Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hello and thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself to your audience!
My name is Will Harris and I’m a 33 year old Strongman competitor. I’m originally from New York City, and I currently reside in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I’ve been training in some fashion since about 13 years old and I began competitively lifting in around age 23. 2020 will be be my 10th year as a Strongman athlete.
Career-wise, I’m a strength coach and the owner of the Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club. I’m a 5x winner of the annual Delaware’s Strongest Man competition, I’ve also won the state title in Maryland, placed 7th at the 2016 Strongman Corporation National Championship, qualified for the 2017 Arnold Amatuer World Championship, and currently hold the deadlift state record in both Delaware and Maryland in the 200lb weight class.
Describe a typical day of training
There are so many elements to master as a Strongman athlete, so my current training is about 90 minutes, four days per week. I spend two days focused on pressing and two days centered around deadlift and squat variations. One press and deadlift day is based on training with the specific implements used in competition while the other two are more traditional barbell and dumbbell based accessory days.
I also incorporate two “active rest days” in which I’ll spend about 20 minutes on mobility and restorative work followed by some light conditioning such as sprint intervals on an airbike or rower for 15-20 minutes. I’m also sure to take one full day of rest every week.
I train at my own gym, and it’s generally with a group of other competitive strength athletes. When pushing yourself to your limits, it always helps to have a support system around you.
How do you keep going and push harder?
Being a competitive athlete, coach, and business owner, it’s hard to juggle it all and remain motivated at times. However, when you make something such as training a habit, you find a way to get up and get the work done the same way you find a way to shower and brush your teeth every day.
Some training sessions might not be my absolute best, but I make sure to at least get something done even if it’s just light technique work and my accessory movements.
Also, setting an example and leading the way for my clients to follow is extremely important to me. I never ask anyone to do something I haven’t already done or anything I’m not willing to do myself.
I develop a very high level of trust and respect with my athletes and I believe that my commitment to walking the walk is a big part of that.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My current training is going quite well! I’m taking a much needed off-season at the moment to address some areas I need to improve upon in order to take the next step in my athletic career. My goal is to compete at the official Strongman Games in 2020 and go in feeling my absolute best.
Aside from my own training, introducing strength sports to my community in Rehoboth Beach and growing the number of local competitors is my primary goal.
Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club is the first and only gym in the area offering the opportunity to train and compete in Strongman, Olympic Weightlifting, and Powerlifting on a dedicated team with expert coaching.
We also provide a youth training program designed to teach young athletes the fundamentals of strength training. The goal is to help kids stay injury free, develop a positive relationship with their bodies (especially our young ladies), and develop strength and confidence that will stick with them for a lifetime.
The gym is located in a relaxed resort town, so I’m trying to show everyone that you can still live the beach lifestyle but remain competitive at the same time!
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Thankfully in almost 20 total years of exercising and 10 years of training competitively, I have never had any injuries. I’m a firm believer in listening to your body, leaving something in the tank every training day, and treating restorative work with just as much importance as lifting.
It’s impossible to go hard every single day in the gym, neglect proper recovery, and then expect to remain healthy long term. I know it’s a difficult mindset to adopt, but I believe everyone should approach training with the next five or 10 years in mind.
I’m willing to bet that squatting or benching a huge number when you were 25 will mean very little if you’ve destroyed your joints by age 45.
Making time for ice baths, massages, body tempering, and addressing mobility restrictions will pay off in the long run and keep you healthy and able to train well into your later years.
I’m also a big advocate of prioritizing sleep and getting eight to nine hours each night. Personally, the rare instances when I catch a cold or when my body feels run down for an extended period are usually the same times I fall behind on getting adequate rest at night.
Training physically breaks us down and rest is when we make our progress, so while most people will say “never miss a training day” I say “never miss a recovery day”!
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
In regards to my diet, I honestly just believe in eating sensibly based to my activity level. I keep a general mental estimate of my macros but I don’t measure them specifically. I categorize my training days into heavy/medium/light/off days and adjust my eating accordingly.
On days I train the hardest, I know I need more calories so I will eat a bit more calorically dense foods and increase my carbohydrate intake. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m not expending as many calories on light days so I’ll eat foods that are a bit lower in calories and slightly decrease my carbohydrate intake.
I’m a firm believer in finding a system of eating that works for each individual and that is able to be maintained long term. Asking someone to give up their favorite foods and expecting them to stick with prolonged restrictions is absurd in my opinion, so I just encourage people to eat those things on days when they’ve legitimately earned them.
I love pizza and ice cream just as much as everyone else, however I reserve those meals for a heavy deadlift day or a long day of event training. Following this system is my key to staying relatively lean and near competition weight year-round without completely sacrificing the foods I enjoy.
What has inspired and motivated you?
My inspiration to get into strength training came from watching the World’s Strongest Man events on TV as a kid. I always thought being able to lift cars, pull trucks, and do other seemingly superhuman feats of strength was absolutely amazing. When I realized I could train to do those things myself I was all in.
Finding out what your body and mind are truly capable of is a life changing experience and I’ve made it my mission to share that feeling with as many people as possible.
The motivation for my gym came from watching the Rocky movies when I was growing up. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the character Rocky Balboa and his ultra simplistic training methods.
I’ve always been a fan of stripping things to the basics and just being willing to outwork everyone else. So when you walk into Rehoboth Beach Barbell Club, you’ll primarily see tires, sleds, sandbags, stones, and just the absolute basics.
You won’t see anything fancy, but you’ll see a bunch of hard working people and a lot of plaques, medals, and trophies on the walls!
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
My first advice for anyone starting their self improvement journey is to find a trustworthy resource for information and seek guidance from a professional. It’s very easy to get lost amongst the misinformation and fitness-related gimmicks out there.
I always advise finding someone who has already accomplished what you are looking to achieve and who has demonstrated their ability to help numerous others do the same. It may take a bit of research, but finding the correct help from the start will save you a ton of time, money, and sanity.
Secondly, I just encourage people new to fitness to set tangible goals, be patient with their progress, and commit to long term change.
From my experience, setting short term or non-specific goals such as “dropping a few pounds for summer” or just “feeling better” isn’t enough to stay motivated. So I always suggest setting a handful of time-sensitive tasks such as doing a certain number of pull-ups and push-ups, completing a 5k under a certain time, or something along those lines.
Having an objective on the agenda to work towards is a great source of inspiration for most people. Seeing a goal in the distance also helps reinforce the concept of change being an ongoing process. It takes more than 10 weeks to reverse 10+ years of bad habits or inactivity!
Are you taking on clients right now?
Coaching is my passion so I’m always looking to take on new clients who are hardworking and ready to reach new heights. I coach clients both in person and online, but at the moment I’m only taking on new online clients.
I love what I do but unfortunately I can’t be in a dozen places at once, so online training allows me to help so many more people than I’d be able to reach in person.
I have clients who are hundreds of miles away making amazing progress because I’m still able to help them with their form and provide real-time feedback through video chat.
Where can we learn more about you?
If you’re interested in training with me, you can visit my personal website at coachwillharris.com
My gym website is rehobothbarbell.com
You can also find me on Instagram at @hirecoachwill
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