Rayno Nel is a relative newcomer to the world of Strongman competitions, with his undeniable talent, superhuman strength, commitment to intense training, and competitive spirit fuelling his meteoric rise to securing the title of Africa’s Strongest man.

After switching from rugby, Rayno won the first Strongman competition he entered after taking the title at the 2023 Arnold Classic Africa, and went on to claim the titles of South Africa’s and Africa’s Strongest Man later that year.

Personal info

  • Age: 28
  • Lives: Krugersdorp
  • Trains: Area 51 Strength and Conditioning Gym and Virgin Active
  • Social media: @raynonel 
  • Max deadlift: 400 kg
  • Max Log Press: 175 kg

The perfect fit

Strongman competitions have always appealed to me as I thrive in competitive environments, and I recognised the natural strength I have compared to others, which seemed like the perfect fit for the sport,” explains Rayno.

While Rayno says it is tough and demanding to train and compete as a Strongman athlete, he says the rewards are incredible.

While my size makes travelling commercially and finding clothes that fit a challenge, it has become a lifestyle I truly enjoy.”

READ MORE | 10 Ways To Get Stronger Now

Africa's Strongest Man

No light weights

Rayno has four training sessions a week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, which follow a similar structure to regular gym workouts.

I take extended rest periods between sets to lift heavier weights. On Saturdays, things get exciting because this is when I focus on strongman-specific event training like truck pulls, carries or throwing unusual objects. I also practice movements that mimic real strongman competitions.”

Rayno also focuses on accessory training to improve his performance. “While compound movements form the base of my training, I believe the body has smaller muscles for a reason, which is why I choose to focus on keeping my entire body strong. A strong grip is also crucial in strongman training, so I do a lot of grip exercises,” he explains.

The build-up for a competition generally starts 2-3 months before an event to ensure his body is relatively fresh during the competition, with Rayno choosing to compete every 3-4 months.

I only start lifting close to competition weights two weeks before the event and rest a full 10 days before the event.”

READ MORE | Strong For Life: Why Training Movements, Not Muscles Delivers True Functional Strength

Africa's Strongest Man

Eat big to get big

Rayno supports his recovery between training and competitions by getting enough sleep and engaging in active recovery, like walks. He also gets regular chiropractic sessions and deep tissue massages.

However, his major focus for optimal recovery to support his strength and size gains entails consuming high-quality nutrition from his diet and USN supplements.

Rayno’s typical non-training diet:

Africa's Strongest Man

Rayno uses a variety of carefully chosen USN supplements to support his recovery, hit his daily calorie needs, and achieve his performance goals.

Rayno’s USN supplement stack includes:

  • USN Super Immune (first thing in the morning): Supports a healthy immune system, which keeps you training consistently.
  • USN Qhush Black Pre-workout (before training): Enhances energy levels for a more productive workout.
  • USN Creatine X4 (before training): Supports increased strength during your workout and promotes muscle growth afterwards.
  • USN All9 Amino (during workouts): Provides essential BCAAs to help maintain hydration and stamina, leading to better workout results.
  • USN Anabolic Carb (before training and hourly during long workouts): Delivers readily available carbohydrates for sustained energy and power output throughout your workout.
  • USN Hyperbolic Mass gH (post-workout and between meals): This aids in muscle recovery and builds lean muscle mass, which contributes to overall strength gains.
  • USN Z-Mag+ (before sleep): Replenishes magnesium and zinc, promoting better sleep and recovery.
  • USN Ultra Premium Casein Night Protein (before sleep): This protein source provides a slow-digestion throughout the night to support muscle recovery and growth.

Africa's Strongest man

As a sponsor, Rayno says USN’s support extends beyond simply providing quality products. “The access to in-depth product knowledge the team provides also allows me to perform at my best.

READ MORE | USN Qhush Platinum Black Now Available In Convenient Sachets

A big 2024 loading…

Rayno is busy preparing to compete in the Strongman Champions League events in The Netherlands and Finland in June.

He also plans to defend his titles as South Africa’s and Africa’s Strongest Man in September and October, and will end the year in the USA at the official Strongman Games in December, which a qualifying competition for the 2025 World’s Strongest Man competition.

Fast Facts

  • Your favourite meal? Seafood
  • Your must-have supplement? USN Platinum Qhush Pre-Workout
  • Favourite music to train to? Anything from Bok van Blerk to AC/DC
  • What do you do to relax? Get out in nature to hike, hunt, or go on self-driven game drives in a national park.
  • What’s in your gym bag? Weightlifting shoes, knee and elbow sleeves, wrist wraps, mouthguard, lifting belt, USN All9 Amino, chalk, gym towel, resistance bands, massage gun.