Mike Jenkins: American Muscle
MuscleMag-sponsored strongman competitor Mike Jenkins is rewriting the record books as he prepares for this year’s World’s Strongest Man
By Craig Davidson, Senior Editor
Mike Jenkins, a heretofore little-known — but hardly little — Baltimore-area strongman competitor leveled his competition to capture the 2012 Arnold Classic Strongman title in March. Jenkins, who stands 6´6˝ and weighs 390 pounds, defeated nine of the strongest men in the world, including the legendary Zydrunas Savickas and two-time champ Derek Poundstone. At only 29 years old, Jenkins set three world records — in the Circus Dumbbell, Timber Carry and Austrian Oak Lift — to claim the 11th annual Arnold Classic Strongman title. His bullish efforts were rewarded with a $50,000 first-place payday and his name etched on the Louis Cyr trophy. And the victory train just keeps on rollin’: Mike recently took five of six events to claim an impressive win at the Giants Live in Melbourne, Australia.
Weight: 390 lbs
Hip Lift: 2,500 pounds (World Record)
Timber Carry: 7.42 seconds (WR)
Circus Dumbbell: 8 reps (WR)
Austrian Oak Lift: 207-kilogram standing log press, two reps (WR)
A Champion’s Road
Mike was a standout offensive lineman for the James Madison Dukes, helping them clinch the 2004 I-AA football championship. He credits his college strength and conditioning coach, Jim Durning, with instilling the foundational training strategies and basic lift mechanics he still relies on today.
Success Early On
A longtime observer of strongman events on ESPN, Mike’s first foray into strength athletics came in roundabout fashion. He was visiting a friend, a former Highland Games competitor, who happened to have a couple of dusty farmer’s handles and a training log (or caber) in his backyard. As a lark, Mike borrowed them. He discovered he was ideally suited to strongman contests, especially movement events. “I’d trained in coordinated motions for years,” he says. “Football gave me the ability to move my body through contained spaces.” He progressed rapidly and claimed the Maryland’s Strongest Man title in 2007, blitzing the moving events: the yoke, frame, and Atlas stones. Mike relishes the pureness and simplicity of strongman events — “It’s just you versus yourself and the weight,” he says.
Mike’s an advocate of K.I.S.S.: Keep it Simple, Stupid. No secret formulas or bizarre strategies, just hard work and intelligent training. He insists on a “no ego” ethic: dedicate yourself to eradicating your weaknesses rather than continually focusing on your strengths.
His Day Job
Formerly a health/PE teacher, Mike put his education — he has degrees in sports management and athletic administration — and training philosophies to ideal use, opening Catalyst Athletics. Located in Harrisburg, PA, this sports-performance facility offers, amongst other programs, a strongman boot camp: sandbag-hauls, sled-work, tire-flipping. Mike trains clients of all ages and ability levels. “People don’t have to be serious athletes,” he says. “But they must be seriously committed.”
An Eating Machine
As with training, Mike prefers his nutrition to be simple. A self-confessed “easy gainer,” he keeps himself just shy of 400 pounds with a modified Paleo diet. Plenty of lean red meat, fish, vegetables, chicken and eggs, accompanied by a few paleo no-nos: dairy and oats. He eats 6–7 times a day for a total of about 3,500 calories. He’ll have the odd post-workout protein shake to restore his glycogen levels but otherwise eschews supplements. Cottage cheese before bed is a must.