When we found out our very own sales advisor, Andrew, had taken part in a gruelling Strongman competition, we jumped at the chance to find out all about it. Turns out, he’s now got the bug and is in training for more UK Strongman competitions. Here’s what he had to say when we pinned him down for a chat…
When did you first get into fitness?
I have been into various sports since I was in my early teens, playing rugby at a good level and also boxing. But with age, I have progressed into Strongman with my first competition taking place in early 2017.
Where was your most recent competition and what inspired you to sign up?
My most recent competition was the Xplosive Ape Elite British Wolsingham Show, where I competed in the 105kg weight class. It was great to get an invite to such a high calibre competition. This is a tough one to qualify for, and I was lucky as my coach works closely with Xplosive Ape (one of the world’s biggest brands in Strongman), so he helped get my foot in the door!
I signed up to this as it gave me an insight into the jump between novice and the big leagues in my weight class, competing against members of not only England and Europe, but the world’s strongest competitors. I placed 6th in Britain against a very strong and experienced line-up and beat a world’s competitor in the process.
Talk us through the Xplosive Ape competition day…
On the day, we lifted an overhead medley consisting of a 90kg wooden log, 100kg Olympic barbell, 110kg axle bar (it’s as thick as a scaffolding bar, so grip becomes a big issue with increased weight), and a 120kg steel log for quickest time. This was the first event of six.
The second event was Car Deadlift. We used a brand-new SsangYong Tivoli, which weighs 1490kg, on a frame for maximum reps. This was made harder by soft ground underfoot and a very low bar to pick up from. This was followed by Back to Back Harness Tug of War, which was a round robin of who can drag the other man.
The fourth event was 5 x 20kg kegs thrown overhead, clearing a 4-metre bar for speed. This was followed by a 200kg Fingal’s Finger for maximum reps in 60 seconds. Finally, we had the classic Atlas Stones event. Atlas Stones are five heavy, spherical stones which increase in weight from 90 to 160kg. They need to be placed on top of five high platforms.
How long have you been preparing for this competition?
I train all year round, a mix of heavy sessions and high volume to help increase my maximum lifts across the board. Also, I have my coach who is a former powerlifting record holder who programmes all of my sessions with Elite Strongman promotions for event technique. He also gets his hands on some rare kit to practice with.
Exercises I regularly perform during my training includes deadlifts, which consist of 8/6/4/4/2 reps. I’m currently sitting at 280kg. I also do barbell squats (10/8/6/4/4/1 reps with my recent PB being 230kg) and log press (12/10/8/6/4/4 reps, PB 120kg). I do other exercises too, but can’t give away too many secrets 😉
When and where does the next competition take place?
My next competitions are Wearside’s Strongest Man, held in November 2017 at the Performance Fitness Centre, Sunderland and Peterborough’s Strongest Viking in July 2018, which is being judged by the legendary Geoff Capes.
How has your training changed to prep for Strongman?
It’s changed a lot. I’ve always been physically strong but, until I took up Strongman, I never knew my own limits. I usually train 4/5 days a week, which includes 2 hours in the evening from 8pm-10pm. It’s all about the numbers, pushing hard and heavy regularly, but maintaining form to prevent injury. When I get a Saturday off work, I head up to the Elite Strongman yard to practice events. Strongman kit can be hard to find as it’s not a very commercial sport, despite becoming more mainstream in recent years.
What does your competition prep diet look like?
My diet is dependent on bodyweight pre-comp. I cut sugar from my diet 99% of the time as this allows me to easily lose 6-8lbs in a week initially, then it’s all very basic. Chicken and potatoes are a mainstay, but gammon and other lean cuts of meat come into play so I do not deprive my body of any nutrients. The only downside is eating meals cold on occasion throughout the day, which isn’t much fun!
What couldn’t you do without for your competition prep?
For me, a good weightlifting belt is essential for everything. It gives you a base to increase intra-abdominal pressure, whilst performing maximal lifts to gauge where you are in readiness for the competition ahead, whilst saving your back.
I use a 13mm thick leather belt for competitions but for anyone just starting out in Strongman or weightlifting, I would recommend the Fitness Mad Leather Weightlifting Belt. This item not only looks great but has a sound build quality, giving you something to really brace your abs against without breaking the bank!
What are you missing that you can’t have/do during prep?
Ice-cream!!! I’m a fiend for Peanut Butter Cookie Core from Ben and Jerry’s, but when I’m cutting bodyweight, the calories I have to stick to just won’t let me do it L.
Do you have fitness equipment at home?
I currently don’t but I am in the process of designating an area for it. I have a large garden with a pre- concreted area, so will be getting weight plates and barbells, a steel log and a great quality mat, most likely the Body Power Heavy Duty Rubber Mat, which I’ll use for deadlifts.
What is your must-have piece of fitness equipment?
For me, a good set of figure-8 lifting straps. At the weights we lift, your grip can’t always handle what the rest of your body can. These allow you to lift huge weights, whilst taking some of the strain away from your forearms and hands.
What’s your favourite music to listen to when you work out?
I like to go with whatever mood I’m in at the time. Some of my favourites are “Beast” from the Southpaw movie, “I’m Shipping up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys, and “Sail” by AWOLNATION.
What’s next for you?
The competition in November for Wearside’s Strongest Man is at the forefront of my mind. This is a great local show and there’s always a big crowd that comes to cheer the athletes on. Next year, I’m aiming to qualify for England’s Strongest Man 105kg.
What’s your advice to anyone who wants to compete?
Just go do it! Strongman is on the rise and there are loads of gyms holding first timer and novice events all around the country. I definitely recommend training at home too though. Don’t worry about what everyone else is lifting, just go and enjoy the day and you really get a perspective of how strong you actually are.
Post by Andrew McAdam, Sales Advisor at Fitness Superstore Newcastle
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