Wednesday, 11th March 2015 @ 18:00
In ancient Greek Mythology the Titan of strength, Atlas, was punished to carry the world on his shoulders.
Harlequins’ very own Titan, and Strength and Conditioning coach, Adam Bishop has the world at his feet as his career as a strongman competitor is about to go global, with him competing at the prestigious World’s Strongest Man Competition this April.
After short careers within rugby and Skeleton Bobsleigh, it was during a free weekend at University in which Bishop was introduced to strength athletics.
Having watched World’s Strongest Man since 1998 and seeing such giants as Mariusz Pudzianowski and Svend Karlsen win world titles, he took an immediate liking to strength training and decided to give it a go. In just a short space of time, the 26 year-old’s career has rocketed and he is ready to take on the world.
Adam’s honours are remarkable considering he has been competing for just a short period of time.
“I started off competing in the Under 105kg category,” he began. “It’s one of three categories, open weight, Under 105 and Under 90s.
“I did two years in the under 105 category and decided to go into the opens as I was fed up of losing weight to compete. I went into the Open category in 2012 and won UK’s Strongest Junior and then built up from there. 2014 was a huge year for me, I competed in a couple of Giants live competitions, which is a tour where some of the best athletes in the world take part.
“They went really well, I finished fourth in Sweden and came second in the UK Strongest Man run by Glenn Ross; I recently came third in Britain’s strongest man. It’s a dream to get the opportunity to go to the worlds, especially as I’m so much smaller than most of the guys.”
It’s hard to comprehend Bishop, a 6’3 130kg man, describing himself as smaller than most of the other competitors, however being able to call yourself third strongest man in Britain is an almighty achievement and having to fuel your body for that title is even more impressive. Each day Adam consumes five and a half thousand calories, more than double what the average male requires, so you’d like to think that even he struggles with shopping bags.
His role at Harlequins as a Strength and Conditioning coach seems to be the perfect fit and from a player’s perspective, who better to have helping you prepare for 80 minutes of rugby than one of Britain’s strongest men?
“Being an S&C coach is pretty much the perfect job,” he continued. “I don’t think I’d be a good strength coach if I was unable to make myself strong in the first place. I do my own training programmes so it fits perfectly.
“The physical demands between strength competing and rugby are so much different. Obviously they play for 80 minutes, while I have to work for between 60 and 90 seconds with maximum effort; after that, I have a lengthy rest. It’s not always just about lifting weights, I ensure I maintain my cardiovascular health through low level exercise as well.”
Strongman competitions are famed for their unique events, from farmer’s walks and giant dumbbell presses to Atlas stones, Pillars of Hercules and car deadlifts. The training for such events can be comically interesting.
“It sounds silly, and obvious, but to be a good strongman you have to be strong first.
“You have to have a good base level of strength which can revolve around squatting, overhead presses and the deadlift. I have one day a week, usually at weekends where I train specifically on the events I will have in competitions.
“I will borrow a 20 tonne truck from a haulage company, and practice with it ready for when I have the truck pull in the competition. The events can be great fun, you don’t learn what they are until three weeks or so before the competition and all the kit is different.
“It’s the odd objects which are the best. Car deadlifts and car flips always look cool; I did a deadlift event in Sweden which was a pick-up truck. That was about 350kg and the challenge was to do it for as many repetitions as possible. My favourite events are the Yoke walk and the Atlas stones.
“In the Brits, we had to carry a weight around in a circle for as long as possible; that particular weight was a quad bike. Because the kit is so different it’s very hard to get it perfect.
“Having said that I’m massive on my preparation and I analyse everything. If I’m lucky enough to go to the World’s, I’ve been studying the type of events used over the years, so I have a good idea what to expect, so my training is based around that.”
In stark contrast to the support the Harlequins squad get behind the scenes, from skills coaching, defence coaching and strength and conditioning, Adam’s training is very individualistic and learns through trial and error.
“It’s very individualistic,” he said. “Strongmen competitors keep their cards close to their chest and won’t really talk too much about what they are doing to train because ultimately you are competing against one another, so you don’t want to let out your trade secrets. It is a massive limitation of strongman, there are some great coaches out there who, if they were to get involved, would be able to push these guys even further.”
With the World at his feet and a trip to Malaysia in a few weeks everyone associated with Harlequins wishes him the very best of luck. Keep your eyes peeled on Channel 5!
For Adam's training updates, you can follow him on Twitter: @AJBishe or by liking his facebook page: www.facebook.com/AdamBishopSC
Adam Bishop’s stats:
Overhead press 170kg – the equivalent to two Ollie Lindsay-Hagues
Deadlift 370kg – the equivalent to 616 pints of Guinness
Squat 330kg – the equivalent to 717 Gilbert Rugby Balls
5,500 calories – spread across 6-8 meals in a day