Eddie ‘the Beast’ Hall is an elite strongman. Never usually known for their trim physiques, strongmen are often overweight or even, in extreme circumstances, obese. This was the state in which Eddie Hall found himself just a few short years ago.
Now, however, he has lost an impressive 35+kg in a weight loss journey that few outside of his inner circle expected to see. He came down from over 200kg to a more human 165kg in a matter of months. More impressively still, he continues to be the absolute machine that he has always been.
Who is ‘the Beast’?
Eddie Hall is a 31-year-old English professional strongman from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire. His accolades include winning the 2017 World’s Strongest Man title, alongside multiple UK’s Strongest Man and England’s Strongest Man titles. However, as an avid deadlifter and strength athlete myself, this all pales in comparison to what he achieved in 2017: he performed a 500kg deadlift under strongman rules at the Europe’s Strongest Man/World Deadlift Championship event, and in doing so became the world record holder.
However, performing high end deadlifts – and going through the intense training involved- isn’t easy, even when you’re ‘the Beast.’ Building up to a 1 rep max is tough going under any circumstances, but when that rep is a half-ton… well, it pushes you hard. The regimen to get him to that podium was gruelling, and he passed out shortly after completing the lift.
It puts things into perspective, according to Hall, and he began to worry about his health and the longevity of his physique.
Following his record-breaking deadlift, Hall called a halt to his strongman training, rethought his life, and geared his training and diet towards weight loss and athleticism rather than simply pure, brute strength.
Realising that, as fit for purpose and strong as he might have been, his weight could lead to some serious medical complications and health risks, Eddie Hall lost more than six stone (as he puts it, being English: this equates to over 35kg.)
Hall reconfigured his diet. Previously, a 10,000-calorie day was a matter of course for him, so finding a deficit was presumably quite easy. Pairing this with a new training regime that emphasised cardio and aerobic fitness, he began to trim down. He boxed and swam as a child and teenager, and so he took these up again, along with regular cycling.
Swimming in particular played a large part in Hall’s formative years. His mother was a swimming coach and by the age of 13 he had won medals at a national level in the 50, 100, 400 and 1500 freestyle. This is where the champion mindset he would later bring to the strongman world was discovered, fostered and fuelled, and it looks like that mindset is still going strong.
This mindset should be a good inspiration for all of us: learn from it, find it in yourself, and do everything you can to fuel it like ‘the Beast.’
My thoughts on strength training and obesity
Few people are as extreme as Eddie Hall. Few, if any, of us can even dream of being that strong, and few of us will ever be as big as he is. But I’ve been there, in my own, small way, as I’m sure many others have.
You get into strength training. It gives you a kick to see the bar moving at heavier and heavier loads, to feel yourself getting stronger, to enjoy the raw power you can bring to bear. So you try to speed up your progress, to fuel the fire: you eat and eat, knowing that caloric surpluses build strength and muscle as much as deadlifts and overhead presses do. You do little cardio and focus solely on static lifts.
Before you know it, you can lift twice what you could when you started out, but you’ve got… fluffy. There is a definite muffin top over your weight belt and your gym shorts are tighter than they used to be.
Eddie Hall’s journey is a greatly scaled-up version of this, but it’s a familiar enough story in every gym the world over.
The worst thing is that it’s not really necessary, and it’s definitely not worth it. Of course, caloric surpluses are where muscle is built, and anybody running a deficit will tell you how they have lost strength doing so. But you can still run cuts every few months without breaking your lifts as long as you keep your form good and your work capacity up to par. Or you can forgo the bulk and cut cycling that so many adhere to and simply build strength with moderate surpluses (500 per day or so) made up of lean protein and healthy fats, whilst keeping your cardio and explosive moves up to maximise your metabolic rate.
Combine this slight surplus with the added testosterone from lifting heavy and you will build plenty of muscle- trust me.
So, don’t reach for the doughnuts and don’t stand still.
This is exactly how Hall did it. He cut out carbohydrate-rich foods to complement his new training style, keeping his protein and fat intake high so as to preserve lean muscle.
Through it all, he kept his weight training regimen the same as ever, simply adding in the cardio around lifting sessions. He is still superhumanly strong: he is still ‘the Beast.’ He’s just a more athletic, healthier version of ‘the Beast’, and any slight dip in his total strength will be amply made up for by this newfound athleticism.