With no strongman background, and having lifted nothing heavier than a cup of coffee throughout the day, I wasn’t exactly best prepared for a training session with the regions’s newly crowned champion weight-lifter Colin Jones.
The 29-year-old man mountain earned the title of Burnley and Pendle’s strongest man in March after shifting some serious weight in front of special guest referee Graham Hicks, Britain’s number two, as well as former world number four Mark Felix and UK finalist Ash Rumsam.
Attempting to fight off the intimidation of such success I went along to Absolute Fitness in Clitheroe to test myself against the 19-stone behemoth and learn the art of deadlifting, log-pressing and the farmer’s walk, all disciplines in modern Strongman events.
Jones, who owns the Ribble Valley fitness hub as well as Riverside Gym in Padiham, told me: “I just watched it on TV at Christmas time with my dad. I took it from there because I just wanted to be strong.
“I watched Mariusz Pudianowski, a Polish strongman. He’s won World’s Strongest Man five times and he’s got a fantastic physique. He’s not just a big guy, he’s like a body-builder style. That’s what I aim to look like as well as hoping to be as strong as.”
Just under four years ago Jones scooped his biggest accolade yet when taking the UK North title. In Cheshire, faced with monstrous weights, he followed a 10-tonne truck pull with a punishing routine of deadlifts using a Citroen Berlingo van.
I want to get in to the top 10, get myself on TV and do a bit of strongman that wayColin Jones
And that was just to get the personal trainer warmed up. Jones went on to manoeuvre atlas stones, carry a 190kg shield over a 25m course, execute a farmer’s walk equipped with 130kg in each hand, carry a 210kg weight on a 15m duck walk before finishing with a gruelling 250kg tyre drag. He’s grown even stronger since!
Now, armed with a 350kg one rep max deadlift, a 300kg squat and a 170kg push press, Jones harbours the ambition of UK Strongest Man qualification.
Jones, who beat UK number four Rumsam to take the title of Blackburn’s strongest man in 2014, said: “I want to get to the UK’s Strongest Man and get to the final. I want to get in to the top 10, get myself on TV and do a bit of strongman that way. I’m realistic in that the World’s Strongest Man is another level but the UK’s is definitely achievable. That’s hopefully in the next couple of years.
“That’s the beauty - I don’t specialise in one. I’m a Jack of all trades sort of guy. I might not be the best at every event but I don’t seem to have an extreme weakness so I can keep my points high up.”