Strongman competitions are more popular than ever, and the biggest names in the game are breaking out beyond just the brawny competitions. World's Strongest Man champions Brian Shaw (2011,'13, '15, '16) and Eddie Hall (2017) have huge YouTube followings (1.15 million 436K subscribers, respectively) and starred in a History Channel show last year, while 2018 winner Hafthor Björnsson became a star in his own right thanks to his role as The Mountain on HBO's Game of Thrones.
Even with their crossover popularity, however, none of these men can currently claim the World's Strongest Man title. Latvian-American Martins Licis, an amiable 29-year-old, is the reigning champ after he defeated Shaw and Björnsson to take the 2019 crown. Licis comes across as unassuming as you can at 6' 3'' and 340 pounds, and his YouTube page (significantly fewer at 130K subscribers) also names him "The Most Serious Goof in Strength Sports," just below his WSM title. That mix of strength and silliness makes it easy to imagine Licis' profile growing to the size of his contemporaries, if that's what he wants to accomplish.
Watch Martin's leg day workout below.
But Licis is already the best in the world at what he does. The genial joker might not fit the image you have of an elite strongman—until you see him doing remarkable things like busting out easy reps of squats at 274 kilograms and lifting former NFL star and fellow large human Rob Gronkowski aloft for some overhead squats. Licis is more serious about his craft than he might appear, too, as he moved from Massachusetts to California and dedicated himself to training with strongman icon Odd E. Haugen at age 20 after being introduced to lifting stones in Latvia as a teenager.
Licis welcomed the Men's Health crew to The Training Hall as he prepped for the Arnold Classic Santa Monica (taking place later this month on January 18). Licis showed off one of his pull and leg day workouts, giving us a look at exactly what it takes to build maximum strength.
If you want to give Licis' workout a try, remember that he's training for a very specific goal: Lifting as much weight as possible in one particular discipline. That might not be your goal, so this might not be the plan for you—but you can still learn from what he says in the video.
Even as the reigning World's Strongest Man, Licis keeps his workouts in perspective. He knows he's not going to hit a massive PR on a big lift every single workout—but he's happy when he feels like he's improved in any way. "Every single session should be a slight step forward," he says. "If you don't have the strength that day or you don't have the energy to push more weight, push more repetitions. If you don't have the energy for that, at least improve your technique and form. Always be improving something."
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Martins Licis' World's Strongest Man Pull and Legs Workout
Big Compound Movements
- Snatch-Grip (Wide-Grip) Barbell Deadlift
3 reps per set up to target weight, rest 2 to 3 minutes between sets
3 sets of 3 reps (final set for max reps)
2 sets of 5 reps on each leg
3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
3 sets of 5 reps
- Single-Arm Leg Raise Iso-Hold
3 reps per side for 15 to 30 seconds
This article originally appeared on Men's Health US