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!


Boulder Shoulders : The Missing Link to an Impressive Upper Body – by Ben Coker

You work on your pull ups, and endless back row variations, you pound your chest from all angles and you hit shoulder presses yet you upper body still lacks that mass factor and you still cant achieve that v-taper that makes others take notice. You want the solution? Get some shoulders. Big shoulders.

Big shoulders are the key finishing factor to helping you achieve that complete upper body that’s awe inspiring and set you apart from the rest! Believe it or not the impressiveness of  your chest, lats and v taper will be compromised by scrawny shoulders. Now let me guess you do shoulder work right? Wrong. 3 sets of shoulder pressing with some half hearted front raises and poorly performed side laterals or even worse one of these thrown in at the end of a chest session doesn’t cut it! If your serious about getting an impressive and complete muscular appearance you need to prioritise your shoulders.

Arnie knew the importance of Big Shoulders

The deltoids are comprised of three parts; the anterior aspect, the lateral aspect and the posterior aspect. This means that you need devote ample time to all aspects to achieve a rounded look! Too often emphasis is put on front delts either consciously and or subconsciously and by the later I mean performing side raises poorly, activating the front delts and not the lateral aspect of the deltoids as the movement is intended! Very rarely will someone have a small front delt compared to lateral or rear delt as anterior delts are hit in chest sessions that everyone does! I simply top them off with some volume at the start of my shoulder session and then pound away on the lateral and posterior parts of my delts.

If the thought of a head turning upper body isn’t enough to get you motivated to train lateral and rear delts than maybe this will. These muscles are key stabilisers in both the bench press and shoulder press and the lateral aspect is also a synergist for overhead pressing. If your too lazy to work it out I’ll spell it out for you; training these parts of you delts improves your bench pressing and shoulder pressing. Let me guess now your motivated…

If you’re a contact sport athlete you’ll also be less susceptible to injury, benefiting from the above stabilisation and the bullet proofing effect that the extra ‘padding’ of bigger delts provides to such an unstable joint as the shoulder is especially in contact scenarios.

We must not forget the trapezius in this overhaul of your coat hanger frame. Its no good being wide with a flat upper shoulder girdle. Big traps not only top off the v taper but are also key muscles in other movements and overall strength – just think deadlift and you can see a clear carry over of strong traps into a bigger deadlift. The first three of the exercises I prescribe below all involve the trapezius group instantly increasing volume of work down for that muscle group but also if you are deadlifting somewhere in your routine the volume is compounded. This should be more than enough especially as it was found that side lateral raises (one of my prescribed remedies) elicits more muscle activity in the upper traps than shrugs! (1) Feel free to include direct shrug work regardless into your shoulder session as i periodically do when i increase my intensity for a period.

Now its time to warn you. Shoulder workouts hurt – in a good way. Simply put if your doing it right it should feel like your muscles are on fire and you’re so sore you cant even hold your posture! So when you adopt the exercises i prescribe think, what i think: ‘I know this hurts but can I actually do more or am I just looking for an easy way out?’ Stop being a wimp and get grinding away till it hurts, then go to it really hurts then go until your form gets scrappy. Rest for a few seconds and then keep going till you get a sensation of a thousand knives piercing you all over your shoulders! The lateral and posterior delts don’t require much weight lifted but better respond to extreme volume and by extreme i mean extreme. Get blood into the muscle and stretch the fascia to stimulate growth. I have found this to be bar far the best method for training my delts.

The remedies…

Modified dumbbell front raises

Start seated holding the dumbbells in a neutral position (like the start of a hammer curl). As you raise the dumbbell in front of you with a straight arm and without swinging, internally rotate and arc the dumbbell up and inwards finishing, with them touching in front of you at eye level. This puts extra stress on the anterior delt and recruits the lateral aspect of the delt more as you internally rotate.

High upright row immediately into press

Use a lighter weight than normal. Perform an high upright row from the hang then immediately press the weight overhead. Imagine the bar continuously moving upwards and not resting for a pause as you change from the muscle up (muscle clean) into the press. These are extremely taxing and harder than you think giving you an entire shoulder pump that is insane!

Wide grip upright row

When performing these the traps will get targeted but always focus on lifting from the lateral delts for extra effect. I image I am holding dumbbells and performing side lateral raises.

Side lateral raises (performed properly)

Always ensure you elbow is higher than your wrist and imagine your palms facing the floor at all times and actively pointing your thumb down towards the floor. This allows you to target the lateral aspect of the delt and even the rear delt!

Face pulls

Using a cable column start with you arms out in front of you shoulder height holding the rope attachment. Keeping your elbows up at 90 degrees to your torso pull the rope to above your eyes. Keep good form and don’t get carried away with weight this isn’t a row!

Low Cable reverse flies

Bending over keeping good form reach across your body to the low cable. Whilst maintaining a constantly relatively extended elbow perform a reverse fly squeezing the rear delt and taking care not to swing and involve other muscles

Wrap up

If you want that impressive physique that turns head then get some attitude and bust your ass off for those impressive shoulders. Put these exercises into your shoulder workout amongst what ever direct pressing and shrugging you already do. Remember its a shoulder training session not a ‘going through the motions’ shoulder session that currently is getting you no results! Think volume not weight and enjoy the pain as its a sign your doing it right and on the way to changing your matchstick-head excuses for shoulders into boulders!

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