Interview with Stephen Hyland
Interview with Stephen Hyland
Multiple World Record Holder for Pull-ups and Chin-ups
How did you get started doing Pull-ups?
I started when I was around 43/44 years old. I had a bad accident when I was about 20, both arms and my shoulders & back, were affected. I did make a recovery but not a full one and my left shoulder was never the same. I didn\’t do any training from then till I started working out again in my early forties. I met a Doctor by chance, that was a specialist for shoulders and knees. He had to cut out a section of bone at both joints along with other things, and I had to go back to the gym to build up the muscle around the shoulder, as there was no cartilage left, and it would take two years to grow back. So I started training again, the only problem was, there was nerve damage which goes hand in hand with this type of operation so my grip was a problem, so much so I even had to tape my hand to the bar as it had a habit of just switching off and I would be left hanging on one hand. (It has now made a full recovery but my left hand is still weaker than my right).
When did you realize that you wanted to break a World Record for Pull-ups?
After I got back in to training and my upper body was starting to get stronger, there were some guys training for a TV show “The Gladiators” which I had never watched. They explained that you had to do a fitness test just to get an interview to go on the show. It looked more fun than what I was doing so I asked if I could join in. They all said I was a bit too old, but let me train with them anyways. It was only three weeks till the Fitness Test which was just before my 44th birthday, The F.T consisted of a 800 meter timed run @ speed 22k which gives you 2:19 per 1/2 mile only, one min rest, 10 chin ups to command 1 every 10 sec 1:40 on the bar total, one min rest, a 20 ft hand ladder and 2x 20ft rope climb which had to be done in under one min, and then 3 Cotton Bud fights win all and you are in with an interview. I did the run and believe it or not failed on the chin ups. As I said the nerve damage was still the same, it was if some one just switched the power off and I would lose my grip, it was a great day but my girls were so upset, so I said I will be back next year and will not fail, I promise. I would mention that none of the guys from the club finished the F.T either. Well the year was going fast and I started training with 6 months till the FT. The grip was lasting longer but under pressure it would just fail. I did every exercise under the sun to get it stronger but it wasn’t the power and no matter how hard I trained it was a time thing. Anyway the F.T was upon us and the lads and myself turned up. The run again was fine, but the 8th chin I could feel that it was going to switch off so I just put full power on to the other arm and just left it in position and finished the last 2, which I had mastered in training. The thing is, a split second after it fails its fine again like a loose connection in a drill cable move it starts working. The hand ladder and rope were easy as you are powering up and down, the 3 fights were great fun which I won and out of all the teams from the club I was the only one to get through, one up for the oldies.
While I was training for “The Gladiators” I met guys that did Cross-fit comps and they asked me to enter them. As I was bored with just training I thought it would give me a focus and something to train for. I did ok, \”could Do better\”. I entered many comps over the years and got to meet some of the top athletes in the country, which always humbles you. It was when I was about 52 I did my first Chin-up World Record for the Guinness World Record Book. Some of the Cross-fit guys were doing a team W.R for Push-ups and I was not able to make the weekend. I was so disappointed I phoned G.W.R and asked them what other W.R’s in the gym category were there that I could do on my own and it came down to Chin-ups in one hour. It was only 445 then in “2005” and I remember asking if they were certain as it didn\’t seem a lot and it was confirmed back by G.W.R. A friend of mine was around on that weekend, he is a British ABA boxing coach, I ran it passed him and he was of the same opinion that it didn\’t seem a lot. Anyway that afternoon I was washing my car and I kept thinking about the record. When the car was out of the garage I could get to the chin up bar so I decided to time myself for 15 mins at WR pace and see how well I could do. After 15 mins I felt fine so I just carried on for 30 mins, still fine then 45 and by 50 plus I had beaten the record with time to spare. So I was on the phone Monday to sort out all the paperwork and rules to do an official attempt, which I did on the 22 Jan 2005 with a total of 512, and the rest is history.
Where does you daily motivation come from?
Not certain, but when I make my mind up to do something I will give it 110%, and I just enjoy training and the day I don\’t I will stop. I have a very heavy work load as I run my own business and it takes up a lot of time and energy, but I still find the time to train, as I find it is a great stress buster no matter how hard your day has been. I always feel better after a work out, it is a very under estimated form of stress relief, plus it keeps you fit.
What types of exercises do you use in your workouts? Weights or bodyweight?
Mostly bodyweight. I do have kettle bells, weighted jackets, a few dumb bells but that’s about it. I have been cherry picking B/W W.O.D from the Crossfit site, which I find one of the best on the net. I have learnt a great deal from this site and have and do recommend it to everyone. I have trained on my own now for the last few years, I have a reasonable gym at home a C2 Rower Power Jogger etc. I just wish they had gyms like the crossfit type here so I could go to one of them. I check out times of the others on the crossfit site so it gives me targets to try and beat. My main exercises are Chin ups, Pull ups, Press ups, Dips, Rope climb, Abs, and all sorts of Air Squats, running, and Bike. To do W.R’s you need a good cardio base so I do as much cardio as power work. I keep an eye on the W.R page and if someone beats my records, its all the incentive I need to get it back.
Any plans for the future in regards to breaking more World Records?
I am on a bit of a mission as I have now broken 12 W.R’s in 10 months and I am trying to do one every month for a year. The reason why I am on 12 is I did 2 WRS in the same month twice. On January 1st this year I did 994 for the hour I thought it was 1000 plus. As I said earlier I have already done the records I am going for in training at least a couple of times before the official attempt so I don\’t waste people’s time. I have a sheet marked off for the sets I need to do and just tic them off as I go, but on the sheet I missed one set off by mistake. Even when I finished and they told me I did 994 I just thought they must have added it up wrong as I had ticked off every box plus a couple extra, but no it was me (senior moment). It was still a W.R but not the 1000, so I did it again on the Jan 24th, this time 1008.
You hold multiple World Records for Pull-ups and Chin-ups, are there any other World Records you hold?
I have held dip and rope climbing records but that is it. As a younger man I held some weight lifting records in Great Britain, before the accident.
What is your training routine leading up to a World Record Attempt?
I don\’t change a thing. I have trained the day before a W.R attempt. When I do the W.R’s in training I still train the same so when I do the WRs it is just another training day. I can\’t understand why you should change your routine. When I do a W.R in a training week, the only difference is it just replaces the W.O.D on that day. I will train the same the day before and the same the day after. I find taking time off before an Official World Record attempt does nothing for me, every one to their own.
Which World Record means the most to you?
My first and when I did the 1008 in one hour.
What did your diet consist of during your 12 hour World Record attempt?
Here I will disappoint a lot of zone dieters and nutritionists The only thing I don\’t eat is red meat. I live on bread, have done all my life, brown, white, waffles, I have sports drinks, jelly babies, tea and waffles (mc’vites). I am not a great eater, and will only eat when I am hungry, I know this doesn\’t sound right but as I said before it works for me, I do eat lots of nuts as it is easy doesn\’t make you feel full up. Can\’t stand the feeling of a full stomach and would prefer to snack rather than have a large meal. I have broken W.R’s on 2 waffles and a cup of tea, and I have the same before I train.
Have you trained to break the World Records for most Pull-ups in 1 minute and 3 minutes? If no why not?
The one minute record is at limit where there is little more that can be done and keep good form. I have done 50+ in training but I don\’t feel they are good enough because with the speed you end up with too much body movement. I have tried the 3 min in training and failed miserable, i\’m certain I am not alone, one day I may try again.
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