Title: Strongman: My Story
Author: Eddie Hall
Publisher: Virgin Books
Synopsis: Strongman Eddie Hall shares his unique, often jaw-dropping lifetime experience with us on the route to becoming the World’s Strongest Man.
Review: The first few chapters of “Strongman” take us back to Eddie’s younger days before he’d even started lifting weights. It’s here that we start to build up a picture of Eddie’s life and all the events and characters that have shaped him. He thanks his mother for his competitive streak, and the constant rivalry with his two older brothers has evidently helped him develop a strong mind too. It was interesting to see that the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger was an early influence for Eddie.
Eddie was a competitive swimmer in his school years and he looks back fondly on those days. All the fitness and discipline he earned from this sport would prove helpful later in his life as a strongman. The photos in the book show that he had wide shoulders and good ab development gained through his swimming career. Eddie makes these chapters colourful and entertaining to read and keeps them relevant to the book.
As you progress later down the chapters, you get to see the results of several of his strongman competitions and some of the huge lifts he’s achieved in shows and in the gym. I was amazed at the lifts he had done in his very early gym days. His first ever maximum attempts in the squat, bench press and deadlift resulted in lifts of 250kg, 180kg and 260kg respectively. These are excellent numbers and show that Eddie is certainly blessed with great genes for lifting monstrous weights.
Eddie’s first competition was in Burnley in 2007 and this got the ball rolling for a career in strongman. His hard training and confident attitude led him into high profile competitions like UK’s Strongest Man and the pinnacle: World’s Strongest Man. Chances are that you will recognise loads of names in these chapters, from British powerhouses Terry Hollands and Laurence Shahlaei to World’s Strongest Man favourites Zydrunas Savickas and Brian Shaw. The chapter written about Eddie’s 500kg deadlift happened to be my favourite and brilliantly captures this historic moment.
While winning strongman titles is rewarding, Eddie reminds us that it comes at a price: there are dangerous aspects to being a strongman. Injuries inevitably occur when handling such huge poundages and Eddie has had his fair share. Even something as seemingly straightforward as taking a flight can prove to be problematic. Eddie sometimes needs two seats to accommodate his massive body.
Strongman can be a very individual sport so it does help to have the support of other people. Eddie acknowledges all those who have helped him along his path. He talks positively about the swimming coaches who guided him and teachers who pointed him in the right direction. He pays nice compliments to fellow strongmen like Mark Felix and Rob Frampton. Much admiration must be given to Eddie’s wife Alex who has supported him tirelessly. Eddie writes, “If I didn’t have her fighting my corner I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
There’s plenty of serious stuff in Strongman but it’s well balanced with humour. Eddie has some funny stories to tell and his own fresh style of writing makes it even more humorous. Ripping off his vest to perform an impromptu bodybuilding posing show for some Japanese tourists was a classic moment in the book. Likewise, the story of Eddie’s eye popping out of its socket (no joke!) during some heavy leg presses is hilarious and had me laughing out loud.
By the end of the book you will have learnt what it takes to become the best of the best. The sacrifices, pain and tremendous self belief are all necessary parts of the package. I think you will agree that Eddie “The Beast” Hall is an incredible man.
Summary: Eddie is genuinely keen to tell you his story and this makes “Strongman” a brilliant read. The book will keep you gripped right from the start and once you’re immersed, won’t take you long to complete all 35 chapters. You’ll even pick up some tips and tricks for your own training along the way. It’s my pleasure to give this book a perfect score.
Book Rating: 10/10
Favourite chapter: Chapter 32 “The Day of the Dead(lift)”
Favourite quote: “The more people told me that a half-tonne deadlift couldn’t be done, the more I told myself it could.” -Eddie Hall