World’s Strongest Teacher – Dutch Strongman Alex Moonen

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Alex Moonen is probably the strongest teacher in the World, and owns a Judo World Championship Bronze Medal.  

So if you are a student of Alex’s, you’d better not make him angry…. 🙂

Lets find out more about Alex, and find out how this guy is making great strides in the sport of Strongman.

Phil Burgess:  You were a Junior World Champion Bronze Medallist in Judo.  How did you go from there to strongman?

Alex moonen pressing
Strong lockout by Alex

Do you think your background in Judo has helped you as a strongman competitor?

Alex Moonen: I decided to quit judo after several injuries. I had surgery on my right shoulder, both knees and right wrist over a 4 year period.

Back then I thought it was better to put the sport aside and get a proper education.   I moved back to my roots in the south of the Netherlands, and started studying to be a high school geography teacher and did some fitness in a friend’s local gym in my spare time.

Being a sportsman I missed the thrill of competition.  One day the gym owner asked me to compete in a ‘Strongman Competition’ to promote his gym.

At first I didn’t want to because I thought that I wasn’t strong enough to do this sport. The gym owner said ‘ come on Alex, you’re 140kg and a former junior judo bronze medallist, of course you’re strong enough to compete’.

I ended up in 2nd place without any strongman training at all. From that moment on my heart was sold to strongman. I started squatting, deadlifting and pressing in the gym.

  • In 2008, I trained the first strongman events.
  • In 2009, I came 2nd in the Dutch national championships.
  • In 2010, I made my international debut in Champions league Germany (FIBO).

I guess these results may not have been possible without my Judo base.

alex moonen
Car Deadlift for Reps

Phil Burgess: You have placed as high as 2nd in Hollands Strongest Man, when do you think you will be able to topple Jarno Hams to win it?  And what areas do you think you need to improve on to do this?

Alex Moonen: Jarno is the strongest man in Holland for the last decade. Due to injury he missed two titles.

Until last year it was no problem for him to become the national champion. This year (2012) he won the title again with a big point difference, but the event results were closer compared to passed years.

The strongman level in the Netherlands is rising. Jan Wagenaar and myself are improving every year. 2013 will be a close competition.

My weak points are the deadlift and grip. I try as hard as possible to improve!

Phil Burgess: I read that at contest time you weigh about 175kg, at 1 metre 89, the same height as me, but 60kg heavier. 

How much do you eat to maintain that bulk, and do you do this mostly through food, or weight gainer powders and supplements?  How many grams of protein would you eat each day?

Alex Moonen Circus Dumbell Pressing
Circus Dumbell Pressing

Alex Moonen: Actually that is what the TV people always say about me, but I have never weighed more than 169kg at 187cm.

At the moment my body weight is 162kg. I’ve always been a heavy person.

At the age of 14, I weighed 110kg and was 185cm tall. I don’t eat that much.

I just make sure that the right carbs, proteins and vitamins cover the daily heavyweight requirements.

Phil Burgess: What are your best lifts in the Log Press, Deadlift, Squat and Farmers Walk?

Alex Moonen: I now share the Dutch national loglift record with Jarno. We both managed to control 185kg above our heads.

My deadlift on powerlifting height is 360kg and 380kg from 5 cm higher.

My squat max is 290kg. That’s a very old record. I don’t max out on squat for the last two years, so i can’t say exactly. Best set is 5*270kg. But for sure it’s over the 300kg barrier.

The farmers walk is not that good either due to bad grip (small thick hands). I believe the best I did was 165 kg for 30 meters (on a 40 metre course).

Phil Burgess:  Do you think that we will see weights in events increase in the next 5 years to 500kg Yoke Walks and 200kg Farmers Walks,?

Or do you think that the current amount of weights for events is as high as it should get, in order to prevent too many injuries?

Alex Moonen: I wouldn’t be surprised to see increased weights, even with the absurd level we compete nowadays.

If you’d ask me the same question 5 years ago, I never thought it would be at this level.

Alex SCL Deadlift
Deadlift in the Strongman's Champions League

Phil Burgess: How long have you been a competitive strongman for? And what are the three best lessons you have learnt in the sport?

Alex Moonen:  I’ve been competing since 2008.

In the first year I did alot of local competitions, just because of the fun.

In 2009 it started to get serious. After that, I became part of the strongman roller coaster, travelling all over the world.

The three lessons I’ve learnt:

  1. Invest and you’ll be rewarded
  2. Be respectful to all guys who train hard, it doesn’t matter what level they are!
  3. A solid home-base is a key factor to success (partner, training partner, gym & equipment, sponsors etc..)

Phil Burgess: What do you love the most about the sport of Strongman?

Alex Moonen:  This is a extreme sport that gets as close as it gets to the basic animal instinct

Phil Burgess:  Finally, what title or competition result are you the proudest of achieving?

Alex Moonen: I don’t have a result at a competition that I’m particularly proud of. To be able to compete with the best, is my best achievement.

  • Like doing good at WSM2012
  • Getting top 5 positions in difficult Strongman Champions league events.

If I have to name one particular achievement it would be the Dutch loglift record I did in November 2012. A solid 185kg, shared with Jarno Hams.