Tag Archives: Steve Angell


By John Mckean

Steve Angell, one of IAWA's strongest ever, displays his own idea of leg training with handled weights on the Dinnie Stones!

Steve Angell, one of IAWA’s strongest ever, displays his own idea of leg training with handled weights on the Dinnie Stones!

Sooo, a Crossfitter and an All-Rounder walk into a bar (a healthful juice bar, of course!). The Crossfit fan can’t help but notice that the IAWA guy is a well seasoned muscular behemoth, yet strolling gracefully, being propelled by amazingly thick thighs. Mr. CF queries, “Really been hitting those “GOBLET squats,” mate??? You know, those modern leg lifts where you hold a fairly heavy kettlebell at chest height and do front squats.” Chuckling, England’s legendary Steve Angell replied, “Heck, that mild conditioning exercise won’t do anything toward building real body power, unless someone happens to construct me a 200K goblet!”

Seriously, though, big Steve did once try a few goblet squats. He’d been doing wrist curls with a 78K globe dumbbell, then flipped the chunk of iron onto his chest to see what this recent fitness fuss was all about. But as one who has officially straddle lifted 680 pounds and Zerchered 555, this tiny gobble seemed less than nothing. Mr. Angell concluded that such iron ball squats, often weighing less than 40K, would be ok for perhaps a few thin, developing teenagers or most “personal trainers,” but would never supply ample resistance for any serious weightlifter.

SAngellFor a 70/70 (wt. class/age group!) guy like myself, with each thigh smaller than one of Steve Angell’s huge arms, I’m not about to search for a 440 pound kettlebell just to START progression as Steve would enjoy doing! But his comments did get me thinking of new off-day, or “active rest,” heavy exercise apart from normal all-round workouts. Somewhere around the house, I reasoned, were a few various kettlebells, which I always considered to be just glorified “HANDLES with weight,” probably being used as doorstops. However, with sufficient numbers and strengths of rubber flex bands inserted through that ample handle space it would be simple to build almost any variable resistance that anyone could care for in an exercise! So, derived from a past practice of placing bands over barbells to create a heavier pressure, continuous tension lift, I developed my new experimental combo – “KETTLEBANDS”!

Well, it turns out that all I needed was the rather sturdy, oblong curved handle of the weighty old globes for the new format of flex band lifting to quickly prove its efficiency! Not only did the extra resistant apparatus cut reps way down to yield planned high intensity training, but at times, with proper banding, had the lift stalling before completion – a true isometric hold. Essentially, I had created a non structured “power rack” that I could use in my living room!! It also became an exciting challenge to develop new & unusual exercises that would benefit from kettlebanding.

One of my favorite new movements is the close grip bent over row – grasp the handle with overhand, underhand, or even cross grip (my favorite!), tramp on the inserted horizontal draped flex bands at your feet (adjust your foot spacing so just enough rubber will allow the lift to begin), and merely do some high tension pulls for 4 reps. Add another band for a follow-up set and just row to mid level (the stubborn additional stretch will stop you!) and hold 3 reps for a few seconds each, for max+ work! Another nifty manuever that seems to be positively influencing my more standard all-round lifts is the Straddle (or Jefferson) lift with a kettleband directly between the legs; again, determine the proper length of band to stand on, left and right, secure a cross grip on the hefty handle then simply rise steadily under this newfound form of tension. You can use heavier ‘bells and more or thicker flex bands here. If you get stuck, hang on for a while and enjoy the isometric! Of course, various forms of curls are a natural while using the combo equipment, and a unique application to the floor press – one or two handed – can be done by placing a band under your lower back, through the handle, with the other band end placed behind your neck; this one is great to quickly reach an iso-hold level which soon proves to be a “burning” method to overload the triceps! I’ll let imagination and ingenuity develop others for your own particular needs and interests!

No kettlebells around the house or gym? Simply obtain one of Al Myers’ sturdy iron rings (or stack two together for better gripping), place it on the center handle of a standard plate loading dumbbell, and build sufficient weight on both sides around it. Remember, it need not be all that heavy – most resistance should come from flex bands! Oh, a dumbbell will tilt and dangle a bit, but one’s fist will hold secure against the inside plate to steady the proceedings, while ring circumference will allow more space and freedom than a short db handle for a firm cross grip. One hand lifts and hook grips can come into play. But any style ring hold offers its own unique feel, challenge, and enjoyable performance. After all, ole supreme physical culturist Steve Angell didn’t complain as he 20 repped with those rings secured on the famous Dinnie stones (combined weight of 785 pounds)! But, hey, just imagine – had Steve carried a few flex bands to Scotland with him, he could’ve saved himself a ton of time by achieving the same workload with only 4 reps!!

Gold Cup History

by Al Myers

British All Round Champion Steve Angell (left) and Howard Prechtel (right) together at the 1994 IAWA Worlds in Burton-upon-Trent, England.

The 2013 IAWA Gold Cup is coming up this weekend.  It is one of three big IAWA promotions (the Worlds and World Postal are the other two).  I am really looking forward to attending this prestigious meet hosted by our USAWA President Denny Habecker  in Lebanon, PA.  Denny has promoted several other Gold Cups and is one of the premier meet promotors in the USAWA – so it, without a doubt, will be a well organized affair.

The Gold Cup is often a misunderstood event, especially if you have never attended it before.  I’ve had lifters question me why “go to a meet where you can only do one lift for record?”, especially considering you can  potentially set several World Records at a local record day.  Let me tell you – the Gold Cup is not like any local record day.  The Gold Cup is about the experience of competing in an international event where lifters from several countries will be represented.  The direction of the Gold Cup is overseen by the IAWA officers and technical committee to insure that the Gold Cup  gives the atmosphere of something very important (which it is!).   It allows a lifter to showcase their best lifts on a BIG STAGE for IAWA World Record in front of their IAWA peers.  Each lifter and their record lift receives the total attention of those present.  When a lifter is performing their Gold Cup lift they have the stage to themselves – and is the only thing going on at the moment. After the meet is over there is always a big banquet to enjoy a great meal, fellowship with other lifters, and have a formal awards ceremony.  The banquet is always a highlight for me at the Gold Cup. 

Now a little “history lesson” on the Gold Cup:

The first Gold Cup was held in 1991 in Lakewood, Ohio  under the direction of Howard Prechtel, IAWA President at the time and originator of the Gold Cup.  This year marks the 23rd  year of the Gold Cup.  In this span the Gold Cup has been promoted every year, without missing a single year.  The following came from a 1991 issue of Bill Clark’s  Strength Journal outlining Howard’s concepts on the Gold Cup:

On November 23, in Cleveland, Howard will be directing the First Meet Of Champions.  The concept is thus: Only people who have won IAWA titles will be invited….a list of some 25 from the USA and England.  Each lifter will be allowed to do only one lift of his choice….and he’ll get only one attempt at that lift – which must be a world record.  That means only 25 lifts and 25 lifters.  Better warm up good – for the TV cameras will take only one look at you.  Of the 25 lifters, it looks like we’ll have at least 15 different types of lifts.  Howard will be trying a record sit-up, for instance. If you’re a world record holder, but not an IAWA champion, don’t ask.  It is a record-makers meet open only to IAWA Champions. 

You can see that Howard had a lofty goal originally that this would become a televised feature of All Round Lifting.  That never really materialized.  Also, you can see that the original criteria for even entering the Gold Cup was pretty strict.  Things have evolved with the Gold Cup since then, but there still are entry criteria.  For the past few years this has been the main rules regarding entry into the Gold Cup:

1.  Lifter must open on their first attempt at an IAWA  World Record lift.  However, a lifter is given three attempts to repeat an attempt or increase the poundage.
2.  To enter the Gold Cup, the lifter must be a current holder of an IAWA World Record.
3.  The lifter must be a member of the IAWA, or a member in an affiliated organization of IAWA.

If a lifter can not accomplish a World Record in any IAWA lift, an entry can still be approved.   It is of the IAWA philosophy now that NO LIFTER be denied the opportunity to compete in this event.  The offering of a Silver Cup Award (for setting a National Record) and the Bronze Cup Award (for a lifter setting a personal record) has been added to allow for this.

You may wonder how that FIRST EVER Gold Cup turned out.  Of the 34 lifers that were invited (yes – the first year this meet was by invitation only), 31 entered.  All 31 lifters were successful setting new IAWA World Records.   As for Howard, it turned out well for him in the success of the promotion and with his quest of setting a new record.  The following report from the Strength Journal sums up Howard’s day quite nicely:

After all the effort and money Howard put into the meet, he was the final lifter.  He attempted to break an 85-year-old mark in the Travis Lift by doing 60 reps in 60 seconds with 1510 pounds.  Travis had done 56 reps in 60 seconds with 1500 pounds in 1906…when he was a young man.  Howard, at 66, hardly qualifies as young (except at heart), but he banged out 45 reps with the 1510 in 60 seconds….easily a new IAWA record.

I would truly encourage all all-rounders to try to make it to a Gold Cup.  Once you go once, you will understand why I think it is an elite type competition.  You meet the “legends” of the sport, and get to see world class all rounders perform their best lifts for World Records.

Cloud Hands of an Angell

By John McKean

Steve "THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR" Angell, on holiday, performing Tai Chi on the beach of Sri Lanka.

“THUMP!!” Ohhh, seein’ stars and feelin’ pain! This new training equipment is gonna kill me yet!

Strangely enough, I’d not yet started my morning workout; rather, good wife Marilyn was busily twirling her arms in our kitchen, intent on swinging the very well sculpted, long chunks of wood known as “Indian Clubs.”  She CLAIMED that her eyes were closed while thriving within the healing, calming powers of the circular motion, obviously not sensing me walking in when her “war club” bounced off my noggin!  (But why was she grinning??) And to think this handsome set of clubs, recently obtained from that master purveyor of old time gear, Roger LaPointe, had been my loving, thoughtful birthday gift to her! Actually Marilyn has greatly enjoyed this 2500+ year old exercise mode, also finding it necessary and beneficial to stabilize a recent arm/shoulder condition.

This is just part of Steve's Indian Club collection.

My own major incentive to employ mere 1 to 2 pound wooden weights as a huge improvement to my weightlifting program came from an Angell! No, not a vision from a winged and white gowned type, but directly from a LIVING LEGEND of All-Rounds, England’s super strong Steve Angell !! Through his insightful “Peaceful Warrior” concept, which tones mind, body, and spirit through such disciplines as tai chi, gigong, yoga, Indian Clubs, and high rep kettlebell work, Steve has found the way to acquiring  physical/mental BALANCE to help recuperate from years of overzealous max poundage weightlifting. This well thought out and age-proven regimen hasn’t exactly diminished Steve’s awesome strength or mind blowing physique, if you’ve seen photos of last season’s “impossible” 20 reps with the Dinnie Stones, or his impromptu all-round successes!

Emailing back and forth with mighty Steve came encouraging words that very few ever need employ more than a pair of one, two to three pounders for healing, warm-up, shoulder restoration, and a terrific sense of well-being. Then, while discussing this matter, we both arrived at a theory simultaneously that most martial and meditative arts may well have been derived from ancient club training! (History shows that all martial arts forms originally traveled from India). In fact, Steve had an instant epiphany on this thought, realizing a vital movement known as “Cloud Hands” from Tai Chi, was also one of his very favorite traditional maneuvers with wooden pins! It would be a bit hard to describe Cloud Hands, even with photos, but fortunately Steve made a dynamite YOU TUBE video for me that you can see here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRbio87dHAM

Hmmm, although I doubt that those 20” guns came exclusively from club work,  you can readily detect the dreamlike, circular toning (the gigong effect) and rhythmic tranquility of deep breathing  that Steve and I (and Marilyn, when she’s not intent in whacking the crap outta me-much as I usually deserve it!) enjoy daily.

So our little home garage gym has what can be considered “unusual equipment” by today’s standards, with my growing collection of Indian clubs.  I doubt you’ll find many commercial gyms, high tech spas, or even old time “pits” which have rows of these well-balanced chunks of wood that once surrounded lairs of Goernor, Saxon, and Sandow!

Following Steve Angell’s lead, I, too, looked to various martial arts to discover circular strategies of movement for my lightweight clubs. Some traditional Indian and British exercises are often used, but prove boring within the necessary high rep format.  However, from the concise rotational motions of Indonesian “Silat” jurus (forms) came a more meaningful, often thought provoking, type of exercise. Also this proved to be a refreshing and needed change from our usual linear weightlifting, and tends to heal through more gentle pressure of leverage resistance. Now, at last year’s Bowling Green, Ohio meet, ole Roger took a video of my unique Silat club program, so hopefully sometime soon he’ll release this on his Atomic Athletic site (put McKean on screen and there goes the business, Rog is probably thinking!!).

No, I’ll never get near the phenomenal Indian Club endurance record of Australian Tom Burroughs during the early 1900s of over 100 consecutive hours of swinging a pair of 3 pound 6 ounce clubs (no food or water breaks, no sitting or resting, no pause whatsoever in achieving an average of 80 reps per minute!). By the way, Indian club work was Tom’s primary and most beloved form of exercise to achieve world class status also in boxing, wrestling, swimming, fencing, gymnastics, and track! For me, if it keeps this cranky, crotchety senior citizen from feeling any older from day to day, I’ll be content; however, last year it did get me down, with little effort, into a lower weight class, gave relief to my always aching shoulders, instilled some of the best warm-ups ever prior to lifting, and seemed to yield a special form of energy for everything I did! The only downside to club training that I’ve found is worrying about  my nicely curved “bowling pins” getting smudged when training at the Ambridge VFW; not that the old gym isn’t always kept spotlessly well maintained, just that prodigious bowler Art would get chocolate on the wood, when he tried to roll a donut between them!

Steve Angell – Master of the Dinnie Stones

by Al Myers

Steve Angell lifted the Dinnie Stones for 20 repetitions in one day.

Steve Angell, of  Milton Keynes England,  made history on the last weekend of June (June 26th) when he lifted the Dinnie Stones for 20 repetitions in one day.  This is the MOST repetitions EVER PERFORMED with the Dinnie Stones in one day.  Steve has been training for this day for a few months, and had hoped to do 40 reps to mark his 40th birthday this year.  He had the back strength to lift the stones that many times, but his hands couldn’t take the abuse and became torn and started bleeding.  Afterall, he was lifting the stones UNASSISTED, which means he wasn’t using straps, gloves, or any other assistance device which would make them easier to lift.  He relied on the good ole-fashioned HOOK GRIP that helped make Steve superb in the All-Rounds with the One Arm Deadlift.

The Dinnie Stones of Scotland were made famous when Donnie Dinnie picked both of them up at the same time around 1860, and carried them across the Potarch Bridge over the River Dee.   Together they weigh 734 pounds with one stone heavier than the other.  Each stone has a ring handle attached to it. It is said they were used as anchors in the construction of the bridge, and where just “left there” because they were too heavy for anyone to carry away!

Steve is not a newcomer to the Dinnie Stones – he has already been successful with lifting them unassisted in 2001 and 2006. Both of those times he just showed up and lifted them, without any specific training ahead of time.  However, this time Steve spent some time preparing, and obviously it paid off.  He had a couple of setbacks in his training which he had to overcome.  When I asked him about these setbacks, this is what he said, “Keeping my hands healthy was my main concern, as I knew they would tear up on the day.  I had one callous tear about 8 weeks out that healed ok, and I nearly put the whole thing in jeopardy when I put a screwdriver into my hand whilst working around the house.  Apart from a slight infection, fortunately, it did not affect things too much.”

Steve and his "brothers in pain", who also got to enjoy the experience of lifting the Dinnie Stones. Pictured left to right: Stan Pike, Barry Gibson, and Steve Angell

What’s NEXT for the All-Round Weightlifting Legend from England??  It seems Steve Angell has accomplished so much, what more can he do?  Well, I had to ask him this question, and this is what Steve had to say, “As for what’s next? For this year, it’s to drop 30 pounds and work on my conditioning and Tai Chi.   My body can only cope with one big event a year now, as I have beat myself up a bit too much over the years on the All-Round lifts.  Not too sure what my big goal for next year will be.  Maybe to press the Inver Stone!”.

I have full confidence that Steve will accomplish anything he sets his mind to. Steve is very much against drug use amongst strength athletes, and doesn’t mind voicing his feelings on this issue, even if it offends someone.  I really admire him for that.  He is the perfect role model for an up and coming All-Rounder.  Steve is living proof that you can be strong and accomplish your goals, all without the use of steroids.  He makes me proud to be an All-Rounder!!

A True Spiritual Warrior – An Interview with Steve Angell

Interview and article by Cliff Harvey (www.cliffharvey.com)

Interview – Steve Angell

Steve Angell

I faced a crisis back in around 2001…
I had been boxing with the great NZ coach Chris Martin out of the same Auckland Boxing Association stable that included Paula Mataele – at the time the Super Heavyweight Champion of New Zealand. After suffering several concussions during sparring, and having already sustained quite a few playing rugby over the previous 14 years I had been faced with the prospect of giving up my goal of becoming an international fighter. I was pretty despondent about this, and to be honest I needed a new challenge. I had always had a fascination with the seemingly superhuman levels of strength exhibited by people like Arthur Saxon, Herman Goerner, Geoge Hackenshmidt, Joe Greenstein and others. I had also never been truly strong. Sure – I was pretty strong and I threw around some OK weights in the gym – but naturally gifted in strength I certainly wasn’t…
As I researched the old time strongmen and became more and more interested in ‘All Round Weightlifting’, one name stood out, and kept popping up in the competitions of the time as one of the greats of lifting – Steve Angell. The lifts that Steve put up in competitions became the weights that I attempted to meet (pound for pound) and became a focus for me in my early days of strength sports. Years later and having competed in both All-Round and Olympic weightlifting it is my absolute pleasure to now know and be able to ‘shoot the breeze’ with the man that was my inspiration to enter into competition. And it is my pleasure to introduce him to you.

Cliff Harvey – Hi Steve thanks for agreeing to talk with us. It’s a real honour!

Steve Angell – The pleasure’s all mine Cliff, I’m honoured that you feel me worthy of an interview.

CH – Thanks. Steve – I’m sure many of my readers will be aware of your accomplishments, but for the rest can you give us a little bit of your background and history in the iron game?

SA – Well it all started for me in Athletics. I was a hammer thrower who needed to get stronger for the event. I have been Buckinghamshire County Hammer Throwing Champion as a Junior, senior and in 2009 came out of retirement to win the senior championships as a 35-39 year master.

My need to get stronger for throwing led me to train at a great old school type gym in my area. The guy who ran the gym (Brian Clayton) saw the potential in me as a powerlifter and after just over a year of serious training became Junior British Drug Free Powerlifting Champion and I broke the British Deadlift record by 40kgs, recording a lift of 280kgs at 90kgs bodyweight.

The venue for the competition was Steve Gardner’s powerhouse Gym, and there we formed a friendship that would mould my All-round lifting career.

There was a picture on the wall of Steve’s gym of him performing the stone putt in a Highland Games competition. As a thrower this got my juices going, and upon talking to Steve found out he ran strongman and Highland Games competitions. I talked Steve into letting me compete in his next Highland Games competition, and as the youngest guy there, won the games.

As you know Cliff, Steve is one of the main men in the IAWA, and he encouraged me to have a go at an All-Round competition, and the rest as they say is history…
I became a multiple World Champion in the All-Rounds and in the last 20+ years have competed in just about every type of strength sport I could find. A rundown of my achievements are as follows.

County Hammer Throwing Champion
Junior British Powerlifting Champion and record holder
IAWA World Champion 7 times (4 times over-all champion)
IAWA World One Hand Deadlift Champion
WNPF World Deadlift Champion
British Strandpulling Champion 9 times
Britain’s Drug Free Strongest Man Winner 1997
British Deadlift Champion.
Closed the Iron Mind number 3 ‘Captains of Crush Gripper’
Lifted the ‘Dinnie’ stone 9 times (In two visits)
Lifted the ‘Inver’ stone 3 times

CH – That’s quite the wrap sheet Steve! Out of all the things you’ve done what are you most proud of?

SA – The thing I am most proud of, and it was emotionally the hardest thing I have ever had to do was back in September 1996. Just six days before I was due to compete in the World Championships in Glasgow Scotland, My father passed away from cancer. My mother and brothers and sisters wanted me to go to Scotland and compete. It was hard for me to travel to Scotland, but my weightlifting family helped me through it. I won my weight class and best over all lifter award and broke six world records. I then flew back to England and the next day with my brothers and cousin carried my fathers coffin at his funeral. The first time my dad saw me compete, he was shocked how his quiet son could become such an animal. I placed my trophy from my first competition in his coffin. I love and miss my father more than anything…

I am very proud of all of the above as far as winning titles goes. The lift I am most proud of is my 255kgs Zercher. i did this lift at 102kgs bodyweight in 1997, and twelve years later it is still the biggest lift ever done regardless of bodyweight. A lot of the things i am most proud of are what I call ‘off the cuff lifts’, where I did no prior specialist training. They are a 1660lbs Hand & Thigh lift performed in Frank Ciavattone’s basement in Boston USA. We just loaded up the bar to see what I could do. I also Closed an Ironmind No 3 Gripper on site. A guy brought one along to an all-round competition and I closed it. I also Lifted the Dinnie Stones 5 times with no prior training. In fact the lifts were the day after the 2001 IAWA world Championships held in Glasgow Scotland. I had performed 8 lifts over two days and was quite beat up, and after winning my weight class and best lifter award, was a bit worse for ware after celebrating with my Old friend Jack (Daniel’s) on the Sunday night. Never the less, after a 4hr drive to the stones, I lifted them 5 times. I have been back to them since and lifted them a further 4 times.

CH – That’s amazing stuff Steve, and what a great way to honour your father, that must have been terribly difficult. I know that we have agreed before that there is no weight in comp so heavy as that of loved ones coffin. Your family must be incredibly proud…

So Steve I’m interested to hear the story of how you ‘tamed the BEAST’!

SA – That’s one of the hardest off the cuff strength feats I have ever done. Recently I cleaned every rep and pressed a 48kg kettlebell for 100 reps (50 left & 50 right handed) For some reason a 48kg ball with a handle has gotten the name “THE BEAST”. To me that’s just a marketing ploy from Dragondoor, but also it’s setting limitations in peoples mind sets. 100+ years ago, strength Athletes gave us the Dinnie Stones, The inver stone, the Inch Dumbbell and the Apollon Axel. They were “BEASTS” to lift, not a 48kg kettlebell.

CH – Ha ha – that’s great stuff Steve. Too many people put limits on their performance. So talking about limits what are some of your best lifts in competition?

SA – I have always been a platform lifter. By that I mean all my PB’s have been done in competition and not in the gym. My best lifts ever are.

Deadlift 280kgs (90kg bodyweight) 300kgs (110kg bodyweight)
One Hand Deadlift 230kg
Zercher 255kgs
Continental to Belt 250kgs
Continental Clean 182.5 kgs
Continental Snatch 125kgs
Straddle Deadlift 310kgs
Hack Lift 300kgs
Trapbar Deadlift 300kgs
One Hand Snatch 75kgs
Hand & Thigh Lift 1600lbs

I think they are some of my best lifts. Although I did a training phase once doing half front squats out of the power rack and worked up to 800lbs. My coach at the time (Brian Clayton) said it was the best feat of strength he had ever seen drug free.

CH – You were certainly a big inspiration for me when I was first entering into weightlifting competition. who were some of your role models in strength sports?

SA – Thanks Cliff, that means a lot to me. My hero’s if you like were (to start with) Bill Pearl and Bill Kazmaier. I brought a copy of a bodybuilding magazine back in 1986 when I was 16 years old. There was an article about Bill Pearl in it and he was 55 years old at the time. He looked amazing and to this day, i have that magazine at hand to inspire me. Kaz was just a “BEAST” and I loved everything about him. I set out to be the next Kaz. If you see me getting psyched before a lift, it is modelled on Kaz. The two Bill’s are still hero’s of mine.

On the lifting scene a bit closer to home, I have a lot of people to thank for helping me become the best I could be. They include. My first coach Brian Clayton, My hammer throwing coach Jack Kee. My wieghtlifting Coach Chris Gladding, who is a second father to me. Steve Gardner has played a big part in encouraging me during my lifting career.

Just seeing some of my fellow lifters compete has inspired me. Just a few names are – Frank Ciavattone, John Vernacchio, Neil Abery, Howard Prechtel and Denny Haybecker.

Outside the lifting arena, my heroes are Mohammed Ali, English decathlete Daley Thompson and Liverpool football player Kenny Dalglish. And the greatest English Rugby player of all time Martin Johnson.

CH – Well being a Kiwi and rugby fanatic I won’t comment on Martin Johnson mate! But I think we can agree on the rest of the legends you listed.
You are heavily involved in kettlebells now – can you tell us a little about how you became involved with the UKKA?

SA – In 2003 I became the youngest English inductee into the IAWA hall of fame. Steve Gardner put a great evening of entertainment on for the inductee dinner, and one of the the people he booked was Stan Pike, the founder of the UKKA. He did a kettlebell demonstration and i was just instantly hooked. I had seen pictures of kettlebells being used by old time strongmen and just fell in love with them. After the awards ceremony, I chatted to Stan and we hit it off straight away. We were like two old warrior spirits meeting again after a millennium. Steve Gardner got Stan to come back to his gym so we could have a play with the bells and I purchased a 16, 25 and 32kg kettlebell from Stan on that day and spent some time using them to warm up prior to my lifting sessions.

I then contacted Stan about becoming qualified as a UKKA instructor. I travelled up to Scotland a few times over the next year and our friendship grew, as did my kettlebell collection. I now own KB’s from 6kgs through to 56kgs and I truly believe Stan’s ‘IntenseFitness’ kettlebells are the best designed bells in the world.

After my training with Stan, I was proud and honoured to be invited to become a senior Instructor with the UKKA. I now train personal trainers and certify them to become instructors.

I truly think kettlebells are the best training tool out there, but they are not the only tool. I incorporate them into a well balanced strength and conditioning routine. As a strength athlete, I use kettlebells, sand bags, rocks and stones etc to turn the strength I gain from free weight and machine training into functional strength. for instance, I could work up to 150kg seated press on my powertech plate loaded machine and then perform up to 100reps pressing a 48kg kettlebell.

I also love using kettlebells for circuit conditioning training. I perform 5 x two hand swings, 5 x one hand swings each hand, 5 x snatches each hand, 5 x clean and presses each hand, 5 x Fig 8 each direction and 5 x pass around the body each direction. i would warm up with a 16 kg, then work through 20, 25, 32, 40, and 45kg kettlebells.

CH – I’d like to get some ‘from the hip’ opinions from you on “The state of the fitness industry”

SA – It’s full of under qualified instructors. By that I mean under qualified in experience. It’s very easy to qualify as a personal trainer if you have a couple thousand pounds (or dollars) to spend, but I have to be honest, I would not pay most of the people who have come to me to qualify as a KB instructor to train my cat let alone myself. On paper most of the people I have put through their KB instructor courses are more qualified them me, but in a lot of cases they have become clients of mine because they can’t even (or have not been taught on their courses how to) squat correctly. I had one trainer want me to put them through a strength session. I was just ready too beast him because I automatically thought technique would be fine. The first session ended up resulting in me teaching a trainer who had spent around £7,000 on training courses the basic squat techniques.

I gave up on qualification when on my PT instructors course. They (WABBA) said there were only three exercises that trained the hands, wrists and forearms. The reverse curl, wrist curls and wrist roller. I wrote loads of exercises on my written exam amd they failed me. I went mad at the guy running the course. He wrote the answers they required on a piece of paper, handed it to me and said if your paper has these answers on it you will pass. I filled the papaer out, got my qualification – and it is the most worthless piece of paper I own. I think that just about sums up the closed mindedness of the industry as a whole.

CH – “Kettlebells in the industry”

SA – Too many people in it to make a quick buck.
Just about every man and his dog seems to be an expert in KB’s and bringing out very poor DVDs. When i started kettlebell training, bought lots of DVD’s and books trying to gain as much knowledge as possible. How ever most of them seem to be trying to think up new exercises just to bring their next DVD or book out. Just the same as everyone knows that deadlifts, squats, cleans, presses etc are the best compound type exercises to perform using barbells. Swings, snatches, cleans, presses along with some core type exercise like turkish get ups are the best kettlebell exercises to perform to gain the best results. Everything else is just an add on to your training after you have performed the basics.

CH – “Instability devices (bosus etc)”

SA – Deadlift 3 times bodyweight without a belt and you will have all the core stability you will ever need. The picture of you sitting on a bosu ball writing your training diary sums up their worth.
Just stick to basic heavy compound movements, supplemented with kettlebells, sandbags etc and you will get all the core stability you need.

CH – Thanks Steve! We got a lot of use out of that pic!
You know that my speciality is nutrition – what are your philosophies on nutrition? What sorts of things do you eat in a given day?’

SA – I like to work on the KISS theory when it comes to Nutrition. That is ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’.
I keep my nutrition simple and balanced. I like the theory I was taught when I studied the basics of nutrition. “If man has made it or tampered (processed) with it. Limit it or eliminate it from your diet all together.” When I made my mini comeback last year and got my deadlifts over 300kg again, I supplemented with more protein than I had before. On top of my meal plan, I was taking 30 grams of protein in a drink four times a day. I found this very useful in recovering from intense workouts. Other than that, I take a high potency Multi Vitamin, 2 grams of Vit C and B complex Vits daily.

CH – I agree Steve – and I use that analogy (‘if man made it don’t eat it’) a lot in my lectures too.

You have been called a ‘spiritual warrior’ can you tell us a little about the role faith plays in your daily life?

SA – I read a quote in a book once from a Buddhist Monk that kind of sums up my religious faith. He said he loved Christ and Christianity, but was not so keen on ‘churchianity’. That sums me up quite well. I am a very spiritual person, but not mega religious. I believe in and love God, but also believe in the teachings of Buddha. Christ and Buddha are the two most peaceful people to have walked the earth. Once politics has been removed from the teachings of both of them, you come down to the fact that they both just wanted people to live in harmony, help one another and remove greed from their lives. What a great world it would be if that ever happened.

CH – It sure would Steve, great thoughts there. If more people would recognize the fundamental truths of faith and cultivate their own connection with God, ‘The Divine’, ‘The Superconscious’ or whatever you want to refer to it and stop just trying to be ‘right’ the better off the world would be.

So along those lines you’ve also become more heavily involved in yoga and tai chi lately. How did you come to be involved with those?

SA – I had my best ever year lifting in 1997. I was British champion twice, world Champion, did my 255kg Zercher and 230kg One Hand Deadlift and won Britain’s Drug Free Strongest Man competition. However all that obviously took its toll on my body, as in my first Competition of 1998 my back blew out on me. The heavy one hand deadlifts had compressed the lumber discs and to cut a long story short it took two years for me to recover from this injury. Part of my rehabilitation was me purchasing a yoga video for back health. I learnt the exercises on the video and carried on doing them for a few years. Then I took on a client who started telling me about a yoga holiday that she had just come back from run by a guy called Simon Low. My wife had just started getting into yoga at the time and when I told her about Simon Low yoga retreats, she looked him up on the internet and before I knew it had booked us on his next retreat. That was a great retreat and I made a good friend in Simon Low during that week. He admitted to me that when he looked at me as a 240lb weightlifter, he wondered what on earth I was doing on one of his retreats, but I kind of proved to him during that week that you can be very strong, but be flexible as well. With all the meditation, chanting etc we did during the week and me Om-ing with the best of them, I came away from the retreat with the new name, “Peaceful Warrior”. I now have that tattooed on my arm.

I had also become friends with a local Tai Chi teacher by the name of Peter Warr in the early nineties and he taught me a basic routine and some chi gong to help be breath deeper and help with the nerves before competitions. I always know I would take it further at some point. I started going to his classes again a few years ago, and have now done my coaching courses with him and am qualified to teach the Yang style 8, 16 and 24 forms along with the BCCMA 24 form

CH – How have these experiences changed your outlook on training and life?

SA – I have become a more balanced person with yoga and tai chi. Tai chi has taught my the Chinese yin and yang philosophy of hard (strength training) and soft (yoga and tai chi) and that the body works best when they are in balance. I am still very much a yang (hard) man, but try and create as much balance as possible. I also know, I will turn my back on the strength world one day and yoga and tai chi will become the foundation of the remainder of my life.

CH – I’ve certainly found the same Steve. I was introduced to yoga growing up with my Dad and more recently have gotten back into it and I both love it and feel that it for me to provides the ‘yin’ to the ‘yang’ of lifting and fighting.
Looking back over your career how have you evolved as a lifter?…and as a person?

SA – I will be 40 years old in 2010 and I believe I am a better all-round athlete and person than I was in my twenties. That is because I have introduced more conditioning in to my training as well as yoga and tai chi. In my twenties, I was just a beast with the aim of lifting more in each competition.
Looking back, never really enjoyed the moment with all my victories. As soon as the Gold medal was in the bag, I was thinking of the next. My father even said to once that I should sit back and realize what I achieved. It wasn’t until 1997 when my body could not take anymore beatings and subsequently I had to take two years out to rehab my back and body that I started bringing more balance it to my training. In 2001 / 2002, I had lost that balance again and despite being the strongest I had ever been, I took it too far again and completely detached my right distal biceps tendon. I had to have surgery to reattach it and another year to fully recover from the injury. It was then that I took a step back and could see what I was doing to myself and my wife and family. I retired from International competition in 2002 and that is is when I added boxing training into my routine and then the following year met Stan Pike and was introduced to kettlebells. From there my training has become much more balanced. I always felt I was only six months real hard training away from being able to hit big poundage’s again though. And this was proved right in 2009 when I competed in my County Championships at Hammer throwing after a break of 13 years and won the Gold Medal and then after 10 weeks heavy training broke the IAWA Trap -Bar Deadlift World Record pulling my first 300kg deadlift since 2002.

CH – What are you working on right now Steve? Any new projects on the way?

SA – 2009 was a bit of a comeback year for me winning the County Hammer throwing championships and deadlifting 300kgs again. The real inspiration behind this was my daughter Ella. I wanted to win medals and trophies for her, so she would know her daddy was at one time one of the strongest drug free people in the world. She really is my inspiration now. And also I have to stay big and strong to keep the boys at bay when she gets older Ha Ha.As I stated earlier, I will be 40 in 2010 and I wanted to do something mad to celebrate my 40 years on the planet. I am sharing this goal with you exclusively in the interview. As you know I have a love for stone lifting and the most famous stones in the world are the Dinnie stones in the highlands of Scotland. I have visited them twice, lifting them 5 times in 2001 and four times in 2007. For my 40th I am going to attempt to lift them 40 times. This is the biggest (and craziest) goal I have ever set myself. In the fourth rep back in 2007, I tore the skin from my hand and was unable to attempt any more reps, so I am going through some very strict training for this goal and am videoing my training and the attempt its self and if successful will be bringing a DVD out of the whole thing. As you say Cliff, “if you shoot for the stars and reach the moon, you have still had a great journey”. With this goal I am shooting for the stars and am very much looking forward to the journey.

CH – Wow Steve, that is one hell of a goal! Thanks for sharing it with me and my readers. If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s you mate.

Thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me mate. It’s an honour and a pleasure to be ‘singing from the same song sheet’ as you would say.

(Webmaster’s comment: I want to again thank Cliff for allowing The Daily News to run his interview with Steve Angell. This interview is also available on Cliff’s website and blog – which can be found at www.cliffharvey.com.)

1 2