Extreme Strongman Reveals Muscle Building Secrets You Need To Know

Whether you're just trying to 'gird' your dad bod or are a bona fide amateur lifter, these strategies will help.

The life of an extreme strongman is as different from the average gym-goer’s as a HIIT class is from yoga. That said, there are still some skills every-day weight lifters can glean from an extreme strongman. And even though they might not immediately help you achieve your hulk-goals, they could help you bust out of a plateau, achieve the muscle definition you crave or quicken your progress.

Speaking to the BBC, 35-year-old Mikey Lane who is an ISF Pro Strongman from Nuneaton, England, revealed three crucial pieces of advice that will help anyone – amateur or not – achieve their fitness goals.

Work out exactly how many calories you need to consume, for different workouts

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You might not need to hit 8,500 calories a day like Mikey, but if you are just looking to be the strongest version of you possible (even if not necessarily the strongest man in the world), it is a good idea to consult a nutritionist or a dietician (preferably one well versed in the fitness space, or who works with other athletes) to get a more exact idea of how much food you should be consuming (and what types of foods you should be consuming) on a daily basis, as well as information on how much this will change depending on your routine.

“Mikey… eats seven chickens a week, along with six pizzas, as part of his training regime,” (BBC).

While you would have to be burning a highly unusual (think: extreme strongman) number of calories to justify headlining calorie-rich foods like pizza, the point remains that dialling in your diet (though it is a pain in the short term) will pay dividends in the long run.

As for pizza? Here’s what Mikey has to say: “They aren’t the most ideal form of nutrition, but if by the end of the day the rough calorie intake hasn’t been met, pizzas are an easy and convenient way of hitting that figure.”

And – before you get the wrong idea that Mikey’s diet is all junk – the BBC adds that, “To maintain his 8,500 calorie intake and 130kg bodyweight, Mikey also eats steak, bread rolls, German ham, cold roast chicken, slow-cooked beef, vegetables, shakes with blended oats and snacks like crisps, chocolate and biscuits.”

Take your workout space seriously & don’t be afraid to seek advice

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This may not be possible for all of us, but Mikey values his workout zen to the point where he has built his own personal gym, after outgrowing the equipment and weights of his local.

“Three years ago he decided to take his mission to the next level and create his own gym by renting a farm outbuilding a couple of miles from where he lives in the Midlands,” (BBC).

In his personal gym, Mikey doesn’t need to worry about crushing other gymgoers or loudly dropping weights (his dumbells weigh from 0.5kg to 105kg, and his large spherical ‘Atlas Stones,’ weigh from 60kg to 200kg).

Of course, we don’t all have this luxury, but what you can do is stake out a claim in a corner of your gym (just, for the love of God, don’t do bicep curls in the squat rack), waiting until the equipment you want to use is totally free (rather than working in with someone using slightly different weights). This might mean going to the gym outside of peak hours. But hey, that (could be) the price of progress.

Or – if you have a spare room at home – your private ‘fitness cave’ awaits. A further tip along these lines, which may not be a ‘secret’ per say, but which is certainly undervalued, is to focus on compound lifts (which work multiple muscle groups at the same time) and add in ‘assistant exercises’ (secondary, more targeted movements) that create stimulus for growth as your fitness goals dictate.

The last tip in this category is to seek expert advice: “Find an established gym, or club, with experienced people who really know what they’re doing, ask plenty of questions, start light, and build a foundation,” Mikey told the BBC.

“But mainly have fun. The more fun it is, the more you’ll want to do it, and the quicker you’ll progress!”

Treat recovery as an exercise in and of itself

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Arguably the one area that should be most similar between an amateur gym-goer trying to keep his dad bod at bay and an extreme strongman is in the emphasis placed on preventing injury and looking after oneself.

While you may not use a car polisher to massage your muscles, a la Mikey, his approach to maintaining mobility and flexibility is a great guide to match: “I follow a set plan of muscle release, nerve release and muscle activation before each training session, using foam rollers and passive stretches to release muscle tissues without straining them,” he told the BBC.

If you’re still not seeing progress (or even if you are, but are keen for more), try (carefully) increasing your pain tolerance, which done this way can help you get ripped faster, or check out David Goggins’ latest workout, or Lebron James’ Keto Diet.

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