Interview With Internationally Known Strongman Kalle Beck! (2016)
What made you want to start competing in Strongman, how old were you when you started and did you play any sports before?
I Started competing in 2007, I was 21 and before that I simply didn’t know it was a thing that existed before that. It’s really cool to see how Strongman is blowing up but in the mid 200’s weight classes were barely a thing and info was about non existent. That’s one of the main reasons I created Starting Strongman http://startingstrongman.com/
I got into the sport because I didn’t really play sports previous, I was a small not quite athletic kid that dreamed of being big & strong. Perhaps I read too many X-men Comics? Once I stumbled upon a post on a message board by Lightweight Strongman Brad Cardoza I started researching all about it and decided this is what I want to do.
What are some of your goals for this year as far as lifts are concerned?
Well I took a step back from competing in 2014 to focus on building my business and coaching. My Body wasn’t feeling great from competing at a high level of competition and I needed a break. Thankfully I feel like I’m finally healed to a point that I can start to build back up from here again and I have some personal goals like hitting over 600 on the deadlift again, Strict Press Bodyweightx10, Squat 400+ for over 10 reps, etc.
What are some of your lifetime lifting goals that you will be extremely happy, satisfied and content with if you eventually hit them?
There is very few things I don’t feel like I accomplished as far as goals. If you told me the level I’d get to when I was a little kid that just wanted to be jacked and strong I never would have believed it. Its important to have perspective, I would Like to put a 300+lb Log over my head Ive hit 285-295 at least a dozen times and failed 300+ at least that many. I wish I would have won a National championship or made the main stage at the Arnold but I am very happy that I get to now help a lot of people reach their goals via my coaching, articles, videos, seminars, etc.
Would you ever consider competing in a higher weight class?
Been there done that! In fact I once thought I should compete heavyweight. The heaviest I got at a small framed 5’7 was 220 sloppy pounds. Now that I’m “retired” I think my weight will stay roughly 200 I just hope to make it a bit more solid 200lbs.
How many days are you currently training per week and how long are the sessions usually lasting?
Ideally 4, 60-90 minutes tops. When I was competing they were a bit longer.
How many days per week do you soft tissue work with foam rolling, lacrosse ball work along with stretching? Also how long do you usually do it for?
I do more rehab stuff as my warm up now and have found I don’t need to do much rolling, I think most people over do it. I crack my back on the roller a few times a day and have a few stretches I have to keep my low back healthy I try to do at least daily.
I remember reading about you saying that everything has its place and there are a lot of tools in the toolbox that could be used. Do you ever perform any bodyweight movements such as handstand push-ups, pull-up variations and stuff of that nature into your training and how much of a positive impact does it really have on your training?
Everything does something and it’s good to do something. I like to do some bodyweight movements, walking lunges, high rep push ups, etc especially if traveling for seminars and events and you get stuck in a hotel room. The only time I’ve ever done Handstand push ups was to show my friends at the Crossfit gym that having Strong shoulders = good at handstand push ups. I never really did them and could crank out deep deficit hand stands for 10+ reps strict pretty easily. I’ve done tons of pull ups in the past but now I stick to lat-pulldowns since I have a base of strength I get more growth with them plus pull-ups feel awful on my repaired bicep.
You have one of the thickest upper backs I’ve ever seen, are there any movements that you really swear by for thickness or is it just a variety of different exercises?
Strongman! Look at a decent Strongman and you will not find a back lacking mass. Every single movement involves the upper back and having a strong upper back is one of the keys to success in the sport. Before saying what exercises help the upper back the first thing you need to do is actually engage your upper back/lats in your movements. I “lock in” my upper back and flex my lats when I do log cleans, bench, stones, farmers, yoke runs, Overhead presses, Deadlifts, wiping my ass, etc. If you do this your back will grow because its always working. Your lifts will also go up because you won’t fold under weight anymore either.
As far as exercises all sorts of rows. All the rows I do have a deep stretch at the bottom and I squeeze at the top, I mostly stick to stuff that is chest supported as I could never feel Barbell rows in my upper back but everyone is different. Farmers walks should be added to just about anyone’s routine as well.
What is the most weight that you have ever rack pulled in your life (from around knee level)?
Do you happen to ever perform any partial rowing movements into some of your programs where you kind of do a hybrid of a rack pull and a row?
No, I used to do some dumb stuff but all my accessory work now is actually really light, people need to leave their ego at the door on accessory movements and remember what the point of the movement is.
What exercises do you do for direct rear delt work and do you ever do any direct neck work?
Face pulls! 2-3x a week if someone needs to bring them up, reverse ring flies, & incline rear delt swings. No direct work anymore I did in the past and my neck grew pretty quick but I don’t think it helped my lifts at all.
Do you ever perform any high pull variations by any chance?
I think they are good but I don’t really do any sort of weightlifting exercises. Experimented with them but didn’t do much for me. Some of my clients get good results from them though.
Whats the fattest handle that you ever had to hold on to during a strongman competition? Do you ever use 3 inch+ handles in your training?
Probably a truck pull with a 3″ rope. I have a 3″ axle which I probably haven’t used in 5 years. I have small hands and find grip training extremely boring.
From time to time I experience a bit of lower back discomfort when doing OHP’s, what do you do to work around this?
Make sure you are setting your lats & upper back and are not bending backwards at the low back. Engage your core and stay tight. If your back is bugging you that day do seated pressing instead.
What are your favorite exercises to directly hit your core and do you do any direct oblique work? Also tell me how you progress these movements overtime in order to make them a lot more challenging?
Weighted planks, ab roll outs and hanging leg raises.
Oblique work, no but probably should have.
I feel like you just need to get your abs strong enough. Once you start working up to doing body weight+ planks, STRICT controlled hanging leg raises for 15 rep sets and a ab roll out with half body weight for sets of 12 I don’t think there is any point in going heavier than that. I was doing some real stupid stuff like ab roll outs with 200+ lbs right before I got a hernia and I feel like they were related.
How heavy do you go on direct lower back training, what rep ranges and exercises do you like to do?
I do more lighter stuff as a rehab/prehab work Its already getting taxed plenty with everything else that goes into Strongman.
I never go below 8 reps on accessory stuff.
Are there any books that you recommend for people trying to get stronger?
I really like Built by Mike. I should be done with my book later this year as well.
What are your top 3 favorite rap songs and 3 favorite metal songs of all time?
Anything Tupac/west coast rap.
Hit em up was my favorite PR song for a long time. I haven’t listened to anything Metal in so long I couldn’t tell you.
Do you have any hobbies outside of lifting?
I really like classic cars (old Chevy trucks) working on them, hopefully I get enough time to finish mine someday. I’m a huge fan of stand up comedy and just being outside with my wife & pets, hiking, working around the house, building stuff, etc.