The legendary Magnus Ver Magnusson reflects back on what made him one of the best strongmen that ever lived… and the impact he still has on the sport.
If you are a fan of strongman, or even just a causal follower of the sport, you’ve likely heard of Magnus Ver Magnusson. A 4x World’s Strongest Man champion and a legend in his own right – many consider him to be one of the greatest strongmen to ever live. While he is now retired, Magnusson has left a massive impact on the sport – and continues to be involved with the strongman community to this day. In our latest episode of the Legends Of Iron podcast, Magnus Ver Magnusson reflects back on his career, accomplishments, and the current state of strongman compared to his prime years.
When asked how he was able to become a legend in the sport of strongman, Magnus Ver Magnusson had a simple answer – he out-trained everyone. It was a different era of strongman, before internet and fitness knowledge had gone mainstream. He didn’t have a pre-defined plan based on scientific studies or online gurus. He simply trained hard. Harder than anyone else competing. He learned and adapted as he trained. He never stopped. And due to this he became a 4x World’s Strongest Man champion and a legend in the sport.
However, training hardest doesn’t mean to over-train with abandon. In fact, Magnus Ver Magnusson has some incredibly conservative tips when it comes to strongman training. “Don’t train to failure,” he notes at one point in the interview. Train lighter. Do more overall sets. Put in more overall work – but do it smartly.
“If you know you can do one more rep, do it. But if you are unsure, skip it,” Magnusson continues to say. That’s how to avoid injury while also keeping up with improvements.
Throughout the discussion with Magnus ver Magnusson during this podcast episode, you’ll notice a pattern. Magnusson is asked about his training regimen, his nutrition plan, and the tactics he used to become the best. His answer is almost always the same – there was no plan other than training hard and training smart.
Magnusson had a genetic gift and an inherent natural ability for weightlifting. He could feel and understand and learn his body organically. It’s that natural skill combined with hard work that made him a champion. It’s that intangible quality that makes a champion and is hard to reproduce. If you have it, you have it.
“I had a lot of training partners through my career but I pretty much killed him off”
– Magnus Ver Magnusson
Magnus Ver Magnusson Put In The Work… Then He Put In More
The one singular through-line throughout our discussion with Magnus Ver Magnusson is that he out-worked everyone. He jokes about how he has had many training partners in his life – who all fell to the wayside because they couldn’t keep up with him.
Magnusson never pre-prepared for specific strongman events. In fact, he wouldn’t often know what events would be in play during a competition until the day he showed up. This might seem shocking to some strongman athletes today. However, Magnusson has a natural ability to adapt and pick up on certain lifts.
Magnus Ver Magnusson attributes this to his lifestyle growing up. He worked on farms most of his younger life. This required him to endure long days of consistent physical labor. It gave him a natural endurance and psychological acceptance of enjoy physical labor and hard work.
But more than that, it also required problem solving. Learning how the mechanics of how equipment worked. What were the best and most efficient ways to use them and move them? What kind of problems might suddenly arise that require adaptation? These are questions and scenarios he would be faced with often on the farm.
Due to this, he developed a natural ability to adapt and quickly understand strongman equipment and events. He certainly had some events he was better at than others – but he could see them for the first time that day and learn how to master it. He even jokes that he never owned his own set of Atlas Stones to practice on throughout his career.
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Find The Balance Of Training Harder Than Everyone Without Overtraining
Magnus Ver Magnusson also warns against overtraining as well. It may sound contradictory, but he believes success requires out-working everyone else while also not overtraining. How is that possible? It’s about knowing which limits can bend and which limits will break.
Strongman requires one day of pushing for the best lifts of your life, then the rest of the year you can play it safe. That doesn’t mean to not push hard and get stronger. But it does mean learning to not take unnecessary risks. Being a strongman, odds are you love lifting, but don’t be cursed by going for a PR outside of competition only to injure yourself.
As we mentioned above, Magnus Ver Magnusson believes training to failure should be avoided. That light weight and more reps is better than heavy weight and less reps. He also believes that a two-week training routine is better than a one-week routine. This accomplishes bringing in a more wide variety of muscle groups to be worked on. It also helps prevent a workout from getting repetitive fast. It avoids burnout.
Jon Andersen, Nick Best, and Akim Williams have a truly jovial and insightful conversation with Magnus Ver Magnusson. Not all of it can be recapped here, so make sure to watch the full episode of Legends Of Iron above. Check back every other Thursday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or where ever podcasts are downloaded.