World’s Strongest Man Champion Martins Licis details his origins in Strongman and his mindset when competing at major competitions.
Strongman competitions and events like World’s Strongest Man have become more and more popular with each passing year. It’s also a standout main stage event during the Arnold Classic alongside the IFBB pro bodybuilding finals. Unlike most bodybuilders, Strongmen need to focus on being able to lift as much weight as possible in order to win competitions. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, we spoke with Martins Licis about his Strongman origins and what kind of mindset is needed to lift such heavy weight during major competitions.
In 2019, Martins Licis solidified his status as a Strongman icon by winning the World’s Strongest Man competition. It was a major shock in the moment as he had defeated some reigning legends in the sport including Hafhtor Bjornsson, Mateusz Kieliszkowski, and four time World’s Strongest Man champion Brian Shaw. Now with all eyes on Licis, he has to prove to the world that his success wasn’t a fluke and maintain his champion status.
Of course, 2020 didn’t turn out the way anyone expected. With a pandemic putting the world to a halt, many athletic events including Strongman have had to cancel, pause, or postpone their events. Luckily, this doesn’t stop most strongmen from being able to train in personal gyms. This includes Licis, who has been training like a champ during lockdown:
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15reps of pure control (check out my triple paused 15th rep ??) – 506lbs (230kg) – It’s coming along. I’m able to do more reps with less pain. Slow process, but this right hip is getting better. Trying some new lateral mobility with @squat_university and it’s working nicely! @roguefitness @sbd.usa @sbdapparel @barbellapparel @reignbodyfuel @redcon1 @romarkweiss @oddhaugen @probodycoach @henrypenzi #SBDApparel #SBDUSA #ROGUE #RogueFitness #BarbellApparel #NathanPayton #Reign #Redcon1 #Strongman #Weightlifting #Powerlifting #BeALegend #MARTINS
But Martins Licis wasn’t always a Strongman powerhouse. Far from it. During his childhood, he describes himself as a couch potato that mostly played video games. He didn’t even discover a love for lifting on his own. His father forced him to start training at the gym in order to shake his bad habit of sitting around all day. Licis didn’t even fall in love with lifting right away. He describes hating the first whole year of being forced to lift weights.
But over time something changed, and he discovered a love specific to Strongman upon visiting his grandfather during the summers as he grew up. His grandfather was a stone sculpter and Licis would help him move heavy stones across the yard. Shortly after, he saw a Strongman competition on TV. To him, Strongman was basically “farm work for competition.” In that moment something clicked and he decided to pursue a life as a strongman.
Fast forward to today, and Martins Licis is the top strongman competing in the sport. But what does it take to push your body to such extreme lengths? At what point does the human body hit its limit? Lifting heavy weight can lead to serious injury – how does a champion strongman competitor know how to break records while also staying safe?
Martins Licis is surprisingly clear and honest with how he focuses on a major lift during competition. For smaller events, he won’t push his body past what he thinks can lead to an injury. But during major shows such as the World’s Strongest Man – he needs to psychologically convince himself that it’s “life or death.”
“I have to go into a mode of reckless abandon,” Martins Licis states during our interview.
“I usually – my little brother is watching on the sidelines and you know I’m his hero. I have to do this. I need to make him proud, I have to make my family proud. Or even more so if I need extra strength, it’s life or death… I make up this scenario in my head that everyone is relying on me getting this lift and then much more intense adrenaline kicks in.”
When we asked how he knows when to pull back to avoid injury. He makes it clear: “At World’s Strongest Man, I put my mind in a position where, it’s I will push my body where, either the weight moves or I break.”
It appears that while Martins Licis is very smart and careful about keeping his body healthy and strong – when it comes to the biggest competition of the year, all bets are off. It’s kill or be killed. Sometimes if that pushes you towards injury – it’s simply the cost of being the greatest.
You can watch Martin Licis’ full comments on his Strongman origins and lifting heavy in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!