The holiday season was filled with rest and recovery for the 2020 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Oleksii Novikov. After one of the most consistent competitors in the back half of 2021, where he podiumed at every contest he entered after the 2021 WSM contest, Novikov is back in the gym training for the 2022 season. It did not take long after Christmas for the Ukrainian to kick his programming into high gear. On Dec. 27, 2021, Novikov took to his YouTube channel to share his first training day back as he preps for the first premier contest of 2022 — the Arnold Strongman Classic.
Novikov is one of 10 elite strongmen who qualified for the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic. The roster is stacked with two other WSM champions — Martins Licis and Tom Stoltman — the 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man champion, Luke Stoltman, two-time WSM runner-up Mateusz Kieliszkowski, 2021 Shaw Classic champion Trey Mitchell, and inaugural Magnus ver Magnusson Strongman Classic champion Maxime Boudreault, to name a few. Check out the video below, wherein Novikov shares how he plans to attack the season and potentially claim his first Arnold Strongman Classic victory:
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Novikov’s training opened with heavy squats. By the time he turned on the camera, he already had 200 kilograms (440.9 pounds) on the barbell with the intent to increase it to 250 kilograms (551.2 pounds). Novikov’s gym does not appear to be a fluidly constructed commercial setting. His space is more akin to an old-school garage-style gym with rusty, mismatched equipment scattered throughout the room. He does not employ a full power rack for his squat session but rather a simple squat rack that’s seen significant use over the years.
According to the 2020 WSM champ, this is his third training session in preparation for the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic, and he asserts that the squat will be an event at that contest, though no official event list has yet been released. Novikov shared that the squat event will offer each athlete three attempts to establish their max load. For reference, Novikov’s PR squat is 350 kilograms (771.6 pounds) while wearing knee wraps without a single-ply suit.
Novikov’s cameraman inquired further about the events at the 2022 Strongman Classic, and Novikov shared the following:
2022 Arnold Strongman Classic Events
- Max Squat — three attempts per athlete
- Timber Carry — 400 kilograms (881.9 pounds)
- Heavy Dumbbell — 124 kilograms (273.4 pounds) for reps
- Max Log Lift
- Stone to Shoulder — 186 kilograms (410.1 pounds)
Note: the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic event list has not been officially released. The events above are listed in the order Novikov shared them.
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[Related: Watch Strongman Martins Licis and CrossFit Games Champ Justin Medeiros Deadlift Heavy Together]
Novikov pulled out the gym mats following his squat session to set up his log lift training. Novikov felt the effects of taking time off from the gym as his legs felt a particular kind of sore after squatting. He expressed it was the kind of sore one feels after not training for an extended period rather than exceeding limits.
Novikov started pressing 80 kilograms (176.4 pounds) overhead with the goal of ramping up to 130 kilograms (286.6 pounds). The 2020 WSM champ calls out the log lift as one of his current weaknesses as he’s never locked out 200 kilograms (440.1 pounds) before and plans to change that in 2022. The holiday rest seemed to garner some dividends as the log moved quite smoothly. Ultimately, Novikov made more significant weight jumps and exceeded his target weight by five kilograms in his second-to-last-set. He locked out three reps of 145 kilograms (319.7 pounds) and closed out his training session with five reps at the same weight.
The Ukrainian admits that he still has a lot of strength to build up in the coming months. One of the big storylines entering 2022 is if Novikov can maintain his momentum from 2021 and potentially make a run to regain the WSM title. The 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic will be the first look at if Novikov’s prep is superior to his rivals, but regardless, it appears the 2022 strongman season is already underway.
Featured image: @novikov_strong_wsm