“A Life in Power”
By Anthony Ricciuto
Now I know when it comes to sheer power all of you are big fans without a doubt. Hell if it wasn’t your passion in life then you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place. Now in the past, I have done other reviews of books or videos and this time it’s no different. If I think there is something that could benefit your training with knowledge, a new training aid, or a motivational video then I will let you in on it. Now the video I am about to review is just that. It’s called “A Life in Power” and it is a biography of one of the strongest men that have walked the planet, Svend Karlsen. It was created by Fredrik Barstad and Andre Hansen who are legends in the documentary field in Europe. The commentary is also top-notch and was performed by Colin Bryce. Now I have known Svend for a very long time and I can say that he is as nice a guy as he is strong. When it comes to world-class athletes of any sport many of the top guys suffer from arrogance but Svend is anything but. Now Svend has been a long-time Nutrition XP3 client of mine dating back close to a decade so when he let me know that he was coming out with a new documentary about his life I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Of course, being the privileged one that I am when it comes to my athletes, Svend shipped me out a copy way before the release date. After watching it all I can say is that I am happy he did.
The Younger Years
The video starts off with him as a youngster in his first days of training. Svend started training at the early age of 14 years old in an underground gym called the Iron Gym. Watching these old home movies of him training in his basement will bring back many memories I am sure of even your youth hitting the weights. What was remarkable was his brute strength even at such a young age. One clip that will stick in your mind is of him doing cheat barbell curls with 220 pounds. Hell, there are many world class powerlifters who are adults that can’t curl that much. He did this as well as an amazing Deadlift of 682 at the age of 17 years old. One thing you will notice even though he was training in a primitive underground gym, the burning intensity and desire to be the world’s best at what he wanted to attain in the strength sports can be seen right from the start. It is this burning desire to be the best is what helped take Svend to be a legend in the strength world that will be talked about for generations to come.
Now many of you may think of strongman when you think of Svend but that is only one piece of the puzzle. Many of you may be unaware that Svend was a World Class Powerlifter in his teen and junior years. From 1986-1989 Svend broke 30 Norwegian Powerlifting records, 3 European records, and 1 World record. He won the Norwegian Nationals 3 times and the Nordic Championships as well. He came third at the European and World Championships. At just 21 years old he set a Junior World Record in the Deadlift at the 1989 Norwegian Championships. Even as a junior lifter Svend was destined for power stardom no matter what sport he competed in.
Svend Training with the Legendary Ed Coan!
Believe it or not but Svend was also a competitive bodybuilder. Yes, I know you may not believe it but it’s true. Even in his strongman days, you can see that he carries much more lean muscle mass than many of his competitors. Not to mention that his body fat level is well under his competitors as well. In his first year of competitive bodybuilding in 1990, he won the Mr. Norway title at only 22 years old. Here he gained his Pro card and he dreamed of taking on the world’s best in just a few short years. This showed that Svend had tremendous potential in the sport of bodybuilding yet fate would decide a different pathway for his strength career. Svend moved to California to pursue his Professional bodybuilding career in 1994. Svend had a severe muscle tear which caused him to retire from bodybuilding early on. This was a big letdown for Svend having only been in the sport for a few short years but brighter days ahead in Strongman would outshine anything he accomplished in bodybuilding.
Svend during his Bodybuilding Days looking Ripped!
This is most likely where many of you first heard of Svend and his crazy strength. This is where he made his big splash in the competitive realm by far. If any of you are fans of ESPN’s World’s Strongest Man (WSM) then I am sure you have seen Svend in action more than once. His days competing in WSM were full of excitement and intensity. At the age of 28, Svend entered his first World’s Strongest Man contest in 1996. In only his first World Competition he was half a point away from making it to the finals. This was something that very few in the history of the sport had ever accomplished as a fully-fledged rookie. In 1997 Svend returned to WSM and this time he was in top condition. Unfortunately, he was in the lead when he injured himself in the Squat event and tore his quad muscle. This was devastating since he was the crowd favorite looking to dethrone the current champion. In 1998 he took the year off as he was infected with a virus that didn’t allow him to train properly for months prior to the WSM. This left him worn down but even the strongest of illness would not keep the Viking from the battlefield. In 1999 he returned to the WSM stage to place third. Year by year Svend was now defeating the veterans in the sport and with his newfound stage presence, he would be the most talked-about competitor in Strongman circles.
In 2000 he moved up the ranks in WSM to battle some really tough competitors which earned him the silver. Winning the WSM was so close but better days were yet to come. The fact that he earned the bronze medal the year before and then the silver medal the following year lit a fire under Svend’s training intensity like never before. His workouts took on a new desired focus to dominate all competitors once and for all. In 2001 Svend would not accept anything but the complete annihilation of all the competitors that stood in his way. Svend was now on fire and won Europe’s Strongest Man to start off the year. Now this year was going to be his year for sure he could taste it. In the 2001 World’s Strongest Man Svend started off the competition by decimating them right from the start. Event by event he dominated the competition. This is the year that Svend would not let anything, not injury, sickness, or his competitors stand in his way to achieve what he had been training all his life to attain: the title of the World’s Strongest Man. By the time the battle was over, his competitors were defeated and Svend was now holding the gold and was awarded the 2001 World’s Strongest Man title.
Svend tasting Victory!
Here I thought I would just highlight some of the more important titles and competitions that Svend won and competed in. I don’t want to spoil it for you so I thought I would just touch on some of the more historic moments in his training and competitive career that spanned close to three decades. There is plenty of training footage in here of him during all phases of his life. You will also get some rare competition and backstage footage of Svend during all his appearances in the World’s Strongest Man competitions. Plus there is tons of footage of many of his seminars and training demonstrations that are classic Svend material. The documentary will take you to the underground basements of Norway, to the Gold’s Gym in Venice, and finally to the Warehouse power compound where he prepared for his WSM title. If you are a diehard power fan and I know you, then this video is for you. Watching Svend evolve from teenage Powerlifter to competitive bodybuilder then to the cream of the crop in Strongman is something that all of you would enjoy watching. There is a lot of commentaries included in the film to take you through Svend’s historic moments that shook the strength world. Without a doubt, this is a must see film that will have you coming back for more to watch it again and again!
Svend with World’s Strongest Woman Jill Mills
To get a copy of this film you can go to:
For International lifters go to www.norwegiangiants.com