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Here's some boring info about myself!

My name is Arno Lambrechts. My hometown is Pretoria, South Africa. I was born in 1970 and I've been involved in sport all my life. At school I was mainly a discus thrower and I won the South African Junior Championships in 1989. After school I went to university and won the SA Under 21 Championships in the discus. I've always wanted to be big and strong, though, and my training partner and mentor, Jan Pienaar, who was the SA record holder in the shot put at that time, gradually got me involved in powerlifting.

I put up some decent weights as a 22 year-old and in 1992 I broke all four SA Junior records in the SHW division with a total of just below 900kg, weighing in at about 155kg. It's roughly at this stage that I got sidetracked by the realities of adult life and more or less quit training seriously until early in 1998, when the iron started calling my name very loudly. I gradually worked my way back into the game and, since beginning 1999 I've probably never been out of the gym for more than a week at a time.

I have since gradually regained my strength and I currently hold the national records in powerlifting in the squat, bench press and total in the Super Heavyweight division. My current best competition (IPF) lifts are 405kg (891lb) on the squat, 260kg (572lb) on the bench and 317.5kg (700lb) on the deadlift. I've beaten all these lifts comfortably in the gym and I'm looking forward to the day when everything clicks in place and I can put up the sort of weights I know I'm capable of. In November 2004, South Africa hosted the IPF Powerlifting World Championships in Cape Town, which was my first international competition where I was able to place 10th overall while putting up a 950kg (2100lb) total.

My strongman career started in 2001 when my brother (an international-level shot put athlete) and I were asked to compete in the SA Team Strongman Championships at Sun City. We ended in a surprising 5th position overall, which got me hooked on this game. I've since competed in a dozen or so competitions, sometimes even getting a lucky shot and winning! My performance at the Nationals in the first  two years was disappointing: in 2002 I came 8th and in 2003 I came 7th. In 2004, the experience that I gained started to pay off and I placed third overall, aperformance that I repeated in 2005. Getting there!

I've been happily married for nearly ten years and I've got two kids, a son of eight and a little daughter of four who's already got me wrapped around her little finger! I currently weigh about 176kg and I'm 2.02 meters tall. In the real world I'm a sales rep for Korbitec, a software company. It's a job that I thoroughly enjoy.

My training philosophy

I think it's important for me to mention the fact that I train and compete drug-free. I'll admit that back in my junior days (until 1992) I did use steroids but have not touched them since. It can be hard being a natural athlete. People sometimes come up to you and ask you what sort of stuff you're using and when you say that you're clean you can see on their faces that they think you're obviously lying. However, if they question my statement I reply with this:

I challenge anybody to contact me at any day of the year to have me submitted for drug-testing, as long as they pay for the test.

So far, nobody has taken up the challenge. Wonder why? Also, since 2001 I have been tested on average four times per year of which about half the times were out of contest. I often get completely unannounced calls from a drug testing official waiting for me at my home. I like it that way. The more often they test me the better. In fact, they can test me every day of the year if they like!

I know that most of my peers don't believe me when I discuss my drug status. If you fall in that category then I invite you to take up this challenge whenever you want. If the results come back positive then I'll give you your money back. How's that?

Update 9 May 2005:

I've decided to start listing every time that I get tested for drugs here. To kick off with, I was tested out of contest this past weekend.

Date In- or Out of Contest Remarks
7 May 2005 Out of contest I was assisting a buddy of mine at a competition on
    Saturday when the drug testing official (from WADA)
    asked me for a sample. I wasn't competing. In fact, I
    have not even affiliated yet this year. No problem.
6 Aug 2005 In contest I broke three national records at the SA Championships
    and obviously had to deliver the obligatory sample.

Why do I train drug-free? Quite a few reasons, actually. Probably most importantly is the moral and ethical issues involved in using steroids while competing in a sport like powerlifting where steroids are explicitly banned. I know that probably a good 90% of my powerlifting opponents use it, but that still does not make it right in my eye. Wrong is wrong and, if you're lifting in the IPF or any other tested federation and you still take drugs then you are CHEATING. Simple as that.

There's also the more obvious reasons for not using like long-term health concerns. I know that some of the old powerlifting gurus have admitted to having been using steroids continuously for something like the last 20 years! That's right, CONTINUOUSLY. They claim to have had no adverse health side effects. Good for them. I wish them the best of health in future. Me? I reckon that weighing 176kg is enough of a health risk as it is without having to compound it with chemicals.

At the same time, I've got absolutely nothing against anybody that uses steroids. Ultimately this is a very personal decision that every athlete needs to make for themselves. Just because I'm against their use does not mean that I disrespect people who differ from my opinion on this. The sport of Strongman also does not enforce any sort of drug testing policy which basically means that if you compete at a pro strongman contest without using drugs then it is your own "fault" as they are in practical terms not illegal.

Does my clean status put me at a disadvantage? Absolutely. There's no question in my mind about the fact that I do have a big physical disadvantage against steroid users. But I like it that way. There's great satisfaction in beating someone that you know is using drugs.

When training clean, gains come much slower and you really have to be committed to make any progress. For example, in 2000 I squatted 300kg in competition while I can now probably do 400kg or so (as of August 2004). That's only 20kg a year while working my butt off. My bench press has gone from 200kg to 245kg in the same time. That's only 10-odd kilograms a year. To me, as long as I'm making at least SOME progress then I'm happy. But I am a little envious sometimes when I see these youngsters in the gym who make phenomenal progress in the matter of a couple of months using chemical enhancement.

I've found the major drawback of competing clean not to be any lack of strength at all. Rather, your recovery ability is much worse than that of the drug users. I sometimes have a very hard time getting recovered between two heavy workouts and I'm probably always in a mild state of overtraining. This seems to be getting worse and worse as I become stronger and handling heavier poundages.

Also, it is shocking to see just how prevalent the use of steroids actually is. Being involved in the iron game for such a long time I'm in a good position to gauge the prevalence of drugs in sport. Its not that much of an exaggeration to say that just about every male that goes to a gym uses steroids and this even includes recreational lifters and schoolboys. I see it every day! Very sad.

As far as my training methods go, I've been using the Westside principles, pioneered by Louie Simmons in the US for about 5 years now. I'm an absolute Westside convert and it will take lots of convincing to get me back onto the old Western methods of training. If you want to find out a little more about the Westside methods, then visit Elite Fitness Systems.

Whew! That's enough crap about me! Thanks if you read all the way through.

 

My Dachshund, Roftie

 

Working the triceps

My training partner, Dewald. Like me, he is also 100% drug free

Flipping a tyre at a local shopping centre
  At the starting point of a 4-day hiking trail, December 2003

Relaxing on day 2 of same hiking trail. Dewald is in the background

  Jumping off a cliff! December 2003

With my little girl, December 2003

 

 

For comments or feedback please email bigarnie@bigarnie.co.za.

This page was last updated on 4 April 2006