Preparing for the Arnolds - Part 1


’ve known Body IO® Coach and Strongman Dain Wallis for a number of years now. I am constantly amazed, not only by Dain’s brute strength, but also his passion for Strongman and fierce determination to embrace (and overcome) every obstacle in his path.

If you’ve worked with Dain, you will know that he gives 100% of his undivided attention to everyone, 100% of the time. Given that, you might be surprised to learn that Dain doesn’t sit around all day browsing social media between training sessions and replying to client emails. Dain works a full-time job that requires him to travel extensively, he coaches part-time, and he still finds the time to train and compete at a professional level. Dain’s training schedule over the past few months leading up to the Arnolds, this coming weekend, has been nothing less than grueling. But he has shown complete dedication. It is a schedule that would crush most people, yet he makes it work to his advantage.

Q: Dain, you’re less than a week away from the Arnolds. How do you feel right now?
A: I’m happy to say that I feel amazing. The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I’ve been really up and down, but right now I feel healthy and at the top of my game.

Q: Describe what the last few months of training have been like and what ‘wrenches’ were thrown into the mix.
A: After the Nationals in October, I had a plan laid out for me to peak for the Arnold. The first couple of months were seamless, but by mid-December, everything seemed to be in flux. Things changed at work, the holidays hit, I had to do some unexpected traveling, and the cold and flu season hit me hard on two separate occasions in the New Year. I did everything possible to maintain my training schedule, while still resting my body when I needed to, but it’s been an absolute grind.

Q: Can you elaborate on some of this unexpected travel? You’re already on the road a lot for work, aren’t you?
A: Work-related travel demands are one of my personal challenges, but that’s normal for me at this point. Aside from the coaching I do with Body IO®, I also hold down a full-time sales gig that requires me to travel around Ontario on a weekly basis; sometimes, I’ll stay local for a full week, but other times I’ll spend 3-4 days in hotels. To compound the matter, from February 5th to the 23rd, I also spent 12 days in Europe and 5 days on the west coast, both were business trips. You might think that I’m crazy to travel so much right before the Arnolds, but as important as Strongman is to me, competing doesn’t consume who I am. Those were work-related trips to great locations, and you only live once, so I wasn’t about to turn down those opportunities!

Q: Don’t you think that being on the road so much puts you at a huge disadvantage?
A: Not at all. Firstly, my lifestyle is my choice, so there’s no way I’ll use it as an excuse. Secondly, I think that there are distinct advantages to a variable training schedule. I have to travel to every single competition that I enter, but my other travel demands make me accustomed to the stress of being out of my own environment when I compete. Furthermore, traveling on such a frequent basis forces me to train in new environments with different equipment. In Canada, none of the local equipment is exactly the same as the Strongman equipment that I use in US competitions. Therefore, it’s beneficial to use my work schedule as a way to get around to a variety of gyms to train with all sorts of equipment, in many different environments.

Q: What about nutrition? Is it difficult to stick to your plan on the road?
A: Again, I’ve become so accustomed to being on the road that eating on the go is no more difficult than eating at home. I set my Carb Back-Loading plan back in October and, although I’m constantly tweaking it based on my weekly schedule, the plan really hasn’t changed. There are grocery stores everywhere that have everything I need, so there’s never an excuse to mess up my nutritional plan. I walk around at just under 185 pounds to ensure that I can make an easy cut for my 175 pound weight class, so it’s imperative that I keep my nutrition dialed in at all times.

Q: You started using an HRV monitor in January. How has that influenced your training?
A: It’s actually changed my training quite a bit. Last year, I was hitting the gym 3-4 times per week and staying in the gym for 2-3 hours each session, trying to cram in strength training with Strongman conditioning. Under that plan, I could only train every other day because I needed recovery time from the longer sessions. Once I started using an HRV, I realized that I could chop my sessions in half and go to the gym 6 times per week, doing 3 shorter strength sessions with 3 efficient Strongman conditioning/accessory days in between. I could have done this before, but without the feedback from the HRV, I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to recover properly between sessions; now I know that I can, and my training has been more efficient than ever.

Q: What is your focus this week leading up to the Arnolds?
A: Rest, recovery and mental preparation. I literally just got back into town, so now I have 4 days at home in Toronto to rest up before hitting the road for Columbus. I have a couple of quick training sessions left, but the priority now is to hammer my nutrition, get some sleep, and mentally prepare for the weekend.

Q: What do you hope to achieve at the Arnolds this weekend?
A: Last year, I was simply happy to have been invited to the competition. This year, I’m confident that I’m positioned to come home with a victory, so anything less will be disappointing. I know that I’m up against some great competitors, but if I do what I’m capable of, I’ll be bringing the title North.

Well, Dain, you seem confident and well prepared for the competition this weekend. Strongman is a sport of great challenges, both mental and physical. However, you’ve clearly taken the obstacles from your daily life and turned them into opportunities to efficiently prepare for the competition. I can’t wait to catch up with you after the Arnolds for Part 2 of this interview. Good luck!


Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach and Level 1 Fascial Stretch Therapist. My goal is to teach my clients how to listen to their body and adapt to its needs rather than being derailed by every bump in the road.

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