Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
February 5, 2018
The most common argument young kids had in any school yard at some point was “Who’s dad is the strongest.” Yup, this led to a lot of one upsmanship and many exaggerated feats of strength. Now of course, I didn’t have to boast about my father cuz I knew he was the strongest SOB out there. He had some huge pythons that often times made it tough for him just to scratch his back (thus leading to his common practice of grabbing a long screw driver and using it as back scratcher, which ultimately I inherited). Anyway, I’m sure many years ago a few guys started boasting about how strong their fathers were and ultimately came up with the idea to start “The World’s Strongest Man” competition. Okay, I am sure that was not how it started but the truth is typically boring, which is why I never trust movies that state “based on a real life event.” (Cool Runnings anyone?) Starting in 1977, The World’s Strongest Man Competition became a perfect summer filler for people bored with watching baseball and thus the world was exposed to feats of strength that are both amazing to the common man and chemists alike (hehe). It used to be pretty simple with standard weight pulling stuff, but over the years they have come up with some interesting ideas like flipping gigantic tires, lifting huge boulders and pulling Mack trucks….you know the kind of stuff you boasted your father could do back in the day. It has become quite the niche sport, for not only have the men gotten bigger there is actually some monetary benefit to it now. The most famous strongman right now is Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, better known as “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones. Despite being one of the scariest looking guys in the world—if you can believe it—he has never actually won The World’s Strongest Man competition despite competing half a dozen times. Here is an idea of what to expect when you see this competition in full swing. https://youtu.be/Y2BhWP1BVq8 At some points, the winner Eddie Hall looked like he was going to die during the actual competition. And if the name Eddie Hall sounds familiar, he is only the guy that deadlifted 500 kilograms (1102.3 pounds) once. Now you are probably wondering, why in the world would anyone want to do this? Well, why would anyone want to have a perfectly sculpted body or why would anyone want to run a six-minute mile? Well you do these things because you want to.
Now let’s say you want to maximize your strength and make a run at some kind of strongman style competition. Well, you will realize soon enough that while the whole “chemical” portion of the training is both dangerous and expensive, you still have to actually put in the work with both the training and the eating. And if you like eating, trust me, you will hate the idea by the end of this article. Also, Steroids do not technically make you stronger, they just help your body recover much faster so you can train longer, harder and more frequently. So yeah, thought I would get that misconception out of the way first. Either way, becoming one of these muscled behemoths of both television and reality takes a ton of work. Finding workouts that might help you out is both hard to do and hard to really mimic, because it is difficult to really figure out the correct size of weights needed. Here was some good ideas in regards to just starting a regimen. https://www.t-nation.com/training/strongman-training-made-practical My favorite part of this particular page is when they say do a warm-up set of deadlifts at 405….which happens to be my top weight!! The three main lifts that are always focused on when it comes to being a strongman is the back squat, the deadlift and of course, dumbbell holds (where you hold heavy as heck dumbbells as long as you can). Essentially, you have to build up your stamina in these particular areas and if you truly want to be good in these things, you will find yourself doing a lot of this stuff. Flipping tires and pulling/pushing heavy vehicles are another staple you can focus on, but of course, these things are based strictly on availability. Brian Shaw, one of the best strongmen in the game, gave kind of a nice insight into what the training requires to be a strongman. http://www.theworldsstrongestman.com/athletes/brianshaw/ Essentially, he trains every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday full throttle, and does event style training on Saturdays. So even though these guys look superhuman, they still have to get some rest days. When I was growing up, the first thing you really heard about preparing for a strongman competition was getting used to doing a lot of stuff with kegs. So yeah, keg tossing and hurling is a pretty common thing at these competitions. https://youtu.be/4rTnh95PHws Nowadays, with the wider variety of competitions and the sponsorship deals involved, training has evolved and become more personalized. One other thing I seemed to have noticed with a lot of the strongmen is many are former basketball players that got bored with their sport and woke up one day thinking “I wanna learn how to deadlift a car.”
Now here is the part that some might find a little disconcerting. To really get big and strong and capable of doing this tuff, you really have to hit the buffet. And this does not mean killing the Doritos and Big Macs. This means eating copious amounts of “clean” food every day. If you read the interview that Shaw gave, he regularly eats eight times a day!! On average during training, a decent strongman can put away 10,000-15,000 calories per day. Imagine forcing yourself to eat that much food. I feel sick and bloated when I come anywhere near the 4,000 calorie mark for the day. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson maybe puts down 4,000 when he is just maintaining his weight and size. Even if your goals are not to be that strong, you have to remember your caloric intake will need to be increased to really get the strength and size needed to fulfill a powerlifting profile. At the end of the first video I posted, Eddie Hall cried and retired after his win, stating how much of a burden it had been on his family for him to be in training. As you can tell, being a strongman could potentially be a lonely life (and considering my life right now, maybe I should be a strongman?) so just remember you will have to put in a lot of time and meal planning to make this thing work for you. Of course, when prepping for a more legitimate competition like the Winter Olympics, clearly you will have to specify some specific areas to work on rather than brute strength. So tune in next week for that blog. I promise I will keep the Russia cheating jokes to a minimum.
Here is the tough part…you will eventually hate the idea of eating. Shaw himself said the worst part of prepping for a strongman competition is the eating, because “it’s constant and never-ending.” https://youtu.be/YQEJyjKTH9g So yeah, watching that poor guy go through all of those meals is pretty crazy. On the other hand, these guys pretty much sum up their goals in one sentence. “I just want to be the strongest man out there.” Imagine how easy it will be to win those playground arguments if your old man has one of those trophies on his mantle.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.