Stoke & Staffordshire

Eddie Hall: Strongman risking death to achieve his dream?

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Media captionEddie's world dream

The World's Strongest Man competition is just a few months away and Briton Eddie Hall is bidding to fulfil a life-long ambition of winning the title. But the 28-year-old admits he could well "die trying" to achieve that dream.

Hall, a father-of-two from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, has dedicated the past five years of his life to extreme training, polishing off a staggering 10,000 calories a day.

He already weighs in at 28 stone (178kg) - and aims to get to 30 stone (190kg) to compete against the strongest men in the world.

His chest size is 66 inches and he wears 5XL clothes.

Image caption Eddie Hall underwent five hours of testing at Staffordshire University, to enable scientists to assess the impact the training is having on his body

But he is fully aware pushing his body to the limit could very well take its toll.

"Yes I'm doing damage to my body now," Hall told BBC Inside Out. "The human body isn't designed to be this size.

"I mean, for God's sake, I'm 6ft 3in and 28 stone. Ideally, someone my height needs to be 15 or 16 stone.

"But the same as any sport - you've got to push the boundaries to be the best.

"My life revolves around World's Strongest Man. I want to be the World's Strongest Man. That's what I said I was going to do five years ago and that's what I'm going to do."

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Media captionCapes warning for Eddie

But, how far is too far in his bid to rewrite the record books again?

To see the stress and strain he puts his body under, Hall underwent five hours of scientific testing at Staffordshire University.

Scientists tested his blood pressure, muscle fibres, aerobic power, his body fat composition, exertion, heart rate and recovery.

He also had an Electrocardiogram (ECG) to check if his body really could cope with the gruelling extreme weight training.

In the middle of the tests, they had to break for lunch. Hall has to eat every two hours and he had ordered a family size "deluxe" pizza in order to keep his strength up.

Power of a Corsa

This was something confirmed by the so-called isokinetic dynamometer. While lying still for 30 minutes and measuring the strongman's intake of oxygen and how much carbon dioxide he produces, the results showed he needs to eat 5,000 calories a day just to function and 10,000 with his training. That is four times the recommended daily allowance.

But, in the short term it looks like Hall's body really can cope.

One test showed he has the same power in each of his legs at that of a 1.2 litre Vauxhall Corsa.

Another aerobic test, where he cycled at full power for 10 seconds with weights attached, gave the score of 2,444 watts. Students at the university usually score between 500-1000.

The reaction from Dr Jacky Forsyth, from the department of psychology, exercise and sport was: "2444? Are you kidding me?"

The final test was for Hall to squat-lift 150kg eight times, to see the increase in his heart rate and also his recovery. His heart rate spiked at just 132 beats per minute and he recovered straight away.

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Media captionEddie's family focus

Dr Peter Jones, head of the department, said: "He's lifting a weight that is twice my body very, very easily, eight times. He's producing a huge amount of force, but has this amazing cardiovascular physiology in order to be able to do that.

"I can honestly say, in all my time as a sports scientist I've never worked with an athlete quite like him. He's unique."

Hall, who trains for five hours a day, already has one world record to his name, set a year ago in March 2015 - when one of the fans cheering him on was none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Competing at the Arnold Classic event in Australia in March last year, Hall set a new world deadlift record by lifting 462kg - the equivalent of 72 stone, or more than double his own current body weight.

Then at this year's Arnold Classic event in the US on Friday he beat his current record, achieving 465kg.

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Image caption Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the supporting gallery to watch Eddie Hall set a new world deadlift record in Australia

At just 13, he was a national swimming champion.

It was not until a few years later he turned his attention to weight training and then began the journey into strongman.

His wife Alex, said he "likes to make his family proud".

But she said: "You can see in some events he's pushed himself so hard he's not breathing at the end of an event and I'm just thinking 'Get through it and get up'.

"I worry about him every day."

Hall's huge frame has brought on sleep apnoea, which carries a risk he could stop breathing in his sleep at any time. Following tests, he now has to wear an oxygen mask in bed.

"The first thing the doctor said was the healthiest and safest way is for me to lose weight," he said. "Plain and simple, I can't do that. I'm chasing a dream.

"I just want to win it once and then come back down to safe levels you know because, to put it blankly, if I stayed at 28 stone for 10 years I'd die.

"I've got to be level headed about this and think not only about myself, my family, my kids. I don't want them growing up without a dad".

'Ripped my stomach'

During a 40-year career, Great Britain's former Olympic shot putter Geoff Capes became better known for becoming first Britain's, then the World's Strongest Man.

He won more than 60 titles and was Hall's childhood hero.

And, after sharing a fish and chip lunch with the great man, Hall was given a further warning about the seriousness of injuries.

"One of my biggest fears when I see talent like this is what they will eventually go through," Capes said.

"I've ripped my stomach open three times, my abdominals. I've ripped my leg open, I've got a new hip. I've got degenerative problems in my spine because of the pressure on the lifts and everything else."

So, will 2016 be Hall's time to take the title of World's Strongest Man and achieve his dream?

"You've got the likes of the big Americans, the Icelanders," he said.

"I've got to push the boundaries that little bit more and carry out a bit more body weight.

"I'm not going to walk around at 28 stone until I'm 48. My plan is to win the World's Strongest Man, walk away gracefully and live a long life."

Eddie Hall was talking to BBC Midlands Today's Laura McMullan for Inside Out West Midlands (BBC One 19:30 GMT, Monday 7 March).