Tom Stoltman, The World’s Strongest Man, Refueling with IHOP and Burgers.

How do you practice to peak in a competition?

That’s about 10 weeks. We have training cycles, so the first two weeks are all about getting a feel for where you are and just talking to your trainer to see what the plan is. For me, it was about eight weeks and it was the best workout cycle because it gave me enough time to peak. The first few weeks were conditioned and the reps high – so that my body was fit, healthy and used to the number of workouts. The next couple of weeks is the strength part—reducing reps and sets while increasing weight. The last week you will know if you have peaked or not because it is really light just to help you be aggressive and get your edge.

You want to be 100 percent on the first day of competition. You might feel a bit trashy a few days earlier but as soon as it shows up, you’ll want to be your best. I have nutritionists and trainers but the perfect workout cycle for me is eight weeks, and they plan it out perfectly for me. Much more than that and I just peaked too soon or burned out quickly. It’s really hard to get that perfect balance and you need to try and figure that out because it’s very important not to overdo or under-exercise for bodybuilders.

What does recovery look like after a hard workout?

I like to contrast hot and cold. We have a cold tub in our gym and it’s 36 degrees Fahrenheit. My stuff is usually two minutes cold, five minutes hot. Every day, I try to increase the duration of cold tolerance. I would never exceed 5 minutes in a cold bath but when my workouts get intense, that’s when the need for recovery is higher. If I had a light week, I would only do one minute in cold weather and two minutes in hot weather. As competition day approaches, just as food is increased, so does my healing.

Fitness is also really important. I massage three times a week. One is to prevent injury and stretch. Another is a dry needle, and the other is a deep tissue. I also love to travel, which over the past year has been key to keeping myself as mobile as possible. That’s really beneficial for healing as you can get into positions that other strong guys can’t get into because they’re not mobile. Air conditioning, too, because that helps with recovery. As for me, I tend to focus more on recovery and eating than what I do in the gym because that’s what you win in competitions. If your recovery and feed aren’t working, you’ll never be able to compete with the best.

How does it feel to be backed by the strongest man in the world?

When I win it in 2021, I always want to come back and fight again. I think if you win the title you should go back and try to defend it. I did it successfully and the best part was having my wife and some friends there because [the restrictions] with COVID easing. I was able to enjoy it with her, which was amazing. She hasn’t been able to debut for a couple of years and to do it in front of her made it all the more special.

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