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From Marathon Runner to World’s Strongest Man: Mitchell Hooper Reveals His Strength Secrets 

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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Mitchell Hooper, an unlikely champion in the world of Strongman, shocked everyone when he won the coveted World’s Strongest Man title in 2022. His path was unconventional, a testament to the power of focused training and self-belief.

Speaking at a recent kinesiology conference, Hooper shared his inspirational story of going from a dedicated marathon runner to a record-breaking strongman in just a few years. He candidly admitted, “I did not have a natural inclination for this sport…the intention was to experience what other people experienced.”

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Hooper’s Top Strength Strategies

Hooper outlined his unique approach, which surprisingly doesn’t rely on complex, cutting-edge techniques.  Here’s the breakdown:

1. Progressive Overload: Small Gains, Big Results

The Principle: Progressive overload isn’t just about adding weight. It’s a multi-faceted strategy to push your limits gradually. Hooper recommends a focus on 2-5% increases per week.

How to Apply:

  • Weight: Add small increments (5lbs on barbell, 2.5lbs on dumbbell) each week.
  • Reps: Increase the number of times you lift a given weight.
  • Sets Add an extra set to your existing routine.
  • Tempo: Slow down the eccentric (lowering) phase of the lift or incorporate pauses for greater muscle tension.
  • Rest intervals: Shorten them for a higher intensity workout.

2. Respect the Nervous System: Recovery is King

The Risk: Overtraining taxes your central nervous system, leading to fatigue, injury, and decreased performance.

Hooper’s Solution: Take planned deload weeks every 4-5 weeks, reducing the intensity and volume of your workouts.

How to Apply:

  • Reduce weight: Drop the weight you usually lift by 30%.
  • Cut sets: Reduce the number of sets you do by 50%. Active Recovery: Don’t skip workouts altogether. Focus on light cardio or mobility exercises.

3. Basic Movements: The Foundation of Strength

Strongman = Everyday Strength: Hooper believes that excelling in pushing, pulling, overhead pressing, squatting, hinging, and carrying translates directly to real-world strength and the demands of Strongman competitions.

How to Apply

  • Focus on Compound Lifts: These exercises work multiple muscle groups simultaneously (squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, pull-ups, rows).
  • Perfect form before Load: Master the proper technique before piling on the weight.
  • Progression Applies Here Too: Use principles of progressive overload to get stronger at these core movements.

4. Common-Sense Warm-Ups: Injury Prevention

Priming the Body: Hooper aims to increase body temperature and induce a light sweat before intense lifting. 

How to Apply:

  • Light Cardio: A few minutes of jogging, rowing, or jumping jacks gets blood flowing.
  • Dynamic Stretching: Arm circles, torso twists, leg swings – focus on movements rather than static stretches.
  • Working Sets with Lighter Weight: Start with a few lighter sets of your intended exercise.

5. Simple Recovery: The Basics Matter Most

Beyond Fancy Tools: Hooper ditches ice baths and massages in favor of sleep, nutrition, and stress management.

How to Apply:

  • Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Nutrition: Focus on whole foods, plenty of protein, and adequate hydration.
  • Stress Management: Find activities that help you relax – walking, meditation, reading

The Competitive Advantage

Hooper’s success proves that basic dedication yields impressive results. However, he does have one unique tool in his arsenal: the Airwav performance mouthpiece.  “It’s not big, it doesn’t restrict your breathing, and I was stronger from my first workout using it,” he said, citing the science-backed benefits for oxygen intake and strength.

He uses the Airwav mouthpiece for several reasons related to strength performance and oxygen efficiency:

  • Improved power output: Hooper found an immediate strength boost in his first workout with the Airwav mouthpiece. This is likely due to the way it positions the jaw in a way that optimizes muscle recruitment for increased power throughout the body, especially during lower body exercises.
  • Oxygen intake: While there’s still research being done on this, Airwav claims their mouthpiece promotes a more open airway. This could potentially lead to improved oxygen consumption during exercise, aiding in endurance and recovery.
  • Scientific basis: Even though it seems like a simple device,  Hooper was drawn to the fact that Airwav backed their product with research, both on their website and in independent studies. This gave credibility to the claims of performance improvement.

How it works (theory):

  1. Jaw Positioning: The Airwav mouthpiece slightly repositions the jaw.  This  aligns the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in a way that optimizes the recruitment of muscle fibers necessary for strength and power production.
  2. Breathing Path: The device also has the potential to slightly widen the airway. This might allow for enhanced oxygen intake and easier breathing during intense exercise.

Important disclaimer: While Mitchell Hooper firmly believes in the benefits of Airwav, it’s essential to remember that individual results may vary. Consider it a potential tool alongside the core principles of training and recovery that truly underpin his strength success.

Health-Focused Athlete

In a world of extreme training and physiques, Hooper stands out with his emphasis on staying healthy. “I want to be the healthiest version of myself,” he proclaims. The goal isn’t simply to lift the most, but to live well and inspire others.

A Message for Future Strength Champions

His final advice: “Don’t be afraid to do things that scare you. Just go out there and chase what you’re genetically capable of.”

This former marathon runner turned World’s Strongest Man shows that strategic training, a balanced approach, and unshakeable belief can transform anyone into a champion.

Watch the full video:

About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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