«…….I believe in 5 years I will do 370kg Raw Deadlift and 320kg Raw Squat along with 180+kg Log Lift. – All at 105kg Bodyweight……..»

Mark Clegg (30 years old from the UK) is an earlier Olympic Weightlifter that has converted to Strongman. He competes in the -105 kg category and has a tremendous strength as he can deadlift 335 kg and squat 280 kg RAW! In this interview we want to find out more about Mark and what his goals are.

PAL: Hi Mark, and thanks for taking your time with this interview. 3 weeks ago you won the competition ”Northern England Strongest Man -105 kg”. How was the competition and how were the competitors? Are you satisfied with your performances in all the events?

Mark: Hello, Yes it felt good to become Northern England Strongest Man -105kg as it was my first win on the -105kg circuit. I placed 6th in last years Northern (My first Strongman Contest) so to see all the hard work in the gym pay off felt great.

The competition was 6 events and there were 24 competitors, most of which I know very well. BUT my main competitor was Stuart Hayes, last year’s champion and training partner of WSM competitor Darren Sadler. In the end I managed to win by a 12 point margin which made me a happy man and gives me great confidence going into England’s Strongest Man -105kg in June. My Events on the day were all consistent and I won on the Deadlift 240kg x 13 Reps and Log Lift 105kg x 9 Reps. My only disappointment was making a small stumble on the Atlas stones and taking 2nd place on this event, and this is the event I like to win the most.

PAL: A bit historical: What is your background in sports, and what made you start with Olympic Weightlifting?

Mark: When I was very young I participated in karate just for fun and fitness but I was useless at team sports, especially football, so my father insisted on finding me an individual sport. He first took me to a boxing club, but I hated it. Then in 1993 aged 13 he introduced me to Olympic Weightlifting, and in my first competition I weighed 50kg and Clean and Jerked 20kg. Olympic weightlifting helped me develop my sporting skills a lot and I went on to throw the Shot Putt in our regional championships and play basketball for our regional team. I fell in love with Olympic lifting, and by the time I was 15 I was National champion, record holder and I lifted for Great Britain in the 1995 European Schoolboy championships in Greece.

PAL: It seems you was a talented lifter already as a youth, and you are noted as the British record holder in snatch for men under 18 years with 122,5 kg in the -77 kg category. What is your weightlifting story, and what is your best lift and competitions?

Mark: I still have a British record? O.k. that’s good, I thought they would have all fallen by now. I was a good lifter in my Youth, I first Clean and Jerked 100kg when I was 14 years old at 64kg bodyweight.

My weightlifting story is a simple one really. At the time of me starting to get good at lifting my family didn’t have a lot of money so our family holidays were stuck here in England at cold seaside destinations. BUT I on, the other hand, was going abroad all the time. When I was 16 I took trips to Germany, Spain, France, and six week training camp in Burgas, Bulgaria where I trained in the same gym as Olympic Silver Medalist Georgi Markov all fully funded by Team G.B. This to a young enthusiastic weightlifter like myself was a dream come true.

My best lifts as a youngster (under 18) were a 130.5kg Snatch and a 150kg Clean and Jerk both performed at 77.5kg Bodyweight and the Snatch was at the time a Commonwealth u18 Record.

My best ever total was achieved in the 2006 European Championships in Poland where I lifted 6 out of 6 lifts 150kg, 156kg, 160kg in the Snatch, and 175kg, 180kg, 186kg in the Clean and Jerk to finish with a 346kg total @ 94kg. BUT this only gave me 18th Place. This was the point in my Weightlifting career where I started to question whether I could ever become a “World Class” competitor in this sport.

I now coach my younger brother Shaun Clegg. He is 17 and he is a very talented weightlifter. He weighs in at 74kg and can Snatch 120kg and Clean and Jerk 150kg. This kid could go all the way to the Olympics.

(Note from Mark a few days after this interview): My British Record is now gone! Shaun Clegg (17) lifted in the Northern Championships on Saturday and lifted 112kg – 117kg – 123kg (British u18 record) in the Snatch and 142kg – 147kg – 152kg (Double Bodyweight) on The Clean and Jerk for a 275kg total at 77kg (BW: 75.7 kg) and Now the story is even better because he Now lifts in the Commonwealth Trials on Saturday 26th June – The same day as Englands Strongest Man under 105kg! He needs 280kg Total to Qualify for TEAM England.

26th June is a big day for the Clegg Brothers!

PAL: Now you have got into the sport of Strongman in the -105 kg category with big success, and it seems you have being competing for only a year or so. What made you go with Strongman? – Have you now fully retired from Olympic Weightlifting?

Mark: I finally decided to retire from National and International competitions in 2007 because I realized that I was never going to achieve what I set out to do, which was win international Medals. So although I may lift in a charity competition, YES I have definitely retired from International Lifting – Strongman is my future.

In 2008 I joined a Strongman Forum called Sugden Barbell to catch up with a very good friend of mine called Andrew Littler. He convinced me to come and compete in some competitions he was organizing where Strongmen and Olympic Weightlifters go against each other on the Floor to Overhead (where the rules are more relaxed, you can press out, continental clean even have multiple jerk attempts) and Deadlift.

It was a great success and in my first competition I was against WSM competitor Mark Felix. He lifted 160kg and I did 182kg. BUT on the Deadlift I lifted 285kg and Felix lifted 400kg and I was amazed at his strength. Never in all my life had I seen a stronger man than this but I still out lifted him on the floor to overhead lift, and since this day I thought I would love to compete in Strongman. I started to get more and more interested in Strongman -105kg and started following online journals of the -105kg boys on the Sugden Forum. Then March 2009 I entered the Northern England -105kg Championships.

PAL: Who is Mark Clegg and what do you do besides training? (Background, Home town, Work, Hobbies, Family, etc.)

Mark: I work in my gym Olympic Sports Gym in Ashton – under – Lyne near Manchester, and each day I work 9-12 then train 12-2 and then return to work at 2-5. I am very lucky to have this arrangement. It works really well for me and doesn’t interfere with my family life.

I am very lucky to have a supportive girlfriend “Lisa” and I have a step daughter called Georgia (8) and then two sons, Jake (3) and Adam (1). The boys always make me smile when training hasn’t gone to plan, and having a family is far better than winning any strongman competition. I am NOT a guy who does nightclubs and partying. I prefer to be a family man, and my number one ambition is to bring up my sons the best I possibly can.

My hobbies are to go to the local quiet pub with my training partner u90kg Strongman Kev Stuart and talk training over lots of beer ;-). This is normally where our programs for competition build-ups are constructed.

PAL: You are now qualified to compete in “England Strongest Man -105 kg”. Last year you made 5th place in this contest (47 points), and the last year winner, Paul Wood (with 79,5 points), who also got 10th place in the World Championship seems like a big challenge to defeat. What are your plans for this year competition, and what do you think about your competitors?

Mark: Yeah it’s true, Paul Wood dominated both the U.K.’s -105kg and the Brits -105kgs. He is the best -105kg competitor in Britain at this point, without doubt. I will try my very hardest to catch Paul this year, and if I cannot then I’ll try again and again. The -105kg standard in this country is getting better and better every year and some of the new guys are going to be immense in a few years time. But it doesn’t worry me, I have my own plan and I’m very confident I can achieve my aim and ambitions.

(Article about Paul Wood: -HERE-

PAL: What is your short- and long term goals for Strongman, and what keeps you motivated?

Mark: I’m motivated by the feeling you get when you win a strongman competition. It is amazing I have only won two competitions, so far The Northern -105kg Champs and St. Ives Strongest Man 2009 where I was against Dutch Strongman Alex Moonen who has now moved on to the Strongman Champions League and has just competed in FIBO Strongman Germany. We had a real battle and I managed to beat him. Now I’m going to watch him on Eurosport competing against Misha Koklayev, Travis Ortmayer ect. – Makes me proud.

My short-term goals are to win England Strongest -105kg and U.K.’s Strongest -105kg, and my long-term goals are to do what I didn’t think I’d ever do at Olympic lifting and Gain a medal at the Worlds -105kg.

My other goals are to do BIG gym lifts. I believe in 5 years I will do 370kg Raw Deadlift and 320kg Raw Squat along with 180+kg Log Lift. – All at 105kg Bodyweight.

PAL: Like myself (an Olympic Weightlifter converted to Strongman), I find events involving explosiveness beneficial (tire flipping, log lift, stones, apollons, etc.), and events concerning walking/carrying as more challenging. What are your experiences about turning weightlifting in to strongman?

Mark: Exactly the same as me, I have really struggled with moving events. In my first competition it took me 55 seconds to get a 300kg Yoke to 20 metres, good enough for 18th place. Also Farmers Walk, Duck Walk, and similar events have proven very tough. BUT every week I practice and practice and now my 20 metre Yoke is up to 380kg, and my 20 metre Farmers Walk is up to 150kg per hand. So I’ve only just really become good enough to win overall titles.

Last Year I won the Log Lift and Deadlift in England Strongest -105kg, and I won the Deadlift in the U.K’s Strongest -105kg, BUT my inexperience cost me any chance of even gaining top 3 spots. This year will be different. I’m still NOT amazing at the moving events, BUT I am at least competitive at them, and hopefully my RAW strength will help me to higher finishes.

PAL: The last question: What is your secret to develop such an incredible strength that you have? In weightlifting we are taught to train with high volume, few repetitions, and work our legs and back every day with high intensity. How do you train to become stronger and better in this new sport – and what would you recommend to others that have the same goals like you?

Mark: I still do use a lots of Weightlifting methodology and use sub maximal weights for multiple singles e.g. I’ll maybe do 140kg Log 5 x 1, then the week after 145kg Log 5 x 1 and so on… I also do crazy Strongman methodology like I may on the Deadlift go 120kg x 1, 170kg x 1, 200kg x 1 then 250kg x maximum reps.

The training I do probably would only suit an ex Olympic weightlifter because of the high intensity and I recover extremely fast. I know my body really well and have been self taught since I was 17 years old. The stuff I do wouldn’t suit most people in my opinion, BUT any-one who would like to follow my training journal can on:!-5099

PAL: Finally, is there anything you would like to add?

Mark: Yes, I speak to Norwegian Nils Kjetil Sande and I hope you guys can sort out a system where your u105kg Champion can get an invite to the Worlds -105kg, He’s a good strongman.

Also watch my YouTube Channel – OlympicDragons.

Mark Clegg

Thank you for the interview Mark – We wish you the best of luck for the futurer!


~ av perandrewlier den 12/05/2010.

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