England’s Strongest Man 2011, runner up at UK’s Strongest Man and World’s Strongest Man competitor Lloyd Renals gives his low down on his strongman career so far:
I thought I would give a bit of insight into my training since I started as I always wanted to know what other competitors did but everyone kept most things close to their chest and never gave too much away so always felt a little in the dark. More so in strongman purely because the sport is so physically demanding and there are so many different types of events.
I started 3 and a half years ago after I finished my degree training with a friend who is UK’s strongest man competitor Kelvin Gardner. When I started I’ll be honest I had no idea what I was doing I mostly listened to people around me and read little bits off the web didn’t really take any notice if it was reliable or not. I knew the basics from my degree and knew how to train individual muscles but training is a whole different thing so looking back now it’s quite embarrassing, but my very first gym program was:
- Monday: squats, deadlift and leg press
- Wednesday: bench, shoulder db press, lateral raises and skull crushers
- Thursday: back assistance work (cleans, lat pull down, rows , biceps)
- Saturday: events training, typically log, yoke, farmers, stones, and anything else we could play with.
Every set I would work up to my 1 rep max pretty much on every set and very rarely did repetitions. So I would start at 10 reps and then 8, 5, 3, 2, to my 1 rep max.
When I started training I could deadlift 180/200kg, squat 160kg, bench 100kg, my form was ugly but I got there and that was the most important part for me at the time. So numbers were ok’ish but diet definitely wasn’t. I use to eat pretty much a lot of everything and I ended up putting on a lot of weight very quickly. Something like 5 stone in 2 years far from recommended but I could deadlift 300, squat 250, and bench 180. Fitness was far from fantastic but I could lift so I was happy not much has changed now!
I use to play around with lots of bits when I trained to try and perfect my weaknesses and my strengths. My weaknesses I had then have changed a little bit but are mostly the same. So they are my squat, overhead press, repetition work, stones and grip. I use to find that the harder I worked my bench the worse my over head got so I ditched it. I use to front squat but this eventually just frustrated me so stopped it, purely because I could never keep the bar on my shoulders. Soft tissue adaptation takes a minimum of 6 weeks so I always tried different exercises and programs for a minimum of that period and that hasn’t changed.
During this time I got into reading about training and fitness and bought and read pretty much every book I could. So I tweaked my program but pretty much left it as it was purely because it worked for me. So my next program changed about 6-8 months in. I altered to improve my weakness so I separated my squat and deadlift.
- Monday: squat, leg press, hamstring curls
- Wednesday: barbell press, db press, lateral raises, skull crushers and tricep pull downs.
- Thursday: deadlift and back assistance
- Saturday events as before, usually heavy as you’re competing in disguise trying to push people around you trying to find out how far off you are.
I split my deadlift and squat day because I found I could always pull a big deadlift but squat was just awful. I had bad technique, I didn’t know what to do or how to change it, but the thought was if I split it up I can spend more time on each exercise and really work on my form. The number of repetitions changed a bit so on deadlift, squat, and barbell press I started on sets of 10 on the light and then gradually got to my 2 rep max where I did 2 sets and then finish, and on leg press I did sets of 10s. I use to train so I had a day rest in between my heavy sessions purely because the weights were too heavy for training if I’m honest.
I use to play around with reps, different exercises, and when I did what exercise all the time either to improve or keep my interest up, until the last 12 months where my program changed to:
- Monday: deadlift (switch between 18″ and floor) and back assistant day (lat pull, seated row, lumbar extensions or bent over row) I would warm up to 5RM and then 5 sets on deadlift and sets of 10’s on the rest.
- Wednesday: seated rack press, incline bench, close grip or floor press, lateral and front raises, tricep extensions. First 2 exercises where 5×5 and then e other would remain sets of 10’s.
- Thursday: squat, leg press, stiff leg or hamstring curls. Squat was always 5×5, leg press was increase weight on sets of 10 (maybe 8-10 sets) and hamstring work was sets of 20’s.
- Saturday: events typically heavy and tried to work on event weaknesses.
This was the program that gave me my best progress. I had a 380kg deadlift, 340kg squat, and a 180kg overhead press. Along with the program my diet cleaned up significantly as I started reading into nutrition and diet and breaking down what I shoved in my mouth.
I use to use protein shakes and bars to boost my calories or meal replacement drinks and shakes to increase my protein at meals. About 6 months ago I started eating meals instead of drinking shakes and I now try when to watch what I eat and have an idea of how much I’m eating calorie wise.
So I’ll have on average 4 breasts of chicken a day, a tin or 2 of tuna, plenty of salad, vegetables and fruit, slow release carbs like porridge and oats. I go through periods of liking eggs so can have probably around 6 boiled egg whites a day. I try to eat as regularly as possible throughout the day if I can but with work it’s hard sometimes.
Supplements I use regularly are from Oneon sports nutrition. So I use breakfast whey in the morning which is protein with oats. Half hour before I workout I have their whey and Creatine mix called Vulcan. I use their pre-workout drink called Hades purely because after 8 hours of work I need a wake up. Post workout I take their Apollo which is mostly fast acting carbs and protein. Before bed I take my omega 3, multi vitamin and ZMA and often I wake up in the night and that’s when I have a whey max shake just for ease but sometimes I will cook. I am using caffeine tablets at the moment in the day purely because I’m on the go at work and haven’t got time for a coffee. I try to minimise my supplements to what I need and try to eat food if possible.
Recently I have been very fortunate to have a gym open up not far from where I live and they have strongman equipment so I can train events in the week. So I have tweaked my program for the next year so I can spend more time on Saturday’s event session purely working on my weakest events. I’m currently in the process of testing it out and seeing if it works so I will post on my Facebook page in the next 6 weeks if it’s had any impact. The main change is I’m now training 5 days a week and I have moved around some of my training but mostly the same but concentrating of the basic lifts and events and varying my rep range every other week.
My goals for the next year are a deadlift of 400kg+, squat of 360kg and overhead of 200kg. I’m always working on elements like form, speed, grip strength and endurance but I tend to think if my goals as, few and simple, that means they are easy to keep my focus and I have a better chance of success, opposed to worrying about sub 20secs for 440kg yoke for 30 metres as there are so many variables.
Any questions or queries don’t hesitate to ask or any ideas I’m open to opinions, I’m always learning, so the more I read or hear, it can only make me a better strongman. Hope you enjoyed the read and I’m sure I’ll always be forever changing my diet and training until I reach my end in this sport.
If you’d like to get in touch with Lloyd follow him on twitter @LloydRenals or check out his facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/lloyd.renals