Strongman Trainer Chris Peil Reveals What Makes Eddie Hall Such A Beast
"He's explosive, he's fast and if he catches you, he'll kill you," explains Chris Peil, sports rehabilitator. "Nine out of 10 men wouldn't get away from him over 10 yards."
Peil is talking about the 2017 world's strongest man, Eddie Hall. Looking at Hall, you wouldn't think speed or mobility are part of his arsenal. He's the size of a bison. But they are. The 26 stone monster has fast-twitch muscle fibres enhanced by his years as a swimmer, but they just needed rewiring and that's where Peil came in.
"Eddie had the biggest engine in strongman, but when it came to moving it was like he had the handbrake on," he explains. "We took the handbrake off."
The bouncer turned fitness expert helped Hall go from a stuttering 18-wheeler to a high-speed dragster. Chatting to Peil you quickly understand why Hall recruited his services - punch a sports science search term into this brain and he'll access the relevant data faster than fibre-optic broadband.
This knowledge has been acquired via an eclectic journey. At the age of 18 he was a "big, fat wannabe thug" working as a doorman for establishments he describes as "rough as arseholes". Peacekeeping duties coincided with an accounting and finance degree at the University of Newcastle.
But counting pennies was never his passion. The more time he spent in the gym, the more he became fascinated by physiology. Over the course of 16 years, he continued to work security at pubs and clubs while earning qualifications in personal training and biomechanics. As he started to build his business as a PT he decided to expand his knowledge and obtained a masters in sports medicine from the University of Central Lancashire in 2018.
His reputation as a skilled sports rehabilitator reached Hall, who asked to have a consultation with Peil in 2016, shortly after The Beast had deadlifted 500kgs to break the world record. Hall wanted to improve his mobility as he trained for the 2017 World's Strongest Man, but not before he'd put fuel in the tank for one of his epic 3-hour workouts.
"It was hilarious," recalls Peil. "About an hour in and he said, 'Look mate I'm really sorry, but I need to eat now... are you ok to wait?' I thought he was going to nip to reception to get a protein bar, but he came back with a 2000 calorie takeaway.
"He sat and ate it while we went through the second half of the appointment. That was the point where I went, 'fucking hell, this guy really is serious'."
The assessment revealed Hall needed to improve the mechanics of his movement, specifically the flexibility of hips, to compete with the world's best in the yoke, frame carry and farmer's walk events. Peil gave Hall a set of exercises to add to his training programme and topics to research.
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Determined to crush the competition, Stoke's supersized star, incorporated mobility exercises and massage into his regime, adding another gear to his land speed. "My recommendations were a bit out there if you're from a very traditional lifting background," explains Peil.
"But Ed is different because he's just incredibly smart. He seeks expert advice in different fields and picks out the one or two things that are going to be the biggest priority and integrates them into what he does."
This is where the 36-year-old is quick to downplay his influence on Hall's success.
"He had two hands-on therapists that did a lot of work with him to increase range of movement and then he trained within those ranges," he explains. "You can't overstate my input, it's the Ed show and he did it his way. He's a world-class athlete that can go to dark places when he's preparing for a big lift.
"Once he's done it, you can't approach him for five minutes because he's got himself so wound up he's in a complete other state, where he's so agitated he might take your head off."
When it was safe to approach, Peil was on hand at to loosen the 6ft 3in monster's hulking frame with trigger point massage. "Because he has so much tissue it was hard to reach the relevant muscles, but when I did... he used to scream," reveals Peil. However you measure the training guru's impact, Hall now had a smoother, faster running motion and as a result, he started to win events he had never won before.
"At the 2017 Europe's Strongest Man he beat Thor (The Mountain), widely considered to be one of the top movers in strongman, at the car carry. This was the first time he had won a moving event at that level. That for me that was the absolute pinnacle."
In that same year, Hall became the World's Strongest Man at the sixth attempt. The timeline and results point toward the Peil effect, but once again he halts any hyperbole and redirects the praise back towards Eddie. While Hall revels in the spotlight, he recognises the expertise of the team around him, which is why he selected Peil for Team Beast, a crack team of personal trainers who helped him transform the lives of eight everyday guys for SPORTbible's new show, Beasted!
Over the course of six weeks, Eddie and his team devised workout and diet plans to inspire physical and mental change. Peil's understanding of diet and training helped create bespoke plans for a diverse group of participants. That's why the likes of Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Adlington work with him.
Encyclopedic knowledge coupled with the experience of being overweight as a kid enabled Peil to offer the entrants unrivalled insight.
"I've been 120kgs, with a 40-inch waist and still have weight-management problems," he admits. "I was a fat kid and when I'm let off the leash, I go mad. This helped me relate to some of the lads going through the programme.
"Everyone has the ability to change their life, but it's whether they're willing to go a dark place - just like Ed - when they're training and dieting."It's not complicated, it's just hard, and these guys in Beasted! have shown what's possible if you commit to the programme."
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