Mitchell Hooper is already one of the most prominent athletes in the Strongman community. So, many would expect that Hooper is spending absurd amounts of time in the gym, pushing himself to the limit. However, according to him, Hooper’s workouts are far from what everyone thinks, since he only performs a couple of heavy sets each week. On the contrary, Hooper believes that regular every-day lifters should perform more working sets than he does.
However, Mitchell Hooper sometimes strays away from his training philosophy, mostly to provide entertainment to his fans. So, shortly after explaining what the optimal number of sets for strength gain is, Hooper shared a new video on his YouTube channel. In that video, he tried out the Back Workout of Ronnie Coleman, an 8x Mr. Olympia who is known for heavy and intense training sessions.
Mitchell Hooper’s Advice On Optimizing Working Sets
Mitchell Hooper first revealed what his usual week of training looks like, including the exact number of working sets he performs, which might be surprising to many. Apart from the working sets, Mitchell also performs warm-up, cool-down, and accessory movements.
“The fact of the matter is I spend about 12 hours a week in the gym, and a large chunk of this is the logistics of moving plates on and off. When I’m in season, when I’m working hard, when I’m trying to be as strong as I possibly can, I’ll do maybe five working sets of compound lifts. That’s it, and that really takes four or five minutes, and five minutes of rest between. So, we’re talking 35-40 minutes of actual working sets.’’
So, the 2023 World’s Strongest Man, Mitchell Hooper, is advising all average lifters to train more frequently than him. Obviously, he also revealed that a bit higher number of working sets is also preferred.
“Let’s talk about why you should train more. We have to talk about how the body adapts over time and the process of diminishing returns. When you start, anything that you eo is going to get you incredible results.”
To understand why an average person should perform more sets than Mitchell Hooper, he decided to give an in depth explanation. It mostly comes down to the nervous system and the amount of weight that a person can move at submaximal and maximal efforts.
“We are training our nervous system, not our muscular systems… My weight, for say a squat, might put me at 330 kilograms, for you it might be 150 kilograms. This means that it is a dramatic difference between what I am demanding of my body and what you are demanding of yours.
Over time, as the weight continues to go up and up, you are going to start burning up your nervous system. Because I can’t just escape the fact that I am lifting much more weight than my nervous system should be able to handle.”
Mitchell Hooper used the squat as an example, since it is a very complex movement. It is more than just moving the weight up and down, since we also subconsciously have to stabilize the body and the barbell. Of course, all of these signals come from the nervous system.
“When we do a compound lift, we have to coordinate a whole bunch of those movements. If we just break down a squat, it means that we need our hips, our knees, and our ankles to be moving in coordination with each other so that we don’t tip forward, we don’t fall back, and we’re not off balance. Never mind performing the movement efficiently. It’s very complex, very difficult to do something that seems as simple as standing out of a chair with a barbell on your back.’’
So, Mitchell Hooper then addressed the main point of the video, which is the number of sets a normal person should do.
- 10-15 working sets per week
- 1-8 repetitions
“You should train the number of days a week that you are able to with your lifestyle and what you can keep consistent. One of the most important things is that when you are in the gym you’re in there putting in a reasonably substantial effort.
However, Mitchell Hooper also revealed that his workouts change drastically when he is in the offseason. During that time, Hooper performs 20-25 working sets and trains six days a week.
Watch the video here:
Mitchell Hooper Takes On Ronnie Coleman’s Back Workout.
The back workout that Mitchell Hooper set his sights on consisted of:
- 800-pound deadlift for two reps,
- 515-pound bent-over row for eight reps, and
- maxed out T-bar rows
So, Hooper decided to get as close as possible to the weights that Ronne was doing while performing the same number of reps.
The deadlifts were easy for Mitchell Hooper, since they are a staple in his Strongman training. So, he cruised through the sets and crushed 800 pounds for two reps in no time. During this time, Hooper revealed his peanut tattoo and explained that it was inspired by Ronnie’s “Ain’t Nothing But a Peanut” catchphrase.
Moving on to the bent-over rows, the heaviest weight that Mitchell Hooper could perform while remaining in the 5-rep range was 455 pounds. So, he fell 60 pounds short of what Ronnie did.
Finally, Mitchell Hooper took on the T-bar rows, where Ronnie Coleman managed to fill the barbell sleeve completely. Hooper once again failed to match Ronnie, with his heaviest 8-rep set coming out to 405 pounds.
Watch the video here:
Mitchell Hooper recently came away with a win at the 2023 Rogue Invitational Strongman, which proves that his training has paid off. So, he has a near-perfect year of Strongman behind him now, having also won the 2023 World’s Strongest Man and 2023 Arnold Strongman Classic. Hooper plans to defend these titles next year, but only after his MMA match against Eddie Hall.