I sat down with Nick to ask him some questions regarding his training, his lifestyle, how he handles training and managing family time, and how his sport has evolved over time. Check out the interview below:
1. Nick, it is very impressive that you have been a strength athlete for so long, with no plans of stopping anytime soon. How were you first introduced to the world of strength sports?
When I was a kid I played baseball and football. Since I was a peanut I figured that lifting weights would help me put on size and also on the field. I started lifting at 13. After that, weight lifting was a natural fit and I continued through high school. My focus was football and power lifting. I won the Nevada State High School Power Lifting Championship in 1986. I played football at Sonoma State and continued Powerlifting there after. I won a few more championships then took a break from competing. I started into Strongman and here I am today. A little different from 5’3 130#er that walked into the weight room thirty something years ago.
2. What would you consider your greatest athletic accomplishment during the span of your long career, and why?
My greatest accomplishment was being big and strong.
3. Many athletes have to tinker and tweak with their lifting form until they find the perfect way that works for them. How long did it take you to figure out your optimal lifting positions, and did you go through any frustrations until that point?
It took me a very long time to get deadlift correct. Squats and bench came very natural. Still working on the rest of it, and I think everyone knows that overhead pressing is not my best event.
4. I have mixed feelings about extended warmups in the gym, as I consider that some people spend too much time on mobility, and not enough time actually lifting. What does your typical warmup look like, and how long does it take you?
I spend about 10 to 15 min on a warm up. For example a deadlift warm up would look like this. 315×3 500ishx2 700×1 first work set #800 then go from there. Gotta warm up without wasting energy.
5. You are well known for having the best family around. How does your family dynamic work, to where your wife, your kids and you all get necessary attention, while still accomplishing what you need to for your sport?
Thanks Brandon. I am truly blessed with a great family. Balancing our act is a tough job, especially when you add the kid’s football and gymnastics. We all just take turns and support each other. When we are not training we hang out at the movies, indoor trampoline parks, outside parks, and by our pool. Callie cracks the whip too, and makes sure we get down time together.
6. You have been a pro for many years now, how has the pro scene changed since you became a pro? How has the amateur scene changed?
The International and American circuit is changing quicker than ever. Guys are coming in bigger, stronger, and younger. It keeps this old man on his toes. We host a Giants Live Qualifier and all our winners have stepped on the big stage of World’s Strongest Man. Jerry Pritchett, Rob Oberst, Scott Cummine, and Vidas Blekiatis to name a few. We also host a show for the guys who are not quite ready for Giants too. We make our shows heavy- so you better believe the toughest amateurs will show up.
7. What are a few of your favorite assistance lifts, and how do they assist your main lifts or main events?
I try and keep my training useful and to the point. It’s worked for the last decade- No sense in changing it. My main lifts are my accessory lifts. I just change it with dumbbells, or use log or axle to switch up my overhead.
8. What is one of the craziest events you have ever done at ASM or WSM? Tell us a little about the experience.
Making it to WSM was a dream come true. I worked really hard and sacrificed a lot to be there. In 2010 there was a car deadlift hold in my group. It was down to the wire and I had to win the last two events to make it to the final. I gutted it out and held the car for the win. I was in my own world and blacking out from the pain. I finally heard the judge say “Mate you’ve won!! Put the car down.” That left me with one more event to win, and the pressure was on. Laurence Shahlaei and I had a medley in the sand with kegs. We were neck and neck on our last keg. During the event we both tore calluses’ and our hands were covered in blood, making it impossible to get the correct grip to place the keg. There we stood- both struggling with our blood soaked slippery kegs waiting for one man to finish or the whistle to blow. When time was ran out, neither of us loaded that last keg, however I squeaked in the third keg faster and secured myself a spot in the final. Definitely a great memory of mine. Switching gears to the Arnold Strongman Classic. Competing at the Arnold is the best feeling ever. Being on stage and representing the USA in the heaviest contest with a sea of people watching is a feeling very few guys will ever know, I’ve felt it twice. I hope to make it back at least once more. Oh yea- and I got to meet Arnold.
9.What would you consider to be your weakest lift or event, and how do you plan on improving it?
My overhead is where I struggle. I have a lot of inflexibly issues that come from all those years of benching. I am all for a log bench press at a contest! In the mean time I keep plugging away at my overhead. It’s improving, but it’s been a slow go.
10.Thank you very much for taking time to chat with us all about your experiences. In closing, what is some advice you would give to amateurs who have their eyes on becoming pros? How about some advice for brand new competitors?
I started this sport when I was 36; in Strongman 36 is retirement age. Training smart is key. LBEB site is great, and marunde-muscle.com/forum is too for finding lifting advice, and contests. Keep your eye on the prize. Thanks for reading this, now I’m off to eat some homemade lasagna!