In the movie Troy there is a scene where Odysseus approaches Achilles to solicit his services on what would become the Trojan War. As he met with him, he inadvertently broke up a training session Achilles was having with his cousin, Patroclus. Odysseus, after a brief greeting exclaims to Patroclus, "Learning from Achilles himself... Kings would kill for such an honor."
The Greek hero Achilles of the early Bronze Age (some 3,000 years ago) was said to be the greatest warrior who ever lived. He was not very big, but strong. His movements were said to be quick and precise, and he never tired or was taken over by fatigue in battle. While to draw such parallels to a figure partly based in myth to an actual person may seem a bit extraneous, I cannot help to observe such similarities in the 2x World Strongest Man, Mariusz Pudzianowski.
I will, in my description, go where few strength athletes would go in describing a fellow competitor, as we "strongmen" tend to be a proud bunch and give praise cautiously. If you are reading this article, you are more than likely well aware of Pudzianowski's achievements; many times Europe's Strongest Man, Poland's Strongest Man, Super Series Champion, 2x WSM... The list goes on. When he wins, he dominates. He is nearly unbeatable at traditional strongman events like the Conan's wheel (where he can go as long as necessary for a win), stones, medleys, pressing for reps, tire flips, and power stairs. If he does have an "Achilles Heel" it is in his grip strength and his bodyweight when total brute strength, static events are tested. Contests such as the Arnold strongest Man and powerlifting oriented meets can expose the 289-pound champion against the 350+ Leviathans in total brute force.
Maruisz arrived at our gym for a demo on Wednesday, March 9th. He was pleasant and took time to shake everyone's hand and posed for numerous pictures. He ducked back into the locker room and came out ready to train, just like another gym lifter. He was considerate of his surroundings and of the diverse group of people training around him, many of whom did not know who he even was.
He informed me that he lifts everyday in his off-season before he starts serious training. He squats one day, deadlifts the next, front squats the next day, then back to squatting again. He trains his shoulders by doing behind the neck jerks where he works on speed and explosiveness, three times a week. On Wednesday he started with push jerks, working up to 405 for a very easy and fast two reps. He then squatted, high bar, Olympic style up to two easy, quick sets of 585 for three reps. Mariusz stresses proper form and technique at all times. He never sacrifices technique for more weight, ever, he says. He then did seated dumbell presses with us; 120 pounds, for ten repetitions, for five sets. I must inform you that this workout was all being done at a very fast pace. Next was curls, five sets of ten reps done on a straight bar with 135, then twenty minutes straight of abdominal work. Steve Macdonald and I were huffing and puffing trying to keep up with the weights used and the vigorous pace being set by the champ.
The workout Thursday did not prove to be any more restful for Macdonald and I. Try to read this remembering this was all done in a 90 minute session (Mariusz had a plane to catch).
10 sets 7-10 pull-ups, and chin-ups, 5 sets of 10 lat pull-downs, 5 sets of 10 lat rows, 5 sets of 6-10 good mornings, 5 sets of ten standing triceps skull-crushers (with 155), 5 sets of ten triceps push-downs, 5 sets of deadlifting (he worked up to 655 for a few). During this whole workout, Mariusz never took a break, and never got winded. If we started talking or carrying on he would throw up his arms and say..."train! train!"
The next day, he would be in Atlanta, where he said he would do another workout that included front squats. Macdonald and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. This is not a regimen many could follow; yet it is merely how Mariusz works out to stay in shape while he is on the road.
I have been witness to many great feats of strength in my time, but I came to a realization that I was in the presence of a rare athlete. I always knew Mariusz was very strong and his conditioning was unsurpassed, but he also possesses extreme discipline and precision in the weight room, so much so that you cannot help but feel a bit clumsy around him. He shows, in all his movements, champion form. While some of the top strongmen in the world often give him a run for his money at certain contests and sometimes beat him, few have yet to rack up his number of wins, and I can see why.
I took as much as I could from the training, being the only American Pro strongman competitor ever to workout with Mariusz. The one big thing I can say that earned Mariusz a bunch of new fans at my gym is the way he carried himself, simply like another gym member giving respect and props to others in the gym. At one point my friend and bench press competitor Mike Barravecchio was doing board presses with 700 pounds and Mariusz shook his head and smiled at him and said "too much!" On another occasion two high school kids where front squatting with horrible form, Mariusz ran over and offered assistance and a demonstration of proper technique to them.
Overall, the experience was very positive and memorable for myself as well as many others in the gym. Mariusz clowned around with us and fit right in like he lived just around the corner. It is an attitude like this that wins fans and gives a very positive representation of the sport. As a veteran competitor myself, I learned that you can never have too much knowledge, whether it be about training, or your fellow competitors.