Eddie: Strongman – Documentary Review

Eddie: Strongman is a raw documentary about Eddie Hall – multiple times British Strongman champion, truck mechanic, husband and father of two.

The documentary provides insight into the life of an aspiring Strongman, his transition from an amateur athlete to a pro, the Strongman community, as well as the persona of the man himself.

Eddie is a showman.

He’s arrogant, aggressive and unashamedly rude. But we learn that Eddie has built this public persona. Growing up, he admired the Strongmen who brought in the big crowds. He too wants to be the man that fills the bleachers. So he mirrored their traits.

His showmanship is best illustrated by his performance at a deadlift competition. One of Eddie’s desires is to hold the deadlift world record. No one matches his pulling ability – according to him. So, he has an image to uphold.

At this event, he fails at 435kg. But, he’s allowed another attempt. He fires up the crowd and succeeds on his second try. He does another rep for good measure. And if that’s not enough, he carries out an interview while holding the weight locked out at his hips.

Although brash in the public eye, others attest to his loving nature in private. The big man breaks into tears when discussing the supportive nature of his wife, for instance.

The documentary also touches on the life of a Strongman. The sport is one pursued out of  a love of strength not money. Most athletes balance a demanding training regime with a work and family life. Eddie was spending only a couple of hours a week with his young family, in order to get to the gym, at one stage.

Key lessons

Bodybuilding-style training helps build strength

Eddie trains like bodybuilder, a sport he competed in as a teenager. He trains a muscle group or two per training day following a high volume regime. His sessions last up to four hours.

This shows the value of hypertrophy. More muscle equals more strength – for the most part.

This training style prevents injury too. The higher rep range helps develops connective tissue and supportive structures, that are not built to the same degree, if pursuing strength or power training alone.

Genetics play a part

Some believe genetics play only a minor role in athleticism. Others feel that genetics are pivotal in an individual’s success. This documentary leans towards the ‘genetics are important’ side of the scale.

Eddie in his younger and lighter years (the man now weighs 400 pounds) was a talented short course swimmer. He was the British champion for his age group multiple times over. This suggests his genetic make-up is geared toward speed and power.

Injuries are part of the game

The fear of injury in strength sports is a hurdle for many. The thought of ripping a pectoral muscle or popping out a shoulder is not a pleasant one.

Injuries are inevitable – as Eddie and his buddies attest to. To lift the weights required to be elite means pushing the body to its limit.

Expect injury and pain if you want to become Strongman strong.

You can’t do it alone

Eddie’s wife, Alexandra, is his rock. Her unyielding support is a key factor in Eddie’s success. She works, takes care of their children and helps with Eddie’s food preparation. That’s an achievement in itself as he eats 10,000 calories a day.

Eddie understands he is fortunate to have her and reaching his goals would be impossible otherwise.

Pursue your goals ruthlessly

Eddie’s three life goals are:

  1. To become the World’s Strongest Man (current best – 3rd)
  2. To be the world record holder for the deadlift (achieved – he pulled 500kg earlier this year)
  3. To meet Arnold Schwarzenegger (achieved at the Arnold Australia competition in 2015)

Throughout the documentary it becomes clear that a single-minded madness is necessary to achieve lofty goals. A mild approach will result in failure. Balance is a fallacy if you want to be the best. There’s not enough time in a day to dedicate to the different facets of life.

Strengths of the documentary

Eddie: Strongman is well put together. It gets its credibility from the inclusion of the ‘heavyweights‘ of the Strongman scene.

From modern day greats like The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) and Brian Shaw as well as Strongman royalty like Geoff Capes and Bill Kazmaier. The opinions and insights of these men add weight to the story (and also allow me to squeeze in a couple of puns).

Weakness of the documentary

The documentary lacks fluency. The structure is haphazard, often jumping from the past to the present. Following a chronological order would have improved flow.

Rating

Eddie: Strongman is a solid yet unspectacular documentary. I would recommend it for anyone with an interest in strength-related sports.

My rating is 7/10 rudely cut mohawks.