Kim Best has taken on the challenging and at times brutal sport of strongwoman with determination. She has quickly made an impression. She lives in Scotland, home of the Highland Games.
- Winner of Scotland’s Strongest Woman
- World Record for Yoke Walk
- Eased chronic health conditions with a vegan diet
Competing in her debut competition at Scotland’s Strongest Woman 2018 Kim developed a taste for the sport. Next year she placed second.
“I had surgery in November 2018 and I ended up with no coach after this point” Kim explains. “I worked on my recovery programme and my competition prep all on my own which developed a lot of self-confidence and belief in myself.”
Kim is a dynamic athlete. “I am definitely more of a movement event athlete, I love loading events with kegs and sandbags as I find they release a very happy dose of endorphins” she says. “And recently, I have learnt to love an overhead press. I’m still getting increasing strength in this area as it is quite weak but it’s fun to work on and watch my body change.”
Her ability in moving events was emphasised in 2020. Kim made the ambitious move to attempt the world yoke walk record. Yoke walks see athletes walking with enormous weights across the shoulders, which Kim finds ‘empowering’. In Scotland’s Strongest Woman 2019 she held the national title – for just two minutes. Then it was beaten with a 310kg carry.
“This put a massive fuel into my belly to get higher and higher. I looked into max yoke worldwide and had found the Record to be 330kg in just under 1 minute. Knowing how easy the 300kg felt in May 2019 I worked hard every week with yoke in my programme for conditioning to increase endurance and strength on pick up. Around November 2019 I was picking up 405kg for holds and comfortably walking with 320kg.”
Kim’s 350kg walk was completed in half the target time, 24.42 seconds.
“I have been working with Hostile Strength and Conditioning since SSW 2019” she says “building up my strength both physically and mentally to take on this mammoth record. At the beginning of 2015 I was in a situation where I was completely powerless and made to feel worthless, so achieving something as great as the world record is proof that there is always light at the end of the tunnel and has made me realise just how wrong I was back then – that I am worth something and I am powerful.”
“I turned vegan for my health and after when I was looking for recipes and ways to get enough of each food group I became more informed on how the animals are treated.“
Kim turned vegan at the start of 2018 for Veganuary.
“I have suffered with IBS since I was a teenager and discovered that animal by-products were the main trigger, so about 5 years ago I realised after reducing my dairy intake that animal protein from meat was also causing an issue, whereby I ended up with extremely sore kidneys and back pain.” This made her want to change. “I turned vegan for my health and after when I was looking for recipes and ways to get enough of each food group I became more informed on how the animals are treated. I can’t imagine ever turning back, or understand why I even thought it was natural in the first place.”
As a vegan, eating to win is not a problem.
“My diet is pretty boring when I’m peaking for a competition, oats and protein in the morning, some form of soup for lunch and a pasta dish for dinner. I snack a lot, rice cakes, apples, and bars are always in my shopping bag!”
She also uses meals from @mitchskitchenuk
This fuels some hard work.
“I will train five times a week, and these are all strength sessions tailored to a goal or competition I have coming up. Each session will be focussed on one area, for example, deadlifts will go along with accessories suited to building a strong lower back and hamstrings. I also have conditioning programmed in on these days too to build fitness levels. Training for me takes a lot of my time so my life effectively fits around the gym, I am lucky to be able to train at two different sites so if I’m tight for time I can train closer to home.”
As a world record holder, it might seem difficult to criticise Kim’s decision to be vegan, and she’s never had any negativity in training.
“Everyone is supportive and accepts each other for who they are – one of the reasons I really love Strongwoman! Outside of the sport however, I get more people being critical and rude about my choices. They wonder if I’m deficient in vitamins or how I can even train strength if I don’t eat meat. Fortunately for me, the comments I’ve experienced outside of the sport are from people who are not a part of my support team and these comments don’t rattle me at all.”
Speaking with Kim in 2020 she has already achieved a great deal, although she is also new to the sport. She has plans to take things much further.
“I aim within my Strongwoman career to compete at world level and travel spreading the word of this beautiful empowering sport. Especially to young girls, those that need something to make them realise that no one can ever tell you what is right and wrong for your own goals.”
“I am a firm believer in exercise being one of the best medicines, I suffer with chronic pain and lifting weights helps to keep the pain at bay as much as possible. It strengthens my whole body so that I’m able to go about my normal day to day life. I want girls to know the benefits of strength training. When you can achieve a goal you’ve worked so hard towards it changes your whole outlook on life, it makes you empowered to believe you can do anything you set your mind to do.”
“My coach is Martin Lennox at Hostile Strength and Conditioning, fully accepting of my vegan diet and doesn’t question it at all, and contrary to belief from people outside the strength community, I am getting stronger every day WITHOUT meat.”
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