Fan favorite strongman Robert Oberst is looking to make a statement when he competes at the 2020 World’s Strongest Man. Ahead of the event, he sat down with Fitness Volt to discuss training in the craziness that is 2020, Hafthor Bjornsson’s retirement, his gameplan for this year, and more.
There has been a ton of excitement heading into this year’s WSM, despite some notable names missing from the roster. A big reason for that is the fact that there are still plenty of top tier athletes who will still be competing, including Robert Oberst. The 35-year old has been a mainstay in strongman for years, and is a two-time finalist at the WSM. This year he looks to add to his resume in a big way, after a challenging year of training that has seen him overcome some serious adversity.
Training For The WSM
Given how complicated things are this year for everybody, it is no surprise that this would affect the WSM training of Oberst. However in his case, the global pandemic has actually led him to a more focused and streamlined preparation, compared to previous years. Speaking with FitnessVolt, he explained that he typically spends a lot of time traveling for events and meet-and-greets, but this year that has not happened so he has been able to put all his attention into his training.
“(Training) has been great man, it’s been really good,” Oberst said. “I’ve had a nice focused year. Normally I do a lot of traveling and appearances and all that stuff, and obviously this year that wasn’t really a thing. So I feel like I took advantage of the time and I focused pretty much solely on weights. It’s good.”
Although most people have had to make some adjustments to their training this year, whether it be due to gym closures or other restrictions, this has not been a problem for Oberst. In fact, if anything this year has been something of a blessing as it has led to him getting even stronger.
“I feel like the big difference this year has always been a consistency thing,” Oberst explained. “In this sport you don’t get paid to compete. You get a little bit of money when you compete, but if you’re trying to make a full-time job out of this, you’ve got to go out and hustle and you’ve got to be willing to travel and shake some hands and all that stuff. For me, this year it really became more consistent with me being home all the time and focusing solely on those weights.
“I’m just getting stronger man,” Oberst continued. “It’s all a progression. I feel like this year and the last two years, I’ve progressively gotten stronger and stronger. I’m feeling more agile. I’ve finally got my weight right where I like it.”
Robert Oberst goes on to explain how weight is more a problem for him, simply because he is naturally huge. He says that if he were to eat like most other strongman athletes, he would weigh over 550lb. Yet he has found a good weight, where he matches his strength with his cardio.
“I found my sweet spot where I’m not so big that I can’t breathe, but I feel like I’m big enough to take advantage of my size that I have naturally. Sitting right now at about 420lb,” Oberst said. “Last year I came in at about 430ish and I felt like it was just a little too big. When I’m at 430 I feel like my recovery takes a little bit longer. I feel like when you get to the last 20 or 30 feet of the truck pull that I don’t have the same whip in my step. There’s just little things like that, and all those little tiny things end up meaning a lot. So this year I’m a slim and fit 420, and I even have the outline of my upper abs when I first wake up and I’m always so excited. They’re gone by breakfast but they’re there for a minute.”
Expectations For This Year
There are still a lot of things that are up in the air for the 2020 World’s Strongest Man, especially when it comes to the events. This is in large part due to some extensive rain showers that are expected to hit Bradenton, FL this week. Nevertheless, Robert Oberst is steadfast in his self belief and thinks that no matter what, he is going to perform at his best.
“I know I’m going to do well. I expect a lot out of myself,” Oberst explained. “Obviously I’d like to get myself back in the finals and with the events the way they were, prior to all this craziness I felt I was really set to get top 5 and maybe even possibly get up on that podium.
“The thing is, we’re just happy to be here, happy to compete. We’re happy that even with all this craziness going on they still made it available to us and that we still get to put on a show with all the hard work we’ve put in. So I’m not going to complain about it, I’m just going to put my head down and swim in the river that I have to deadlift in tomorrow.”
Robert Oberst On Missing Athletes And Thor’s Retirement
An unfortunate storyline heading into the 2020 World’s Strongest Man has been about all the athletes who will not be competing. 2019 WSM Martins Licis was forced out due to injury, as was Rob Kearney, and Mateusz Kieliszkowski. In Robert’s mind however, it isn’t about who is not competing, only who is there to be beaten.
“I would definetly not call it lesser competition,” Oberst said. “There are two guys that are good that won’t be competing. The truth is, that’s the thing about sport, that’s the thing about strongman, is everyone likes to think that whoever shows up and is the strongest person in the gym is going to win the show, and that’s not really how it works. You’ve got to see what kind of fight you have to go through in your groups. You have to see what kind of events you’ve got.
“The truth is, leading into it you’ve got to be prepared for the abuse you’re going to get,” Oberst continued. “Last year I felt like I was a top five guy, I was the strongest I’d ever been. I was just cruising into the finals having a great show, and I tore the meat in my forearm, tore the muscle in my forearm. So that’s it. There’s no ‘Oh you were this but you didn’t quite get it because…’ no, the truth is I was weak and I wasn’t prepared so that part of my body just decided it was quitting.
“There’s no if’s and’s or but’s, you know,” he continued. “There’s a saying that if a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump it’s ass every time it hops. I think the 25 strongest men in the world are here, and more than that these guys have been challenged and tested in ways that nobody has been challenged and tested for this show. We’ve got guys that have had to figure out how to take care of their families, and how to feed their loved ones through a time where people were just deemed unnecessary by the government, and told that they couldn’t work. There’s a lot more that goes into this year and you’re going to see who’s mentally the strongest, who’s physically the strongest, and who could make a year like this work for them.”
This sentiment is one worth appreciating for sure, and Oberst is right about how difficult this year has been for everyone in the sports world. However another big name missing from the 2020 WSM roster is Hafthor Bjornsson, who retired from strongman earlier this year to focus on his boxing match with Eddie Hall. Robert has not been the biggest fan of Thor in the past, but understands why he chose to walk away from the sport.
“I wasn’t really surprised,” Robert Oberst said. “This sport chews you up and spits you out man, you’ve got to do what you do and move forward. I was surprised that he left after his performance last year. I thought he would want to come back and give it a full go, but it is what it is. He’s got other things going, and you’ve got to understand in this sport you don’t make money unless you’re hustling. He’s got other opportunities, other things he wants to do, and so I applaud him for that. He’s got a family and there’s only so long you can break your back with weights until sooner or later you’ve got to pay for it.”
Who Is The Toughest Adversary For Robert Oberst?
In spite of some big names missing, there is still a lot to love about the 2020 World’s Strongest Man. In addition to Robert Oberst there are a ton of really talented athletes who will be competing throughout the week. The “American Monster” knows he will have his hands full, but is trying to keep his focus on himself.
“I think the big guy you’ve got to talk about is Brian Shaw,” Oberst explained. “There’s only two people you can have an actual argument about being the strongest men to ever live, and Brian Shaw is one of them, Big Z is the other one. I think (Shaw) comes in and he’s looking really good with his training and everything, and I think he’s hungry. This year there’s blood in the water man, and you’re waiting to see who the sharks are because there’s guys out here that are going to take advantage of the situation and there’s guys out here that are going to melt because of it. I don’t see Brian melting, so I’d say Brian is the clear shot top ranked guy.
“You’ve got the Stoltman brothers and you’ve got the other guys that look good. JF Caron in my opinion is what I would consider a gatekeeper so to speak,” Oberst said. “In our world you’ve got levels to strength. You’ve got guys who do the sport for fun, you’ve got guys that compete on the international level, you’ve got guys that got to World’s Strongest Man that are considered the strongest people in the world, you’ve got guys that are perineal finalists, and then you’ve got that too tier who get the top five. The gatekeeper for that top 5 is JF Caron. It always has been since he started this sport. He’s been fifth place like four years in a row, fourth place last year. He’s one of those guys that is going to make you earn your spot. So I’d say he’s one of the top contenders as well.
“It’s one of those years where it’s up in the air,” Oberst concluded. “I like my chances. I like the events, I feel like I’ve got a nice chip on my shoulder, I’ve feel like it’s one of those years I’ve been extremely motivated and focused. I just want to put the iron on the ground and let’s run, you know?”
Robert Oberst Shares His Gameplan And Motivation
As he alluded to, Robert Oberst suffered a bit of an injury at the 2019 World’s Strongest Man. Given how hard he has been training, there is obviously a concern that something like that could happen again. However he feels that he is prepared enough that these types of injuries will be able to be avoided.
“The gameplan is to be strong and be fast. The pretty part already happens, I don’t have to do anything for it, I wake up this way,” Oberst joked. “The preparation has a lot to do with when you get injured. What happened was when I was training stones before I wasn’t wearing sleeves and then when I got to the show it was wet, so when I put on these new sleeves it was super tight. When it was pulling on that part of my arm I felt weird and then once I really yanked it, it just snapped (my muscle). I feel like you’re never going to be able to avoid injury completely, it’s part of the sport. But I feel like I’m prepared as best as I can be and I’m super confident. I try not to act that way around the guy, I try and make sure I don’t act any different than how I normally feel, but I feel pretty damn good.”
With a year like 2020, it only makes sense that Robert Oberst might struggle with staying motivated. However he explained that whenever he feels himself dropping, he just remember what this is all for. He channels the energy felt when thinking of his family, and that pushes him the extra mile.
“I want to make the people proud that sacrificed for me, and the people that I’ve taken care of, I want them to have that moment” Oberst explained. “But I have a five-year old boy who’s just so excited that I’m here. It’s like the first time he actually gets it, where he wants to FaceTime me and talk about what we’re doing, and he wants to see how I feel. I go for walks with him two or three times a day and then I stretch and all that, and he’s like ‘Are you getting your walks in Daddy?’ and ‘How does this feel?’ So I’ve got more motivation than I could possibly hold in.”
Thay is surely a sweet sentiment and way for Robert Oberst to stay motivated. It will be exciting to see how that motivation translates to performance at the 2020 World’s Strongest Man. Like he said, this year in particular is wide open and anybody can have a chance of winning this contest.
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