Mike Jenkins has raced to the top of the Strongman scene like a Runaway Juggernaut…
He recently won his first major competition,the 2012 Arnold Strength Classic in Columbus, Ohio.
When I realised that I could be brushing shoulders with him at the Giants Live event in Melbourne, Excitement was an understatement.
Mike is extremely strong but he is also a modest, friendly, humble person, and he’s pretty cool too 🙂
Here is the interview we did.
Phil Burgess: Winning the Arnold Strongman Classic, how did it feel to win such an event? What did Arnold say to you, anything interesting?
Mike Jenkins: Its hard to put into words what I felt like. All I know is I was probably the happiest person in Columbus, Ohio that night!
Arnold did not say anything out of the ordinary to me, he tries to keep it all business on stage I think!
As far as titles that is actually my first professional win in the two years I have been a pro, not a bad win to have as a first! This is my proudest moment in strongman without a doubt, I still hold pretty close to my heart winning a National Championship my last year in college playing American Football for James Madison University.
Phil Burgess: You are 175kg at 6ft 6inches, however when you run, you seem light on your feet, and have quick footwork, why is this?
Mike Jenkins: Playing sports growing up is without a doubt the reason I am as quick as I am. I have always been big so my muscles have always had to carry around a lot of weight, I was 100kg in 6th grade, age 10.
I have always been big so my muscles have always had to carry around a lot of weight, I was 100kg in 6th grade, age 10.
Phil Burgess: You have also talked about improving your cardio fitness in the last year. Can you go on a treadmill without breaking it?
Mike Jenkins: I cannot tell you the last time I was on the treadmill!
My cardio has a lot of pushing and pulling of sleds, long runs of tire flips and very hard medleys.
Phil Burgess: How did you get into Strongman competition in the first place?
Mike Jenkins: I had finished playing professional football but still wanted to be challenged, I needed a goal to shoot for.
I picked a small contest in my home state and never looked back….
Phil Burgess: What three things do you love about being a Strongman Competitor?
- Being able to interact with the fans, in so many sports the athletes are “off limits”, at a strongman contest we spend time taking pictures with the fans before and after. Its not the attention I like, its just that it adds to the fans experience and you can tell when they get pictures or autographs it makes their day.
- The challenge, if you dont do well its your fault, nobody elses! I know if I get beat I personally have to get better.
- It has enriched my life. This may sound silly but if it was not for strongman there is no way I would have seen the places I have seen, Iceland, Poland and Australia to name a few. We are so sheltered in the US, its nice to travel and see how others live and experience their culture.
Phil Burgess: Where in the US are you from?
Mike Jenkins: I am originally from Taylorsville, Maryland, its not on most maps. I grew up on a dirt road about 30-40 minutes from anything other then
some gas stations and liquor stores.
I loved where I grew up, I lived my childhood outside, not like kids today playing video games. I grew up riding bikes, fishing, riding ATVs and playing sports of course!
Now I live with my wife in Hershey Pennsylvania, where they make the chocolate, the air even smells like it sometimes.
Hershey is a nice little town, we have a small amusement park, shopping outlets and like where I grew up a lot of space to do things outdoors.
Phil Burgess: Your deadlift is perhaps one of your weaker events, what is your plan to improve this?
Mike Jenkins: Oh, I know my deadlift is my weak link but I am not afraid to acknowledge that, I plan on getting with a coach to help me work on it.
I have never had a coach for strongman but I realize if I want to be even better I need to get some help.
Phil Burgess: Who do you think will be at the top of the Worlds Strongest Man Competition 2012?
Mike Jenkins: I hate making predictions and the only thing I know 100% is that I WANT my name to be in that top 3.
Phil Burgess: Which new strongman competitors have you seen this year who you believe may go all the way to the top?
Mike Jenkins: I think Adam Scherr and Mike Burke can make a impact in the sport and both of them are class acts too!
Phil Burgess: What do you do when you are not competing in Strongman comps?
Mike Jenkins: Well before Worlds Strongest Man I was a teacher at an alternative school in Harrisburg, PA, they forced me to resign to follow my dream.
One door closed and another opened, I started my own business, Catalyst Athletics where I train high school athletes and people who are serious about their fitness.
Phil Burgess: What is your maximum Log lift, Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press.
- Log C/P-455
- Squat- 775×10
- Bench- I haven’t benched in 4 years
Phil Burgess: You have an amazing log press, What assistant exercises or techniques do you do to improve your log press?
Mike Jenkins: I really did not do too much different before the Arnold, I think once I got over the hump I was stuck on my body just adapted and got stronger. Lots of pressing and tricep work.
Phil Burgess: Do you utilise the Westside Barbell Conjugate method of training , or do you use the traditional progressive overload approach?
Mike Jenkins: I take a mixed approach, its tough to really only use one when sometimes you train for a max, but you also have to train for reps for a contest 4 weeks later so I use methods from a number of philosophies.
Phil Burgess: I see that you are involved in training children as well as adults, which do you prefer to train and why?
Mike Jenkins: Well my passion is with the high school athletes, I wish I had someone like myself when I was playing sports in high school.
With that being said, kids dont realize how hard it is and the dedication. Alot of them lack accountability, they think it will just “happen”.
I like the adults because for the most part if you tell them start time is 7pm they are there at 6:55pm ready to go. I also appreciate they know its never too late to get in shape.
Phil Burgess: What sports did you play growing up? Who has provided the most help and support in developing you into a top level strongman?
Mike Jenkins: I played soccer until I was in high school, I was too big for american football leagues, along with basketball and lacrosse, then football, basketball and lacrosse in high school.
I cant say I had an idol honestly, I just wanted to be better then every kid I played against.
As far as direct support in strongman I have to say my mom, dad, brother and wife. Without a good support system you wont make it far in the sport. I never had a coach or mentor in strongman, Ive done it by watching others and teaching myself.
Phil Burgess: In five years time, what would you like to have achieved?
Mike Jenkins: In five years I would like to have a few more Arnold titles and some Worlds Strongest Man titles as well. I want to be remembered as one of the best ever, thats what drives me to train.
Outside of strongman, as simple as it sounds I just want to be happy. I think that may be the time babies may be coming into mine and Keri’s life. I want to have a successful business and enjoy work while being able to support and provide for my family.
Phil Burgess: Finally, what is the silliest thing you’ve done when competing, and what have you seen others do?
Mike Jenkins: I think I do something silly everytime I am out there! Its always crazy shoes or headbands. I go out there to win every event but I try to have fun, when its not fun for me anymore Ill hang it up.
I think seeing Marshall White hump the log at the Olympia 2 years ago might take the cake for another competitor.
Thank-you Mike for your time and we all look forward to watching you at Worlds Strongest Man 2012, Good Luck…