Thanks for taking some time to chat with us. First off, for those that don’t know you well can you give us a brief background and how you got into the sport of Strongman?
Spenser: As a kid, I had always watched World’s Strongest Man on TV, so naturally I was very intrigued. When I finished playing football in college, I wanted an outlet that would allow me to continue to train, as well as stay competitive. I started competing in Strongman in March of 2011. I signed up for a local competition that was about 3 months away, so I dedicated myself to getting familiar with the movements. I ended up taking 3rd in that contest. After that, I was totally hooked. After competing on the amateur circuit for about 4 years, I earned my Pro Card in May of 2015, and have been competing in professional contests since then. My wife, Amber, is a top ranked LW Strongwoman competitor in the US. It has been great to share our journeys together.
Looks like you have been quite the International traveler these last 3 months with 3 different competitions across the globe. Can you give us a little recap of the events you’ve competed at?
Spenser: In July, I competed in the Strongman Champions League Canada contest, which was my first real taste of international competition. This involved 8 events over 2 days, and was an all around great experience to compete with the likes of JF Caron, Stefan Solvi Petursson, Terry Hollands, among others. The 2nd was in northwestern Russia in early September. Josh Thigpen and I competed in a team contest against 2 of the top Russian strongmen. At the end of September, I traveled to Poland to compete in the Strongman Corporation-Poland Arnold Qualifier. This was an awesome experience that allowed me to compete against elite international competitors as well. It was also very cool to have Mariusz Pudzianowski as the head judge! All 3 contests were different, but all 3 presented some great learning experiences.
How do you feel about your performance at your most recent event – The Arnold Pro Strongman World Series Qualifier?
Spenser: I feel very good about my performance. The contest involved 10 very heavy events over 2 days. After day 1, I was in 5th place by a few points. Day 2 involved more static events, which play right into the strengths of most of the European competitors. I ended up finishing in 6th place, even though I scored more points on day 2 than on day 1. I ended up winning the yoke, 2nd in the farmers walk, and most of my other finishes were in the top 5, so I was satisfied with my performance overall.
What kind of training cycle did you implement to get you ready for this event?
Spenser: My training cycle for this event was very short, since I had competed in Russia only about a month earlier. It involved 3 training days per week, and was very event specific. Most of my training was in the 80-85% range, and a lot of work regarding work capacity and general readiness for a 10-event contest. Mike Westerling does a great job of programming my training to fit my specific needs, especially considering I had 3 very different contests in a matter of 3 months.
In order to fuel your heavy lifting do you follow a strict nutrition and supplementation program or is it just try to get as many calories as possible every day?
Spenser: I follow a reasonably regimented diet, but try to have 1-2 meals per week where I splurge a bit. My diet consists mostly of ground beef or chicken, with most of my carbs coming directly before or after training. My supplementation is centered mostly around whey protein, and is taken a step further with HMB and Clear Muscle. Those 2 supplements have been a game changer for me as far as my recovery and readiness are concerned.
Looking back now, is there anything you wish you could’ve changed in your training or game plan now that the competition is done?
Spenser: I don’t have a lot of regrets as far as my training is concerned, other than spending too much time worrying about small details. There are always times during a training cycle when you will feel like certain days are harder than they should be, and I’m learning to accept that that’s okay, and is part of getting better. If every day was easy, then you would never be able to tell if you are truly pushing yourself or not. I need to work on not beating myself up mentally when I don’t feel like I had a great training session.
What kind of advice would you give to beginners looking to get bigger and stronger?
Spenser: The best advice I could give people would be to focus on the big movements and your overall nutrition first. Once you are confident that you have a good strength base, as well as a handle on your nutrition and recovery, then focus on the smaller details, such as program specificity and macronutrient breakdown. You have to walk before you can run, and if you try to go from point A directly to point Z, you will miss out on some of the rewarding parts of the strength journey, mostly learning about who you are, and what motivates and drives you.
What do you think it takes to become a successful Strongman competitor or athlete for that matter?
Spenser: I think in order to be a successful Strongman Competitor, or athlete of any kind, its important to focus on your own skills and abilities first. You have to assume that your competition is working harder than you, which is the only thing that your competition is doing that you should worry about. If you strive to be the hardest working and most dedicated athlete you can be, you will be successful in any sport you pursue. The difficult part in this is making sure that you don’t sacrifice your recovery and readiness to compete, because that is something that I’ve struggled with in the past. It’s definitely a slippery slope to try to feel like you’ve worked hard enough to be successful, without running yourself into the ground.
What’s next competition wise for you?
Spenser: My next competition will be the Strongman Games Giants Live Qualifier in December in North Carolina. It will consist of 30 of the top strongmen in the United States, as well as the rest of the world. I’m definitely looking forward to being around some great strongmen, as well as building some new relationships in this community.
When you started competing in Strongman over 6 years ago did you ever think that it would lead you to where you are now?
Spenser: I had only hoped that I could have gotten to the level that I am now. It seemed that every time I accomplished a goal, the next one was just within sight. I had always had the lofty goal of competing in World’s Strongest Man, and although I haven’t accomplished that yet, I feel like every contest I compete in brings me one step closer to that goal. That would definitely be the experience of a lifetime.
To this date, what’s been your most memorable experience from competing in Strongman?
Spenser: I would say my most memorable experience at this point was going head to head in the Farmer’s Walk with Terry Hollands in Canada. I have been a fan of Terry’s for a very long time, and it was definitely a very humbling and validating experience for me to be able to compete with him head to head. Before that, it definitely would have been the day I accomplished my goal of becoming a Professional Strongman. That was definitely something that motivated me to continue wanting more.
Thanks Spenser for your time and we wish you the best of luck as you prep for the Giants Live Qualifier in December!
Spenser: Thank you! I appreciate being a part of Team HMB and all of your support! I wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of this without the support of my wife Amber, my parents and brother and sister, as well as my other training partners and those that have helped me along the way. I have definitely been blessed to have great people in my life that have wanted me to be successful, which continues to motivate me.