Ask the strongman
Q: What are the toughest events for you?
I usually struggle with lifts that pose a physical challenge, as opposed to those that are tests of pure strength. For instance, if it’s a one-rep-max type of lift, I’m golden. But long-lasting events and those in which taller athletes have an advantage–Fingle Fingers (pole-flipping) or lifting stones onto boxes that are above my head–give me trouble. The event I hate the most is Conan’s Circle. You basically pick up a 700-plus-pound steel pole and walk in circles for as long as you can. It doesn’t suit my body structure and I really despise doing it. Not to mention I blew out my knee while performing it in a competition. That was an ESPN moment I’ll never forget.
Q: Do you work out with a lifting buddy?
I’m probably the opposite of most guys: I like to train heavy by myself on the weekends and perform my lighter–weight workouts with friends during the week. Since there aren’t any distractions, working out alone helps me focus more on each repetition of each lift, allowing me to train at the highest physical and mental intensity possible. That means my most productive sessions are performed alone, even though I probably have more fun when I have company. There’s a good lesson there somewhere.
Q: Are you still getting stronger?
At 38, I’m stronger now than at any point in my life. And, since my metabolism has slowed with age, I find it easier to put on muscle weight for competitions. So you could say I’m beating the odds, since research shows that strength levels typically peak at about age 30. But the truth is that I’m not as durable as I once was, and I can’t train as often. I guess you could say that I’m just becoming smarter as I age. For instance, I use more effective training methods now than I ever did before, and I am better at listening to my body than I was in the past. Of course, I’m not sure that my wife would agree that age has had that “smartening” effect in other areas of my life.
Mark Philippi, C.S.C.S. (left), is director of strength and conditioning at UNLV, and a two-time finalist in the World’s Strongest Man competition.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning