MAX PROFILE #2, ETTIENE SMIT, 38, Strongman

WHO HE IS

Meet the strongest man in South Africa, Ettiene Smit. He’s pushed a ton on his leg press: that’s more than an entire Springbok scrum. He’s been declared the country’s strongest man for six years in a row, and has represented South Africa at the World’s Strongest Man competition

WHAT HE DID

“The training and the interest in the gym was always in me, I just needed the right button to be pressed or pushed. He’d played athletics, cricket, rugby and swimming on a provincial level. A fellow rugby player and Springbok powerlifter introduced him to the idea of strength as a sport. “I had never seen myself as being abnormally strong up until I actually started doing weights and I could measure myself against other athletes,” says Smit.

MAX MOMENT

Smit aims to red-line the engine every time he competes. “I try to go full-out in every competition.” In his sport, he’ll push his limits in the disciplines where he feels his strongest. “Last year, I was particularly strong in my lower back, and I concentrated on hitting records.”He believes his PB is yet to come, “I’m still the number one strongman in South Africa, and I still want to be there for the next two or three years. That’s still my motivation to be the best, be number one and ultimately be one of the top three strongmen in the world.”

HOW HE IMPROVES

His psychological muscles are as strong as his physical ones. “I think in a lot of circumstances I’ve just been mentally stronger than other guys around me, and that’s the reason why I’ve achieved better than them.” He trains five days a week, after work. “It’s too difficult to train in the morning, your body’s not awake yet so I train in the late afternoons.” Smit adds cycling to his routine. “It’s for a bit of cardio; to get the lungs to work a little and to get the heart rate up.”

HOW YOU CAN IMPROVE

Try as many disciplines as possible, he says. “If you’re a failure in one, you might have skills for another,” he says. “Explore your talents. That’s what life’s about: exploring. Test the lot and take out the best, and spend the most time on that,” Smit advises.