This year, we’ve had a few articles on Keep Fit Kingdom which have been about the sport of strongman. With an ever-increasing amount of people participating in this tough and challenging sport, we thought we’d do a section about the World’s Strongest Man winners – perfect for motivating newcomers to strength development whilst providing plenty of inspiration for strongman veterans. Read on as we start out with our first in the series of World’s Strongest Men – Jouko Ahola!
If you’re not familiar with the sport of strongman, you may nevertheless recognise Jouko Ahola from his appearances on TV. He’s featured in the highly successful television series “Vikings” and several films including Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005) and “Invincible” (2001).
Like many before him, he has used his achievements in strength and physique development to land roles in the TV and film world.
Before his venture into acting Jouko was (and probably still is) one of the favourite strongest men on the planet. Looking back at his career in strongman, he won two World’s Strongest Man titles, one in 1997 and one in 1999, beating other legendary strongmen vikings from Scandinavia like Magnus Samuelsson (Sweden), and Svend Karlsen (Norway). Proving his dominance in the late nineties, Jouko earned further titles such as “Europe’s Strongest Man” and “European Hercules”. Hailing from Finland, a country renowned for producing many super-strong characters, it’s obvious Ahola inherited that signature viking DNA from his parents and combined the solid, hardcore work ethic of his fellow strongman colleagues.
Jouko was known as an incredible deadlifter and officially lifted 387.5kg which was well over triple his own bodyweight. He held world records for the Hercules Hold and the heaviest Atlas Stone lift. In the gym, he would rep out with 190kg on the lat pulldown and he was capable of front raises with 45kg dumbbells. If you thought your own 100kg bench press was impressive, just bear in mind that Jouko could barbell CURL 120kg for ten reps!
For those of you who prefer muscle over strength, you can see this Finnish strongman also had a muscular frame. Jouko possessed huge traps, a dense upper back and thick erector muscles. With the huge amounts of weight he could curl, it’s no surprise that he possessed a great, thick pair of biceps. Yet, at a bodyweight of 125kg, he was one of the lightest and leanest WSM winners, surely a contender for among the best World’s Strongest Man physiques?
If you’re wondering about his approach to training, he would typically train five days a week. A slightly unconventional approach he’d use would be to train in the gym one week then train strongman events the following week. His gym sessions lasted 2-3 hours and just about every lift was done heavy. Intense focus on the events helped him to perfect his techniques for challenges like Truck Pulls and lifting the Atlas Stones. Needless to say, this huge workload demanded substantial quantities of food and he would consume up to 7000 calories per day.
After Jouko officially retired from competing, he still kept involved with the sport in other ways. He had a role as a referee in the World’s Strongest Man, designed events for the competition, and has a passion for designing strength equipment. Almost twenty years after his 1999 World’s Strongest Man win, he still loves heaving heavy iron. Watch the video below to see this much-admired and respected athlete proving he’s just as strong as ever!
Fan of the sport of strongman? Who are some of your favourite characters from the world of strength currently, or from previous years; which performances do you vividly remember? Let us know below and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Want to get strong? Then check out these articles: World’s Strongest Man Folds a Frying Pan on National TV, Born Strong, 5 Great Exercises Named After Powerlifters by our resident weightlifting expert Alan Riseborough!)