Despite being related, the strongman brothers prepare for events in very different ways. Tom is usually relaxed prior to a competition. He takes the time to relax and compose himself, getting psyched up for each event. Luke, on the other hand, tends to get into the zone way before the competition starts.
The Stoltmans’ psychologist, Amy, talks about an “arousal curve” in reference to this. If you’re psyched up and in the zone for too long before a competition, you can burn out and it can affect your performance. Luke tends to spend a while preparing mentally before competitions. Part of this comes from Luke learning to take the good days with the bad, whether this be with the competitions or his training.
Britain’s Strongest Man
Teamwork makes the dream work — the brothers have a group they can really rely on, and we met a few in the documentary.
- Jordan Mulligan – Director of the upcoming Stoltman documentary
- Kushi Stoltman – Luke’s wife
- Sinead Stoltman – Tom’s wife
- Shawn Clark – Mobility coach
- Ross Harvie – Sports therapist
Considering what they put themselves through, it’s no surprise the guy’s head off to events with coaches galore. Mobility coach Shawn Clark (the one wearing the odd Crocs) and sports therapist Ross Harvie are vital for managing and avoiding injuries. And you’ll have also seen deadlift sensei Dan Managi working his magic in the shadows.
Event One: Shield carry maximum distance — 200kg
The Stolts were more than prepared for the first event of the day. They’d previously rehearsed shorter runs in the shield carry, so they had gained more confidence with turning. They also made sure that they trained harder than they expected the event to be. It showed with the placing. First and third place isn’t too shabby, and it put the boys into a great position for the rest of the day.
Strongman competitions are more tactical than you might think, but it’s also just about winning each event. Tom was watching what the top performers were achieving, and just doing a little bit more. With a whole day ahead, it’s important to conserve energy.
Event Two: 360kg wheel deadlift
Going into the event, Luke was feeling confident he could complete four reps. But after two reps, he felt his left leg go tight. He tried to shake it off, but it began to cramp, meaning Luke couldn’t complete any more lifts.
The cramps and spasms continued backstage, and he knew he’d have to pull out of the competition.
Dan Unagi made the decision, but he said decisions are easy to make when there’s an obvious answer. The risk of injury — potentially missing Arnold’s, Europe’s and World’s — was too high for Luke to complete the event.
Tom had no such struggle with the event, though, comfortably completing six reps to match highest score.
Event Three: Axle clean and press for reps — 155kg & 75 seconds
With a comfortable lead under his belt, Tom was pretty relaxed heading into the third event. The number to beat was four reps, so Tom made sure he got five to win the event. He took it slow and kept the reps relaxed — no point over-exerting himself.
At this point, with two events to go, Tom was already ahead by an enormous seven points.
Event Four: Sandbag over 4.5m bar, 6 bags up to 28kg
Winning previous events not only sets you up in good stead points wise, but also position wise. If you win the prior event, you get to go last in the following event. You can see how other competitors do and perform accordingly. 18 seconds was the time to beat for this one. Tom knew he wasn’t going to beat that time, but the next best time was 40 seconds, so he just had to beat that to come second. He controlled the movements, took his time and managed 22 seconds.
Event Five: Atlas stones 120kg-200kg
At this point in the competition, Tom was so far ahead on points that all he needed to do was complete one of the five stones. What a position to be in. He still went and smashed it, lifting all stones and winning by at least seven seconds.
The scores on the doors are in. And no surprise, Tom won by 12 points to hold on to his Britain’s Strongest Man title.
Next up, The Arnold’s in Columbus, Ohio.
It’s no surprise that Luke was feeling the pressure prior to the Arnold’s. Not from outside, just from himself. After the disappointment in Sheffield, he was apprehensive about the cramping in his leg returning. He went for a cold-water swim to relax before the flight.
It’s clear that planes are not made for people as big as the Stoltman brothers. That flight cannot have been comfortable. After touching down, the brothers ate a lot of food to prepare for the event. They wanted to soak up the event as much as possible so chose not to film too much while they were there.
The results came in — we can only imagine Luke’s joy and relief with his podium finish. Third place at the Arnold’s, what a performance. And in front of Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.
Back in Scotland
Back in Scotland, the brothers came up with a plan of action for the upcoming events. With two competitions done, Europe’s Strongest Man on 2nd April, and World’s Strongest Man beginning on 24th May, fatigue is likely to be taking over. The brothers had some decisions to make. To give himself the best possible chance of retaining his World’s Strongest Man title, Tom opted to withdraw from Europe’s Strongest Man. But Luke was feeling good after placing at the Arnold’s and decided to defend his crown of Europe’s Strongest Man.
Take Home Message
There’s no time to rest for the World’s Strongest Brothers, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. Pressure to stay at the top is just part of winning titles. Luckily, they know what they can handle and when it’s best to think strategically. With Luke placing at the Arnold’s and Tom winning Britain’s Strongest Man, the season is off to a strong start. Fingers crossed they can carry smashing it for the rest of the season. Not that they need any luck.