Where other strongmen gnash their teeth and scream fearsome Viking war cries that could raise the dead in Valhalla, Anthony Fuhrman prefers to tango. By himself. An active duty member of the U.S. Army, the 31-year-old Team Bodybuilding.com athlete can deadlift 805 pounds, bench 500, and drag a semitruck across a parking lot. What sets him apart, however, is his alter ego.
Fuhrman calls his character "La Flama Blanca," and when he executes a fierce lift, he trots out the signature soulful dance moves that have put strongman on the radar of an entirely new set of fans, fans who like a side of laughs with their entree of strongman grunts. It's easy to say, "Think different." It's hard to make that happen and become a strength freak. Here, Fuhrman outlines the secrets that have helped him become a breakout star.
1. Get Meaty with a Spoon
Train hard, eat big, get paid—isn't that every iron pounder's dream? It sounds totally awesome until you have to do it for a living and start to feel like a human side of the beef you're choking down all the time.
"I get tired of eating so much," Fuhrman says. "It doesn't matter how much sleep you get, if you're not eating the right food all of the time, you're not going to get stronger."
For Fuhrman, that means putting down 3-4 pounds of meat a day.
"It's a lot of force-feeding. I use a spoon and a fast motion. If you get it down quicker, your stomach won't tell you it's full and you can eat more."
2. Forget Vacations
When you see strongman competitors, they're always at some badass event in an exotic location doing something that blows your mind. See the world! Lift heavy things! Make new friends! Again, it sounds awesome, but the reality is not so glamorous. You may lift next to a beach, but you're not playing in the sand and draining Coronas on this job—being a strongman is an all-in commitment.
"I haven't been on an actual vacation in four years," Fuhrman admits. "If I go somewhere, there's training involved and an event. I've tried to turn travel for competitions into vacations, but it just doesn't work. Strongman is not paved with gold, so you put a lot of your own time and money into it."
3. Rest Up
"I get a hangover if I stay up past 10 p.m. now," Fuhrman says. "You can't be going out and staying up late. You have to forget about having what most people would consider a social life."
Recovery is second in line behind eating, but you have to rest up to get ready to plow through all of that meat with your spoon.
4. Being Strong Helps
Hard work comes with the territory, but if you want to tango in booty shorts in the victor's circle, being a total mutant from the get-go helps. Fuhrman did three combat tours and plenty of strength and conditioning work for his job as an Army infantryman, but he never considered himself a serious lifter.
"I started dabbling in weights in 2012, but serious strength training didn't start until 2015. I was lifting in a gym, and there was a guy running a program for the 4th Infantry Division in Colorado Springs. He saw me deadlifting 500 pounds and said, 'Hey, try lifting this Atlas stone.' I lifted a 300-pounder my first time, and he was impressed. I was impressed with myself. I was doing something other people couldn't do."
That lit the spark that would become La Flame Blanca, and four years later, Fuhrman is a pro and changing the game. If you can casually deadlift 500 pounds, you're off to a great start.
5. Flip the Switch
Fuhrman loved watching pro wrestling as a kid—and practicing his figure four, sharpshooter, and suplex moves on his three younger brothers.
"The Macho Man peacocked the best, and he looked the biggest because he dressed the biggest," says Fuhrman. "And Ric Flair, well, nobody could do a promo like Ric Flair."
He still loves wrestling, and he gets to apply some of what he has picked up over the years to his social media game. Still, he works hard to make the magic.
"I'm miserable at making videos and doing Instagram. I suck at selfies. It's a love-hate relationship for me," he says. "If I'm in the mood, it's really easy to do, but I always have to get myself out there, no matter how I'm feeling."
Whether it's time to go—at the gym or on camera—a real pro can flip the switch and make it happen.
6. Develop an Alter Ego
Fuhrman's La Flama Blanca character, which he has described as the strongman version of Richard Simmons, helped him break through into popular culture and gave him a taste of stardom with an appearance on The Rock's "Titan Games," with more to come. Once again, while it may seem like fun and games, there's another level to this play. It started with an experience Fuhrman had while playing high school football. He was a standout player and dreamed of making it to the NFL, but first he had to make varsity.
"The summer of my sophomore year, I was on JV and really wanted to play varsity," he recalls. "My line coach told me I wasn't aggressive enough. I developed an alter ego and went into camp with a focused aggression to be as mean as I could, and I bullied people on the field I had no business bullying."
He made varsity. Although a torn MCL ended his football career and sent him on a new path into the Army, Fuhrman had found the strategy that would one day help him develop La Flama Blanca.