The Arnold Strongman Classic champ is using a “boring” workout to prep for the World’s Strongest Man.
2023 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) champion Mitchell Hooper is in the final stages of his preparation for his next contest — the 2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM), being held Apr. 19-23, 2023 in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Transitioning from the early-March ASC to the WSM didn’t leave the Canadian strongman much time to rest, so “The Moose” has been training hard with a target in sight for quite some time. He’s also been doing other work to maintain optimal wellness, as he documented in a recent YouTube video published on his channel on Apr. 3, 2023.
This session at Athletic Kulture in Barrie, ON, Canada wasn’t one that would include major lifts one might expect of a strongman just weeks away from the sport’s biggest competition. Instead, Hooper focused primarily on “accessory” movements designed to maintain shoulder health and joint stability.
Hooper can be seen performing bent-over lateral raises to target the rear deltoids, standing lateral raises, face pulls, and walking with a 48-kilogram (105.8-pound) kettlebell in one hand overhead (known as a “waiter’s walk”). He also did walks while holding a lighter kettlebell upside down to work on stability.
When explaining why he was focusing on the movements, Hooper cited the events in the Finals of the WSM.
“If you think about the events in the [WSM] Finals, max dumbbell and Fingal’s Fingers can be particularly taxing on shoulder stability. So, (I’m) dedicating a day to that … I’m not as big and as strong in the chest and shoulders as most. So, working on weaknesses while preparing for [competitions] …
This is the hardest bit of all of the training, to me. Doing some of this basic, boring stuff. Because you don’t get into this sport because you enjoy building a base. You get into the sport because you enjoy lifting heavy things.”
Throughout the training session, Hooper’s videographer prompted him to more thoroughly explain his decisions for the training day. Hooper, who holds a master’s degree in exercise physiology and operates a personal training and exercise physiology studio, went in-depth sharing several tips to reap more benefits from the shoulder-health focused routine.
To better target the rear deltoids during the bent-over dumbbell lateral, Hooper explained:
“Biomechanically, if you externally rotate your arm, you’re taking [the muscular stress] off of your rear delts and you’re taking it off of your back, and you’re turning it into more of a [side deltoid-focused] lateral raise. So try to keep the elbows pointed out to the side.”
After performing the waiter’s walk, Hooper offered cues to better address shoulder stability during the overhead exercise.
“Elevated scapula — bring your AC joint to your ear. And actively stabilize the shoulder. Actively squeeze everything around the shoulder. Keep it protected.”
Hooper then transitioned to bottoms-up kettlebell walks, inverting the weight to aim the ball of the kettlebell toward the ceiling, further challenging his shoulder stabilizers. Similarly, he offered practical performance tips.
“Anyone can squeeze the handle so hard that inertia doesn’t matter. The key is to have a super-loose hand, so the responsibility is on your elbow to stay under your hand, rather than your hand doing the work for you.”
Hooper stepped on the scale during the workout and revealed a body weight of 145.4 kilograms (320.5 pounds). He told his 18,400 subscribers that he is five pounds heavier than he was at the 2022 WSM. Hooper then concluded the session with cable external rotations for the rotator cuffs and a treadmill run, aiming for maximum distance in three minutes.
The former marathon runner completed 608 meters (.37 miles). At the conclusion of the video, he explained the importance of the treadmill work and its potential carryover to the strength sport.
“Think about this. What’s the most important quality for us to be able to do well at World’s [Strongest Man]? Think of the events … Start with the Loading Medley — obviously running. Conan’s [Wheel] — obviously direct carryover in terms of endurance of the legs. Shield Carry — obviously endurance of the legs. Truck pull — obviously endurance of the legs. Deadlift, you could train that indirectly.
I’m going to say there’s four or five events that all directly relate to your ability to run. So it’s sort of, arguably, one of the most important things to do, you’d think.”
While the work Hooper did was frequently described as “boring,” he clearly believes it could help him in the big contest. Hooper will try to improve upon his eighth place finish at the 2022 WSM, his debut at the flagship contest, which was won by Tom Stoltman. The last time both Hooper and Stoltman were in the same contest was the 2023 ASC, where Hooper’s victory placed him six spots ahead of the two-time WSM champion.
Featured image: Mitchell Hooper / YouTube