Become the strongest version of yourself with Novikov’s diet and workout program.
Oleksii Novikov is fast becoming one of the most popular strongmen. Novikov won the 2020 World’s Strongest Man title at the age of 24 to become the youngest competitor to win the contest (a tie with Jón Páll Sigmarsson, who won the competition in 1984).
The Ukrainian strongman has competed in 24 international strongman competitions until Mar. 2022 and won first place in eight shows. He most recently competed at the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic, where he took second place.
Oleksii has been actively raising funds through social media for Ukrainian Soldiers fighting against the Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24, 2022. Novikov was awarded $25,000 for winning second place at the 2022 ASC held on Mar. 4-5. However, since the strongman had pledged to donate all his winnings to Ukraine’s war efforts, Arnold Schwarzenegger increased Novikov’s prize purse to equal first place ($80,000) during the award ceremony.
Interestingly, Novikov is one of the smaller WSM competitors. He is 6’1″ and weighs around 300 pounds. Don’t get us wrong. The 2020 WSM winner is not a small man by any stretch of the imagination.
However, other WSM winners are comparatively bigger. Eddie Hall is 6’3″ and weighed around 400 pounds at the 2017 WSM, Hafþór Björnsson is 6’9″ and weighed around 450 pounds during his world record 501-kilogram deadlift, and four-time WSM winner Brian Shaw is 6’8″ and weighs around 430 pounds.
Becoming the World’s Strongest Man is no joke. Training with extremely heavy loads routinely, eating a truckload of food to build strength and optimal recovery requires dedication, discipline, and determination.
Oleksii Novikov Stats
Name: Oleksii Novikov
Weight: 298 pounds
Birthdate: Feb. 11, 1996
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Accolades: 2020 World’s Strongest Man, Winner
Oleksii Novikov PRs
- Max. Deadlift: 453.5-kilogram (1,000-pound)
- Max. 18-inch Deadlift: 537.5-kilogram (1,185-pound)
- Max. Hummer Tire Deadlift: 472-kilogram (1,041-pound)
- Max. Log Lift: 191-kilogram (421-pound)
- Max. Axle Press: 190-kilogram (419-pound)
- Max. Squat: 411-kilogram (906-pound)
Oleksii Novikov Diet Program
Strength sports athletes need to train religiously, diet faithfully, and sleep peacefully to build a solid physique and function at optimal levels. That is what 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov does every single day.
Novikov eats a monster 5,000 calories every day to maintain his strength and physique. According to the Ukrainian strongman, neither training nor recovery but eating is the most difficult part of competition prep.
The craziest part? Novikov won the 2020 World’s Strongest Man competition while dealing with an upset stomach.
“At the competition, that was a problem for me, because in America I felt the meals weren’t good for me. The water is also different and I had some problems with my stomach.” — Oleksii Novikov after winning the 2020 WSM
Novikov Dieting Principles
The Ukrainian strongman abides by the following diet principles:
1. Always Eat Healthy
Unlike most other strongman athletes who follow an IIFYM-inspired diet — eating whatever they can get their hands on, Novikov restricts himself to eating clean and healthy.
Notably, Novikov’s approach differs from that of the four-time WSM champion, Brian Shaw. Shaw ate a monster 12,000 to 15,000 calories in his younger years and relied on pasta and cheesecake to meet his daily caloric goal.
2. Eat Bigger as You Get Closer to a Contest
Novikov ramps up his caloric intake to 7,000 kcal per day as he gets closer to a contest. However, the strongman revealed that he finds eating 5,000 kcal a day challenging.
At the peak of his prep, the Ukrainian eats almost every 40 minutes. The last time Novikov ate so much food during prep, he reportedly found it difficult to stand up from the table. And if this wasn’t enough, he even wore out his gums from eating a ton of broiled turkey.
3. The Occasional Beer and Cheat Meal
The Ukrainian strongman is known for going on a cheat meal eating spree after a contest. Novikov’s cheat meal days can last up to seven days. He celebrated his 2020 WSM win by gulping down cakes and high-sugar foods for a week.
“On the first day after the competition [2020 WSM], I drank beer. Only one bottle,” says Novikov. “It was enough for me because I was so tired. One bottle made me feel good. I felt drunk. I haven’t had one since the competition. Beer is only for celebrating.”
4. Focus on Your Recovery
If you are a strongman aspirant, you need to balance your training, nutrition, and recovery. Novikov is a proponent of getting at least eight hours of sleep every night.
“I do this to be able to eat more during the day.” — Novikov on the importance of sleep and its role in the recovery process.
5. Put Down a Roadmap
Novikov has a written nutrition plan for reference as he finds it difficult to eat as much as he needs without a guide. If you’re planning to compete in strongman contests or simply trying to put on muscle mass, you should follow the Ukranian’s lead.
6. Know Thy Goal
You must define and stick to your goal before starting a diet plan. It is not uncommon to see people trying to lose weight eat a calorie-surplus diet.
The 2020 WSM winner eats a high-calorie diet that can help improve his training and contest performance. Although Novikov is one of the most “in-shape” strongmen, he says that he doesn’t worry about aesthetics while planning his diet program.
“We are not bodybuilders. Body appearance is not the most important…it is important to lift a lot, have elastic ligaments, and a functional body.” — Oleksii Novikov on being asked about his physique aesthetics.
Oleksii Novikov eats six meals to meet his 5,000 kcal a day target. His meals are evenly spaced to ensure his muscles receive ample nutrients for recovery, and his metabolism is working at full capacity.
1. First Breakfast — 6 a.m.
The most interesting part about Novikov’s first breakfast, you ask? After downing his breakfast, the strongman goes right back to sleep for another 3-4 hours for recovery.
2. Second Breakfast — 10 a.m.
- Seven eggs (three egg whites, four whole eggs)
- 150 grams of buckwheat
- Fried pepper
The fact that the Ukrainian strongman eats two breakfasts a day shouldn’t be surprising. Novikov is nothing short of a tank and needs all those calories to maintain weight and strength.
- A dish of lettuce, tomatoes, grilled peppers
- Salmon filters
- Yeast-free bread
It would be naive to think that the strongman only eats once in the noon. If you have eaten anything north of 3,000 calories a day, you would know that gulping down so much food can be a full-time proposition.
- Chicken/turkey shashlik (kebabs)
- Grilled veggie skewers
Oleksii Novikov consumes a healthy dose of carbs, protein, and fats through every meal. While following a diet program, you should ensure that you aren’t overly reliant on one macronutrient.
5. Dinner — 8 p.m.
- Yeast-free bread
- Cheese slices
Novikov’s dinner consists of chopped onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and a salt-free, sugar-free, oil-free sauce. Although eating 5,000 calories a day can be overwhelming, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of micronutrients. A micronutrient-deficient diet can hamper your performance and recovery.
6. Post-Dinner — 11 p.m.
- Protein shake
Oleksii Novikov wraps up his eating day by downing a casein protein shake. The slow-digesting protein ensures that his muscles receive the required amount of protein for optimal recovery. Eating a slow-releasing protein source also saves the big man from waking up in the middle of the night for a kitchen trip.
Oleksii Novikov Workout Program
The 2020 WSM winner discovered his passion for strongman contests in his early years due to his family.
“I was raised in a sports atmosphere. As a child, I had an opportunity to watch the training of our Ukrainian athletes in my yard, because my grandfather made equipment for them. My sports passion started when I was 14, and I just really love strongmen.” — Oleksii Novikov on his strongman roots.
Strongmen rarely train without appropriate lifting gear. Training accessories can help improve performance while reducing the chances of an injury. Here are the accessories Novikov recommends using in every exercise:
1. Lifting Chalk
Novikov is a proponent of chalking both hands with magnesium carbonate to ensure the skin is dry and won’t tear during a rep. If an athlete’s hands are sweaty during a set, a heavy dumbbell can pull or tear the skin and even potentially the muscles.
2. Knee Sleeves and Bands
The 2020 WSM champ trains while wearing knee sleeves. He then adds a layer of knee bands over the sleeves for more protection and support.
Most strongman lifts involve lifting heavy weights off the floor or require jerking the weight overhead, which can put a lot of stress on a competitor’s knees. Wearing knee sleeves and bands can elevate some of the stress from your joints.
3. Weightlifting Belt
A weightlifting belt is a staple in strongman training as it can increase spinal stability and minimize lumbar extension, given the lifter is using proper bracing and breathing techniques.
Novikov performed the following workout leading up to the 2021 World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) “Strength Island” competition:
1. Dumbbell Training
Novikov is arguably the best in business in the heavy dumbbell for reps contest and currently holds the world record in the event, completing 11 repetitions in 75 seconds with a 100-kilogram (220-pound) dumbbell at the WUS “Feats of Strength” series.
Since the 2021 “Strength Island” heavy dumbbell event utilized the Cyr dumbbell, Oleksii begins his workouts with dumbbell training. The Cyr dumbbell is named after the French-Canadian strongman, Louis Cyr, and has two spheres at each end of the handle. Due to its appearance, the Cyr dumbbell is sometimes referred to as the circus dumbbell.
Novikov uses a rotation technique to drop the dumbbell. The heavy dumbbell event is usually scored based on the highest reps within a specific time limit rather than the maximum weight.
The Ukrainian strongman rotates his arm outwards when dropping the dumbbell so that the dumbbell doesn’t roll away from him after hitting the ground or mat. Chasing a rolling dumbbell can cost a competitor precious seconds during their set, which can be the difference between winning and losing an event.
2. Loading Medley
Since the loading medley is one of the most common events at elite strongman contests, the Ukrainian strongman makes it a point to incorporate the lift in his training regimen.
The medley event could involve lifting and carrying different awkwardly-shaped heavy objects for a given distance before loading them onto a platform.
The loading medley event tests a competitor’s strength, agility, endurance, and stamina. It is one of Oleksii Novikov’s strong suits. He finished second behind Adam Bishop at the 2020 WSM final.
The strongman’s medley training includes carrying the following objects down a track and tossing them over a high bar:
- Sandbag: 120 kilograms (264 pounds)
- Heavy shield: 110 kilograms (242 pounds)
- Atlas stone: 120 kilograms (264 pounds)
Strongman contests are arguably the most physically demanding competitions. Not only do athletes put in months of preparations before going into a contest, but they also need to perform at their best in the show.
Oleksii uses the following supplements to ensure that he is recovering optimally from his training:
The Ukrainian strongman follows an unconventional dieting approach — he sometimes eats close to nothing on an event day. “My stomach cannot take too much food” during particularly intense events,” explains Novikov.
While Oleksii Novikov is not the biggest WSM competitor and does not follow a textbook diet or training regimen, he has figured out what works best for him and throws his weight behind it. There is no reason why you shouldn’t follow the same approach. Best of luck!