Sales manager on way to becoming Britain’s Best Endurance Lifter

Sales manager on way to becoming Britain’s Best Endurance Lifter

By Mike Hoppitt

Phil Byerley

Phil Byerley (Please click for larger image)

Motorbike Sales Manager Phil Byerley is getting near to the end of a two year journey to achieve the title of Britain’s Best Endurance Lifter in the Maximuscle Dragan Challenge.

Phil has been with CIA Insurance for over 6 years, with the past 2 of those being spent undergoing an arduous daily training routine that keeps him in top  physical shape so he can compete at elite levels with some of the UK’s top athletes.

His chosen sport is the Dragan Challenge, a brutal test of strength and endurance. Competitors must lift a dumbbell from having their arms straight down by their sides, curling it up to their shoulder, then finally pressing it up over their head until their arms are straight, doing one arm after the other.

Phil competes at the Elite tier of the competition, using two 20 kg dumbbells – doing this lift once is hard enough with this amount of weight, but for this years Dragan Challenge he has to do this an incredible 100 times in the fastest time he can! Most people who have entered the challenge struggle to get to 100 repetitions, but Phil has managed a personal best time of 3 minutes 27 seconds.

Phil was first introduced to the Dragan Challenge in 2009 while visiting BodyPower –Europe’s biggest event for bodybuilders and fitness and strength athletes. The challenge was being done on the main stage, and when the host asked for audience members to participate, he jumped at the chance. Phil recalls – “I first tried the challenge in 2009 while watching the lifters, I was impressed by their endurance and strength, and when the host invited members of the audience I had to give it a go! I found myself actually competing and really enjoyed myself. It was at that moment I decided I wanted to do this and succeed.”

From there, he threw himself into a rigorous training regime, focusing his efforts on coming back in the future to be one of the main contenders. The following year, in February 2010, Phil was crowned the Midlands Champion for an endurance Dragan Challenge, performing an incredible 500 repetitions, non-stop with 16kg dumbells – that’s an unbelievable 8 tons of total weight being lifted over the course of his effort – imagine 50 Suzuki GSXR 1000’s lined up and you can picture the weight!

Keeping the momentum going, in May 2011 Phil competed as captain of Northern Britain in the Maximuscle Dragan Challenge team Event, tasked with doing 100 reps of 16kg in the fastest time possible against teams from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Southern England and a team of professional bodybuilding stars. Naturally, Phil and his team beat all-comers, gaining the title of best team endurance lifters in Britain and Northern Ireland

Phil with the other Loughborough Finalist and Organiser Rajko

Phil with the other Loughborough Finalist and Organiser Rajko (Please click for larger image)

In February 2012 Phil qualified to compete in the 20kg Elite-level challenge for the quickest 100 reps, coming top in his region with a time twice as quick as the next nearest entrant, which was fielded from the best of the local professional rugby team, The Rugby Lions.

This led to a place in the regional finals in Loughborough, famous for its University that commonly produces top athletes and high-level sports studies. With a place in the final on the main stage at BodyPower later in the year, there was a very competitive buzz around the competition, with a mixture of endurance athletes from various sports, bodybuilders and rugby players all vying for a chance at the top spot.

Phil was eventually pitted against the Captain of The Olympic Sailing Team, 18 stones of lean lifting power,  who was the Dragan Challenge Loughborough champion, and massively the favourite to win. Thanks to all of the dedication and determination Phil had put into his training, and the added promise of beating the odds-on favourite, he was able to smash through the pain barrier and push himself his hardest yet, beating the local favourite by a full minute to 100 repetitions of 20kg.

His feat of strength gained him a coveted place to the British Finals at BodyPower on 19th May, where he will compete against the other 6 regional winners, a specially picked collection of athletes and former champions from across Europe, and of course any lucky audience members who fancy a go.

Watch this space to see if Motorcycle Sales Manager Phil Byerley can achieve his dream of becoming the Dragan Challenge Champion, and show that hard work and dedication to anything can pay off.

Please click here for a video of Phil and Rajko giving a demo

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