As I put together the finishing touches on this interview Kristin Rhodes is competing in the World’s Strongest Woman event.
She is the favourite for that event which is understandable seeing as she has been America’s Strongest Woman 5 times already..
We caught up with her, days before she flew to Finland to compete.
Phil Burgess: You are 5 times America’s Strongest Woman. Which event win are you the proudest of achieving?
Kristin Rhodes: Well I have won the America’s Strongest Woman title 5 times now! 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and now 2012. I say this year was one of my proudest as it was the heaviest contest I have ever competed in. But last year 2011 was about getting my title back.
I had a significant back injury in 2010 that prevented me from training and preparing as I would have liked. I ended up losing by half a point in 2010.
Let me say I hate to lose, but doesn’t everyone I look back and think it was maybe a blessing in disguise as I gained focus to earn my title back in 2011.
As for this year in 2012, I performed better than I had even imagined, winning the first 6 events. I pulled out of the last event to rest since I am competing in 2 weeks in Finland in the World Strongwoman Championships.
Phil Burgess: How did you get involved in the sport?
Kristin Rhodes: I was introduced to the sport of Strongman by my husband Donnie. He had been deadlifting at the gym when a guy approached him and asked if he had ever thought of trying a strongman contest.
He did his first contest in July 2006 and I did my first in August of the same year. I won my first contest and fell in love with the sport from then on.
Phil Burgess: How often do you train and do you have a set routine?
Kristin Rhodes: I used to train 4 days a week for the last 5 years, but I am now training just 3 days a week.
I began working with a new coach Mike Westerling in about June of this year and his style of training calls for 3 days a week. It has worked out for me brilliantly. I am the strongest that I have ever been in my life. Thank you Mike!
Mike has numerous articles that he has written about his training methods that are on the www.ironmillstrong.com website.
Phil Burgess: Can you give us an example of your training over a week?
Kristin Rhodes: Training is split into three days, one is a GPP day which is typically a medley of some sort or a killer prowler workout. We train it uphill which adds to the intensity.
We do an upper body day and a lower body day. Every workout is a max effort of some sort. We typically alternate squat and deadlift weeks as well as overhead pressing and bench/incline days.
So for instance one of my weeks leading up to nationals looked like this:
- Monday: axle out of rack singles up to a max taking 20lb jumps from an empty bar, drop 30 lbs and do one set max reps, then Push ups one set max reps.
- Wed: Squat working doubles up to a 2 Rep max, then Abs one set max reps
- Saturday: Stone over bar singles up to one set of max reps with a stone you can get at least 7 reps with then Prowler push 5 sets of 150ft with 1 minute rest in between
We have everything a strongman/woman could want at our house to train with. It’s really nice to be able to train at home.
Phil Burgess: What are your strongwoman goals for the remainder of 2012 and for 2013?
Kristin Rhodes: Let me just say 2012 has been a great year.
In March I was invited to Rome Italy to compete on the Lo Dei Show Record , an Italian TV show for a Guinness World record in the Fingal Finger Strongman event. I competed against a lady from Latvia and I won!
It was an amazing experience and a great start to the year. I have just been invited back again to do another Guinness Show, this time we are going to Beijing China the first week of December. I will be competing in the overhead DB press and the Atlas Stones.
My first goal starting out 2012 was to win the title of America’s Strongest Woman again which I just did last weekend.
My next goal is to win the World Championship in Finland on November 23-24. Ever since having to pass on going to Ukraine in the summer of 2011 for the World’s Strongest Lady due to a significant back injury, I have been focused on rehabbing and had my eyes on winning the title of Strong Woman World Champion!
I am excited to see so many women competing in the sport now. This year’s US Strongwoman Nationals had the largest turnout of women ever. That was amazing!
Phil Burgess: What are your best lifts and favorite strongwoman events?
Kristin Rhodes: My best strongman lifts are overhead pressing, yoke and stones.
My current max overhead axle press is 251 lbs or 114kg.
My personal best yoke walk was a 705 lb 0r 320kg yoke for 50ft.
I can load a 300lb or 137kg stone for reps. I feel very fortunate that I am able to perform very well in most events.
As for regular gym lifts I recently hit a 455lb or 207kg raw back squat.
Phil Burgess: What weaknesses are you currently working on and what are you doing to improve them?
Kristin Rhodes: One of my biggest weakness was my deadlift. All of my back injuries have come from deadlifting incorrectly. I have focused on correcting my technique and training my back to get stronger.
My husband had me start me out with lighter weights and we worked our way up until I was strong enough. I pulled 13 reps with a 650 frame deadlift this past weekend and I am so happy with that. I only pulled 8 reps with a 550 frame last year.
Phil Burgess: Do you think strongwoman competitions are getting more popular for firstly competitors and secondly the public in the US?
Kristin Rhodes: I do believe that it is getting more popular as more and more women are getting involved in Strongwoman. There are large groups of women on Facebook that support each other and are constantly recruiting new talented women.
I think it is so great to see Strongwoman contests now where you have 5-8 women signed up. You did not see that regularly in years past.
What I love most about strongwoman is the camaraderie. You will meet some of the nicest people in the world on that competition field.
I am not sure if the sport is growing publicly as fast as we would like but I do know as more Americans continue to dominate the Strongman world it will continue to grow in popularity.
Phil Burgess: What do you do as a job? And what do you do to relax?
Kristin Rhodes: I am self employed. I run a childcare business from my home.
I feel very fortunate to be my own boss and to be working with children, which I love.
As for relaxing as a mother of three kids that’s funny! Haha!! What I enjoy is watching my kids succeed in school and in sports.
I get pure joy out of watching my kids as they grow up to be wonderful talented individuals. As a family we enjoy training, camping and travelling.
I love that my husband Donnie and I train together. It is really nice to have such a wonderful, encouraging, kick ass, super STRONG training partner. He is amazing and so knowledgeable and has figured out the best most effective ways to train strongman events. I love that we do this together!!
Phil Burgess: What do you love the most about the sport of strongman / strongwoman?
Kristin Rhodes: First of all I love training and seeing what I am capable of. When I first started I never in a million years would have dreamed that I would ever be this strong. If someone would have told me six years ago that I would be lifting the weights that I am now I would have laughed hard.
I mean honestly how many people can say they pull 20,000 lb trucks or flip 700 lb tires just for fun?
I love all the wonderful people we meet as we travel around the country competing. The athletes and their families are truly some of the nicest people we have ever met. Both my husband and I have met some really great friends.
This past weekend at nationals I was told by numerous people, both men and women that I am very inspiring, that they enjoy following my progress and watching my videos. Apparently I help them to set their bar even higher, to work a little harder, to aspire to be great.
That truly made my weekend, it was almost better than winning, to hear that I have had a positive impact on so many lives.
I think it is my drive to be the very best in the sport of Strongwoman, that keeps me going. I want to leave a legacy that people will remember. Setting the bar very high so that future women that come into the sport can have dreams of lifting big.
Don’t think it’s not possible, ladies anything is possible!
Phil Burgess: Any last thoughts you’d like to share?
Kristin Rhodes: Lastly I have to say a HUGE thank you to my husband Donnie for everything that you do for me!
I would also like to say a HUGE thank you to Dione Wessels, it truly is amazing all that she has done for the sport of Strongman!!!