Warming up for the car deadlift at the 2012 Dallas Europa, then-amateur strongman Robert Oberst felt something “slip” as he completed a rep. “Something popped out of place,” he remembers thinking. But his pro card hung in the balance, and he was not going to let a dislodged rib sour his chances. Using duct tape and newspaper, Oberst wrapped his rib cage as tightly as he could and dove back into the competition. “I fought through it and deadlifted that car eight times,” he says. Rewrapping between events and ignoring the pain, he went on to earn his pro status. “I just went to a different place,” he says. “I don’t even remember all of it.”
A month later, in his first event as a pro, with those ribs barely on the mend, Oberst notched an American record in the log press with a 445-pound performance. This otherworldly ability to dismiss pain combined with his gargantuan proportions — 6 feet 7 inches tall and 400 pounds — make it seem like he can absolutely will himself to the top of the strongman food chain.
Let’s put your strength in context. What are some of your best lifts?
I have deadlifted 880 pounds, squatted 905 and bench-pressed 715. The 715 on the bench is 50 pounds away from a world record, and I only do it as an auxiliary lift. And I recently hit 485 with the log press in training. The world record is 500 pounds.
You played professional and semipro arena football. How did you transition to strongman?
I was working security at a bar-slash-concert venue and one of the guys who worked there with me — I played with him in junior college — was really into strongman. It was all he could talk about. So one day, I went in with him. On that first day, I pressed 340 pounds overhead the first time I ever touched a log. I said, “Is that good?” He said it was 30 pounds heavier than the amateur record at the time. I was hooked!
What’s your basic approach to food?
My basic goal is to get as much clean protein as I can. As I get close to a show, I add in more carbs and fats to lube my joints and to have that extra energy. I’m to a point where my body can burn fat for fuel better than carbs. I load carbs like white rice toward the end of the day. It gets boring. But salsa fixes everything. It’s the best thing ever. I don’t have to try to be big. My body just wants to be that way.
How do GAT products play into your everyday training and recovery?
Every single day, I do three to four Supertein shakes. It’s high protein, low sugar, mixes great, tastes great, goes down so easy, digests well. And I’m really picky about my supplements. My friends called me a prima donna with supplements. But I’m gonna go all the way with this, so I might as well take something that works well. The Nitra-flex preworkout is really great. I take it before every single workout.
For more with Robert Oberst, visit his Facebook page (@robertoberstprostrongman) or find him on Instagram (RobertOberst) or Twitter (@RobertOberst).
GO OVERHEAD WITH OBERST
Here’s the pressing routine strongman Robert Oberst uses to hold on to his American record in the log press.