Interview with Strongman Martin Wildauer (Tirol, Austria)
Photos: Copyright by legendary.de
Translation: Dr. Ralf Meyer
after only five years of training, you have finished the season this winter impressively by winning the Austrian Winter Giants 2008. What have you been up to in the meantime?
It was definitively a very nice season end for me. I have not reckoned with it and am overjoyed that the competition itself has gone so well. Although at the start the weather and some disciplines were not in my favour, I could nonetheless assert myself in spite of the strong competitors. Especially Gerhard Trawöger and Lars Hermann had improved a lot since the last competitions and gave me a run for my money.
Prior to the event, I had a huge esteem for the Winter Giant, because I have all the time heard about injuries, which have happened in the winter. But, fortunately, everybody finished the competition without an injury. Moreover, the Winter Giant is an exceptional competition, as not only huge strength is called for in this case, but the fitness of the athletes is also very much challenged.
The unavoidable fitness training in the winter undid my whole training plan. Usually, the fundamental training with the basic exercises resumes at this time in the gym and the Strongman disciplines are kept on hold until the end of February.
After the competition I have allowed myself one week of rest and relaxation with a lot of biscuits. Afterwards, I have begun the new preparation for the coming season, which so far runs exactly as planned.
We were allowed to participate in your first discipline training for the beginning season. What does your plan look like for the competition year 2009, and which goals have you set yourself?
First, let me thank you very kindly for your time, your tips and of course for the nice training.
For this season I aim at a couple of things. One of the most important competitions, if not even the most important one, is the FIBO on April 25th, in Essen. With a good position I could qualify for the Strongman Champions League, and this would take me a big step closer to my goals. Therefore, I have started my complete preparation a few weeks earlier, doing everything possible to be up to the big challenge.
Two months after the FIBO, there will be the Austrian Summer Giant. I will prepare for this one as well as for the FIBO competition. The Summer Giant is extremely important for me, because it is the biggest competition in Austria. Due to my weakness in the shoulder disciplines, unfortunately I came only third last year. But with this preparation I approach the shoulder training as a whole somewhat more astutely and deliberately. So far I was already able to improve a good deal compared to last year.
I would otherwise like to participate more in stone lifting competitions again this year because these championships are a lot of fun. The atmosphere at such tournaments is simply unbelievable, because the people are compassionate and cheer on every athlete without exception. Moreover, the Bavarian cuisine in itself makes participating in these events worth your while: You donâ€™t often get so great veal sausages with Bavarian pretzels, roasted chicken and dumplings!
Your trainer Heinz Ollesch, who has been Strongest-Man of Germany himself twelve times, has got the task of organising this event; you like to call him also your mentor. How have you become acquainted, what is your cooperation like, and how do you rate his input?
The first time I have seen Heinz live, was in a competition in Austria. At that time I was not yet active myself in Strongman sports. Even then I was a big fan of Heinz Ollesch, of his outstanding achievements in strength sports, as well as his likeable and affable character.
But we established proper contact only after my fifth place at the Austrian Summer Giants 2007. One week later I received an e-mail from Heinz, in which he cordially complimented me on my fifth place. He offered that he would gladly help me advance, provided that I felt like giving it a try in this sport.
Shortly afterwards we have met for a training and since that day for me it was only up, continuously. Heinz has helped me practically in all areas and has optimised my complete training, my diet and my technique. My strength power sort of exploded, my body weight increased, and at the same time my form became better. I would not be able to do exercises in disciplines without Heinz, because at home I lack the necessary equipment, and I would also not have the space for the training.
Heinz helps me get better known with small events and show appearances, and additionally he also supports me with his company Fitgiant. Thus, I can enhance my diet with high-quality supplements and the performance increases speak for themselves. I bought only low priced supplements to some extent before, because I could not afford others. The body could not make best use of those, however. “Fitgiant” makes high-quality products available at affordable prices, affordable even for pupils and students.
Not every training session, and every competition runs as well as it could. If I am sometimes completely off target in a competition or a training session, and I briefly lose my courage and my ambition, Heinz motivates me over and over again. He works with me on my mistakes, so that I can develop and improve constantly, resulting in more success the next time. I really owe Heinz and his lifelong companion Dr. Martina Herget a lot, and more every day. Without the two of them, I would never have come so far!
I very much like to spend a lot of time with them at their home in Bad Aibling. We work out at least once a week together at his training base. Moreover, I often drive there just for eating or chatting together. Jokingly, I am already being introduced as the adopted son!
Heinz Ollesch is also a founder of the “GFSA” and pushes the Strongman sports in the German speaking region immensely…
It is really smashing that there are still people like him, who spend their spare time and practically hold together a whole association. Without Heinz, some things would not be possible in the strength sports in Germany, but also in Austria. His commitment and of course his results, taken on their own, have won the strength sports more popularity.
Maintaining the GFSA site (www.gfsa-strongman.de), he furthermore creates an informative and constantly up-to-date site for enthusiasts and athletes with news of the scene, events in the German strength sports, and competitions in the whole world.
Without the competitions and events, which Heinz organises all over Germany, many athletes would have no possibilities for comparison and no proper equipment at the championships. All athletes, who have already participated in championships, know how important a good organisation and ideal equipment are for a competition.
It is bad if poor equipment does not allow a real comparison of achievement, but it is even worse that it contributes to the high risk of injury in the dangerous disciplines. Neither athlete nor audience can enjoy an event, in which half of the participants do not master a discipline or perhaps even injure themselves with a piece of equipment.
In Germany, Heinz also organises many competitions for beginners and novices in the Strongman sports, who want to give it a try in a competition. The weights are definitely lighter there and there are several weight classes. Everybody has thus the possibility to see whether they like the sports, whether they want to continue with it, or whether they want to look for something else.
Anyway, to me the work of Heinz is really commendable.
GFSA – Training Center in Großkarolinenfeld
If we remain with the trainer’s activity and the teamwork between athlete and adviser. In your opinion, how important is it for an athlete in competitive sports to have an experienced contact person?
Having an experienced athlete as trainer is awfully important. I would even say that it is indispensable, because in sports, experience cannot be overrated.
Before Heinz had taken me under his wings, I thought my training and my diet were by and large not so bad. But in this regard I was very wide off the mark! Already only by changing my diet I could make a quantum leap. Optimising my training schedule, improving the technique, and following basic hints allowed me to gain even more. When you are under constant observation, mistakes can be noticed and eliminated more easily, respectively from the start mistakes do not creep into the motion sequence, into planning the training or into deciding the diet.
You start this year into your fifth competition season and only the third Strongman season, while it seems that your performance increases every year.
I am very satisfied with my development! But the training only works so well, since Heinz coaches me and has taught me that I should not count in weeks or months, but years. Before, I did not listen to my body and was too ambitious. As a result I was often in a stalemate and have not made progress for longer periods of time. I exercised too often, too hard and without system. Smaller injuries like strains or inflammations were common.
Before I got to know Heinz, I have also exercised heavily the whole year through. I believed that I would become somewhat weaker and lighter during a planned break. But exactly the opposite is the case! Now I insert every year after the season an â€œeasyâ€ time and exercise very relaxed for six to eight weeks. In the following preparation phase I am rested and again thoroughly motivated. This way I can inch towards my previous best performance within a minimum amount of time and even exceed it.
For a few years now, I exercise mostly three times a week to be able to regenerate extensively between the units. Should I still have the feeling that I do not progress anymore, I insert either one day of very light work-out, or a regenerative week. Nothing is as important as the recovery time – not only for the performance but also for preventing injuries!
How has your work-out changed during the years?
At first sight my training may not have changed a lot, but I have adapted my training schedule constantly to my goals, to my exercise possibilities and to my ability for regeneration. I have started with a classical and easy competition plan for powerlifting, which I have found in the internet. I have constantly adapted and honed this plan. Off season, I still continue to exercise according to this plan. I have tried out and incorporated many different exercises and elements from other systems, but the basic structure has remained the same.
During the season I always change my training plan, because I have one whole day only for disciplines, which I really need. In our sports, technique is extremely important. I have already trained with some strong powerlifters, but they could not transfer their strength from the basic exercises and despaired of the technique. In addition, you are getting stronger in the basic exercises as a result of the training of disciplines, and of course also vice versa. Therefore, you need both units: The heavy basic exercises like the squat, the deadlift, the bench press and shoulder press and the disciplines.
Precisely in this matter my training plan has changed and improved immensely. I try out many exercises and aim to challenge my body with many different angles and weights. This prevents the body from adapting itself to the usual course of movements and thus from stagnating. It works very well with the help of the Strongman exercises, because here we have a great choice of different exercises.
For example, at a squat day I do not do only conventional squats, as I did before, but I carry out heavy frontsquats, at another time do boxsquats, and another time again I complete normal squats. Or I combine the exercises just depending on how I feel with chains and bands. For the deadlift I alternate between conventional sumo lifting, Romanian deadlifting, lockouts in the rack from different heights, and deadlifting with raised standing position, while the bar is at the same height as the toes, just as it is with stone lifting. It is exactly the same for the shoulder program. I constantly switch between Log Lift, Apollon’s axle, military press, seated shoulder press with the barbell or the dumbbell, and Viking press.
Looking back now, what would you approach differently, respectively what would your advice be to newcomers in the strength sports?
I would listen better to my body from the start and would occupy myself more with the subjects of regeneration and diet. I have realised rather late, actually only since I have trained with Heinz, that diet and regeneration are as important as the training itself.
Before, I have increased come hell or high water, even if I had a bad day for heavy weights, if I was injured or ill. This has not helped me, but on the contrary has even done harm. This way you prolong the duration of an injury or an illness. You can do without the time, which is necessary afterwards for the body to recover.
Now I solve such issues differently. As soon as I notice that today is one of my bad days, and I cannot reach best performances, I stay at about 50 to 70 percent with the training weights. I prefer to do more repetitions and sets. This is also what one of my typical light training units looks like. In this way I can work out again really hard in the next training session and can also increase the weights. If I am only slightly ill, but I am feeling well otherwise, I also only do a light unit. A heavy unit would weaken the immune system too much, and then you run the risk to really fall ill. When I feel really ill, however, I rather stay at home and recover. Then I come back again at the next training session or after one week.
I can only advise beginners to think first before they do something and do not simply work out without using their brains. The diet should be chosen carefully, and they should not just push everything edible into their mouths. This helps neither their health nor their achievements. Especially for pupils and students there are healthy and reasonably priced alternatives to pizza, burger and hot dog. In this regard, one should limit oneself to basic foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes, meat, tuna, muesli, curd cheese, oat flakes, milk, low-fat turkey’s ham, low-fat cheese and wholemeal bread, to give just a few examples.
Concerning the choice of training plan, I often see and read that newcomers use a system for two weeks and afterwards choose a new plan in the internet in order to train with it again for two weeks. To try out different plans for the purpose of being able to form an opinion, this is absolutely okay. It can be even helpful to be able to create a plan, which lives up to the individual demands and possibilities. But you cannot properly make this judgement after only two weeks. Only after ca. 10 to 12 weeks can you approximately determine if a plan is useful or not. In this regard, you should analyse exactly in which exercises you have grown stronger, in which you stagnated, or in which you have even become weaker. You then adapt the plan with new exercises accordingly: with more or less sets and repetitions, heavier or lighter units. Then you start the plan anew. After a further ca. 10 to 12 weeks you again draw your conclusions and optimise the whole plan once more. In this way you build your own tuned system.
I readily also offer my help concerning training, diet, etc. Simply write an email through my homepage: www.wildauer-martin.at
Let us return to the season 2009. There currently exist at least two records, which you are itching to break: In bavarian stone lifting probably the 350 kg for one metre, and in deadlifting the junior world record of Andy Bolton with 382.5 kg?
In the meantime, there are a number of guys, who have managed more than 400 kg in the deadlift, but to me Andy Bolton is simply the strongest and most fascinating deadlifter of all times. His technique is nearly perfect and his achievement of 455 kg in deadlifting is just beyond belief.
The junior record for the strongest deadlifter of all times would be a particular highlight for me. I do hope it works out for me this year.
The second record, which I would really like to break, would be to lift 350 kg up one metre in bavarian stone lifting. Nobody in the history of stone lifting has as yet accomplished this feat. It would be a sensation for me personally and a confirmation in one of my favourite disciplines.
And what is your longer-term planning like? Are there any role models at all for you to follow, or do you focus on your own achievements?
The question is not so easy to answer, because I cannot limit myself to one or a few athletes. There are simply a lot of strong and admirable athletes. But without question my mentor and friend, Heinz Ollesch, is one of them. Without doubt he is on top of my list due to his commitment for the sport, his national and international successes, his down-to-earth character and his readiness to help.
Athletes like Mikhail Koklyaev, Travis Ortmayer or Kevin Nee are also among my greatest role models, because of their friendly and pleasant character as well as for delivering a sensational show in the competitions. Moreover, it is great when professionals spend time for sharing experience and information with beginners. You really would have to mention many more, like Bill Kazmaier, Zydrunas Savickas, or Mariusz Pudzianowski. Unfortunately, I cannot list everybody, though, and tell what I particularly like about this person. It would be beyond the scope of this interview.
But people outside the strength sports also fascinate me. I admire people most, who have clear goals before eyes, for which they work hard and honestly, for which they do everything.
You should admire people, who are smiled at and have to listen to a lot of criticism because of their goals, and still they do not let themselves be thrown off course.
This always reminds me very much of personalities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the beginning he was laughed at because of his aims, and today he is admired for the goals which he has set himself and which he has also reached.
The MoosBummerl say: Thanks a lot!