Who says bodybuilders can't hold their own in strength contests? Under our very noses, Bodybuilding.com team athlete Lawrence Ballenger has been representing his sport against three elite lifters in the Brute Showdown, a head-to-head video competition on YouTube created by the online coaching site Brute Strength.

The first of the five weekly episodes in the series was all interviews and introductions to the lifters, who include:

  • Weightlifter: Luis Mosquera (2016 Rio Olympics 69kg bronze medalist)
  • CrossFit Games Athlete: Jacob Heppner
  • Bodybuilder: Lawrence Ballenger
  • Powerlifter: Steve Gentili

The recently released second episode is where things really got interesting. The first two strength challenges were:

  1. Perform your max clean in 20 minutes.
  2. Perform the CrossFit workout "Grace" (30 clean and jerks for time with 135 pounds).

Guess what? The Olympic lifter won the clean competition, and the CrossFit Games athlete murdered everyone in Grace. No news there. But the real star of both episodes was wisecracking, candy-pounding Ballenger, who yanked 300 pounds off the ground and up into the rack in what he referred to as an upright row technique. "I think that's a world record," he said.

This series is essential viewing for the month to come, and not just for the lifts. Along with a deadlift challenge, there will also be skill contests in football, soccer, baseball, and basketball, a physique show, and a burger eating challenge.

We like Ballenger in at least the last two of those, especially after he wrapped up Episode 2 guiding viewers through the essentials of convenience-store shopping for gains.

"Step number one, a swirl icee. Blue gets you yoked, red gets you cut," he promises. We're all ears.

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