Mark Felix, the Grenadian-English strongman icon, has already forged a huge legacy over his 20-year career, but in an exclusive chat with M&F, 'The Miracle' looked more motivated than ever ahead of the 2022 World's Strongest Man competition being held by May 24-29 in Sacramento, CA. We sat down with Felix, one of the most prolific strongman competitors on the planet, to get more insight into his world of hitting holds, how this 6ft 4in mountain of a man prepares to compete and why the age where has no limits Dedication and passion are present.
Felix entered the strongman world at age 37 and proved from the start that he could triumph over his younger competitors. "As a child, I always wanted to be fit and strong," says Felix. "So I got into bodybuilding and competed in a couple of competitions where I came second and third." Felix, who cast a big shadow during his training sessions, was soon recognized for his height and strength at his local gym in Accrington, Lancashire, noticed and was approached by the owner to enter his first strongman competition. "He invited me to invent the numbers," Felix recalls. “I did it and finished third in this competition. It started from there.” w at age 56, Felix is still proving that youth is no match for hard work as he prepares for Sacramento. “This year will be my seventeenth World's Strongest Man [competition]so you're never too old to start something,” says the tall man.
Casey Brooke Lawson and WSM
"Miracle" Mark Felix has set several records
Incredibly, Felix has now competed in 100 strongman competitions, including 22 international wins, and has made 3 World's Strongest Man semi-final appearances to date. He also holds records for the Rolling Thunder lift and Hercules hold, to name just a few career highlights, and he can bench press 530 pounds (240 kilos), squat 770 pounds (350 kilos), and deadlift 893 pounds (405 kilos).
When Strongman turned pro in 2004, Felix made an immediate impact by finishing third on England's Strongest Man. In 2005 he took second place. That same year he won the IFSA British Championship and in 2008 he won the first ever Rolling Thunder World Championship by lifting 301 pounds (136.3 kilos). "Well, I trained hard for it and then I knew I could do it because I could just feel it," Felix recalls. "It was just like the adrenaline and the rush and the amount of people that were there, I could just feel it.
So I went and just did it, so all the training and stuff paid off.” Indeed, intense training and a relentless dedication to his chosen discipline has allowed Felix to earn his nickname, Miracle. The 'Rolling Thunder' is an awkward hold attached to weight plates to give the challenger an effort to lift the plates off the floor with one hand. After setting the world record in 2008 in tre-Dame-du-Rosaire, Canada, Felix surpassed his own score 4 years later in Birmingham, England, at 323.5 pounds (146.7 kilos), an increase of more than 20 pounds. To top it off, experts agree that a new Rolling Thunder grip added to the competition ahead of its second world record made the performance even more amazing. "The new grip is much smoother," says Felix. "I was very pleased [with the record].” The Miracle was injured when he broke that second record, but found that focusing on technique to protect himself was a huge benefit. “Because I had a torn calf at the time I did it so I couldn't do anything else so I just focused on that Rolling Thunder event. And I think because I was trying to protect my calf, I just did a big lift.
Joe Martinez and WSM
Well-rounded training “getting under control”.
While Felix says he does a lot of grip-squeeze moves to work on his hand strength, including lifting and pressing while wearing tight gloves, The Miracle shares that a good grip also depends on the strength that's being exerted as well other areas of the body. "We do a lot of training, like farmers walks and deadlifts," says Felix. "You're going to use your back, your legs, everything to make sure you're doing it right. We have to do a lot of forearm work.” For the Rolling Thunder, Felix says pushing up from the legs and keeping the arm straight is just as important as performing the hold itself. "You have to have the right technique to lift these big weights," says Felix.
Exercising the whole body is something Felix has become passionate about as he gets closer to Sacramento. And for anyone starting out in strongman themselves or looking to improve their existing level, The Miracle says it's a good idea to seek out a reputable trainer. Many offer a service where they review your training videos to evaluate your form and make suggestions. “There were no blueprints in strongman training [when I started out], but now you don't have to go the wrong way for too long. It's easier to get now because there are people to guide you.” To witness some gigantic feats of bravery and athleticism during WSM 2022 firsthand, tickets and VIP packages are available here now!
The Life of Strongman Mark Felix
Away from the cheering crowds, Felix works full-time in construction. He enjoys his job because it keeps it active, but he feels years of lifting and the repetitive movements that come with his day-to-day work contributed to his torn biceps in 2008. Felix believes his quick return to action after surgery was as a result of listening to his doctor and starting backlighting, which allowed him to make a full recovery in about 6 months. "It never bothered me again," he says gratefully. When it comes to personal hygiene, Felix isn't one of those contenders who happily toss calories from all sources. Instead, he meticulously prepares and keeps clean meals before each workday, favoring salads, fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, chicken, fish, and steak. “I eat very sensibly,” he says. "I also supplement my diet with protein shakes." Additionally, the legend takes glucosamine with a multivitamin for its potential joint benefits and is sure to stay hydrated at all times. In total, Felix eats around 7,500 calories from 5-6 meals a day and keeps this constant throughout the year. Before competitions like the upcoming World's Strongest Man event, he doesn't build up or lose much weight. "My weight has just stabilized," says Felix. But if you're looking for evidence of some of those legendary strongman meal portions, the Manberg shares that he eats 6 or 7 Weetabix for his breakfast. His choice of milk? "The semi-skimmed milk doesn't have as much protein as the whole milk, so I drink the whole milk," he shares.
After an 8 hour shift at the construction site, Felix goes straight to the gym but still makes sure to get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. "After working hard all day and exercising at night, I sleep well!" says the decked out strongman. It's a tried and true formula that has served this warrior well as he tells M&F he is currently in no pain and feeling better than ever. However, one thing Felix has changed in terms of how he trains now compared to training when he was younger is to incorporate more warm-up exercises. "When you get older, you have to warm up a lot more than some young men do," laughs Felix. “Your body tends to be a lot slower so you have to be fast because the events are speed tests. So you have to make sure that you have warmed up enough.”
Mark Felix is always happy
As for his retirement plans, they are far from on Felix's mind as he looks forward to competing against the likes of Scotland's Tom Stoltman, who won the event last year, his brother Luke, Brian Shaw, Robert Oberst and many other giants sizes. "I'm still strong," he says. "My body is telling me when to stop." But right now, Felix's body is telling him a lot to keep fighting.
"I'm doing very well at the moment," beams Felix. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great show. It's my seventeenth year with the World's Strongest Man and I'm feeling great at the moment. Training is going great."