as time passes but this tread will eventually taper down within the next few years.
How long will you continue as a Strongman?
I’ll continue to compete in strongman and powerlifting for as long as I possess passion for lifting.
What is the ultimate goal for Spider Tack?
Our primary goal for Spider Tack is to keep providing the best tacky possible, helping everyone bring their stone loading to the next level. We are pleased to sponsor contests ranging from the pro level to local amateur. Spider Tack is currently available across North America, Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Another goal is to make Spider Tack available as a world-wide product not only for strongman but for any sport (e.g., handball), which benefits from a grip-enhancing product.