Personal Trainer and Strongman Coach
"I am an ex-Member of the British Senior Weightlifting Squad with 10 years on the team during 1997-2007 until I retired from Olympic Lifting. The highlight was to Rank 1 in the Commonwealth Rankings in 2005" Mark Clegg
Mark has competed in over 20 of the top British Strongman Competitions and broken various National Records in the under 105kg weight division.
Mark is the manager of the Olympic Sports Gym, a family run gym owned by Mark's father, former Manchester United coach Mick Clegg. He is the second eldest of five children, Mark was brought up in a gym environment, along with his other siblings, as his dad owned and coached in his own gym. Due to spending most of their life within a fitness environment the whole family are dedicated to the sporting industry. Mark, working at the Gym, spends a lot of his free time training with the rest of the gym-goers.
Mark has been training strongmen, weightlifters and Olympic lifting for many years. Taking on anyone who has the enthusiasm, he has produced many talented lifters, but as well as his own brother, two others stand out as special to him. Find out more about these 2 talented lifters, Alex Collier and Tom Martin.
Right now mark is helping in the training and coaching of the youngest member of the Clegg Clan, Shaun.
OSG - Providing Weightlifters, Powerlifters and Strongmen with a training environment to reach their full potential.
Mark Clegg Dominates Northern U105 Championships 2010
The Northern U105 Championships
Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Lancaster
12th April 2010.
The competition was run by Ben_F with many other Sugden regulars helping out.
It featured a very strong line up, with only 7 qualification spots up for grabs.
Mark Clegg took home the title after winning with a 12 point gap over Stuart Hayes.
Sugden old boy Jonny Mills came in third with a strong all round performance including two event wins.
Interview with Strongman & Olympic Weightlifter (2010) HERE
MUSCLE & FITNESS - August 2011
Mark Clegg - Strongman
MANY PEOPLE TRAIN BUT FEW CAN CLAIM TO LIVE AND BREATHE LIFTING LIKE MARK CLEGG. MARK, 31, SPENDS MOST OF HIS LIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF MEN GRUNTING AND GURNING: IF HE ISN’T WORKING AT THE FAMILY GYM IN GREATER MANCHESTER, HE’S PROBABLY WORKING OUT IN IT.
His efforts have not been wasted. He used to compete internationally at Olympic weightlifting and he is now climbing the ranks in strongman. Mark lists his other main hobby as powerlifting. Basically, if it involves trying to lift large quantities of iron, he’s there. Mark, 31, is the strongest member of Britain’s most powerful family, which we have been profiling in recent months. The four brothers and one sister in the Clegg household were all taught Olympic lifting at an early age by their dad, Mike, who has been employed for more than a decade by Manchester United to increase the power and fitness of the club’s first team and youth players.
They proved to be good pupils: two of the boys were signed by Manchester United and a third, Shaun, is a British record holding weightlifter who has realistic ambitions of competing at next year’s London Olympics. Those three used lifting to cultivate power while remaining relatively light. In comparison Mark, who is 5’ 7” and 230pounds, has had to develop a much thicker physique to be able to handle the kind of weights that are necessary to make an impression in strongman.
But although he is big compared to most guys, he is relatively small in the superhuman world of strongman where a new breed of guys like Brian Shaw, who weighs more than 400 pounds, are setting new standards. The growth in the size of competitors has led to the introduction of new weight divisions at 105 kg (231 pounds and 90 kg (198 pounds) which has opened the door for men like Mark.
“105 kg strongman is a fantastic sport full of fantastic athletes and we are lifting weights approaching the standard of open weight athletes but because we are shorter and lighter we just wouldn’t be able to compete,” he says. “What we need to happen is get the 105 kg category recognised worldwide as a new weight class to strongman rather than a feeder class into open weight category. It’s already happening with the Worlds Strongest Man 105 kg being shown on Eurosport now.” Mark’s accomplishments in strength sports would probably surprise anyone who knew him as a boy. “In school I was useless at team sports so I had very little interest in PE at all,” he says. Being brought up in a sport-loving, gym-owning family changed that. “I saw my older brother Michael doing Olympic weightlifting with all his mates and it looked fascinating to me,” he says.
Inspired, he started lifting properly at the age of 13. “I was very weak at first and it took quite a long time to master the technique but it was a real passion of mine and it made me into a super athlete,” he says. “I went from purposely forgetting my PE kit to playing basketball for the school team in my year and the year above and throwing the shot putt in the county championships. ”Weightlifting is the foundation for success in all manner of sports. But although it is great for developing speed and power, it’s also a historic and highly technical event in its own right and one of the original Olympic disciplines. Over time it became the focus of Mark’s ambitions and he went on to represent Britain. “While most of my mates were going on holiday once a year, I was travelling all over the place, sometimes going on five international trips a year with the British weightlifting team,” he says. “Fantastic days.”
Mark quit competitive weightlifting in2007 and for a while afterwards his training lacked motivation. “I was in no-man’s land,” he says. Strongman gave him anew purpose. Mark’s passion for this quirky and hardcore sport is apparent as soon as you meet him. “I love having all the different challenges and events,” he says. “No two competitions are the same, meaning you can never be comfortable with how you train. There are just too many events to master and get stronger at.” He has acquired a good collection of strongman equipment at the family gym and organises events as well as competing in them.
He entered his first contest in April 2009. “It was the northern under-105 kg qualifier for England’s Strongest Man,” here calls. “I placed 6th and made it to thefinal. I was instantly hooked.” The same year he finished fifth in the 105 kg class at the UK’s Strongest Man and in 2010 he placed second at both England’s Strongest Man and the Body power Expo. He rates his victory at the lesser-known St Ives Strongest Man in 2009 as his career highlight to date. “It was my first competition win and it came in a heavyweight show against Alex Moonen who has competed in Giants Live a few times on Eurosport,” he recalls. “It was a great boost and showed me that maybe one day I could be good at this game.”
Like all strongmen, he has had his share of ups and downs. His biggest disappointment so far came last year when he blacked out during the Conan’s Wheel in the 105 kg final of England’s Strongest Man while well placed for victory. “If it had not happened I surely would have won my first national title,” he says. But Mark is not a man prone to self-pity. “I love people who just get back up, dust themselves off and have another go at challenges,” he says. “I’ve had tons of knock-backs in lifting and, actually, regardless of how hard you train and prepare yourself things often go wrong more often than they go to plan so you have to just get back up and try again.”
He loves watching the super-human feats of strength of big names like Derek Poundstone and Terry Hollands. But his biggest strongman inspiration is Finland’s three-time under-105 kg world champion, Janne Hartikainen. He is also a fan of Britain’s number one smaller guy, Darren Sadler, who used to compete in the 105 kg class but now holds his own in the open class. “He carries the flag for us little guys,” says Mark.
But no strength athlete has made a bigger impression on him than Delroy McQueen, who he met during his weightlifting days ten years ago when he moved to Crystal Palace to be trained by national coach Keith Morgan. “Delroy was the strongest man I’ve ever known and an absolute legend in my eyes,” he says. “He destroyed the field in the 105 kg weightlifting event at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. He then turned his talents to powerlifting and is now a multiple world champion at that also. This guy taught me what being strong is all about.”
Mark is now in his third season as a strongman. His immediate goal is to win the under-105 kg class at England’s Strongest Man and Britain’s Strongest Man. “This year I’ve been training really heavy for these events and got through the qualifiers injury free,” he says. “I have high hopes of a great season.” Long-term he’d like to compete at the World’s Strongest Man in the under-105 kg category. He also wants to break the strongman world record in the sub-105 kg class on log lift and deadlift.
Deadlift—regarded by many as the ultimate test of strength—is his favourite event. Strongman deadlift is different from powerlifting deadlift because you are allowed to use straps to reinforce your grip and hitch the bar up rather than execute the lift in one smooth movement. “I love this exercise in any variation,” says Mark. “My best conventional deadlift is now 370 kg and 400 kg is my next aim to achieve.” The Atlas Stones is his second favourite event. At the other end of the scale he “hates with a vengeance” the Conan’s Wheel and dislikes any shield-carrying events. “They are just torture,” he says. “You can’t breathe at all.”
When Mark isn’t working out ways to lift silly weights he’s usually with his partner, Lisa, and their children. “Family is the most important thing to me,” he says. That’s a sentence you hear a lot from the Cleggs: they are clearly a tight-knit unit. He also enjoys a pint. “I think drinking alcohol in moderation is fine and a couple of bottles of beer with a meal or at the pub with a friend is a fantastic way to relax,” he says. “It helps conversation and helps you forget how much your body is hurting from training.”
He doesn’t follow a special diet. “I eat when I’m hungry, I never force feed and I normally just have one protein drink after training,” he says. He likes red meat but finds it hard to eat anything first thing in the morning. “So I have a 1,000 calorie shake instead of breakfast,” he says.
Mark’s training varies according to the competition he’s training for. Strongman contests don’t follow the same format: the events differ and so do the rules governing each event. Some contests require more static strength; others need greater mobility. Mark’s training reflects this. “At the moment I’m training for Britain’s Strongest Man under-105 kg division and it is a heavy competition with a maximum deadlift event in it so I’m focusing on strength gains,” he says. “Currently I’m doing squat and deadlift three times a week to make sure I’m at my strongest ever.”
His main training partner is fellow strongman Kev Stuart. “I’ve even cried if front of this man,” says Mark. “If it wasn’t for him always there to pick me up I wouldn’t be half the man I am. We started training together back in 1995 and we went on a twelve-year Olympic weightlifting crusade that took us all around the world from Bulgaria to Dominican Republic through to Thailand. We both retired in 2007 and moved on to strongman and he is focusing all his efforts on trying to become one of the best under-90 kg strongmen in Britain.”
Mark and Kev often hook up with other strongmen of a similar standard to train. “It makes things easier,” says Mark. “For example if I carry a 400 kg yoke for 20 metres I’ve got someone to bring the thing back.” If the other strongmen aren’t enough to drive him on he only has to go back to work to be reminded about the depth of talent out there, and how hard he has to train to keep progressing. “Olympic Sports Gym is just wall to wall talent, from strongman to powerlifting,” he says. “Everywhere you look someone is deadlifting 30 kg or performing some similar freakish feat of strength.” M&F