Interview with Adam Bishop – Midland’s Strongest Man 2010

Adam Bishop is an up and coming strongman and powerlifter. Amongst a strong and accomplished sporting history he recently obtained the title of MIDLANDS STRONGEST MAN U105 2010 and came in 5TH in the UK’S STRONGEST MAN U105 2010.

EK: Thanks for joining us today Adam. Can you give our readers a little background on yourself?
Adam: I’m a former professional rugby player (winger), and have been lifting weights for six years. I entered my first Open Strongman Competition in 2010 and came 10th out of 20 despite being the lightest.

EK: That’s pretty impressive. What made you want to get into Strongman?
Adam: I always watched Worlds Strongest Man (WSM) and other strongman competitions on the tv ever since I was young and wanted to have a go at it one day. I started posting on a strongman/powerlifting website called Sugden Barbell and ended up going over to a facility called the Container near Melton Mowbray. I found I was pretty good at a few events and it kinda snowballed from there to be honest.

EK: How do you get access to the specific training implements you need to train for strongman?
Adam: The facility at Melton Mowbray has equipment specially made for me and the guys I train with by Jason Talbot, owner of . He can make any weird implement we need to lift with.  I also personally own a small collection of implements which I train with.

EK: What kind of training split do you use when preparing for strongman events?
Adam: I train 4 times a week in the gym following Westside Barbell principles at the moment, which looks like this:
Monday – Max effort upperbody (log, axle, circus DB etc)
Tuesday – Max effort Lower body (Including Deadlift and squats)
Wednesday – AM Repetition upperbody PM Atlas stone lifting
Thursday – Dynamic effort Lowerbody (including speed squats and speed pulls)
Friday – REST
Saturday – Events training
Sunday – REST
It’s a pretty heavy schedule and I wouldn’t recommend it to others but my body seems to recover well so it works!

EK: That’s definitely intense, you must be having to get in some serious food to fuel all of that? How do you tailor it in the run up to an event?
Adam: Off season its calories calories calories for me as I find it very hard to put on weight otherwise. Obviously as I compete in the u105kg category I need to diet back down to around that weight. In the run up to a competition I’ll keep an eye on what I eat and just pretty much clean up my diet. I’m pretty simple when it comes to food.

EK: It’s nice to see someone who isn’t afraid to eat big! Do you put this together yourself or do you turn to a nutritionist?
Adam: I’m on my own with this really. I mean I have a relatively good understanding of nutrition from my rugby days so don’t seek any help from nutritionists.

EK: That’s good to hear. Moving on to competition day, how do you approach it?
Adam: It depends on the event really. Some events require relative calmness and concentration such as keg throwing or most overhead pressing where a lot of skill and technique is required. In other events, such as deadlifts, stone lifting and car flipping I tend to go a bit ape-sh** and get really worked up about the lift, I mean no sane human being would do that stuff would they!?

EK :  What do you do when something doesn’t quite run to plan?
Adam: I just try and stay calm. In one competition I dropped a railway sleeper on my head. Hardly ideal but you gotta just keep going in order to win.

EK: Ouch that’s got to hurt! What’s your favourite event?
Adam: Probably the Atlas stones with the Deadlift a close 2nd. I think atlas stones are the defining event in strongman, it’s always usually the last and most exciting.

EK: We’re sure everybody wants to know what they are, so could you rattle off your most impressive PBs for us
Adam: On the powerlifting movements I’ve deadlifted 320kg from the floor on a normal bar and pulled 360kg on the silver dollar Deadlift. Squatted 270kg in a belt and knee wraps. On strongman, I’ve pressed a 140kg axle overhead and lifted a 175kg atlas stone onto a platform.

EK: Impressive. What does the future hold for you?
Adam: The short term goal is to defend my Midlands Strongest Man u105 title this year and gain qualification for the UK’s Strongest Man where to be honest, I want to win. I came 5th last year in my first year in the sport, so now I want to take the title and go to the World’s! After achieving this I think I’ll try and gain some weight and look to compete more in the open weight category.

EK: Fantastic stuff. Thanks again for joining us and all the best for the upcoming contests!


Inspiration 23/2/11

This wednesday we thought we’d spread our message through showing you some videos to fire you up. If these feats of strength and power don’t fire you up, we’re honestly not sure what will!

First up we’ve got a guy from who squat presses – people.


Following on, how about a 275kg RAW squat, hands-free? Serious core-strength going on here.


American 19 year old, Pat Mendes, here snatches 182.5kg like its nothing, being the first USA junior to ever do so.


Benedikt Magnusson shows us the definition of being ‘in the zone’.


Olympic lifter Pyrros Dimas demonstrates a crazy power:weight ratio


You think you’ve got a good vertical jump? Stefan Holm says otherwise


 Until next time. Train hard. Train smart. Stay strong.

Have you found any inspirational videos?  Feel free to share them in the comments any of the comment boxes.

Maximising your Hypertrophy: One Rep at a Time – by Ben Coker

You may believe a rep is just a rep and that’s probably why you aren’t growing that much! Each rep counts. Get the most out of each rep and reap big results. In this article I will explain how to perform the perfect rep to maximise hypertrophy

For simplicity, we will consider the rep to be composed of 2 phases –
A) Eccentric or negative
B) Concentric or positive

The Eccentric phase
The eccentric phase of a lift is essentially the lowering phase, where the weight is moved to the starting position prior to a concentric contraction. Here the muscle is under tension whilst lengthening. Using the bench press as an example, it would be the lowering of the bar from lockout to the chest.

The August 2009 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the advantages and disadvantages associated with concentric and eccentric exercises. When comparing eccentric training alone with concentric training alone, in terms of hypertrophy, eccentric training proved to be superior (1).  ‘These greater increases appear to be related to discrepancies in the sarcomere z –lines… (which) represent fibre protein remodelling’(2).

What does that mean? Eccentric training causes lots of tension overload and thus damage to the contractile elements of muscle fibres. As you lower the weight the body is still sending action ‘potentials’ to the muscle group but only activates a smaller number of the fibres to control the weight on its way back to the starting position. This means there is more mechanical load or stress through those fibres that are working. The result is a super compensatory effect, classic hypertrophy. By controlling the eccentric we can also stabilise ourselves ready for a stronger concentric lift and reduce the impact of the stretch shortening cycle, making the muscles do more of the work!

Now I’m hoping that most of you are already aware that time under tension stimulates high levels of muscle fibre hypertrophy and the above isn’t complicated. But that is only half of the rep. Why the hell would you want to settle for a maximum of 50% gains when it could be 100%? In an exam you would just answer in depth 50% of the questions and very briefly just do the others to a poor standard? The same is true for each repetition. Welcome to maximum motor unit recruitment.
The concentric phase
The concentric phase is the part of the lift where the muscle is contracting and shortening, the upward phase of the lift. Following our earlier bench press example, it would be the lifting of the bar from chest through to lockout.

It is essential to lift the weight as fast as you possibly can! Even if the weight is heavy and the bar is not physically moving noticeably faster you should always try to explode into the bar. ‘As the intensity needed to apply force increases (speed), so does the number of motor units involved in the task, particularly the number of fast twitch or high threshold motor units’ (3). (This is also known as maximum motor unit recruitment). In other words, by attempting to accelerate the weight as fast as possible, we can recruit the most muscle fibres

The last 30 years of research has clearly demonstrated that fast lifting tempos reduce your motor unit recruitment threshold (4).  This means you can train your nervous system to recruit all of your motor units sooner. In addition to this we know fast twitch motor units controls more muscle fibers and these cells are bigger (3). Therefore by lifting with a fast tempo and actively engaging as many motor units as possible (especially the high threshold types that control more fibres), not only are we training for power and strength but we have instantly exposed ourselves to much more potential growth as there are more fibres being trained..


It is clear that hypertrophy is greatly stimulated by focusing on the eccentric portion of the repetition. But to maximise hypertrophy we must activate (and therefore train) as many muscle fibres as possible from each repetition (maximum motor unit recruitment). This is achieved not only by include a slow controlled negative but also by using a fast concentric contraction.

So don’t be lazy, do this for every rep of every set of every exercise that you do, every day you train from now on and you’ll unleash a whole new potential you weren’t even training before! Doing the small things right every single day is how we truly achieve greatness!


(1) Roig, M., et al. The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2009; 43:556-568

(2) Jack H. Wilmore, David L. Costill, W. Larry Kenney. Physiology of sport and exercise: Human Kinetics (p.207)

(3) Kelly Baggett at

(4) Desmedt JE and Godaux E. J Physiol 264: 673-693, 1977.

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