Pro strongman Rob Kearney—a.k.a. the World’s Strongest Gay—has been spending much of his quarantine time training for greatness. On June 13, Kearney plans to attempt to break his own American record for the log press, which stands at 471 pounds.

But the guy’s been breaking his own PR’s throughout his training, and sharing the progress on social media. He recently lifted 472 pounds in his last heavy training session, unofficially breaking the record, and hit another training PR, squatting 815 pounds for 2 reps.

None of those big lifts would be possible without countless hours of hard work. Kearney welcomed Men’s Health to his gym to show off his heavy lower body training session, which includes safety bar box squats and raised deadlifts.

“These are staples in the Strongman world really to help build up that lower body power,” says Kearney. “We don’t squat too often in competition for Strongman, but when we do, it’s heavy and typically for a lot of reps. Deadlift is pretty much in every single competition that we do, so we need to build the fundamentals around these lifts in order to excel in the sport of Strongman.”

Rob Kearney’s Lower Body Strongman Session

Safety Bar Box Squat

3 sets of 2 reps, followed by 2 single reps

“The nice thing with the safety bar is the handles can come out in front of you so it rests on your shoulders nice and comfortably, so you’re not kind of cramped back with your hands behind your head,” says Kearney as he sets himself up.

He says that foot placement is wider to accentuate the glutes in the lift, placed outside shoulder width.

“Keeping my torso upright, when We want to initiate with our hips pushing back really putting a lot of pressure into the glutes and hamstrings. Sit back, controlling the dissent keeping tension on the box,” he says.

Next, he talks about the importance of keeping tension throughout the squat, and not resting at the bottom.

“A lot of people tend to look at the box squat as a rest at the bottom of the squat, and that’s not really what we want to do. When we’re sitting on the box, we want to keep tension in our core, in our entire body and not relax, because that’s going to make it a lot harder to stand up and get to the reminder of the lift,” he says. “So we sit down on the box, keeping our tension, keeping our shins vertical, and then explode and stand up.”

He eventually works up to a top set of 765 pounds.

Raised Deadlifts

3 sets of 2 reps, followed by 2 single reps

“With standard plates, they’re 9 inches off the ground. So we raised them 2.5-3 inches so we’re sitting at about a 12 inch pull,” Kearney says about the height of his raised setup.

From there, he offers his tips on how to have proper form.

“We’re going to set up in a normal deadlift position. The bar is a little bit higher in the shin. The biggest thing on this you want to focus on is it’s gong to strain your upper back. That’s where we want to put most of the pressure in this lift,” he says. “Have a normal deadlift grip. Shoulder blades pulled down and back, your back is nice and flat. Contract through the core and push through the ground. Squeeze your back and stand up nice and straight.”

And he notes that you should keep your butt down.

“You don’t want your butt to come up first. You want to lead with your chest to make sure there’s not too much strain on low back.”

He ended up pulling 885 pounds for 3 reps.

After his workout, Kearney offers his final thoughts on the session.

“I’ve got what I call a back pump,” he says. “Muscles are just tight, hamstrings are tight. There’s blood flow going to the area… It puts me in a really confident place going into my next training cycle… It’s not easy, it’s a lot of fun though and being one of the smaller guys, I hope I can motivate you guys to get in the gym and get after your aspirations and get as strong as you possibly can.”

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