The Highland Games season is well under way with thousands of people already enjoying events taking place across the country.
The much-loved tradition, made a triumphant return in May after being hindered by the pandemic over the past two years.
Although some events were held virtually, thousands missed the atmosphere of being in person watching athletes toss hammers and throw cabers.
The strongmen taking part in the games have already been training for months to get ready for their comeback season.
Kyle Randalls, the current Scottish heavy events champion, began his preparations in October last year.
The Press and Journal spoke to the competitor, based in Falkirk, to find out how he has been getting ready for the season.
According to the athlete, most Highland Games competitors have a very different mindset between winter and summer, with training being taken down a notch now the season is in full swing.
How does he train for throwing?
In winter, he would train Monday to Friday, with a mixture of weightlifting, throwing and drilling techniques.
During a normal gym session, Mr Randalls trains by doing compound lifts. This includes moves like squats and deadlifts.
The 30-year-old also does explosive moves like Olympic weightlifting, including clean snatches and pulls, to practice moving weight quicker.
“In terms of weightlifting it’s very hard to mimic a lot of the movements we make,” he explained.
“So for example, I’ll squat with a bar weighing around 440lbs, if I’m cleaning the Olympic lift I can do 365lbs.
“You never need to lift that sort of weight when throwing.”
Cabers vary in size depending on the game they are in and weigh anything from 175lbs, making them the heaviest event, and often most challenging.
Mr Randalls also does a method of exercise called pylometrics, which involves jump works and springing to get ready for throwing in the summer.
He described throwing as the most “frustrating” part of the training because over winter he does drills to break down the techniques of all the throws.
Mr Randalls said he does this hundreds of times a week to create muscle memory in time for summer.
Now the season has started, he’s reduced his training sessions but continues to fine-tune his throwing.
Mr Randalls takes part in competitions across the country, and could do as many as 40 competitions in around four-and-a-half months.
“It’s pretty busy,” he explained. “At the weekend I could compete both Saturday and Sunday and that’s seven events each day.
“There’s no slowing down – it’s just go, go, go.”
What does he eat?
Mr Randalls is 6ft 4ins. Although he hasn’t weighed himself in a while, believes he’s around 22stone.
He is not even one of the bigger guys who takes part in the games circuit, sitting around the middle to the top in terms of weight.
The athlete admitted he does not keep a record of what he eats or keep too close an eye on his weight either.
“I wouldn’t say I’m sitting here looking at my macros or anything like that, I tend to find I watch what I eat to an extent – but I also like enjoying my life.”
During the season, he eats when he’s hungry and will eat whatever he can to stay full during the day.
He said: “I eat when I’m hungry, and when you’re competing you tend to just want to eat.
“I don’t think you realise how much you’re doing and how active you are when you are competing.”
‘Running all over Scotland to do it’
In July he plans to compete in around 13 games.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say you’re running all over Scotland to do it,” he laughed.
The athlete has been taking part in Highland Games for the last 10 years and has travelled the world to compete.
He was involved in athletics from a young age and was talked into competing in the games by his coach.
For Mr Randalls, the Scottish hammer, weighing 22lbs, is one of his favourite events during the day.
He said: “I used to throw the wire hammer, like the Olympic hammer, so I threw that for years and it just felt like a natural transition to the Scot’s hammer.
“You’re spinning around with it and I always think it looks good, but everyone comes for the caber don’t they?”
According to Mr Randalls, after competing especially in the Grampian region, athletes will sit in a local river or burn for around 10 minutes.
Likening it to an ice bath he explained he always feels better the day after it.
“I was in the river just out beside Braemar after the Gordon Castle Games and honestly I could still see snow on the mountains,” he laughed. “I was like ‘what am I doing?'”