World's Strongest Man Eddie Hall on rivalry with Hafthor Bjornsson and his 500kg deadlift

Alex Rea 4/01/2018
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To gain a true measure of what it takes to be a world leader in any sport it's best to take a look at the numbers.

For the fastest man in the world it's Usain Bolt and 9.58 seconds while for the longest jump it's Mike Powell's 8.95m and the highest is Javier Sotomayor's 2.45m.

Impressive figures we can all agree but the numbers needed to become the world's strongest man are truly staggering.

Indeed, the 2017 champion Eddie Hall flipped a tire weighing 500kg six times, squatted 320kg for 15 repetitions which was the same number he hit for a 160kg Viking Press, while a 26 tonne airplane was hauled for 30m, 472.5kg pulled off the deck in the deadlift before he finished off by lifting five stones ranging from 150kg to 210kg onto a platform.
The sums are colossal but do the maths and the cost is equally as great, both physically and mentally.








A decade-long bid to become the World's Strongest Man quite literally required blood and sweat but in the end tears of unbridled joy flowed as Hall became the first Briton in 24 years to win the title with May's victory in Botswana.

Having finished third in 2016 despite competing with dislocated fingers, emotions ran high as the Stoke man fulfilled a deathbed promise to his grandmother by beating Iceland's Hafthor Bjornsson - aka Game of Thrones' 'The Mountain' - and four-time WSM winner America's Brian Shaw to victory.

"It's a fantastic feeling. It's one of the most alpha-male talents on the planet to be the World's Strongest Man and I've dreamt about it since I was a child," Hall told Sport360 during an appearance at last month's Dubai Muscle Show.

"It's an ambition I've always had and then to actually go and hold the title is a very surreal feeling. It won't really sink in until I've watched it back on TV."

The Beast: Eddie Hall after his win in Botswana (credit/WSM Facebook) The Beast: Eddie Hall after his win in Botswana (credit/WSM Facebook)

Televised in the UK over New Year, the culmination of great sacrifice has Hall on the edge of mainstream success with offers from the WWE and film industry on the table.

But a regime spearheaded by a 12,000 calorie a day diet with an intake of food from 6am to 10pm has taken its toll.

The 29-year-old built his body up to a peak weight of 440lbs (31stone) to ensure he had the best foundation to employ his marriage of natural strength and power to compete with giant foes.

The daily grind of commitment to brutal training and nutrition came with the surrender of both years off his life and precious time with his wife and two children.

It's the reason why after lifting the 40kg WSM trophy, Hall announced his immediate retirement from the world stage.

"It's hit and miss (defending the title). I've won the World's Strongest Man and that was my main goal," Hall explains.

"If I were to go back now, it was so stressful and I put a lot of pressure on my body to win it.

"I'm only 6ft3 and I achieved a bodyweight of 440lbs and to put it blank if I stay at that weight for so long, I'm going to kill myself.

"That's why I've had to step it down a peg and lose a bit of weight. I've taken some control back in my life because it was eat, sleep, train repeat. Strongman is 365 days a year.

"I'm seeing my family for an hour a week and it was getting to the point where my marriage was breaking down.

"I needed that title to cure all those problems and to go back and potentially finish second or third would damage me.

"Why would I go back and risk that reputation? I've won it so I can walk away at the very top and live the legacy, be a legend."

People laughed when I said I was going to win Britains Strongest Man.... Even more people laughed when I said I was going to smash the WR in deadlift and pull 500kg..... But I got the biggest eruption when I said I was going to win THE WORLDS STRONGEST MAN.... You want to know what kept me going and stopped me from giving up...... The naysayers! Not the haters, everyone has haters. I chose to delete haters from my life. The naysayers needed proving wrong. Be whatever you want to be, don't let anyone tell you' you can't do something. Go out and fucking do it, be a champion! Big Love❤️ The Beast😈 Worlds Strongest Man 🏆 @proteindynamix @xploape @strengthasylum @alphadesignsuk @bobosbeard @blakemans @wrightspies @pulseworldwide @getnewage @sbdapparel @giantslive #alphadesign #wrightspies #strengthasylum #giants #giantslive #proteindynamix #bobosbeardoil #beast #beard #deadlift #deadlifts #boss #bosslife #hulk #strong #strongman #strongmantraining #pulse #getnewage #performance #mouthguard #SBD #supports #SBDapparel

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WSM 2017 was arguably the strongest to date with every competitor uniformly impressive. By winning several events outright, Hall claimed a well deserved one-point lead over second-placed Bjornsson with Shaw a further three points back in third.

But the competition wasn't without controversy. Bjornsson was disallowed a rep on the Viking Press with the rules stating that no double dipping is allowed, which in layman's means push and strict press only with no jerks.

Bjornsson hit 14 clean reps but on his final rep was adjudged to have double dipped. Hall followed with 15 to take the event and 10 points to Bjornsson's nine which came in handy as it separated the two men overall.

The Icelander lodged a complaint but three judges agreed with the initial ruling and it all worked to stoke the fire of a strongman rivalry which has captured the imagination.

As far as 'The Beast' is concerned, Bjornsson simply failed to live up to his moniker and climb the mountain.

"Thor is probably the strongest man never to win World Strongest Man," he added.

"He's been on the podium six times now and I came along and snooped everybody.

"Nobody expected me to win but I put my head down for a good two years and nailed it.

"I would have won it last year (2016) but I dislocated my fingers in the heats and this time around there was no way I was going to lose it. I was just so confident coming in.



"Hafthor had the bit of controversy, claiming he was robbed of the title but all I can say is that it's not a game of cards, you can't slip an ace in and cheat.

"It's not that kind of sport. It's who can lift the most weight from A to B as many times as you can.

"There's no hiding, there's no cheating and there's no deception. At the end of the day he got his a*** handed to him in a strongman competition and the little pussy cat can't take it - that's it."

If Hall does indeed retire from the world stage he will do so having left an indelible mark on the sport.

After all, he is the world's strongest man who also happens to possess the record for the planet's most impressive feat of strength.

Just like WSM, though, Hall has little intention of ever attempting to break his half-tonne deadlift.

"The 500kg deadlift was the most dangerous thing I've done in my life. It's probably the most dangerous feat of strength which has ever been achieved," he says.

"The repercussions of that was the bleeding out of my eyes, my ears and my nose, I lost my sight for a few days after and I literally had a bruised back for about two weeks.

"It set me back and this was like a month before World's Strongest Man 2016 so maybe it was that which put a dampener on the worlds and made me bust my hand.



"It was a big, big risk and I was lucky not to end up in a wheelchair after that.

"To go and do that again unless there is literally millions of pounds on the table I'm not going to bother.

"I'm not going to risk my life, literally my life, to do something for no return. I see it as I was the first man to deadlift half a tonne. There is no one even close to me at the minute but if someone was to come along and deadlift 501kg, who gives a s***? I was the first man to do 500 and that is the truth."

Hall is not wrong, because the numbers simply do not lie.

QUICK TAKES

On going into the WWE

"We've been approached by them and it's something we'll look at but I'm doing so well with all the appearances, endorsements and all the potential TV work coming my way so I'm just biding my time.

"Me and my manager are just going to pick the best option and go from there."



Favourite moment in the sport aside from WSM victory

"Doing the record deadlift with Arnold Schwarzenegger right beside me.

"That was a very special moment for me because two of my life goals were to shake hands and make friends with Arnold and the other was to set a world-record deadlift.

"I managed to kill two birds with one stone and that was just perfection."



On cutting weight in the future

"I've got another year in the sport because I'm contracted until January 2019. Once that contract is up, I will be looking to shred up.

"Not to a bodybuilding standard but it would be interesting to see what a 420lbs man could cut up to.

"I can log that journey with the fan base maybe make another documentary out of it. It's something I want to see let alone the fans because I want to see what I can do with my body aesthetically having done the strength side of things."


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Top tips to make sure you follow through with your 2018 New Year's resolutions

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Concentrate on getting your diet right.

Time to start those New Year’s Resolutions and put in action your health and fitness plan for 2018.

For many that might include lose weight, exercise regularly and follow a healthy diet, but often we make resolutions like that every year and don’t follow through.

Dr. Anita Das Gupta, Clinical Dietitian at Burjeel Hospital, shares her top 10 tips for a happy and a healthy 2018.

Balance it out: The easiest way to maintain an ideal weight is to balance the calories we consume with our workout. Balancing calories means following a healthy diet that contains all the food groups, making sure it is colorful and varied to avoid losing interest, and also giving your body all the important nutritional elements, such as vitamins and minerals.
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Organise your meals: Organising your daily meals is very important for maintaining an ideal weight. It is recommended that you eat controlled quantities in all the three main meals. Skipping one meal will make you feel more starved and may cause you to eat more in the next meal. Light snacks (two-three snacks) can be taken between the main meals every day.

Eat light and eat right: Start your day with a minimum of a glass of water or warm water with lemon and honey. Breakfast should include a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and a spoonful of flaxseeds; scrambled eggs with a piece of wholegrain toast, or muesli with yoghurt and berries. Lunch should include steamed, grilled, baked, roasted or sauteed dishes. Dinner should begin with a light soup (no cream) or lentil soup and should always be a light dinner that has carbohydrates, protein and good fats.

Snack it out: Eating a snack between your main meals can prevent you from overeating in the next meal. Therefore, you should make sure you eat some snacks during the day. The healthy snacks should be small meals, containing the nutritional elements that may be lacking in the rest of the meals. Examples are fresh or dried fruits, vegetable slices, such as carrots or cucumbers, raw nuts (unsalted – a handful) or milk (low-fat), and some dairy products or a dark chocolate (30 grams). Always remember that even if your options are healthy, do not take excess.

Eat the right kinds of foods.

Eat slowly: Take time to savour every mouthful of your food – opt for smaller bites and chewing slowly. The brain takes around 15-20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full, meaning by dessert time you are likely to overeat.
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Eat the ‘good for you’ options first: Starting your meal with a bowl of clear broth or green salad will mean that you are fuller by the time you progress to the stuffed turkey and mashed potatoes and finally dessert.

Shop smart: It is easy to get distracted by the unhealthy options available when you shop for groceries, especially if you shop on an empty stomach. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables. Low fat dairy or whole grains are a healthier alternative so fill your shopping cart with these. Also, use a natural sweetener that tastes just as good as refined, processed sugar.
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Plan wisely: When organising a get together do not plan your menu around choices that are heavy in cream sauces or empty calories like in a casserole. Instead of the usual mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes grilled with a drizzle of olive oil is a yummier, healthier option. Rather than a deep fried chicken breast slathered in mushroom cream, try grilled chicken with a side dish of fresh vegetable salad.
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Hang out with friends at the park: Do not kill time in front of the TV after a large meal, put on your running shoes and head to the park with a friend. Play a game of badminton or just take a walk around inhaling some fresh air while catching up.
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Be mindful of sugary beverages: Drink at least six-eight glasses of water every day. You can flavor the water with cut up fruits, mint and lemon or preferred veggies.

Get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

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How to make yourself feel healthier and confident in 30 days?

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From exercising 30 minutes daily to fuelling with healthy food, little adaptations to routine can help maximise productivity levels and make you feel happier.

The main challenge when getting into a healthy routine is consistency and discipline, so it is about making small changes and then motivating yourself to stick to the habit and prolong that feel-good factor.

If you want to feel happier and confident, here are six tips for feeling better in 30 days.

GOAL SETTING

Goal setting gives you vision and motivation to plan and achieve something, whether it’s for sport or in the workplace.

Everyone has big dreams but they cannot be achieved that easily and need to be broken down into small and long-term goals.

Start by coming up with small goals, from what foods you want to cut out of your diet to different changes you may want to make in your life.

Achieving goals, no matter how small, will give you confidence, but should you not achieve them, don’t feel disheartened and try and turn this into a positive by altering your aims and setting out to achieve them in a different way.

If you don’t set goals, how do you truly know what you want?

EATING HEALTHY FOODS

‘Eat well, feel good’ may seem like a much used cliché but it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are all building blocks to provide energy and lead to an overall better performance in the mind and body.

Start by eating more vegetables, fruit and meat and you will see the results mentally and physically.

DRINKING WATER

Drinking between one and four litres of water a day will help you look better and focus better.

The most common cause of headaches and migraines is dehydration so drinking regular water will help prevent this, as well as improving your metabolism.

For athletes, keeping hydrated will allow you to perform more effectively and keep your joints and muscles more supple, which in turn will prevent injury.

EXERCISE DAILY

Exercising daily improves your strength and cardiovascular system to help provide more energy to your body. In addition, it increases blood flow to, and oxygen levels in, the brain which boosts concentration and helps reduce the risk of diseases.

Whether you walk for 30 minutes or jog on the treadmill for a similar period, exercise reduces blood power, cholesterol levels and fuels the cells that fight viruses and bacteria. Consistent exercise will make you look and feel better.

PROPER SLEEPING PATTERNS

Sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and vital for mental health and hormone balance. Whether you’ve just finished a 12-hour shift at work or a heavy two-hour fitness session, your body needs to recover both mentally and physically.

We are not machines, therefore between six and eight hours sleep a night will help your body recover and strengthen itself.

Proper sleeping patterns will increase performance, decrease risk of injury and weight gain, and make you feel fresh.

STRETCH DAILY

One area that is often overlooked is stretching, even though keeping your muscles flexible has major benefits.

Lengthening tight muscles through stretching will improve your posture and make you feel more confident.

Stretching also decreases the risk of injury and can assist in making you faster and fitter.

Why not take up a yoga or pilates class once a week and see the benefits stretching has for the mind and body?

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