It is always an honour to speak with a top international strongman, and with today’s strongman interview it is even more pleasing as he is also from the land of the Vikings, Norway. Espen Aune is a
Worlds Strongest Man competitor and holder of the 2011 Norway’s Strongest Man title.
PB: OK, Espen, tell me a bit about your childhood and growing up? What was Espen the child like?
EA: I lived in the countryside and was very active, engaged in many different sports such as football, handball, athletics, ski jumping, cross-country skiing, etc. I also played in the band for my school. I had a great childhood and have many fond memories.
PB: How did you get involved in the sport of strongman?
EA: I was training at a gym, when I was discovered by the then Norway’s Strongest Man, Roy Holte. He saw that I was strong and wanted me to try strongman training.
Once I started strongman training I was hooked! I’ve always wanted to be big and strong. As with many people in Norway, growing up Arnold Schwarzenegger was a role model:) ha..ha .. And had also I had seen alot of strongman on TV, and was very fascinated by Norway’s Svend Karlsen.
I then started thinking that I would also like to become the strongest man in Norway! So I set the goal to be the strongest man in Norway and i am please to say I achieved this.
PB: How popular are strongman competitions in Norway?
EA: Strongman is very popular in Norway. Norway’s strongest man is shown on the main television channel. The Worlds Strongest Man is shown every year as well. So you could say that Norwegians like strongman!
PB: I notice that you have some serious tattoos on your arms like most strongmen? Is it a pre-requisite for strongman competitors to have tattoos before they are allowed to compete ? 🙂
EA: Ha..Ha .. No. .. I was very young when I got my tattoos. only 17 years old which was a few years before I started strongman competitions. There are however several competitors who do not have tattoos, Brian Shaw, Derek Poundstone, etc. So No, you dont need to have tattoos to be a strongman .. Ha..Ha..
PB: What are your personal goals for strongman competitions in 2012?
EA: I was very close to making the finals this year in the WSM. It was just one repetition of the dumbbell that made the difference between making or not making the finals. So I really want to try again and this time get to the finals:)
So that’s my main goal for 2012. I will also try to participate in several competitions abroad. I think it’s fun to travel and see different countries.
PB: Was winning the 2011 Norways Strongest Man, your greatest success to date? Or was it another competition or achievement that you are most proud of?
EA: Winning Norway’s Strongest Man 2011 was without doubt my best performance ever. Titles are something I value above all else. However I was very pleased with my performance in the 2011 Worlds Strongest Man competition as well. I was really close to making the final at my first attempt.
PB: You are new to the Worlds Strongest Man competition, what does it mean to you to compete in an event such as this?
EA: It’s really fun! I am very happy to have been given the chance to participate in the Worlds Strongest Man competition. Quite simply it is the largest competition and most important one for strongman to attend.
PB: What is your overall strongman training philosophy? Do you concentrate on improving your strengths even further, or concentrate on improving your weaknesses?
EA: I train for all events of course. One can never be strong enough, but the main focus is always on what I’m weakest in.
You have to be good at everything in strongman these days. It helps very little to be good for 2-3 events. You have to be good in everything. And that’s what’s a really cool with strongman. You have to be a strong all-rounder!
PB: Is there anything you dislike in competing in strongman competitions? And what do you love the most about them?
EA: No there is nothing that I dislike about competing in strongman competitions. If I ever start to dislike competing then I will stop.
What I like most about strongman competitions is the people in the sport. Wherever I go in the world, I meet nice people. It makes strongman even more fun.
PB: I have plateaued on my squat and cant seem to increase my one rep max, what training techniques or exercises would you suggest to start gaining again?
EA: It is a difficult question, since I do not know much about your training and how you do it currently. But try using different types of squats.
Squat to box, squat with elastic bands, Bulgarian outcome, front squats, etc. Also remember that you must not train heavy all the time. Work out for a few weeks with lighter weights and higher repetitions, and then do a few weeks with heavy weights and fewer repetitions.
PB: They often say with bodybuilding that success is 20% training and 80% diet, what would you say the percentages are for a success in a strongman competition.
EA: I would say it’s pretty similar. As a strongman you can allow yourself to eat a little more of what you want. The food and more specifically the calories are very important. You have to eat lots and lots. We have a saying here in Norway: “You are what you eat”!!
PB: What do you do to relax when you are away from the gym or not competing?
EA: I spend most of my time with my family. I have a 2 year old daughter and a girlfriend. I like to spend as much time with them as I can. I love my family, my family is everything to me!
PB: What other strongmen have helped you in your strongman career and how did they help?
EA: I’ve got alot of help from some local strongman athletes here in Norway. Especially Roy Holt and Olaf Dhal who were competing in strongman when I started.
They taught me everything they could, so I got a good start to the strongman world.
In recent times, a personal trainer named Børge Fagerli has helped me alot. He sets up all the training for me and has helped me to become as good as I am today. Last but not least, I should mention Svend Karlsen , he is always good to have conversations with.
PB: Is there anyone else you would like to thank?
EA: I must also thank my sponsors, I would not be where I am today had it not been for them.
http://www.norkost.no that gives me all of the proteins and everything else I need in supplements.
Børge Fageli again, as my PT and Kaliber Gym that is the best gym in Norway!
PB: Thanks for your time
EA: Thanks Phil