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Kevin Nee Interview

Kevin Nee is the youngest American at age 19 to ever compete in the World's Strongest Man competition. As a teenager Kevin won the title of American's Strongest Teenager and was arguably the strongest teen in the world, though there is not a strongman competition to decide such a title.

Q. First off I’d like to congratulate you on a spectacular performance at Mohegan Sun and thank you for taking the time to do this interview for Marunde-Muscle. I think by now everyone knows you are the youngest pro strongman. Competing at such a high level at such a young age (20) is an incredible accomplishment. How did you get involved with strongman and what made you decide to put such extraordinary effort and discipline into such a hard endeavor at a time when most guys are busy partying and chasing girls?

A. it all started in Milford Massachusetts at a local gym called the Body Shop. I was kinda like the little brother there asking a million questions and getting on everyones nerves….but I guess that’s what 13 year old kids do. Well anyways I absorbed every piece of information that was given to me and by the time I was 15 I was much bigger, stronger, and dedicated. One day a local pro strongman Bruce Tessier asked me if I wanted to try lifting tires and atlas stones and I jumped to the opportunity and I haven’t stopped since. Lately its been hard though because of school and friends always wanting to party and me just wanting to be a college kid for once….but I guess this is what comes with the territory.

Q. Between classes, studying and working full time how do you manage to find the time and energy to train, eat clean and perform at such a high level?

A. Well thank God I don’t have to work in the night club anymore, that was hell getting up at 9am to go to classes then I would eat, study and lift all day, and then I would go to work at 9pm and get home at 4 a.m. I was burning the candle at both ends and the candle was almost gone, I was doing that for 2 ½ years and it was time to get out of that life style. It was very difficult with that schedule to find time to eat and train but when you truly love something you don’t let anything get in your way. I made lifting and eating a priority and put it on the same level as school so that way I couldn’t stop.

Q. You have achieved so much in such a short time. What kind of insight could you give us into setting up a training routine for fast track success in strongman?

A. Honestly my routine really isn’t that good and I’m no expert and I’m not going to pretend to be one but the best piece of advice I can give on routines is that you should listen to your body before going along with a routine. What I mean is, if your feeling great that day but your routine calls for a light day, why would you waste a day were your feeling 100% in order to go light. But the same goes for heavy days. If your feeling terrible that day, go easy and be safe, that is when you're at the greatest risk of injury.

Q. What is your current workout split like?

A. right now my split looks something like this

Benchpress-Barbell and dumbell alternate weeks
Incline press- Barbell, dumbell alternate weeks
Dumbell pec flys
Dumbell bench press with hands in log posistion

Deadlift/Back squats alternate weeks
Lat pulldowns
Dumbell rows
Close grip rows
Cable lat pull downs

Wednesday- Events
Log press
Tire flip/Medleys

Front squats
Hack squats
Leg curls
Leg extensions
SL deadlifts

Behind neck push press/front push press alternate weeks
Seated dumbell/barbell press
Seated dumbell press hands in log posistion
Lateral/front raises
Skull crushers
Tricep kickbacks
Lockouts in rack

Saturday-Olympic lifting
Power cleans
Rack pulls
Ab work

Sunday events-
Farmers walk
Yoke walk
Heavy tire flip

Q. What type of reps/sets scheme do you perform in the gym?

A. It depends on the day and how I feel but I don’t ever do less then 3 sets or more then 6 sets per exercise.

Q. When training events do you train specific events that are coming up in your next contest or do you train a basic set of events and just deal with what ever they throw at you?

A. I usually train for a contest that will be coming up but I will never not do an event for more then a few weeks. I always want to have a feel for all the events.

Q. Do you favor high volume event training or do try and keep it short and sweet? Please explain why. Maybe give us an example of a typical event day?

A. Once again it depends on how I feel but I would say I tend to do high volume work so that way when it comes competition time it should be a piece of cake.

Q. Your Deadlift specifically is just sick! What do you feel contributed most to pulling such high numbers?

A. I have always had a good deadlift, I don’t know why I just have. I would say that lifting with out a belt as much as possible has really helped strengthen my core and has enabled me to have such a strong lower back. I think that is the number one reason for my deadlift numbers are getting so high.

Q. You were super consistent at the Mohegan Sun show sitting in second place until the fingal finger. What happened there? Had you been training with it and had a bad day or did you not know it was going to be there and never got a chance to train on it?

A. I think everyone knows that I am terrible at this event hahaha. To tell you the truth it's just a bad event for me. I don’t have a finger to train on, the last one I did before Mohegan was at world's, I have a terrible overhead press, and I don’t really have the leverage that some of the taller guys have when it comes to this event. Right now the only thing I can do to get better is to train with a finger, so as we speak im having one built. Maybe I can turn a weakness into a strength.

Q. You are an awesome competitor and very motivating to watch. You also really know how to fire up the crowd and get them behind you and really seem to feed on their energy too. Do you think this holds you back a bit? It seems the couple of seconds you take to psyche them up is adding a few seconds to your time. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely adds to the overall excitement from a spectator standpoint but I wonder how much it effects your placing.

A. Yes and no, most of the times that I do stop to fire up the crowd its because I need a breather anyways. It gives me a few seconds to rest but it also psyches me up and puts on a good show. Lets be honest a competition is entertainment also.

Q. You have made incredible progress in your Axle clean and press since last year. I believe you told me you only got one or two reps last year on the axle and this year you were killing it! What did you do differently to make such phenomenal progress?

A. AXLE AXLE AXLE…..everytime I did overhead I was using an axle…I actually ditched the log for about two months and just focused on the axle. It has made great improvements on my grip, my clean, and even my deadlift.

Q. Speaking of Axle, your grip on it was solid as hell to clean it the way you did. Do you have a specific grip workout you perform or does it just come along by training everything else?

A. I actually don’t do any grip exercises besides actual events, I cant even shut a number 2 COC. For this contest I really, really worked on my clean and I also went with a thumb-less grip. I knew the bar was fixed and I knew I could throw the weight up high and fast enough and I also knew I could dip under it fast enough, so thumb-less was definetly way to go.

Q. What event has been the most difficult for you and what have you done to overcome it and improve?

A. hahaha I don’t think I have to answer this question. I’m pretty sure we all know what the answer is. hahaha

Q. You are incredible on just about every event. I was wondering if you could give us a few pointers whether it be technique or how to set them up in your training if they are a weak point on a few more events such as:

Log Press: really work on your leg drive and dip….perfect example…I actually watch film of Jesse performing this lift and I think his Olympic background had really helped him with this.

Stones: really focus on popping your hips through and throw your head back. This will help the stone explode off your body and you will become much more explosive.

Car Deadlift: remember to stick with it. A lot of people just give up after pulling on it for only a second. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a car deadlift has a huge sticking point and sometimes you have to fight through it for a few seconds. After that it will pop right up.

Farmers Walk: keep your head and chest tall and keep your feet moving. The faster you get the weight to the finish line the faster you get to put it down. Really focus on foot speed while training. Also I like to grip the farmers slightly behind the middle of the handle. This way the implement will lean forward and give you some momentum.

Yoke: personally I grab the yoke on the sides and squeeze the hell out of it. I almost try to squeeze the bars into my body. By doing this it helps keep you stable and you can move much more smoothly. Also try to train without a belt on this event….obviously use a belt if your doing a weight you have never done before. But on weight you are comfortable with try it without a belt and gain some core strength….I’m telling ya it will help.

I’m going to throw out a few names and I’d like you to give me a few brief comments on each:

Mariusz: the best strength athlete of our time….notice I did not say the strongest man of our time

Zydrunas: the strongest man of our time.

Hugo Girard: great, great person and competitor, I truly hope he is able to come back from his injury at the Mohegan Sun.

Svend Karlsen: the man, THE Viking.

Magnus Samuelsen: one of the nicest competitors out there, he is willing to help anyone with anything even if he is going head to head with you.

Jouko Ahola: Bad ass work horse

Travis Ortmeyer: the most consistent athlete the US has to offer right now….he does not have a flaw and he uses this to consistently take a top 3 finish in almost every event. This is why he is on fire right now.

Josh Thigpen and Dave Ostlund : they are like my big brothers, if it weren’t for these guys I don’t know if I would be as good as I am today. They have given me so much advice and not just in the world of strength but in life also. I truly owe these two guys sooooo much and I hope they know I appreciate them.

Dominic Fileou: a great guy but I wish he had more heart….imagine the damage he could do

Odd Haugen: the Godfather of the sport as we know it today…he holds this sport together

Janne Virtannen: hands down the coolest guy I know……hands down

Q. It was awful to watch Hugo get hurt especially after he came out of the gate on fire! How did it make you feel from a competitor standpoint to watch someone get hurt like that and how did you deal with it?

A. well you never wanna see something like that, but that’s part of the sport, it’s a risk we are all willing to take. Honestly I just tried not to think of it. As a strength athlete, if you take too much time thinking about those who have been hurt you will lose some of your fire due to the fact that you will become timid and scared.

Q. How do you feel about the trend to go heavier and heavier in the sport like these 1200lb yokes and 900lb Conans wheels not to mention 420 being the 6th stone to 58”? I know it’s strongman and all but do you feel the increase in injuries is worth it? I have to admit from a spectator point of view I would rather see the winner win because he was the only one to load the last stone per say rather than because everyone loaded them all and he happened to be the fastest. From a competitor standpoint I’d rather see manageable weights that will allow me to compete without injury for years to come. What are your thoughts?

A. I don’t care either way as long as the sport continues to go in the right direction and injuries aren’t happening at every show.

Mike- Thanks again for taking the time to interview.

Kevin- Thanks Mike you rock and thanks to every one at the Marunde-muscle forum for supporting strongman and for taking the time out of your busy day to read this interview. Pull hard!



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