Getting to Know : Chris Rider

Recently I got the chance to find out a little more about Professional Strongman Chris Rider. As you'll soon discover, he's a truly amazing guy.
  1. Firstly, a bit of background. What is your name (and nickname), and where did you grow up?

    My name is Chris Rider. I grew up in a small town located outside of York Pennsylvania, about 45 minutes from the famed York Barbell Company of Bob Hoffman.

  2. How did you get started as a performing Strongman?

    In the fall of 2006 a friend of mine had seen a fellow on television tear a phone book in half. Knowing that I was a lifter and had a high level of general strength, he had asked me if I could do it. I told him I didn't know, I never tried it. With that I grabbed a phone book and tore it in two on the first attempt. Wondering if it was a fluke, I grabbed a second, this time much thicker book, and tore that one as well.

    I continued with tearing phone books, and began to wonder what else I was capable of. The next feat of strength I tried was to tear a full deck of playing cards in half. Again, I was successful on the first attempt. Then came the bending of a 60 penny nail, tearing a license plate, bending a horseshoe, breaking a baseball bat, etc., all successful on the first attempts.

    I began to seriously wonder what I had tapped into. My friends and family were wondering the same thing too. I began to research the great performing strongmen of the past and the feats they demonstrated. I had come across two relatively small fellows on the Internet who were doing things that were just incredible sounding. They are a pair of modern day performing strongmen, A Mentor and his Protege - Dennis Rogers and Pat Povilaitis. This was the stuff I was looking for, instruction offered by a Grand Master in his field. I began to train with the materials offered by Dennis and my list of accomplishments continued to grow.

    I attended the 2007 A.O.B.S. reunion in June of that year, after only seriously training as an oldetime strongman for 3 months. I had completed some very notable feats and thought it would be wise to go show the top guys that I wasn't just a keyboard warrior, that my claims were on the level. I did just that, after the festivities were over I ended up bending, breaking, ripping, and tearing all sorts of things in the hallway out side of the reception room until around 3 AM. It was my first real taste of performing in front of people I didn't know, and it was in front of many of the best in the business. I've been hooked on performing feats of strength since.

  3. Which accomplishment (sporting or otherwise) are you most proud of?

    That is a hard one. I guess the one sporting accomplishment that really puts things in perspective is after being diagnosed with multiple severely herniated and degenerative disks in my spine, and being told I would not be able to lift weights again, I worked my way up to completing a set of four with 315 in the stiff leg, full range good morning exercise. This was done after refusing surgery and pursuing healing through natural means coupled with proper training.

    It just goes to show that things thought impossible can be achieved with the proper mind set and dedicated training.

  4. What are your goals for the next year or so? The next 10 years?

    I just completed the certification process for the IronMind Red Nail. For a short term goal, I am now working towards becoming certified in closing the Captains of Crush # 3 gripper.

    My long term goal is to consistently become stronger than I am. I am also looking forward to a long career as a professional performing strongman.

  5. What changes in the world of Old-Time Strongman have you seen over the
    past couple of years? What would you like to see?

    I am still relatively new, but I have seen more interest arising in the traditional feats. I would like to see interest continue to rise and catch on mainstream.

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  7. Would you encourage up-and-coming athletes to follow the same path (as you have)? What would you do differently?

    I would say that if someone has the will, the desire, and the drive to become an oldetime strongman go for it. This is not the easy path to follow by any means. In the past two years I've lost count of sleepless nights after busting myself up doing what I do. It is not for the faint of heart.

    I would definitely encourage everyone to believe in themselves and the things that they can accomplish, not only in athletics but in life. Don't let the naysayers discourage you, misery loves company so I've heard.

    I wouldn't change things or do them differently leading up to where I'm at now. Those are the things that got me here. I may do some things differently in the future, but that just shows I've learned from the past.

  8. What types of training have you found to be most effective?

    I built a lot of my base strength using a simple 5 x 5 program for the big three lifts. I have also gained a lot using more of a bodybuilding type program with higher rep ranges.

    I think the biggest key to success is commitment to the training, whatever program your following.

  9. What's your current training schedule like?

    Currently I am working with strength training with weights or resistance two times a week, feats of strength twice a week, and cardio and stretching / recovery three times a week. This is just a basic plan and I add additional rest days as needed depending on the levels I go to, primarily in regards to the feats.

  10. What is your diet like - do you eat anything specifically to assist your training?

    I try to eat a relatively clean diet, avoiding processed sugar as much as possible. I have also cut out red meat and stick with poultry and fish for my protein sources. Broccoli is a staple as well as corn.

    I do like the pre-workout cup of coffee.

  11. Are there any parting thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?

    Believe in yourself and what you can accomplish even if no one else does. I started out weighing 315# with a 54" waist. In one year I shed 95 pounds and was down to a 36" waist at 220#. I began a power lifting routine, overcame serious injury while rejecting the prescribed treatment and professional advice, and have progressed on to be declared one of the top oldetime strongmen in the world. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.

Thanks Chris, I very much appreciate your time. This is certainly a fascinating area.

To find out more on the incredible world of Chris Rider (and Strongman in general), check out :

Scott Andrew Bird

Scott Andrew Bird is a writer, photographer and a guy who just loves this stuff. He's been at home in front of a computer for more years than he cares to remember (OK, 35) and is now making amends for years of many mistakes noted in the De-constructing Computer Guy articles (part 2) on T-Nation.

Find out what he's up to via Twitter, Google+, Facebook; and of course his online home. Enjoy.

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