Kalle Beck was 2012 California’s Strongest Man, however you may not have heard of him.
Kalle is a top ranking 175lb athlete in a weight division which has been flying under the radar for a while, but with changes to NAS and the Arnold Classic, it looks like that’s going to change.
Phil Burgess: How did you get into strongman in the first place what were the 3 major points in your life which led you there?
Kalle Beck: I was a small kid growing up, I was obsessed with comic books and strength in general. I never really played any sport.
The three things would have to be:
1. Motocross and winning a regional title.
Proving to myself I could accomplish anything I put my mind to.
2. Realizing you have to squat to be big and strong.
First time I squatted it was 95lbs for 3 sets of 8 and I couldn’t walk for 2 weeks.
3. Stumbling across a thread by a 105kg pro strongman on a message board.
I never realized there was weight divisions or an amateur platform for strongman like www.nastrongman.com . After a night spent “Googling” through completed contests, etc. I found a contest from a town close to me the year before.
I emailed the promoter, who in turn gave me Evan Hansmann’s email. I asked if I could come out to train events. I had no clue what i was getting into. I’ve never hurt more in my life but that was about 6 years ago and I haven’t taken a break from strongman since that day.
Phil Burgess: If you could change anything about the sport of strongman what would it be?
Kalle Beck: It just needs more exposure.
Everyone I know watches it on TV and is generally interested in it. They just don’t know where to find information or how to follow the sport.
I think the actual athlete needs to do a better job of promoting themselves. You can’t put it all on the promoters.
I would like to see WSM put a bigger emphasize on the back story and character development of the athletes. People like to feel connected or know about an athlete to truly care about who they are and the athletes story. Especially in an individual sport where you cannot get by on nationalism like in a team or Olympic sport.
Phil Burgess: What do you love the most about the sport of strongman?
Kalle Beck: The people and the camaraderie. Other than my family I’ve met pretty much everyone who is important to me in my life through strongman and that is priceless.
Phil Burgess: What title/achievement are you the proudest of holding?
Kalle Beck: I’d say winning California’s Strongest Man this year.
It was always my original goal and I had so much going on in my life at that time and it might have been the worst weather conditions of any strongman comp I’ve ever been to. Knowing I could overcome diversity like that was big for me.
Phil Burgess: What do you do as a job, and to relax?
Kalle Beck: I work in agriculture for a fertilizer supply company, I spend all day driving and walking fields making sure vegetables grow. I am walking 3-5 miles most day for my job, hey at least it keeps me lean right?
I am so busy between work and training. I don’t get much downtime. I live in the country so just being at my house is relaxing. I live next to a state park so I will go for hikes with my two dogs, or go to the beach.
Phil Burgess: What’s your favourite event and why?
Kalle Beck: I love the car deadlift, first off because I am good at it and a lot of people are not. Also NOTHING feels like more of a strain on the body I love that feeling of weights so heavy it feels like your head is going to pop off your neck from the pressure. Only car deadlifts give me that.
Also NOTHING feels like more of a strain on the body I love that feeling of weights so heavy it feels like your head is going to pop off your neck from the pressure. Only car deadlifts give me that.
Phil Burgess: You train with Big Pro Robert Oberst? How does that work as surely you cant be lifting the same weights? or do you? What strengths does Robert bring to you, and you to him?
Kalle Beck: Well he moved a few hours away at the start of the year so we don’t train as often as I’d like but we talk damn near everyday.
The third time we ever met we took a 11 hour one way road trip to do a contest and become good friends. Keeping up eating with him I actually almost missed weight for a comp I was 8lbs under for! I told him after that contest he would be a pro within a year and I couldn’t be prouder of him.
Its great to train with him he weighs about 185 kilos and I weigh 185 pounds so we don’t lift the same weights but we really know how to motivate each other and that drive is contagious.
I can still beat him in one thing. Robert has never beat me in a car deadlift 🙂 It’s been his weakest event and we worked on that every week and now he is real good at it. He still has yet to beat me head to head though ;).
He has really helped me bring my press up! If a man with shoulders the size of your head and a 600+lb raw bench tells you how to press you better listen!
Phil Burgess: What are your best lifts in the deadlift, squat and bench press, and at what bodyweight?
Kalle Beck: My new best result for the deadlift is 600lb which was 3x bodyweight.
I’ve hit 800lb from 18″ Squat, I have a 505lb back squat, 405lb for 10 and 435lb front squat.
Bench is 315lbs. I’m more proud of a 290lb log press though.
My bodweight stays around 185 pounds.
Phil Burgess: What are your goals for the rest of 2012 and for 2013?
Kalle Beck: Well after missing out on qualifying for the Arnold this past weekend I am fired up for North American Strongman nationals.
I am very happy my sponsor www.espnutrition.com is giving me some help to make it to nationals!
At nationals I hope to qualify for the Arnold Strongman fitness World Championship next year. The Arnold is my only immediate goal for 2013
Phil Burgess: OK you will be competing in the new 175lb strongman class in NAS (North American Strongman)? Tell us more:
Kalle Beck: NAS has always had a 175lb division but this year they re-branded it strongman fitness in order to show people of ordinary size can still have extraordinary strength.
They also announced that in 2013 at the Arnold Classic there will be a World Championship with I think the top 10 Americans and top 10 internationals competing!
We do all the same classic strongman lifts as the big boys its just with lighter weight. Lets say they are pressing a 220lb circus dumbbell we are pressing a 150lb circus dumbbell. Damn near our bodyweight with 1 arm!
This is not some crossfit competition with strongman implements. Its an opportunity for people that love strongman but were not born giants to compete at a high level. I think the medleys are a little easier on us though 🙂
There is some real strong guys 2010 National champion Brian Tabor, 2011 National Champion Justin Cantwell, 2010 under 200lb National champion Brandon McDonald, cut down and is qualified.
Others that have qualified for the Arnold are Mark Taysom, Issac Wade, Matt Leblanc.
I know it will be a war between me, Andrew Babcock, Micheal Sidwell, Benji Ehlers, among others at nationals for the last few spots!
Brits Shane Jerman and Mike Neale are also freaky strong. I’m excited to see what internationals come out of no-where. If any other 175lbs athletes are out there please join the “strongman fitness” group on facebook so we can all keep in touch.
NAS put on a 175lb Arnold Qualifier with every Platinum + comp this year. I think there was 4. I just competed in the last one in Dallas but got fourth and did not qualify so Nationals in November is the last chance.
There is also local competitions with 175lb divisions all across the country every weekend. Go to www.nastrongman.com for a list of competitions.
Phil Burgess: OK hypothetical question, if you could take 3 strength athletes alive or deceased, with you on a road trip, who would you take, and what would you ask them, and where would the road trip be?
Kalle Beck: Honestly I would take people I already know personally as the road trips with them I have already had where some of the best memories of my life.
I’d take Robert Oberst, Evan Hansmann and Sue Metcalf.
If I could go anywhere it would be a trip through Iceland and Scotland lifting all the historical challenge stones. I don’t think there is a better strongman vacation than that.
Thanks for the interview Kalle you’ve opened my eyes to the world of the 175lb strongman.
Kalle Beck: I’d like to add that if anyone wants to get in contact with me they can follow me via:
http://www.jtsstrength.com/ Training Blog
http://kbecktraining.blogspot.com/ For Q and A’s
Lastly I would also like to thank my sponsor www.espnutrition.com.
If anyone wants to try free samples send me a message and I will ship them out to you!