Anyone who follows World's Strongest Man got treated to an incredible competition this year. USA's Brian Shaw proved victorious with a phenomenal all round performance. It was evident from the coverage how results focused that he was. He'd barely taken a breath after the Truck pull before he was asking the judges if he'd won the event.
The truck pull was a really interesting event this year as nobody completed the course. It's really unusual for all the top competitors to post a distance instead of time for completion. In their defence they were pulling an 18-ton, 36 wheel transporter lorry... uphill!
The post event interviews raised a few interesting questions. How specific does your training need to be for an event like this? Can you get away with just being the strongest? Not many people have a massive truck lying around waiting for a mammoth human being to drag it down the road. The guys who performed the best in this event appeared to have combined very specific training with an over-riding desire to win and dig deep. USA's Mike Burke thanked his local fire service right before his attempt for letting him practice on their fire engines.
The other question was one of fitness. Not many people relate Stongman events to fitness, but it's not just about static strength and lifting a heavy weight for one rep, these guys are going all out for 60seconds. It takes fitness training to prepare your body for pushing to those depths.
Great Britain's Eddie Hall finished 4th this year, he's the future of Britain's hopes for another World's Strongest man title. He's renowned for static strength and holds the current deadlift one rep max record at 462kg. Throughout the program he repeatedly mentioned how much he'd been working on his fitness and conditioning. This really showed in his truck pull performance where he didn't let up and kept pushing hard for the full 60seconds.
Fitness is an element of performance in all types of sport. It's also a word that get's thrown around when comparing different sports to see who is the fittest. Crossfit often claim that their athletes are the fittest on the planet, but what does this mean? Fitness is only specific to the test that you're using to measure it.
If you race a Worlds Strongest Man finalist against a casual club runner in a 10 kilometre race the club runner will probably win, but does that mean they are fitter? Surely they're not fitter than an elite athlete who trains endless hours in the gym and has the perfect diet.
This is where specificity comes in to play. Train your body for the exact demands of your target event and you are more likely to come out on top. In cycling terms, this means if your target event is a 12 hour time trial, train on your time trial bike for as many hours as possible. Don't do 60 minute rides on your road bike and expect to be the best on the day.
This has two benefits. 1. Your body is more likely to be prepared for what you are going to put it through. 2. Your mind will be more focused, relaxed and at ease with what is about to happen. The combination of these two factors means you will go faster and push harder in your desired race... hopefully getting better results!As Endurance athletes we can all take a leaf out of Brian Shaw's book and train a little bit more like the World's Strongest Man does.Ken
I’ve become very good at listening to my body and figuring out how hard I can train it. If there’s a day where I need to back off and not push as hard, then I definitely do that ...if you’re constantly pushing your body to get stronger and work harder... there’s gonna be times where you’ll have to back off a little bit. If I take a couple days where I deload, it actually helps the recovery process and I come back better from that. ...When you’re getting ready for a contest, the last thing you want to do is take a day where you don’t train very hard. In the back of my head I always think someone else is working harder and doing more to get ready... ...but you have to be able to listen to your body.