Chatham based athlete, Mick Holding (27), has already made it onto the international scene, representing his country at the IFSA Worlds in the individual, two and four man team contests. Mick is a regular at The Ministry of Muscle and long-time training partner of Jay Hughes. Mick was good enough to answer a whole raft of questions that I passed his way by email;
SC: Mick, how important is it to you to have a regular training partner?
MH: Well, Jay has been my regular training partner for the last 4 years. It’s is very important to have a training partner because you have someone there to push you and help you progress.
SC: Specialist strongman training camps seem few and far between. Do you think it’s possible to train for strongman in isolation or on your own?
MH: Yeah you can, but you have to have the dedication to go and push yourself. Every session on paper is progress, whether you’re on your own or not.
SC: What’s your training schedule?
MH: Monday; shoulders, triceps and abs. Tuesday; legs and calfs. Wednesday; back, traps and biceps. Friday; chest and abs and Saturday is event training.
SC: It seems [to me, as an outsider!] that diet is not deemed so critical in strongman, I’ve read some atheletes follow a strict regime but others, pretty much, eat what they want. Do you follow a strict diet?
MH: I try to follow the basics, which is enough protein and carbs to do what I do, but it doesn’t matter if the food is cooked in a none-healthy way. So long as it can be converted by the body.
SC: What are your goals for this year and do you have a long term goal?
MH: My long term goal is to win the worlds, but for this year I’m not too sure, as I have to have an operation and I’m not sure if it’s going to interfere with competing. But my health comes first.
SC: At the training camps you play an important role in coaching the athletes, both novice and established. How did you get this knowledge? Did someone teach you the techniques or did you just pick these up through trial and error?
MH: A lot of trial and error and a lot comes from analysing the movement to work out what you have to do to achieve the final goal. For example on the dead lift; making sure the bar is pulled straight, no arms are used, the back is kept straight, your backside is low enough to get the quads working as soon as you lift, so on and so on..
SC: What’s your strongest event?
MH: Max weight in most things.
SC: And what’s your weakest event? (If that’s not giving to much away to the competition!
MH: Moving events at the mo, but this will change.
SC: What are your PB’s?
- Deadlift; 380kg.
- Squat; Don’t know.
- Bench; 220kg for 8 reps.
- Super Yolk; 450kg for 25m.
- Farmers; Don’t know, but they where 200kg each.
- Log; 170kg.
- Atlas Stones; 210kg
SC: Who do you admire in the sport and do you have a role model?
MH Zadrunus. The man is unreal.
SC; So, OK, it’s 15 years from now and your son turns to you and say’s “Dad, I want to be a strongman like you”. Do you put him off or encourage him?
MH: I would encourage him to try other sports, but not really to do the strongman because of the cost and the long term damage it does the body and more importantly the massive strain it puts on any relationship you ever have.
SC: Do you get time for anything else?
MH: No ask my fiancee, she’ll tell you!
SC: I watched a Sven Karlsenn training DVD the other day where he gave away all his training ’secrets’. Do you share your training secrets?
MH: All’s fair in love and war. What I know may not help you but I would tell you, then it’s up to you to make your own mind up.
SC: What do you get out of the sport apart from just feeling strong?
MH: Respect from others and a good laugh on the day.
SC: Do you get nervous in training or competition?
MH: Sometimes, depends if me and Jay wind each other up!
SC: No pain, no gain. True or false?
MH: Very true unfortunately.
SC: So how do you know when to take note of pain and when to ignore it?
MH: When it hurts to much to move the body part or if it’s constant.
SC: Do you think it’s possible to be a “Pro” strongman in the UK? If not now, how about in the future?
MH: Not at the mo because there is no way of controlling it. Until there is one league that supersedes the rest and everyone wants to be in it or a part of it, there will be too many people not competing against each other, to prove the very best of the country.
SC: Who do you see as your biggest rivals in competition at the moment? Who do you need to beat? Do you focus on ‘beating’ specific people or just doing your best?
MH: I do my best and probably beating Jay - as well as wanting him to win - if that makes sense!
SC: Do you do much cardio work? How important do you think cardio fitness is in strongman?
MH: It’s very important and I don’t do as much as I should do.
SC: Strongman has it’s share of athletes who carry a fair amount of bodyweight - whereas others seem to run ‘quite lean’. Do you think either style carries any added advantages?
MH: No not really; you will either win or not. It’s nothing to do with whether you are good looking or not!