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Fitness & Health

02nd Jul 2018

Eddie Hall: Training with the World’s Strongest Man

Hall also discussed his battles with depression, being expelled from school and the time his eyeball popped out when lifting

Alex Roberts

‘I feel weak as piss today’, said Eddie Hall as his third set of 150 kilo log presses came to an end

There’s a tendency to look at strongman quite simplistically, to assume that lifting heavy things and putting them back down is about as complex as it gets.

Eddie Hall’s journey is proof that such a belief could not be further from the truth. He has battled depression, been expelled from school and worked tough, arduous jobs to fund an assault on the sport’s elite.

There have even been more graphic setbacks, such as the time he burst an eyeball when lifting heavy on the leg press. JOE spent an afternoon training with Hall as he returned from a spell on the sidelines.

“BAM, my eyeball came out my face.

“We pushed it back in – red as fuck – but I carried on with my session.”

Hall’s steely exterior and determination to continue training through a gruesome injury could leave you thinking that his strength was just a physical asset.

The 2017 World’s Strongest Man has won numerous battles outside of the strongman arena, though.

“I was expelled from school at 14 and instead of getting into even further trouble, joined a gym and started lifting weights.”

“I was a fit and strong athlete from swimming, so I just grew massive.”

Hall originally sourced motivation from the internet to fuel his training.

“I got to about 19 years old, when I began watching videos on YouTube and realised that I could actually be one of the strongest guys in the country.

“I entered a competition, came out on top among guys much older and told everyone I was going to become World’s Strongest Man. They all laughed their bollocks off. Ten years later to the day, I achieved that feat.”

Initially, he found competition in the form of his family, but has since taken that brother-versus-brother mentality to the world’s stage.

“The competitiveness between us as kids definitely switched over into adulthood.”

Hall admits that, as a young kid, his older brothers would regularly ‘whip his arse’, especially on holiday in the swimming pool. He would soon grow to overpower his siblings.

There is a definite symmetry in the way Hall’s family life mirrors his lifting career.

For years, the World’s Strongest Man competition was dominated by American Brian Shaw and Lithuanian Zydrunas Savickas, two of the strongest men in history.

However, in the same way he would eventually grow to dunk his older brothers under water, 2017 saw Hall defeat Shaw and Savickas to win the world title.

Training time

When we headed into the gym, it was clear to see how Hall had achieved so much.

His current training routine is actually aimed at getting back into the gym after a lengthy layoff, but there was no sense that the Staffordshire man was taking things easy.

We initially warmed our rotator cuffs up with light dumbbell extensions, peaking with side lateral raises at 10 kilograms each side. This was where the basics ended.

Hall then went on to extend his warm-up with a few sets of seated dumbbell press. Each set consisted of around eight to 10 reps. Doesn’t sound like anything too strenuous, right?

Hall was lifting 60kg dumbbells, and throwing them up like they were peanuts.

This was beyond me. I’d only ever pressed dumbbells between 45 and 50 kilos for sets of four reps, and that was for a flat press, where your back is supported by the bench. That wasn’t a warm up, either.

In between presses, Hall would stop to sip on a carbohydrate solution mixed with cranberry juice. Even a body-part split like this shoulder workout typically takes him two to three hours to complete. Long-lasting energy is essential.

Hall has found strength training a release from the stresses of life, as he told of his own struggles with depression.

“Mental health is not talked about enough nowadays.

“When I was a kid I went to the doctors with depression and was put on Prozac. I felt left in the dark, got expelled, family members became ill and I was in a very dark place.

“I had to deal with it by myself, basically – but one of the best tools I had was sport. When I went training, I used to come away feeling better.”

After we were finished on the seated press, we headed into the strongman section. Hall trains out of Strength Asylum in Stoke-on-Trent, an extremely well-equipped facility with specific floors for bodybuilding and strongman.

There, we set about log pressing.

The log press is similar to a military press in that you’re vertically lifting an object overhead, but whereas the former is performed with a barbell, the log press is difficult to get into position and requires a neutral (palms-facing inward) grip.

Despite training outside of competition season, Hall went for the big guns and opted for the largest log at the gym. It resembled a tree, to be perfectly honest.

Moving it into position looked hard enough, but then Hall set about pressing the log from two blocks he’d set up. He barely broke sweat as he hit reps five and six. My 60 kilo effort paled in comparison.

“I feel weak as piss today”, said Hall.

That didn’t stop him adding an additional 10 kilo plate to either side, though. A further two sets were put to bed with relative ease.

To recreate our workout, put this plan into action:

  • Resistance Band Dislocates (30 second holds)
  • Arm Curls (30 seconds)
  • Dumbbell Rotator Cuff Extension (3 sets of 10-12)
  • Side Lateral Raises (3 sets of 10-20)
  • Seated Dumbbell Press (3 sets of 8-10)
  • Log Press (6 sets of 5-6)

Eddie Hall’s autobiography STRONGMAN, which details his journey from a skinny kid to the World’s Strongest Man, is out now in paperback priced at £8.99.