Suffolk’s Jake Allen targets 2017 World’s Strongest Man and gives top gym tips
- Credit: Archant
It is a New Year tradition to enter the Battle of the Bulge: running off those 27 mince pies. The booming UK gym industry even expects a third of this year’s new members to sign up in January and February.
But it is fitness as usual for Jake Allen. The 26-year-old from Trimley St Martin was crowned the 11th Strongest Man in the World in the under 90kg category – about 14 stone – in 2016. It was his Strongman debut.
“It has just gone crazy,” he said.
“In the last year I have gone from competing in local competitions to competing in the world’s strongest man in the under 90kgs category and it has just gone crazy. I didn’t think I would be here this quick.
“But when you have got a target and you just keep going for it and striving to get better and better, and you have got good people pushing you as well, it’s good.
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“We have enjoyed our training, and we are going to enjoy it whatever, but I think we are going to take it a bit more serious for 2017 and hopefully place a lot better in the World’s Strongest Man.”
I met him and his motivational father Pacer Allen, the legendary former British top 10 strongman, for a workout at Xtreme Muscle gym off Landseer Road.
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A highlight was controversially defeating Jake in a tyre flipping contest.
But what is beyond dispute is his dedication.
“I grew up watching Strongman,” said Jake, who got into weightlifting thanks to his dad’s home gym. They now have the famous Atlas Stones.
“Mariusz Pudzianowski (a record five-time champion) and Žydr?nas Savickas (four-time winner), watching them guys and just being in awe of them. The things they are lifting are so crazy.
“And when you start training, you start to appreciate just how hard it is. It is crazy to think of the dedication they had. That’s motivational for me.”
The World’s Strongest Man 2016, held in Botswana, was aired on Channel 5 at Christmas. Just over 1.5 million tuned in last year.
“I think everyone enjoys watching Strongman and it is really picking up now,” Jake said.
People are starting to enjoy watching it more and are getting involved more. There are a load of first-timer competitions. Someone like yourself, you might have done the training for a few months, but you might want to compete and see how you fare. That gives people a good chance for people to get involved.
“You don’t have to be as strong as these people on TV to do Strongman, and that puts people off. They see someone lifting 400kgs, and you think it takes years and years to get there.
“But now you have got novices, intermediates, and the opens. If you place in the top three on three occasions in the novices, you can move on and push yourself. It’s like a ladder to get to the top.”
His Strongman showdown took place in Indianapolis, USA, last October. He qualified through England and Europe competitions.
“You are doing the head-to-heads and beating someone, and it’s awesome.
“You are running off adrenaline and it is quite a buzz, until you finish, and then you feel like you have been in a car crash for the next week!
“Everything I have achieved has just been through the love of Strongman, and it’s only now after coming 11th in the world that I am going to take it a bit more serious, because I didn’t really see myself as threatening the top guys.
“But now I can see I can really get a lot of improvements in all different areas of my training that I wasn’t doing before. People were beating me, but over the last three months, I have really prioritised on my weaknesses to improve, whereas before I was just training my strengths.
“But you want to compete against the best people. They are all working hard for that number one spot. It’s awesome, because even though we are competing against each other, all the competitors, we have a good laugh.
“When it comes to the competition, they all look out for you, and people who have lifted less than you still cheer you, because they know how much effort you have put in. It is a family sport. They don’t want to see anyone fail. I certainly don’t. And I want to push the people better than me to make myself better.”
He takes inspiration from his younger brother Arnold, 22, the UFC rising star.
“Arnie is doing really well and he helps me in my training,” he said.
“Even though it is a different sport, because he is doing so well, we have always been competitive. When I was good enough to beat him up still, we would always be fighting or seeing who could lift the most. It’s good like that. When he does his fights, I will be criticising if he is doing poorly, and he will do the same to me with my lifting.
“He is going to be fighting at the O2 in March. Because he has been a big prospect for so many years, I have got four years on him. When I was 18 and he was 14, he was beating me up then. So for me to be almost a man, and him just a kid, everyone could see his natural talent.
“I have just seen his progress, winning titles and belts, and I get nervous watching him. I still live with him and you see everything behind the scenes. He is up every morning at 6am running, and he doesn’t get home from the gym until 12 or 11 at night because he goes to four or five different classes during the day.
“You can see how dedicated he is, so it takes some of the worry away when you watch him. But anything can happen in a fight.”
Jake hopes to join him on television soon – on Strongman over Christmas. He said: “To be up there with the top strength athletes in the world would be awesome.”
Jake’s top tips on how to conquer the gym in 2017
“Take it slow, don’t worry about going too heavy, and just think about form and technique before you get more serious. You have to be consistent with your training each week and having a plan with where you want to go. Have a big goal, and set little goals on the way to that big goal.
“Find what motivates you and use that to keep going. Obviously I want to be stronger and stronger, and that keeps motivating me to keep training harder and harder, because competitions are getting harder.
“But it’s not all hard work. I train with my dad and (my friend) Sam and we all have fun, and make it a competition every now and again. We want to beat each other but we are still having fun and still want to improve each other.”
His father, Pacer Allen, added: “You have just got to get away from the games console. Just get down to the gym, be strong, be happy, and be fit.
“You have to enjoy your training. If you enjoy what you’re doing, then you’ll put more effort into it, and it becomes a cycle.
“I think expectations are the biggest let down. I think everyone expects to be He Man in two days but it doesn’t work that way.
“Most people do two months, and then the whole thing becomes hard work. You just have to enjoy it. If you do, you will stay strong with it. It’s fun and it’s hard work, and releases endorphins.”