What does it take to be the World’s Strongest Man?
Stoke-on-Trent strong man Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall smashed world records last week, becoming the first ever human to successfully lift half a tonne. In a film that has since garnered nearly 3 million views, he completes the lift before passing out from the colossal effort.
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Yet as the UK’s strongest man explains to me, this record was simply a ‘side quest’ on the path to his ultimate dream of becoming the World’s Strongest Man. And the stakes are high. At 30 stone he knows his lifestyle is dangerous, and plans to retire, downsize and spend quality time with his young family the moment he can secure the title.
With just four weeks to go until the 2016 Competition, we caught up with Eddie about what it takes to compete for the World’s Strongest crown.
So first of all, how did it feel to smash that record?
It felt amazing. There’s no other way to explain it. It’s a year of hard work and dedication for those few seconds of glory.
The press made a huge deal out of the moment you passed out, suggesting you nearly died. What really happened?
“It’s just down to a change of blood pressure when you drop the bar. All that pressure released too quickly and I passed out. It’s just like get getting out of bed too quickly…or running a four-minute mile and passing out afterwards. It’s quite normal when you’re pushing the human body to its limits to pass out – it’s the body’s way of protecting itself.”
So now it’s all about becoming the World’s Strongest Man – what does it take to prepare for a massive competition like that?
“Well I was back in the gym two days after breaking that record – the regime is relentless! I get up early and do some cardio training, swimming or caveman training (throwing tyres, pulling cars, dynamic exercises like that). Then I’ll spend the day eating food and drinking liquids, getting prepped for the gym at 3 or 4 o’clock. I’ll gym for around four hours, be in bed for 10pm, and repeat that day-on-day for five days a week.
When it comes to food, it’s about quantity as well as quality. I eat a pretty normal diet – it’s just bigger portions. For example, if you’re having a bowl of porridge, I’ll have a bucket of porridge.
On a good day I’ll consume around 10 – 12,000 calories…a bad day looks more like 7,000 calories. If I’m not at the gym then I’m eating or stretching. Fair to say it’s a total takeover of your life.”
Now at 30 stone, you’re pushing your body to real extremes. Do you ever worry about the dangers of your sport?
Since I was 20 I’ve been putting a stone on with every year. I think I’m getting to my peak now – and that’s going to be my edge in the competition – but I’m under no illusion I can stay this weight for another 20 years. Aside from the health reasons, this body weight is just tough. Everyday things like going for a walk with your family, fitting in your car, or even just putting your socks on or getting though a doorway(!) – I just can’t enjoy properly because of my sheer size.
I know I’ve got a time limit to win the World’s Strongest Man and then I’ll retire immediately. I don’t want to run myself in to the ground; I just want to win the title, return to a normal size and enjoy being with my family.
How do you juggle family life?
I don’t really. I spend a hell of a lot of time in the gym, getting physio and prepping food. I can only manage a few hours a week with my wife and kids and it’s just not enough. You only live once – that’s why I’m working hard now, so I can enjoy my future.
So if you do win the title next month is it the quiet life for you?
When I succeed at something then I just want to move on and succeed at something else, whether it’s Olympic lifting or boxing. I want to try and dominate another sport – but something much healthier than strong man.
On first impressions, Eddie Hall might look all muscles, tattoos and sheer towering bulk. Yet beyond the powerful exterior, there’s clearly a gentle and devoted family man, as committed to his wife and two young kids as he is to his to achieving his dream.
Along with Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of the UK, we’ll be rooting for you at WSM 2016 Eddie.