Let’s not beat around the bush: 2020 wasn’t particularly great. But 2021 will be so much better! The vaccine is here, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In the words of Bob Dylan: the times, they are a-changin’. Do you want to make the most out of 2021? Be the best you can possibly be? You’re in luck, because we have the biggest, burliest and strongest expert in all of our training courses to give you some tips.
He does a 300-kilogram squat, and effortlessly moves lorries around – and not from behind the wheel, either. For our ‘Keep Your Eyes on the Goal’ training course, we interviewed Jitse Kramer. As two-time Strongest Man of the Netherlands, Jitse is one of the strongest people on the planet. If anyone knows how to use every fibre in your body to the fullest, it’s him. After sitting down with Jitse and gaining insights, we give you five to-dos for the new year to help you become the strongest version of yourself.
Tip 1: You do you
Is your goal to outrun your co-worker? Or to gain a massive following on Instagram? According to Jitse, it’s better not to compare yourself to others or to place your fate in the hands of someone else. “It may sound odd, but I never specifically aimed at being ‘the strongest man in the Netherlands’. I just always want to give my very best. I mainly set goals that concern me personally, not anyone else. Of course I could boldly state that I wanted to be the strongest man in the world, but what will my training goal be? Lifting 600 kilograms? Maybe 700? What if there’s some Russian guy who can lift even more? Then I’ll never achieve my goal, even though I’ve performed to the best of my abilities.”
Tip 2: Get down to the nitty-gritty
More often than not, progress is in the details – especially if you want to achieve peak performance, like Jitse. “One of the things we had to do during a competition was carry a 400kg weight from A to B. It took me 18 seconds, while the top three did it in 14. I’ve planned extra speed sessions to improve on that. I’m halfway through my training plan now, and it’s already starting to pay off. To win, you have to master the details. You look at the big picture first, then zoom in on the little things that can be improved. I don’t worry too much about what’s going well – the weaknesses, that’s what you should work on.”
Tip 3: Work hard, work smart
Whatever your goal is, always start with a smart plan and thorough preparation. Any hours you invest up front will yield so much in return. “If I have a competition in six months’ time, I’ll divide those six months into units of six weeks: five weeks of hard work followed by one week of recovery. During that sixth week, I’ll assess my progress and draw up a schedule for the next five training weeks. I go into great detail, making a spreadsheet on my laptop for every single day. It’s very timeconsuming, but it’s incredibly helpful to know exactly what I have to do. It enables me to achieve more with less effort. Sometimes you’ll hear people say proudly that they work 80 hours a week. I prefer working 55 hours, and spending the remaining 25 hours thinking about how to make it easier and more efficient.”
Tip 4: Stop and reflect
Once you’re on your way up, it’s important to take a break every now and then. “Of course there are times when you overestimate yourself. When you’re not where you want to be, or when you haven’t achieved what you’d hoped. In those cases, I always take a moment to reflect. What could I have done better? I know plenty of people who do their work without giving it any thought, but I have the best ideas when I’m at home on my settee, reflecting. As a former colleague of mine used to say: ‘If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.’ Sometimes you just have to stop, reflect and get some rest. And then really go for it again.”
Tip 5: Make sure you really want it
Do you have a goal? Ask yourself the question: How badly do I want this? And what am I willing to sacrifice for it? Jitse: “Ultimately, it requires lots of time, energy, effort, and commitment. You have to be strong-willed to be able to achieve your goals. There’s no point in setting goals if the desire to achieve them isn’t really there. I work as a sports instructor, and people tell me they want to lose weight all the time. Start getting active first, I tell them. Show me what you’re capable of, and above all, how badly you want to shed those pounds. If you’re not prepared to give up those sausage rolls and chips… you obviously don’t want it badly enough.”