When thinking of the Stoltman brothers, the names that come to mind are the 2021 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Tom Stoltman and the 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) Luke Stoltman. They are, after all, two of the most effective strongmen in the sport and threats to win any contest they enter. Both men are scheduled to compete at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic on the weekend of March 4-5, 2022 in Columbus, OH.
However, their training involves another Stoltman brother. The baby of the Stoltman family, 26-year-old Harry Stoltman, joined Tom and Luke at the Stoltman Strength Centre in Invergordon, Scotland, as he is diving into the family business of Atlas Stones and log lifts. For reference, there are five Stoltman siblings (Jodie, Nikki, Luke, Tom, and Harry).
Harry is early in his strongman journey — his first Instagram post was posted on Christmas in 2020, sharing his bodyweight of 112 kilograms (246.9 pounds) as “good…to build on.” Check out the video below — the first episode of a new series titled “BECOMING A STRONGMAN!” on the Stoltman Brothers YouTube channel, which follows Harry’s growth under the tutelage of his older brothers:
[Related: Brian Shaw’s New Strength Coach for the 2022 World’s Strongest Man Contest Is Joe Kenn]
Harry Stoltman may be over a hundred pounds lighter than his WSM champion brother Tom, but his stature is similar. Tom stands at six-foot, eight inches, just three inches taller than Harry. Luke stands at six-foot, three inches. At the beginning of the episode, where Harry stands next to a gleeful Tom and excited Luke, the elder brother suggests that Harry’s strongman trajectory could see him raise the 2026 WSM title overhead. Considering that he’s working quite closely with two of the best in the game, it’s not unreasonable to think that Luke’s comment is more of a premonition than a compliment.
We’re going to try to give him our expertise.
The Stoltman trio kickoff their workout with shoulder mobility work with resistance bands in preparation for log press training. Luke Stoltman is known for his overhead strength, often dominating in log lift events at high-level competition. One of the main highlights of Luke’s 2021 season was out-lifting the field in the 2021 WSM log lift event.
Harry opened with 30 kilograms (66.1 pounds) to get a sense of the implement and to allow Tom and Luke to correct his positioning and ensure he’s deriving proper power from his legs. Luke’s goal for Harry in the log press is to build up his percentages over time so that he can lift in elite competition range.
Tom’s suggestion for getting acclimated to heavier logs is to break down the movement and train each aspect individually. For example, when the brothers bump the log up to 90 kilograms (198.4 pounds), Tom works lifting the log off the mats but then drops it rather than lapping it. This allows each brother to focus on the hip extension (driving the hips forward) to get the log into a comfortable position to lap so it’s properly positioned for the clean. After several reps, each brother maneuvers the log overhead and knocks out a handful of reps — Harry stuck to a 50 kilogram (110.2-pound) log rather than tripling the weight out of the gate.
Harry performed a set at 70 kilograms (154.3 pounds) while his older brothers bumped the weight to 110 kilograms (242.5 pounds). Harry was feeling the groove and set his target for 90-kilograms (198.4 pounds), but pushed to 80 kilograms (176.4 pounds) first. Luke’s reminded Harry to keep his chest up when driving the log overhead. There is a natural tendency to allow the chest to fall slightly forward when preparing to press the log overhead. Resisting that is key so that the bar path for the log remains straight. Otherwise, the weight will be forward overhead, potentially throwing off the lifter’s balance. Harry was absorbing the advice well:
I feel strong. I feel stable.
Luke and Tom hit a few sets at 130 kilograms (286.6 pounds), then upped their sets in 10-kilogram implements until closing out the log lift session with sets of 160 kilograms (352.7 pounds). Luke’s target for 2022 is a 230-kilogram log lift. His first opportunity will be in the max lift Austrian Oak log press event at the 2022 ASC. If successful, he would exceed Chieck “Iron Biby” Sanou‘s current log lift world record of 229 kilograms (504.9 pounds) scored at the 2021 Giants Live World Tour Finals.
The overhead work was not done. The Stoltman brothers shifted to heavy dumbbell training. Tom and Luke opened with 80-kilogram (176.4-pound) doubles followed by 100-kilogram (220.5-pound) singles. Tom struggled at 100 kilograms, but Luke felt “nice and comfy” and worked up to triples with that weight. Harry did not partake in the heavy dumbbell training, though he did learn through watching his brothers’ techniques.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: Brian Shaw Announces 2022 Shaw Classic Roster; Return of “SHAWSTRENGTH” Podcast]
Following the heavy dumbbell session, where Tom struggled, the brothers felt it best for him not to over-exert himself in the bag toss. Luke and Harry continued with 20, 22, and 24-kilogram sandbags. They did not use a bar, so it’s unclear how they knew if the height of their tosses were sufficient, but Luke’s aim for Harry was to isolate proper release position. If the bag is released too early in the toss, it would move in the correct arc over the beam. Likewise, if the bag is released too late, the result is the same.
As Harry got in some practice, Luke called out the breaking of his wrists. When swinging the bag in a wide stance to build momentum for the toss, the wrists should remain stiff the entire time, aligned with the forearms. If the wrists break during the swing, the trajectory of the bag is likely to be out of line with the target even if the proper force is applied. Harry seemed to adjust well to Luke’s recommendations after not having tossed a bag in two years.
It’s quite technical. A lot to think about.
Tom Stoltman’s current struggle is less so with the weight or technique of the events and more so with the mental aspect of his training. He finds that his errors in training often come from overthinking a lift or over-analyzing the numbers in his programming and getting “annoyed” when they aren’t met.
Shield Carry & Farmer’s Carries
The Stoltman brothers’ training session went past midnight in Scotland as they shuffled their plate-loaded shield onto a makeshift 30-meter indoor course at their gym. Tom went first with a 160-kilogram (352.7-pound) shield. As Luke and Tom carried the shield back and forth, Harry performed farmer’s carries with a frame that had a weight plate loaded at opposite corners to train stability during the walk.
As Harry progressively added more weight plates to his farmer’s carries. Tom and Luke shortened their course distance in for the shield carry to focus on their footwork and turn efficiency. In competitions, shield carry events are either for max distance or a set distance for time. In the latter, events can be won or lost on the time it takes to turn around after completing the length of a course.
After Tom and Luke concluded their shield carry training, they joined Harry on the farmer’s carry frame for heavy pick-ups — lifting the frame with heavier loads without the walk. This trains grip, which Tom has improved upon much since his 2020 WSM runner-up performance.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: Jay Cutler Teaches Strongman Brian Shaw How to Train Arms Like a Bodybuilder]
The Stoltman brothers’ training session concludes with Tom’s specialty — the Atlas Stones. Harry’s Atlas Stone training involves lifting heavy sandbags over a bar rather than working with tacky and stones right away. He performed sets with a 100-kilogram sandbag to get the mechanics of lapping the bag and using proper hip extension to hoist it over the bar.
Eventually, Luke had Harry strap on protective tape to his forearms to test his hand with an actual Atlas Stone. The eldest Stoltman brother and the youngest Stoltman brother faced off in a stone-off style session with a 120-kilogram (264.6-pound) stone in temperatures low enough to see their breath. While Harry felt the fatigue as he attempted reps four and five, he successfully converted each lift to Luke’s satisfaction.
Stoltman brothers now are three.
Tom and Luke got a bit more adventurous with their stone training. They found a 155-kilogram (341.7-pound) stone at the beach and returned it to their gym. It appeared jagged around its sides and relatively smooth at the top and bottom. Picking up this oddly shaped beach stone is different from the smooth spherical dimensions of an Atlas Stone, but the lift mechanics remain the same. For natural stone-to-shoulder lifting, Tom recommends positioning the sharpest side of the stone away from you so that when it’s placed against the body during the lift, it doesn’t create discomfort that could throw off mechanics.
Stoltman Brothers Assemble
Before battling at the 2022 ASC, Luke and Tom will compete at the 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man (BSM) contest on Feb. 26, 2022, at the Utilita Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Tom is the defending champion, and the roster includes 2020 BSM winner Adam Bishop.
We can expect Luke and Tom to post stellar performances in 2022 with the momentum built in 2021. Their training progression appears to be on point, and they are aware of making adjustments when something isn’t benefitting them in the gym. We’ll see how long until Harry joins the ranks of elite strongman competition, which seems to be a matter of when not if with his brothers by his side.
Featured image via Stoltman Brothers YouTube channel.