Health & Fitness | December 9, 2020 8:53 am

What Oleksii Novikov, The World’s Strongest Man, Eats on Cheat Day

Novikov set a world record in the partial deadlift event while winning the 2020 competition

Oleksii Novikov
Oleksii Novikov, the winner of the World's Strongest Man competition.
Eloisa Sanchez de Alba

According to some estimates, the average American ant can carry 10 to 50 times its body weight, with the main reason being that the insect’s muscles are thicker relative to its body size than in larger creatures. Oleksii Novikov, the 2020 SBD World’s Strongest Man Champion, is neither American nor an ant, but he’s got that muscle thickness thing down pat.

Tipping the scales just shy of 300 pounds, Novikov lifted a 1,185-pound bar roughly 18 inches off the ground during the 2020 competition’s partial deadlift event, shattering a world record that had stood since 1983. One of 10 events held over four days, the deadlift helped the 24-year-old Ukrainian equal Jón Páll Sigmarsson’s achievement of becoming the youngest WSM champion in history. (Sigmarsson won the WSM title in 1984.)

The day he broke the record on the way to locking up his win, Novikov only ate two meals, as opposed to the six he usually eats during training. In fact, over the course of the competition in Florida last month, Novikov lost more than 14 pounds.

“In my regular training season, I eat nearly 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day. It’s a lot of meat, eggs, porridge and vegetables. Good, big portions,” Novikov tells InsideHook via a translator. “In general, it’s healthy food only, without sugar or Coke and other bad products for the body. At the competition, that was a problem for me, because in America I felt the meals weren’t good for me. The water is also different and I had some problems with my stomach.”

World’s Strongest Man winner Oleksii Novikov.
Hector Vivas / World’s Strongest

Those stomach problems didn’t stop Novikov from celebrating his win by doing something he very rarely does: drinking a beer.

“On the first day after the competition, I drank beer. Only one bottle,” Novikov says. “It was enough for me because I was so tired. One bottle made me feel good. I felt drunk. I haven’t had one since the competition. Beer is only for celebrating.”

Clearly, beer is an aberration in Novikov’s diet, as are the foods he enjoys on his cheat days.

“I eat what I want. Some sweets, but I love crackers. They are my favorite snack,” he says. “I really like ice cream. I don’t have a lot, but I eat what I want.”

Oleksii Novikov, World Champion of the SBD WorldÕs Strongest Man 2020.
Hector Vivas / World’s Strongest Man

Novikov is very careful about what he puts into his stomach because he believes his body feeling right is very important for having success during competitions. Equally as important? His mind.

“It’s 50-50,” Novikov says. “If you don’t have a good body with good strength, you can’t use your mind at 100 percent. If you have problems with your mind, you can’t use your body. So it’s very important and I think it’s 50-50.”

Another key to Novikov’s success is the motivation he gets from competing.

“If I see another sportsman in the competition and his result, it’s very motivating to me,” he says. “I want to show them what I can do to them and how I can beat them. Motivate me and I feel more power in my mind and my body.”

To see Novikov in action, portions of the 2020 SBD World’s Strongest Man competition are already being broadcast on CBS Sports Network and the event’s finale will air on CBS on Saturday, December 26, at 3 p.m. EST.

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