Welsh strongman attributes success to butchery background

David Todd, of Hugh Phillips Butchers in Swansea, has been making the most of working in a butcher’s and abattoir, leading him to become an award-winning strongman. 

The butcher of 17 years was named Wales’ strongest man in the under-80kg category, which will now see him compete for the British title later in the year.

Much of his success, he told Meat Trades Journal, was down to the constant training that he receives as a butcher. “Working in a butcher’s is a good basis because you get used to lifting heavy objects,” he explained. “Especially strongman competitions, because nothing is a conventional size of shape, so it’s a big help. You get used to carrying things and it’s helpful for your breathing.”

When competing, Todd (pictured), who has been a competitive power-lifter for 10 years and strongman for five, has to lift awkward shapes such as sandbags or kegs, which don’t have handles. Working in a slaughterhouse, where he has to manoeuvre pigs that can weigh up to 130 kilos – or 20 stone – Todd has an upper hand in the competition.

Speaking of his journey to becoming a strongman, he said being an athlete and butcher complemented one another. “I started training to make work easier,” he commented. “I noticed I was quite strong, so it just went hand-in-hand. The more I understood [training], the more I ate, so working in the butcher’s is the perfect place to work.”

While the physical side of the job helps with training, it also helps when it comes to the practicalities. “I eat about four or five times a day and have six or seven meals,” he said. “Steak or chicken is my favourite.

“With the beef, as long as it isn’t too lean, you get a good portion of fat and a high portion of protein. You need the fat for your energy source. Plus, you’ve got creatine in it naturally, and gluten. You get a much better range of amino acids in beef and chicken than you do in the likes of fish. It’s a lot more feeding for your muscles.”

Earlier this year, Swansea-based Hugh Phillips Butchers, which dates back to 1878, was taken over by Catherine Butler after she helped her father run the business for over a decade.

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