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About

Kalle Beck has been competing in strongman competitions for 7 years. A veteran in the sport with dozens of competitions under his belt he has gained a vast amount of knowledge on strongman training. 2012 was his break out year where he lost 35 pounds transforming his body to compete in the new 175 pound strongman class.

With highlights including 2012 California’s Strongest Man, 2012 Washington’s Strongest Apple, top 10 at America’s Strongest Man and 6th place at the 2013 Arnold World Championships. Best lifts include a 600lb deadlift, 505lb back squat and a 290lb log press.

strongmankalle

My Journey

Life before strongman

I think my path into strongman and where I am at now is different than most but one a lot of people can relate to at the same time. Lots of people get into strongman because they are the strongest person in their circles and/or where good athletes and thought it is another thing they could be good at. I was none of those things.  I was a very small kid, usually the smallest kid in my class. I always wanted to be big and strong. More than anything. I was a very shy insecure kid and didn’t know how to accomplish this. I got my first bench for my 15th birthday and I did the usual dumb things a kid does but I did something. As Robert Oberst says “Something always does something” so I got some results and I loved it. I wasn’t anywhere close to strong but I was stronger…

When I was about 18 a friend let me borrow the Arnold Encyclopedia of bodybuilding. That thing was like my bible. I got my first squat rack and followed the workouts from it. I still remember the first time I did back squats I did 95 for 3 sets of 10. I remember thinking man these are hard! I had the smallest little legs my whole life. It is funny to think back now… I was so sore two days later I actually went to DR I thought I had seriously injured myself. I slightly strained my groin. I could barley walk for about 2 weeks.

Reading The encyclopedia of bodybuilding and learning more about that era of bodybuilding I gravitated towards Franco Colombu for obvious reasons. He was short and had an amazing physique but what stood out to me the most he was stronger than most all of the other bodybuilders. What I was really after was being strong I just didn’t know how to train for strength.

When i was 19-20 I raced motocross damn near every weekend. I won a few local series and loved it. I got REALLY skinny in the process down to 145 as it was cardio, cardio, cardio. That was one expensive sport though so I gave it up and at that time learned about powerlifting and the westside method. I got stronger but I was always maxing out and not building strength. I wasn’t building a base. I wasn’t bodybuilding anymore I thought the two were opposites. I ate too much food because you are supposed to “get big” all that other horse shit…

Finding strongman

In the winter of 2006 I was a little lost. I loved training but wanted something to train for. Something to motivate me. Powerlifting was my first choice but I don’t know it didn’t really grab me. I loved watching strongman competitions. I had every one of the Worlds Strongest Man Competitions saved on my DVR and I would watch them before I trained over and over. The amount of info on amateur strongman competitions is severely lacking. In 2006 it might have actually been better in some ways. I didn’t know it existed and was pretty savvy on the internet… I one day came across a post on a message board from a LW Pro strongman (under 231lbs) he had just got done competing in China for Worlds Strongest Man Lightweight. In that thread he was answering questions about strongman and there was a link given to http://www.nastrongman.com the amateur strongman federation. I saw there was weight classes under 200lbs and I KNEW this is what I wanted to do. I didn’t care I wasn’t ready, That it would be hard. I wanted to do strongman and see what I could achieve. I looked through upcoming competitions first and didn’t see any in my area (winter is the off season in strongman) so I looked through completed competitions and one in Santa Cruz, CA had just ended. I googled the event and they actually had a website set up for it. Looking back now I realize how rare that is and how lucky I got. I decided this was my goal for next year. I emailed the event promoter and he said he is no longer going to be involved with strongman. I asked him if he knew of any training groups in the area. He gave me Evan Hansmanns email. I set up a time to go train and…

My first day

from last year…. conans wheel among redwood trees

I drove up an hour and a half up to Scotts Valley, CA to Schafer Park. It is a picturesque place surrounded by giant redwoods. It really is a strongman paradise with a wall of tires and stones sitting there. I met Evan Hansmann he is 6’5 and over 300lbs I am sure at the time he thought “oh great another guy who won’t last” I would have thought the same thing after being on the other end numerous times over the years.  I remember I wrote my stats down the night before in my training log they were

186lbs Back Squat 315 Deadlift 365 Push Press 175 

I was a SOFT 186 too.. I still weigh 186 now all these years later is the funny thing. I look slightly different though.

We worked on some farmers walks which I was horrible at I had zero grip strength. I think I kept dropping 180 per hand. Than did some axle cleans. I did maybe 5 continental cleans with 180. I think i flipped some tires as well. It beat me up! I woke up the next morning not being able to move and my entire stomach and chest was bruised black. I was in no way prepared for this type of thing but I knew it is what I wanted to do. I became good friends with Evan and he helped me a lot instructed me on what training gear to buy, helping me with my form and training questions.

2008 Jumping into the deep end

I followed a basic westside template during this. I went too heavy too often and didn’t do enough rep work to build a base. I gained muscle got a bit stronger but it was 1 step forward 1 step back. I also decided to compete at a Platinum+ show that April that was WAY above my ability. (winner turns pro) i zeroed just about every event. I look at this two different ways. It was a bit short sighted in a way but from day 1 I have never been scared of competing no matter the weight or level of comp. I see this all the time with people that are waiting to get strong enough! Just get in there and do it. No matter how you perform I guarantee you will  progress faster by making the commitment to actually compete.

I did two more comps that year that were at a more reasonable level. continuing to train westsidish. It is what all the strong people I knew where doing. So it seemed the thing to do…

2007 Idahos Strongest Man after throwing up doing a truck pull

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circa 2007

2008 Injuries

2008 was a down year I had cut down to 175 and planned  on doing Washington’s Strongest Apple but a week before the contest I had injury moving equipment were I just about cut off my right thumb. This was my first major injury and it was from no other reason than stupidity. I had horrible grip strength to start and this really put me in the dumps wondering if I’d ever be able to hold onto farmers again. This caused me to go to a false grip on farmers for awhile. I did almost nothing other than front squats/ rack pulls and yoke walk for all my training as I had very little use of my hand for months.

2009 I got strong. I got StrongFat

I got tired of competing in the 200 class since the weights were always the same and I eat a lot…. I got up to a nice round 220lbs I followed a modified 5/3/1 template got more back to the basics. Deadlift/squat (mostly front) log press, close grip bench, etc. I ran the coan/phillipi deadlift template as well. I competed at Californias’ Strongest Man and placed I think 9th as a 231 it was by far the best competition I had.


I also deadlifted 545 for the first time leading up to this contest. I had built up my static strength well but I was not training right to improve at the moving events and frankly I did NOT have an athletic body. A month after the contest I injured my back going too heavy on yoke and spent the next year or so rehabbing and dieting back down…

2010 First Nationals/175

The weight just kind of kept coming off and I decided I really wanted to actually get lean for the first time in my life. I made it a goal to compete at 175 and qualify for nationals. Training was still 5/3/1 based for the most part. I still didn’t do enough assistance work or overall volume. Since there was no 175 class in California I flew up to Washington to do do Grant Higas contest Washingon’s Strongest Apple for real this time. I cut from about 184lbs Grant’s contest. it is a 4:30PM weigh in the day before so not a full 24 hour and I do not think I understood how to cut weight or the effects it could have when done wrong. I felt slightly off the whole contest and my strength on overhead seemed like it magically disappeared. I did win the keg carry & load at the end of the day to secure 2nd and qualify for nationals.  Nationals was an experience. It is funny to think what was good for the 175s than vs what is now just 3 years later… I made some mistakes the biggest of all was NOT training the car deadlift since i thought it was a strength and I didn’t need to. Wake up call! never be cocky and over confident!! If I would have hit 1 rep on the car (no one did) I would have won the competition. I almost had it… I ended up taken 5th out of about 9 overall. Most of all I met a ton of people and learned A LOT.

2011 Getting Serious

After Nationals I knew I was right there. I kept training hard I added in more accessory work and volume and followed a modified 5/3/1 rep scheme for main lifts still. The biggest thing that changed (Other than finally figuring out how to comb my hair) was when I met Robert Oberst now two years later a competitor in the finals at Worlds Strongest Man and American record holder in the Log Press. I drove up with Robert and Evan Hansmann for a training day in I think February of that year for a contest my good friend Doug Carroll was promoting to celebrate his 50th birthday. It was about a 2 hour drive one way and these kind of road trips are the greatest because you get to shoot the shit about training and tell stories with friends. Me and Robert instantly got along and the whole car ride back was me trying to tell OB just that people don’t just touch a log for the first time ever and hit 340!

We than both decided on a whim to go up to Idaho to compete in a contest called “Maximum Strength Challenge”  Having met someone for the third time at 4AM at their house to go on a 11 hour road trip one way you will quickly find out if you like them or not. I will say this was one of the funnest weeks of my life. We traded stories the whole time. OB picked my brains about strongman all the ins and outs insatiability and coming from competing in sports at a pro level his life he taught me the most important lesson I have learned which trained my strongman career. Treating strongman like a sport where ALL that matters is performance on game day. Everything else is practice. I never really knew how to do this previous not competing in sports growing up.

I won the 200lb class pretty easily. The events suited me almost perfectly. Static strength for my size has always been my strong point. I won 4 out of 5 events and won most of them on my openers. I missed out on winning the LW overall by I think 1.5PTS which i lost in the farmers walk… Would have been cool to beat all the 231s weighing under 195lbs but I can’t express how much it meant to me finally winning something. I had just missed out time and time over the years and FIVE years into competing I finally did it… I disappeared for awhile and cried on the other side of the parking lot by myself. Yeah it was a small local comp but it meant a lot to me at the time and it was just such a fun week.

Not to mention I almost broke my leg on the log press!  

We both qualified for nationals and drove home…  Training was intense this year. Finally had serious dedicated group I trained with every weekend. Me OB and Evan killed ourselves. My lifts went up but looking back I worried about going too heavy too often on moving events. Its hard when training with heavy weights that are already using hundreds of more pounds than you. The road trip to compete at Brian Shaw’s first contest is something I will always remember!

Nationals I competed as a 200. It made me realize two things. 175 is the right weight class for me and I really need to work on my moving events!

2012 It all comes together and the Arnold is announced

I remember checking the facebooks in February and the announcement from ASC popped up that there was going to be a new emphasize put on the 175lb class with Qualifiers at the Europa’s and nationals with the endgame being a World Championship at the Arnold in 2013… GAME ON!!! I was a fat 212lbs at this point so the diet started! Plan was to diet slowly to maintain strength

I started by competing in California’s Strongest Man. Which I won, it was a nice moment as that was my initial goal getting into strongman. A state title. 6 years later I accomplished it.

it was really wet but I still pressed a 270lb log

in 2012 I finally saw my abs!! January-May-November

I than Went back up to Washington for Washington’s Strongest Apple in June. The plan for this was to do a trial cut to see how it effected me before I competed in the Dallas Europa to qualify for the Arnold in August.

I won that contest with it coming down to the last event. It was a great feeling to be head to head and 1/2 a point separating us and come out on top when it counted! I was learning the difference between being an athlete and someone who lifts weights. I trained specifically for shows this year and didn’t go too heavy. I tried to be fast it was the missing piece in my training. My moving events were finally starting to improve.

The Dallas Europa was a bit of a disaster, just nothing went my way. This happens. I had started to get some hype around me and I felt a ton of pressure and I just folded under it.  I learned more… Again and I did help my best friend get his pro card so it was still a memorable experience. Lesson learned have your personal life in check! You can’t ignore things that are happening in your life and expect them to not impact you as an athlete…

I was pissed and drove up to Reno after work Friday the next weekend to do a contest with no training. It had a last man standing deadlift and I wanted to finally pull 600 I had a dream of doing it so I went and did it.

Happy times

Nationals training was full bore after a week off! I went slightly more cube style in my training and events were hit hard I yoked damn near every week knowing it was my nemesis. I also figured out one of the reasons was from not enough single leg training. Stuff like barbell walking lunges were added in weekly and I saw huge benefits to my moving events. New motto was NEVER BE SLOW

Nationals went OK I JUST barley got top 10 to qualify for the Arnold.  We all start at zero in March!

Injury/The Arnold

2 weeks after nationals I got a umbilical hernia. I didn’t take a long enough break and looking back with how much I competed and how hard I trained in 2012 something had to give… This ended up being one of the best things that happened to me to date. I had 15 weeks till the Arnold from the date of surgery and they said 6 weeks of zero weight training. I decided I was going to do the Arnold. I worked so hard to get there and just barley made it. I knew it was where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do. It took all the pressure off myself. I just had a goal of being able to compete now. I didn’t look at the score sheet once at the Arnold I did my lifts to the best of my ability and didn’t make any mistakes and walked away with 6th place in the world… I’ll take that.

My training was body weight squats everyday and walking… 4 weeks post surgery I started lifting weights again. I started at 20% of my max and upped it 10% every week. If something didn’t feel right along the way I wasn’t going to compete but I was shocked with how fast my body regained strength!  I learned mostly to believe in myself. If I had spent 6 years building myself up I was not going to get knocked down by not training for 6 weeks.

Now I am getting ready for strongman nationals 2013 I have competed a lot less this year. As you progress it is harder and harder on your body. Chad Wesley Smith is doing my programming. The first time I have ever had someone write a program for me. I thought I knew what high volume was until now! Can’t wait for nationals and to showcase how much I have progressed in the last year.

I hope if you read this far you learned something. Thanks for taking the time to read my story

Take Away points

build a base

accessory movements are for working the muscle. do them light and controlled for hypertrophy

be consistent

Don’t get hurt

Learn from your mistakes

Train your weaknesses

worry about being fast with implements before worrying about the weight

have fun

don’t lose focus on why you started in the first place

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