You've seen him... He is the most energetic man out of the whole competition. He's completely psyched on every event and wows his fans and competitors with his dominating strength. He dominated the World's Strongest Man back in 2001 and still stands out now. He's Svend Karlsen. This guy has done it all. He's done power lifting and has excelled at it as well as professional bodybuilding. For those of you who know him or for some who don't, find out what and who Svend Karlsen is!
CD: Thanks for a chance to interview you, Svend. Please give the readers a description of yourself?
SK: My name is Svend Karlsen. I'm 35 years old. I live in Norway, Scandinavia-Europe. I'm married to Eun Lene , and we have a almost 3 years old son, Svend Alexander. Some personal stats: 6'3 tall=188cm. 135-155 kg. Biceps: 57 cm. Chest: 152 cm. Calves: 55cm. Thighs: 85 cm.
CD: How long have you been into strongman competitions?
SK:I started out in 1996, after a request from Ilkka Kinnunen from Finland. I had just quit bodybuilding and was smoking 20 cigarettes a day! I had no cardio what so ever-believe me !
CD: What were your lifts in powerlifting?
SK: My personal best in powerlifting was, 400 kg.(880lbs.) squat, 260 kg.(572lbs.)bench and 410 kg.(902lbs.) deadlift.
CD:I heard you were an IFBB bodybuilder, how did you do?
SK: As an amateur I had 2nd place in World Games as my best result. Did a few pro shows, but around 10-15 places. Nothing to write home about man!
CD: Have you always been strong?
SK: Yes, I guess so. Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be big and strong. My mom has got posing pictures of me from the age of 3 years old. So, I guess you can say lucky for me I became one of the strongest men!
CD: Tell us about your childhood and how you got into lifting weights?
SK: When I was little I saw a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger and decided that this is what I like to become one day. I was training weights from the age of 14. But you know, it was nothing like today where everybody works out in a fashion looking gym. I almost lived in the gym, I was spending like 6-8 hours every day, either training or just hanging around looking and asking for advice. I just loved it from day 1.
CD: Did you feel that after doing bodybuilding and powerlifting those strongman competitions was the next step?
SK: For me it was by coincidence that Ilkka Kinnunen gave me a phone call. He had heard that there was a Norwegian former bodybuilder that was supposed to be strong. It was with a open mind and no technique I went to WSM in 1996. But that's history now, ever since that I felt like this is where I belong. I had finally found my place, so to say. And if you look at the results, I think I can say I choose the right sport for me.
CD: How did it feel being the World's Strongest Man?
SK: For me to finally win and be number 1in the WSM 2001! I had finally made it to the top in something. And I kind of had all the pressure on me to win in 2001, since becoming 3rd in 1999 and 2nd in 2000. I also think its if not every boys dream, so many small boys dream to become the strongest man in the world some day! At least, now my son can say; I have the strongest daddy in the world!
CD: What is your favorite event in strongman?
SK: It's hard to say, mainly because I'm fairly good in all the events. But the Super Yoke and a deadlift for maximum on a good day is both my events. I was very surprised when I broke the world record in the gigant log press in Stockholm with 185 kg. I had not been training log max for a year! Lately I have been struggling a bit with my back, and that has been affected my deadlift as well, but I'm on that now, so I hope to be in good shape pretty soon again!
CD: How do you think you stack up against other strongman now?
SK: I still look at myself as a force to be reckoned with. On a good day I can, and will still win many competitions. My upcoming main competition now is the Arnold Classic Strongman Challenge in Ohio where I took 2nd last year.
CD: Do you believe with the arrival of professional powerlifting, that powerlifting is moving in the right direction?
CD: I've always preached about having training partners. Do you have any training partners?
SK: Yes, from time to times I do have a training partner. Actually two, Johnny Fosseli and Reidar Kvåle. They are both very strong, so they are pushing me, and I like that.
CD: Who did you look up to when you were coming up as a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or a strongman?
SK: My good friend Ed Coan has done some incredible lifts, my idol from when I first started out was again Arnold, and in strongman I think I must say the great Bill Kazmaier and Jon Pall Sigmarsson.
SK: The challenge will always be to become good enough to beat the best !. When I entered the strongman field I think we can say there was a generation change coming up, meaning that Magnus VerMagnusson, Riku Kiri and some other great names was a bit fallen stars. And Magnus Samuelsson, Jouko Ahola and Flemming Rasmussen was dominating in the following years together with Janne Virtanen and myself.
CD: How do you feel about the passing of Johnny Perry?
SK: It was a sad day to me when I got the news. I couldn't believe it actually, or wanted too. Johnny was the last man me and my wife was talking too in Kuala Lumpor, WSM 2002. And we agreed on catching up in Stockholm again a month later. May he rest in peace!
CD: What would you say to a novice lifter or to a lifter whose just starting out in powerlifting?
SK: Don't rush; Rome wasn't built in one day!
CD: Tell us about your belief in "Viking Power"?
SK: To start with, that has nothing to do with racism or anything. It's more that I come from Norway, the land of the Vikings. It's like a trademark or something like that. Look at Joe Onesai and Derek Boyer, they both show us culture and what's typical from their country.
CD: Do you believe in combining powerlifting and bodybuilding?
SK: Like you say it, no. But on the other hand, it's a good thing coming from, and having powerlifting as a background. I mean, if you're a good powerlifter I think you will have a good chance to do well in strongman too as a start. But to combine them is a little tricky according to training. I train a whole deal different now for strongman that I did when I was in powerlifting.
CD: What are your workouts like? How are they setup?
SK: It start's with 30 min of drinking coffee planning my training! Then I go in and give 100 %, how I train depends on where I'm in the season!
CD: Do you train equally as hard in the gym as you do on the practicing your events?
SK: Yes, I train hard in the gym, but it all depends on where I'm in the season. Off course you always need a good base of gym training, but when I'm preparing for a competition I start to train more events.
CD: What would you suggest to someone on getting stronger?
SK: Train hard, train smart, and be patient! Rome wasn't built in a day!
CD: As 2001's World's Strongest Man... What's next for you?
SK: My next and upcoming competition is like I said the Arnold Classic in end of February 28 to be exact. I really train hard for that one, and I know I will win it this year!
CD: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I wish you luck and I hope to see you as the World's Strongest Man again in the future!
Note: Svend placed 2nd at the Arnold Classic this year! For more info on Svend Karlson, click here or go to his website: http://www.power-viking.com.
Until next time folks, max out!