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Journey of a Strongman

My first exposure to strongman was coming across a novice competition at PTS Northampton in October 2016, at this point I was way off the weights being lifted but their competition in February 2017 was within reach. I took the plunge and the rest is history.

Coming from a rugby background, strength has always been an integral part of my fitness and training, but my commitment to training outside of the standard Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday rugby cycle was minimal prior to 2009. It was in the latter stage of 2009 that I suffered my second knee injury; a partial tear of my left ACL. The physios recommendation was to avoid surgery and instead build up the muscles in my leg.

Gym membership inbound…

For the next 5 years I was just like most other gym newbies, no idea what a programme was, thought a smith machine was somewhere you could squat, and saw two sessions a week as ‘enough’.

A new gym opening nearby in 2016 exposed me to my first deadlift platform and with some time spent looking into the basics of compound lifts, my training and strength began to progress rapidly. Of course I was now ready for my first competition!! This is where the steep learning curve was initiated.

My first year of competing in 2017 bought with it a lot of lessons, some success and the formation of friendships that have supported my progress and continue to do so to this date. Marcus and Steve were two guys I met at my first competition in 2017, both have given endless advice and support throughout this journey.

The balance between rugby and strongman was a difficult one, whereas the training had a hugely beneficial impact on my performance, finding the time to compete was at times tricky.

In 2018 I took the step up to Inters competitions, travelling to South Essex for my first competition at this level. A solid 10th place finish was pleasing. By the end of 2018 there was time to squeeze in one more Inters competitions, Birmingham’s Strongest Man. Ran local to my family, it was great to have so many friends and family make it – Mum and Dad continuing their trend of being at every competition- but the most special guest being my newborn son, Isaac. To top it off I managed a 3rd place finish! A great day, superbly ran by Paul from Gladiator Barbell – one of the realest guys I’ve met in strongman!!

I headed back to Birmingham’s Strongest Man in August 2019 having achieved successive 4th place finishes in Lincoln’s Strongest and Warwickshire’s Strongest – both Inters respectively. Again, Inters but a bigger, stronger field of athletes than the year before – finishing the competition under the hot sun with 8 reps on a 120kg was enough for the win! My first title. An amazing feeling.

Onto Opens competitions…

London’s Strongest Man 2020 at Genesis Gym, London. An absolute Mecca ran by Dave ‘Bulldog’ Beattie. The weights went up, the athletes got bigger and the events got tougher. The support was in full flow, the Kettering Strongman boys made the journey down – KSM being our team of lifters back in Kettering, its formation having spurred many others to go on and compete in the sport. The day was incredible, hitting my first 300kg deadlift and squat in competition.

At this point the goals were sky high. But then the world stopped. COVID-19.

Gyms shut. Stopping training was not an option – adapt and overcome. I invested in kit and kept it all ticking over.

2021 was a game changer.

New sport, Powerlifting. New coach, Ryan Naylor (Maverick Strength). He has ultimately transformed my understanding and attitude towards training. New sponsor; House of Chunk. The feeling of having someone trust and support you is indescribable.

1st place at the South Yorkshire Regional BPU <125kg RAW. 1st place at British Championships BPU <125kg RAW.

8th place at Britain’s Strongest Man <120kg

1st place - European Powerlifting Champion BPU <125kg RAW

Now heading to worlds in Portugal in November.

In the meantime, training continues and now I'm getting ready for the return to rugby with Kettering RFC.

The goals are the same, be stronger and make my family proud. I’ve loved the journey and continue to learn and develop.

Stephen Fraher. European Powerlifting Champion <125kg

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