Strongman Mitchell Hooper’s methodical approach to training and competition helped him win the 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) and 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic titles just over a year following his professional strongman debut.
On Aug. 9, 2023, “The Moose” published a video on his YouTube channel wherein he shared his three biggest priorities when programming for strength: sustainability, training the nervous system, and adapting for recovery needs. Check it out below:
1. Make It Sustainable
Training programs need to fit one’s lifestyle to maintain it long-term. Hooper recommended planning weekly training frequency around the minimum number of days one can commit to working out each week.
Hooper doesn’t pre-program his rest days. He recommended cashing in rest days when one’s schedule doesn’t afford the time to train or when lacking availability for sufficient equipment.
2. Training Nervous System, Not Muscles
Hooper opined that one doesn’t need 48 hours to recover between low-volume workouts. “We don’t need to limit ourselves to train a body part twice a week like traditional bodybuilding dogma might have you believe,” said Hooper. “You can train squats three times a week and be totally fine and still train deadlifts.”
Hooper added that a lifter could perform low-volume lower-body workouts four days a week without the risk of overtraining. However, he advised monitoring sleep, appetite, and irritability to gauge recovery.
Hooper cautioned against using joint and muscle pains as recovery indicators because it doesn’t account for nervous system health.
If your nervous system crashes and your capacity to push diminishes…your numbers are going to go backward.
If a lifter can’t bench press one rep with 70 percent of their one-rep max (1RM) following a 1RM attempt, the nervous system has likely taken a hit. Per Hooper, fully recovering from a heavy lift should take 20 to 25 minutes. Individuals who cannot recover in that window should pull back their training volume to allow their nervous system time to recover.
3. Recovery Will Vary
Similar to how one must tailor their training program to suit their lifestyle, their recovery program should follow the same approach. One’s workouts shouldn’t always be about doing more; they should know when to take their foot off the gas.
“There are times where I would be very happy with no progress at all over a four-week period if I’m really busy or stressed or moving around a lot,” Hooper said. “There are times where if I improve five percent over four weeks, I’d be pretty disappointed.”
2023 Shaw Classic
Hooper is set to compete next at the 2023 Shaw Classic, scheduled for Aug. 19-20, in Loveland, CO. The winner of the show will be crowned “The Strongest Man On Earth.” If Hooper wins the 2023 Shaw Classic, he will be the second athlete ever after four-time WSM champion Žydrūnas Savickas to hold the WSM and Strongest Man on Earth titles.
Featured image: @mitchellhooper on Instagram