Strongman. The very word itself conjures up images of bearded behemoths, bending steel bars, and pulling planes. That used to be true, but strongman is no longer just for the big boys, and the lower weight categories are blowing up in both talent and popularity. This weekend sees the greatest lightweights from around the globe head to the states to compete for the official title of the World’s Strongest Man Under 90kg. We were fortunate enough to speak to competitor Rob Ward before he flies out.
Hi Rob, for those who don’t know who you are. Introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Rob Ward. A 31 year old u90kg strongman from Leighton buzzard, UK. I’m currently Britain’s and Europe’s Strongest Man u90kg. This weekend I’ll be competing at World’s Strongest Man u90kg in Indianapolis.
You’ve had an outstanding season this year and I think it’s fair to say you’re going into this as a favorite for the title. Are there any other competitors you’re keeping an eye on?
There’s quite a few very good u90kg strongmen at the moment. I think people like Terry Rady and Tom Hibbert will do especially well this year. I’ve competed against Tom a few times before and it’s always close. Terry on the other hand is more of an unknown but his training has been going well and with it being held in his hometown he’s got an advantage.
I feel in great shape though and I’m confident that if I compete to the best of my ability I can’t be beaten.
Could you walk us through the weekend’s events?
First event is hummer tyre max deadlift.
There are a lot of good deadlifters competing this weekend and from what I’ve seen it’s been going well for a lot of lads in training, including myself so it’ll be interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone pull 330kg or even 340kg on Saturday.
Second event is the loading medley.
Two kegs and two sandbags both weighing 112kg loaded onto a 46″ platform from 30′. This is probably my least favourite event of the day, so I’m glad it’s the second event. There are some fit lads competing so I’ll do well to stay near the top on this.
Third event is the overhead medley.
Four items, a 90kg keg, a 78kg circus dumbbell, a 129kg fixed axle and a 136kg log in the quickest time. Quite looking forward to this as overhead is one of my strong points. Quite a few lads should finish this so it’ll be down to least mistakes.
Fourth event is carry and drag.
A 363kg yoke and a 317kg chain drag 40′ each. This will be the heaviest yoke in an u90kg comp ever I believe and I’m sure a few will struggle. I enjoy yoke but the chain drag will be a leg buster. I’m hoping to do well in this.
Fifth event is the power stairs.
Three implements (125kg,136kg, 147kg) , 6 steps each, all 16″ steps. Not many lads have had the right equipment to train this and have been improvising in training. It’s a bit of an unknown and I think there will be a lot of close finishes. But it’ll be important to get a good time here going into the last event.
The last event is the atlas stones.
109kg to 66″,
125kg to 60″,
147kg to 54″,
161kg to 48″,
172kg to 42″.
A great event to finish the comp. The first platform is head height for most lads too so it won’t be easy especially after 5 tough events.
All events will be head to head except max deadlift and power stairs.
Do you have a lot of weight to cut before Saturday?
I’ve had to cut about 5kg for the comp, quite similar to a lot of the lads competing. I plan to start dehydrating a couple of days out and with the help of a sauna on the morning of weigh in I should be fine. Once weighed in I’ll rehydrate and load up on carbs.
As we’re competing in America I made sure to get out here a week before. It takes a few days to get your sleeping pattern right and to get over any Jet lag. I’ve made the mistake of leaving it too late before and it cost me dearly.
Competing thousands of miles away from home must be tough do you have any rituals or good luck charms that you stick to?
I don’t really have any good luck charms or rituals I just make sure my food prep leading up to the comp is right and to get plenty of stretching in.
As a smaller guy what first got you into Strongman?
I got into strongman because I always watched world’s Strongest Man on TV growing up and thought I’d love to give it a go. My brother was competing a few years before me and done well which also made me eager to try. We’ve always had a competitive rivalry, it’s a shame he’s retired really.
With weight categoried strongman increasing in popularity, there is a lot of talk about just who is the strongest pound for pound. Do you think you’d be up there?
Pound for pound there are some fantastic athletes around the world in all weight classes but I’d say the u90kg category is the most impressive at the moment, with the like of Terry, Tom, and myself putting up some big numbers.
I’ve heard rumors of you competing in both 105s and 90s next year. Please tell me it’s true?
Next year I was planning on competing in u105kg, I don’t enjoy the dieting for u90s and I want to see how much stronger I can get by putting on some weight. I think the only reason I’d do u90s after world’s would be to try and break the u90kg log world record if I felt ready. My next definite comp is Arnold’s u105 in Ohio next March. I’m looking forward to the new challenges next year but first I’ve got to put in the performance of my life this weekend and try and take the u90kg world title.
Rob thank you for your time and best of luck this weekend.