Strongman: My Story by Eddie ‘The Beast’ Hall

strongman cover
Date Finished: May 2018
Did I Like It? 7/10

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Eddie Hall became the first man to deadlift 500kg. Pretty absurd. Leading up to that point he went to some dark places that only few athletes can make, sacrificing family time and life to focus on the one goal. As Tim Grover describes in his book Relentless, Eddie is a Cleaner. The book takes you through the journey of his life, and while there is no doubt he is a confident man there were some boring bits at times. I did get some nice takeaways.

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What I Highlighted:

I do it because, rightly or wrongly, it’s part of who I am and it’s almost impossible for me to deviate from that.

The definition of the word attempt is ‘to make an effort to achieve’, which means there is always a possibility of failure.

That in itself has obviously been a massive sacrifice for all of us, but in truth it’s just the tip of the iceberg. My daily routine has been to eat, sleep, train, recover and repeat, and in addition to a couple of short but extremely severe bouts of depression, which I think were triggered by stress and isolation, I have gradually become less mobile.

The only name that matters when it comes to running the mile is Roger Bannister, and why? Because he proved the naysayers wrong and did what everyone said was impossible.

Other people’s doubt is my biggest motivation and the fact that the no’s are unanimous makes it a forgone conclusion as far as I’m concerned.

This, right now, is the deepest, darkest moment of my life. I’ve visualised this moment a thousand times and I’ve practiced it a thousand more.

As I find my grip, I see, just fleetingly, a picture of my family in my mind’s eye. It’s a quick but important reminder of exactly why I’m doing this.

1. Eight Pounds, Fourteen Ounces

In order to survive, you have two choices: hide away and keep yourself to yourself or become street-wise and be prepared to put the boot in when necessary.

Once again it was fight or flight and the latter was never, ever an option –nor would you ever want to take it.

When your brain’s telling you that something’s crap and that your life’s a pile of shit, the chances are the thought is exactly that, a pile of shit.

2. Injury Time

It’s always the inconvenience of being injured that bothers me most, as opposed to the injury itself.

Like millions of other kids, I wanted to be Arnolds Schwarzenegger’s seemingly indestructible cybernetic android and after becoming completely and utterly obsessed with the character I set about trying to copy him and even made up some of my own stunts.

Looking back it must have seemed like I had some kind of death wish but I remember feeling so pumped up at having something to aim towards.

3. Educating Eddie

I obviously wasn’t a shy boy but my main motivation wasn’t getting the question right, it was seeking the approval of others.

Even today, if I win a competition, a text from my mum saying ‘Well done son, I’m proud of you’ will mean more to me than any trophy.

Making people proud or pleased, however trivial the situation or the circumstances, is the main reason I do what I do.

What she gave me more than anything was unconditional love and for somebody who pissed a lot of people off and had a lot of things going on in his head that was incredibly important.

A lot of people won’t believe this but I actually have a tremendous amount of respect for discipline, providing it’s explained to me concisely and I consider it to be fair.

Proving people wrong has actually become a bit of an addiction to me and even back then it felt absolutely fantastic.

4. Swimming Against the Stream

Fortunately, there was still one final saving grace that took up just enough of that spare time to keep me out of the correction centres.

Working things out for myself and being a self-starter have been the foundations on which I have been able to build my career as a strongman and that self-contained attitude was as important to me as a kid as it is today.

Even then I never, ever needed motivating. Everything came from within.

5. The School of Hard Knocks

The name-calling went on for weeks on end but to me it was simply a tribute to what I’d achieved.

It’s the narcissists with no self-awareness who are the ones who annoy people and gyms are absolutely full of them.

Maths made sense to me and it’s added real value to my life as a strongman.

6. A (Swimming) Star in the Making

The dedication required by young competitive swimmers is obviously significant but the same could also be said for the parents.

Whenever they did turn up for the morning session I’d allow them to beat me, which obviously lulled them into a false sense of superiority.

But by far the best part of training for the Nationals, or just training in general really, was feeling myself improve. What a fucking thrill that was, and still is!

7. Game Plan Emerges in Pool

This was the clincher really because all of a sudden, their attention was on me instead of the forthcoming race, which meant that mentally I already had them in the palm of my hand.

Arnold Schwarzenegger may have been my inspiration but I still had to put meat on the bones, so to speak, and it all happened very naturally.

8. Putting the Boot into Boot Camp

Once again, I don’t mind things like rules and discipline, providing you can convince me that they’re all there for the greater good.

It doesn’t matter how big the prize is, the most important thing is being true to yourself.

Modify it, if you have to, but by making it unrecognisable I’d forgotten where the initial success came from and once that had happened, I was gone.

9. Losing my Way (and Finding It)

From the word go I behaved, looked and trained like a fully grown adult and pretty soon I was lifting weights like one.

10. Downhill to Expulsion

I don’t mind admitting, though, that the depression and anxiety absolutely flattened me and if I hadn’t had that intrinsic self-belief bubbling away underneath all the alcohol and the suicidal thoughts I might well have ended up travelling to a much darker place.

11. Twenty Police, Two Brothers

It’s all very well having faith in yourself, but having the faith of people you respect and/ or love is the umbrella under which it all sits.

12. Getting Back on Track

Since being expelled I’d gradually cut out the drinking and, not surprisingly, this had had a positive effect on my depression.

I definitely spent more time thinking about it and the more I thought, the more I researched, and the more I was able to hone what I was doing and improve.

I was like a sponge in that respect and just soaked it all up.

Apart from the very occasional night out, which would have been once every six months, I never once allowed myself to become distracted.

13. Body Beautiful

It had to be something different and it had to be something noticeable, otherwise, what’s the point?

14. Beginnings and Endings

But life has a way of grabbing you by the balls sometimes and reminding you –rather forcibly –that with every end there is a beginning.

15. Baby on Board

In order to take pride in yourself you first have to accept who you are, and with the depression now gone that was much, much easier to do.

It doesn’t matter what you think you’ve achieved in life or how much money you’ve earned; watching a new life come into the world, one that you’ve helped to produce, moves you on to a much higher plane in my opinion.

There’s no destination, just a journey. And hopefully, a long one.

Making people you love proud of you is all good and well, but when your efforts start to destroy those relationships something has to give.

16. Going National

These days, as frustrating as an injury can be, I always try to take something positive from it.

17. My Better Half

But every time you emerge from that isolation having somebody there who will always be ‘pro-you’ no matter what is as important as any amount of dedication or endeavour.

It’s fair to say that if I didn’t have her fighting my corner I wouldn’t be where I am today.

18. Introducing the Spartan

I had three choices at this point: I either jacked it in and went and did something else, carried on whinging, or did something about it

There’s no point going public about a pipe dream, because the chances are you’ll make yourself look like a twat.

19. Losing a Contest

If I was ever going to match, or perhaps even better, these inspirational behemoths, I had to know what made them tick, and, over the years, I’ve picked up all kinds of stuff –everything from eating habits, through to how they respond to certain situations and how they prepare for certain events.

To get where I want to be I am prepared to swim into the very darkest waters and regardless of what I do in life that will never change.

I had three choices: give it all up and be happy mending trucks, consolidate my position as the strongest man in Britain, or start eating like a horse, training like a maniac and swinging from the chandeliers before finally mixing it with the big boys.

20. A Dramatic Arrival

Only two things mattered now: succeeding in strongman and making my young family happy and proud.

21. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

They are growing the sport and that’s my biggest motivation too.

22. Making a Big Impression in Hungary

23. Doncaster to L.A.

24. Deadlift Drama

To me there was no doubt I was going to get there but there’s only so many times you can say to somebody, ‘It won’t be like this forever, I promise.’

25. Mighty Mo

It was all about what he could do for me, not what I could do for him.

Remaining self-contained was important to me –but as a strongman, not as a businessman.

26. Occupation: Strongman

That’s my life. I sleep, I eat, I train and I recover. There’s little deviation.

Yet again, it’s all about listening to your body and so the longer you do this the more attuned you become to its needs and capabilities.

27. Attempting the Arnolds

28. The Beast is Let Loose

Because of the noise they were making I was starting to feel strong again.

29. Life in the Spotlight

If I’d wanted to have a quiet life I should have become a librarian.

30. Captured on Camera

31. Preparing to Lift Half a Tonne

Following in other people’s footsteps doesn’t make you a history maker.

Their negativity fuelled my positivity and if it hadn’t been for so many people doubting me I don’t think I’d have been arsed.

It doesn’t matter how much natural talent you have, if you can’t work out how to train properly, refine your technique and work out what food to eat, you’re going to get left behind.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of stretching, regardless of what you do in the gym.

Because with over-confidence comes complacency and in order to prevent complacency from creeping in you have to maintain self-awareness.

32. The Day of the Dead(lift)

I wanted to keep all the glory for myself and as awful as it might sound I remember willing them to fail.

But the moment I pulled that lift everything flipped and all that enthusiasm changed to expectation.

33. Two Fingers

If I wanted to maintain that position and do justice to the lift –and to my reputation –I had to act accordingly.

I might not have been able to win the war, but I could still come out fighting in a battle or two.

The sacrifices she makes, not to mention the effort she puts in, are equal to mine and so I knew if it didn’t happen it would be the end of us.

34. The Here and Now

Just fucking LISTEN!