During the strongman championship he appeared in two categories at once – up to 105 kg and the category open – and he even brought three precious metals! Impossible? No problem for Jiří Tkadlčík. This strongman from Přerov, called also “the Czech lion”, has recently managed to succeed just in such way at Arnold Classic South America. And he did fight vigorously! Not only did he carry two gold medals from the Brazil contest – winner in his category and the organizer award for a great performance – but also a silver one from the category open. Why did Jirka eventually decide to challenge much tougher champions? And what are his next plans? You´re going to find out more in today´s interview!
Jiří, what made you start working out?
It was, of course, a desire to be liked by women. I wanted to look good and attract girls by that, what I found very perfunctory after a while, and I literally fell in love with the strength and the feeling of getting better.
When did you decide to try the career of a strongman?
Around four years ago. However, I had known the strongman sport from Eurosport since I was little, I just never found it real and, honestly, I never really liked that. I wanted to keep a nice figure, and I didn´t know then that there was a category up to 105 kg. Only the last four years, I have been taking this route fully.
You have also tried other power sports, haven´t you? Why did you finally choose strongmen?
I did judo, and I played hockey for a long time too. Unfortunately, or thank God, I hurt my leg seriously and I had to stop playing hockey. Moreover, I occasionally combined MMA with my preparations for a three-point contest or boxed the heavy bag just for fun, but for now, it is not what I love. Strongman was simply a love at first sight.
You are a well-known member of the professional scene at present. Could you boast about some of your personal records?
Sure, I would like to. I am currently holding the strongman U105KG world record for the deadlift, as I lifted 385 kg in Singapore, but in training, I did 400 kg. Furthermore, I am very proud of the super yoke, where I moved 500 kg and in the Czech contest, I even defeated the 180 kg masters. Similarly, it goes with, for example, a log lift, an axle and other expressions and pressures – I try to be very complex, what I think strongman is about.
Could you get the readers closer to your training? What is it different from the common power split in?
I don´t do splits at all. My split – I train the parts that do not hurt me after a previous day. Anyway, as we talk about the days of the preparation for a competition, I do it as follows: I take 5 disciplines of the competition and I work on those in X forms during the whole two to three months of preparation basically. If there was, for instance, a deadlift, a log lift, suitcase walks, a yoke and atlas stones, I would drive them in various training sessions regularly almost every day. I just change the height of the lift or the axis thickness in the deadlift, with or without the jersey, in log lift I go max one time, I repeat, and then I do viper press, in suitcases with yoke I do sprint first, sometimes I only lift the maximum weight as far as possible, I train gripping a lot doing several other exercises… and atlas stones. I just need to learn the technique and put there as much training as possible to iron out the kinks. In the meantime, I have easier phases in the mornings, when I practise what I like – benches, bars, pull-ups… Or I go running, skating, play tennis, do a decent stretching and so on.
You have recently posted a video on YouTube, where you advise how to lift 400 kg in the deadlift. You did it yourself in practice at one of the training vlogs. Do you have any personal weight limit that you would like to overcome?
I would certainly like to overcome this limit at the competition too so that there is no doubt about the dumbbell weight anymore. Although I don´t care about the stupid comments about the plates underweight, I would like to note it down officially as a new U105KG strongmen´s world record. It is not the case of training tough. We will see where it lets me go in the future. I believe that the lift would be 400 kg, the question is, however, whether my weight would be around 105 kg. In general, the U105KG category is growing and sometimes there are some speculations, whether it will soon be U110KG as in the triathlon. So, we will see where I am going to grow up to and what I am going to achieve in the future.
Your training is undoubtedly demanding. What about your diet? There is probably no rice and chicken breasts…?
Certainly not. I would like to say one thing: Bodybuilding is an individual chapter that has its rules, its diet, training and its own world. I don´t get why the common population, who “just” wants to look and feel good, gets the diet inspiration from the unhealthiest sports discipline in this matter. Bodybuilding should not dictate the ordinary people what is and what is not a healthy diet. The differences between a healthy and an unhealthy diet of a bodybuilder are GREAT in its preparation, and eating chicken breast with rice seven times a week is really not healthy. Diet is supposed to be varied and consist of quality ingredients. I have always wanted to look good, but I am a sportsman, and I think that most sportsmen have a similar opinion. Only in bodybuilding, 70% of it is food, in common sports it is different, the main thing there is hard work and food is just a fuel. If I were to leave my weight and training on the bodybuilders´ diet, I would kill myself. So, my opinion: Hard work first, diet next – quality, ideally homegrown, balanced. I´ve got no problem with sirloin – quality meat, vegetables, and cream. Why not?
In Brazil, you won the first place amongst the strongmen. How would you reassess the course of the competition now?
It was great! Although the competition lasted long, I am used to complications in organisation, I didn´t care much and I didn´t let it break me. The Expo was magnificent, great, I really did enjoy it. Even though there were not the best champions in the world, there were the people who were there and after my injury, it was an ideal comeback!
On top of that, shortly after it, you entered the Open category too, in which there are much tougher champions. What made you do that and what were your expectations?
Honestly – I just wanted to compete and train. My plan was to do deadlifts in the gym anyway and when I saw the horror hotel where there was no dumbbell, I said: “Let´s do the open. The weights in open are lower (it was heavier than U105KG and lighter open weights, something in between), you will burn like a paper at worst. Enjoy that nobody expects anything from you. If you fail, you will fail!” And, this approach certainly made sure that I was very relaxed, calm and enjoyed it. I competed in this way too and I got the results.
Finally, you ended up in the great second place and, moreover, you gained another gold medal from the organiser. What were your feelings like? And what about the reactions on the man who just “came to make up for his training”?
The reactions were very positive. Brazil welcomed me well, one could have seen that they didn´t think: Jesus, he is going to win our competition. They rather thought: Well, that´s a show! And I like it a lot. As I always say and as I have written on my team T-shirt: It´s a game, not a war. One needs to perceive it like that. We never compete to kill each other, we want to show who we are and what we are capable of. And when somebody is better, one must accept that, take their example and learn the lesson. I only had one competitor there that day and I was in shape, that´s why I was second. If it had been a different day, somewhere else, I could have been tenth or maybe twentieth or even the first. It is a sport, and although I love it, I know one day it is him, another day it is someone else.
What about the atmosphere at the competition? How would you evaluate the Brazilian spectators?
The spectators were fine, they wanted to take a lot of photos, I like that!
Let´s go back to your career again: What are your next plans for the rest of the season?
We are currently fully preparing the World’s Ultimate Strongman Championship U105kg, which we are honoured to organise in the Czech Republic, so at the same time it is going to be a meta I would like to master – to show off in front of the Czech audience as the strongest man in the world in the Middleweight. The competition is going to take place on 18th August in Přerov, where I was born. I would like to invite everyone this way. It is going to be a show!
Do you have any sports idol? Who do you consider the most interesting on the current strongman scene?
On the current scene, my favourite is Brian Shaw, whom I was honoured to meet a few times, as he once directly watched our competition in Australia, and he was very nice, he offered great pieces of advice and notes about the performance, and overall, I liked his character, acting and his brutal performance a lot. A big icon indisputably is Eddie Hall, I prefer Benny Magnusson little more though. However, the real idol of mine is, unfortunately dead, Jon Pall Sigmarsson. His energy, attitude, and power are simply the things that stay in this world even after his death. He was able to inspire thousands of people without the social networks.
If you were thinking about the future: What is the highest meta you would like to achieve in your sports career?
I would certainly want to become the mentioned strongest middleweight strongman, but I don´t plan any further titles. My goal isn´t to collect titles, I would rather show people that should you be born with any disability, those limits are only inside your head – there is always something you can do about it. Next, I would like to motivate the public, so that the young people learn to chase after what they want, but in a fair way without shortcuts.
Can you imagine giving up sport and doing a different profession fully?
Probably not. Sport is a part of me. I can imagine being devoted to motivation and giving up competing – or at least not fully. But going, for instance, to the restaurant and cooking there is impossible for me – customers wouldn´t like it either.
What about your relatives? Do you have support from your family and friends?
I have big support from my future wife, who is there for me 24/7 and she cares completely about the facility, administration, e-shop, my comfort, everything – in order for me to be able to focus only on the training and competition. Without her, I would not be able to catch up with anything. And of course, all my friends and the rest of my family try to support me, and sometimes it is very hard for me. I am thankful to them for keeping up!
Do you perceive any difference (not only) in the gym between today´s newcomers and the times when you began?
Nowadays, young people are often big-headed. They know everything the best, because it was said by Filip, or they practice like lunatics because that´s how I train in their eyes. The next thing is they don´t know how to fully use their potential and in their 95% they UNNECESSARILY reach out for accelerators that make nothing faster and just harm their health. This is what I am sorry about, and I hope that times will change again, and that hard work will get to the forefront because you are NOTHING without it!
If you were to give them some advice according to your experience, what would you tell them?
Do not let anyone tell you how to live. Make your own authentic mistakes, which will shape you. And chase after what you want. Having 60 kg, bed included, doesn´t mean it cannot be different after 10 years of hard work.
Genetics or talent? Jiří thinks it is just the real hard work!
You devote yourself to education and school lectures too. What is the cooperation with young people like?
Mostly it is perfect. So far, I managed to reach most of the school audience, and it is a great feeling of satisfaction from influencing such young people, who really have everything ahead and they can deal with their lives much better than how they would do being shrank by their vicinity. Because of that, I try to motivate and show it is possible!
Your fan base on the social media is quite wide too. Does it help you somehow?
Clearly! I am glad that I don´t have fans made up of haters, but people who are really interested. They help me a lot, not only in the written support or as the contest fans, seminars, and events visitors, but also as a scenery. When I am a thousand miles away, at the competition and I have a crisis, for example, I keep telling myself: Dude, do you know how many people are following you? Imagine 43 thousand people here in this hall. You can´t disappoint them! And this often motivates me a lot.
Jiří, thank you for the interview and I wish you a lot of success at the next contest! Would you like to say something to your readers in the end?
Thank you very much too and I would just like to thank everyone for the great support, I appreciate it a lot.
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Source of photos: Instagram of Jiří Tkadlčík