Powerlifting & Strongman

What does it take to become the World's Strongest Man?

If you've ever watched World’s Strongest Man on TV, then you’ll have seen muscular giants performing incomprehensible feats of strength.

From truck pulls to tossing kegs around like toys, these colossal human beings are built with one goal in mind: a podium finish as the strongest man on Earth.

With Britain's Strongest Man 2020 just weeks away, we spoke to Strongman competitors Zake Muluzi, Luke Stoltman and Tom Stoltman about what it takes to compete for the Strongest crown.

Training like a Strongman

How would you even begin training for a Strongman competition?

Well, Luke believes it's vital for beginners to get in the gym and learn the basics.

"Learn the compounds, do your deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press. Do these four and hone them in," says Luke.

Luke and Tom have been Strongman training for 18 and 8 years respectively.

Despite Luke working full-time, the brothers manage to train together 6 days a week.

"Working full time and being a top-level Strongman isn't easy," says Luke. "I started working on oil rigs when I was 18 and now I'm 35. So it maybe took a bit longer to get to that top level."

Tom, on the other hand, is a full-time Strongman, but this too comes with its difficulties.

He says, "it's hard to get into a routine [when you're training full-time], sometimes you're a bit lethargic."

Diet of a Strongman

If you think training to become the World’s Strongest Man is all about impressive feats like pulling trucks and lifting heavy logs, well, you’d be right but a Strongman diet is also absolutely mindblowing.

"Eating over 10,000 calories a day is pretty horrendous, you're walking around like a bloated whale most of the time," says Luke.

Tom echoes Luke's struggles with the diet. "Eating chicken and rice every day gets boring, particularly when you've got a missus as well and we tend to have a takeaway and go on dates. It makes sticking to a diet hard."

But what does a 10,000-calorie-a-day diet look like? We spoke to Zake Muluzi about his training intake; a ten meal feast that comprises of steaks, fish and five protein shakes.

Meal one:

Zake's first meal of the day comes in liquid form, a whey protein shake.

Meal two:

Next up, breakfast. Zake devours a whopping 400g of porridge oats with full-fat milk and washes it down with a sugary cup of coffee.

Meal three:

Around an hour later, Zake has a snack of fish and pasta. The basic meal consists of 2 tins of tuna mixed with a large dollop of mayonnaise on a bed of spaghetti.

At over 1,000 calories, it's not your average snack.

Meal four:

Lunch for Zake seems surprisingly bland. He opts for 2 chicken breasts garnished with butter, salt and pepper with 200g of white rice.

This meal is washed down with another whey protein shake.

Meal five:

A post-lunch snack for Zake consists of 6 oatcakes, 2 protein bars, a large handful of mixed nuts and a large banana.

This second snack of the day also tops 1,000 calories.

Meal six:

His sixth meal is 4 large bananas, 2 oranges and a few litres of water.
When you're a Strongman, five fruit and veg a day doesn't quite cut it.

Meal seven:

More liquid protein with another whey shake.

Meal eight:

His fourth protein shake of the day is two scoops with full-fat milk.

Meal nine:

For dinner, he typically eats a 200g steak, 8 boiled potatoes and a large serving of veg.

As a treat for pudding, he has a yoghurt. Typically strawberry.

Meal ten:

For his final meal, Zake slurps down another protein shake. But this time, he opts for a mass gainer protein shake to bulk up on carbs and fat. He opts for just over the recommended dose.

A single serving of extreme mass gainer shake is roughly 502 calories, compared to 103 calories in a single serving of a protein shake.

Luke Stoltman performing a single arm overhead press with a dumbbell

Lifestyle of a Strongman

Eating this much food must have some negative side effects, right? Clothes shopping is one of them.

Luke explains, "you can't just go to the shops and buy clothes. That's why Tom and I wear shorts most of the time because trying to find jeans or trousers to fit is so frustrating. You try on a nice pair of jeans and they don't even fit over your calves."

And clothing isn't the only issue for these Strongmen. Tom also tells us how he finds a vital part of his job, travelling, particularly difficult.

"Travelling is a nightmare for me. Especially if you have to sit beside someone on a flight or you're in the middle. My legs are extra long (Tom is 6ft 9ins) my feet are long (size 19). Everything is long," he says.

Sibling Strongman rivalry

Aside from the gruelling training regime, the mammoth amount of food and the lifestyle setbacks, we wonder what it must be like competing against a sibling.

Luke says, "people ask if there's a rivalry, and there is to a certain point."

"When we're in that competitive zone, he's another athlete, but at the same time I get quite emotional competing with Tom because he's still my baby brother, so I want to see him do as well as he can.

"For me it's pride, I have a great deal of pride watching him compete."

Tom Stoltman performing a deadlift with a Mirafit barbell

Tom, who has been Strongman training for 8 years, revealed that he owes a lot of his success to his brother.

He explains, "if Luke didn't do Strongman I would be playing football or doing something else. If he didn't compete I never ever would have thought to do Strongman."

For Tom, the rivalry is there, "Luke is a hundred per cent my biggest competition, I want to become one of the best in the world."

But he does believe that they are stronger as a pair.

"If Luke didn't have me and I didn't have him, we wouldn't be as good as we are."

Watch the full interview with The World's Strongest Brothers below:

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Zake, Luke and Tom for taking time out of their busy training schedules to speak with us. You can follow Zake on Instagram: @zakemuluzi and watch the Stoltman brothers on their Youtube channel. Don't forget to wish them luck for Britain's Strongest Man 2020!