COLUMBUS GROVE — Columbus Grove resident Steve Schmidt grew up watching Strongman competitions on television and now as an adult will compete in Iceland and at the Arnold Classic in Ohio.
Schmidt, 44, a 1993 Columbus Grove High School graduate, is currently employed at Dasco Home Medical Equipment, a medical supply company in Lima.
“When I was young, I grew up watching Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone and wanted to be a bodybuilder,” Schmidt said. Around age 20 Schmidt started lifting with bodybuilders who showed him how to eat healthy and lift weights.
“Body building is all about the aesthetic look, but the more I did it, I was in the strength aspect of it,” Schmidt said. The bodybuilders said he was built to lift heavy weight and so he started to get into Strongman competitions in his late 20s.
He has been invited to Iceland in June 2020 for a world championship in stone pressing and the Arnold Classic in Columbus in March 2020. It will be his fourth time for competing in the Arnold Classic.
It will be his first time competing in Iceland where he will be pressing stones and he will be up against 10 of the best pressers from other countries and the United States.
The Arnold Classic in Columbus was his first Strongman competition in 2011 where he had disciplines including dead lift, overhead press, and picking up three kegs with concrete or sand in them and hauling them. The top place he has received at the Arnold Classic was second place.
He has competed against the top strongmen in the world including Hafthor Bjornsson — Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane from “Game of Thrones” — where they share the world record for stone press.
“The original record was 310 pounds, and I used field stones from my dad’s farm to practice with,” Schmidt said and has a photo of he and Bjornsson from their competition hanging in his home gym.
One of his favorite places he has competed was in Canada where he competed on Team USA vs. Canada. He said the Strongman competition is popular in Canada and there were large crowds cheering on competitors.
Last year Schmidt broke the world record at 352 pounds and this year on Sept. 21 at the Highland Games in New Hampshire he set a new world record in the stone press of 363 pounds, 165 kg. He said stone pressing is picking up a heavy stone and pressing it over one’s head.
“What makes it hard is it’s not a barbell with handles. The weight literally has to sit on your chest while you transfer your hands,” Schmidt said.
He described lifting as a marathon, not a sprint and said he has learned about consistency and determination.
“When I started I was not at this world-class level. It literally took until I was 37 to compete at cool locations,” Schmidt said. He has competed in the United States and Canada.
Schmidt has a gym in the garage next to his home where he has leg lift machines, weights, tires, field stones and cement “stones” he uses to train with. Schmidt has stayed healthy, working out any backaches with chiropractors.
His gym has trophies, medals and swords on display that he has earned as prizes he won in Strongman competitions. He is sponsored by Rogue Fitness and Ragnarok.
He works out and trains four to five days a week and does deadlifts, squats and bench pressing, On Saturdays he coaches other Strongman competitors. He eats a diet of eggs, oatmeal and chicken and consumes 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day.
“I like the camaraderie of the competitors. The group of us are close-knit and challenge one another,” Schmidt said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.