Interview with Nick Best champion powerlifter, strongman and star of The Strongest Man in History
In The Strongest Man in History, four of the strongest men in the world attempt some of history's greatest feats of strength. British strongman Eddie Hall is joined by Americans Brian Shaw (four-time World's strongest man), Robert Oberst (World's Strongest Man finalist) and Nick Best (affectionally known as the ‘grandfather of strongmen’).
Ahead of the series which premiere in the UK November 10, Sky HISTORY spoke to Nick Best about the show and what's it like being a strong man.
Nick is a veteran strongman and champion powerlifter, winning his first contest back in the 90s. Though a couple of decades older than his fellow strongmen, Nick shows that wisdom and experience is as important as youth when it comes to gruelling physical challenges.
Nick first became aware of the world of strongman contests in 2003 when he was invited to an event thrown by Mark Philippi, a World's Strongest Man competitor. Nick had been a champion powerlifter since the 90s and was undoubtedly a ‘strong man’ but it took his son to encourage him to suggest a new challenge.
'I went there with my son, and watched the contest and it looked pretty cool. At the end of the contest, he looks at me and says you're pretty strong. This is really cool. You should do this, I think you'd do well. Well...I did.'
Since then he has competed in strength contests across the world taking part in nine World's Strongest Man contests. However, when asked about his many achievement he first mentions beating legendary strongman Paul Anderson's carousel hip lift in the show. In episode 2, the four strongmen attempt four record breaking lifts that Anderson
In 1957 Anderson - the godfather of strongmen lifted - 30 girl scouts sitting on a purpose built carousel. In episode 2, Nick and his fellow strong men recreate the lift with 12 members of Anderson's family which weighed 2,791 (91 pounds over Anderson's best lift). Breaking his hero's record obviously meant a lot for Nick who gets emotional while talking about Paul Anderson.
'I knew about Paul before the series, he's one of the guys I looked up to as a kid so it was really cool to go to where he was from and see where he actually trained and the things that he did. He was ungodly strong. Just an amazing man, he really was.'
Emotional moments aside, The Strongest Man in History is a lot of fun, the four have an incredible rapport. These are rivals who have competed at the top of their game and the chemistry is undeniable. Added to the mix is an element of Transatlantic rivalry thrown in, Brit Eddie Hall vs the three Americans: 'When we covered the American Revolution We're dishing it out to Eddie pretty good'. But there's no hard feelings amongst the four given they have quite a long history.
'We've all known each other since 2011 - 2012. So, we've all spent a lot of time together before the show. We were already friends. It was a lot of fun just like going around travelling with your younger brothers but with lots of heavy stuff involved.'
Though it's not all fun and games being a strongman, it requires serious dedication. Nick is currently on a vertical diet and eats 8,000 calories a day. In terms of physical training ahead of the show he explains his routine.
'For my training, I just try to be as strong as I can possibly be and to be as healthy as I can. You have to be as healthy as possible.'
As well as the physical challenges there was a lot of travel during the show, seeing the strongmen travel around the US and they even visit the UK. Nick's favourite destination was Scotland:
'It's such beautiful countryside. The people were amazing. You could just feel the history as you're walking around the place It was just like the Highlander movies. We had a week of sunshine while we were there. I'm one of the few people who could say they got a sunburn in Scotland!'
As grandfather of the strong men, did his fellow strongmen's youth and inexperience hold them back at all? Nick agrees:
'There were a couple of times where their inexperience caught them out. So, it does help to have more life experience...Knowing How to lift something will give me a little bit of an advantage. I might not heal as fast as they do. But I can still lift pretty heavy.’
'Lift heavy' is a slight understatement for a man who routinely lifts weights that would crush most fully-grown men beneath them who in his fifties is still breaking records and besting men decades his junior.