An ever-challenging aspect of competitive strongman is not always knowing what events will be featured at competitions. Strongmen can often bank on contests incorporating particular movements, such as a deadlift, a squat, or overhead press, but how they will be used is a mystery. Will the event be deadlifts for reps within a particular time? Establishing max load? A deadlift speed ladder? Being effective at only one aspect of a lift (i.e., speed or max weight) can limit potential success.
The Stoltman brothers are strengthening their weaknesses. In a recent heavy deadlift session, they each trained their shortcomings with a barbell in hand. For 2021 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Tom Stoltman, that meant performing high volume speed reps. His older brother and 2021 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) champion Luke Stoltman, on the other hand, trained to improve his maximal load. Check out the video below, courtesy of their YouTube channel, wherein Luke deadlifts a trio of 300-kilogram (661.4-pound) beltless triples with pauses during each eccentric motion:
Note: Luke Stoltman’s lifts start at 5:23.
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As two of the top strongmen on the planet, the Stoltman brothers training together to improve their overall strength game is valuable and proven effective. Tom Stoltman had some notable weaknesses, particularly with his grip, before his breakout performances in 2021
Tom finished second overall at the 2020 WSM contest with three event wins in the Finals. His downfall was a poor showing in the Hercules Hold and a mediocre performance in the max deadlift, both of which severely test one’s grip. A year later, he claimed the top spot on the podium, again with three wins, one of which was the medley event that involved a farmer’s carry. He also scored eight reps on the deadlifts for reps event — two shy of tying for the win with Trey Mitchell, JF Caron, and Adam Bishop.
Tom Stoltman’s deadlift only continued to improve throughout the season, despite the volume of competitions he and Luke were doing. At the final major contest of the season — the 2021 Rogue Invitational — Tom scored second overall with a 413-kilogram (910.5-pound) pull. He was beaten only by JF Caron’s 420-kilogram (925.9-pound) lift.
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In that same deadlift event at the 2021 Rogue Invitational, Luke Stoltman struggled. He finished eighth overall after maxing out at 384 kilograms (846.6 pounds). He only beat Mateusz Kieliszkowski and Mikhail Shivlyakov, as neither man scored a successful lift. Ultimately, Luke finished 14 points out of podium contention, and the deadlift was his weakest event.
Luke doesn’t appear to have taken that loss lightly. His paused deadlift training could likely bump his max deadlift significantly, assuming all else remains equal regarding his diet and recovery. He is already a frontrunner in any overhead pressing event, so fixing his weakness in the deadlift would be akin to Tom Stoltman’s improvement in grip strength.
Aside from the 2021 Rogue Invitational, Luke had arguably the best season of his career with big wins at the 2021 ESM contest and the 2021 Giants Live World Tour Finals. He was even in contention for the 2021 WSM podium heading into the final event of that competition — the Atlas Stones. If the Stoltman brothers’ training can plug the holes in their game the way they’ve proven in the past, the 2022 season could very well be dominated by the Scotsmen.
Featured image: @luke.stoltman on Instagram