Brian Shaw, known worldwide as one of WSM’s most colossal Strongmen, has finished within the top four every year since 2011, and taken the World’s Strongest Man crown on four explosive occasions – first in 2011, again in 2013 and the third triumph in 2015 with the fourth in Botswana, 2016.
He also holds an impressive set of world strength records, from the 825lb Squat to the 880lb Deadlift, to the 1,140 strapped Hummer Tire Lift.
In 2013, for his second WSM title win, Brian conquered 5 out of 6 of the events in his group and finished the competition with 51 points – three more than his closest competitor. He has also racked up another 12 first place wins in other Strong Men competitions since 2008.
Read on to find out about how Brian trains, what makes him tick, and what he works on when he’s not training to compete.
What made you want to become a Strongman?
I have always been interested in Strongman and always watched it growing up when I could. During high school and college, I developed a real love of training and lifting weights while trying to get in better shape for basketball. When I finished my basketball career after college I needed another way for me to compete physically and Strongman fit perfectly for me with my love of lifting and training. I entered my first contest here in Colorado in late 2005 and never looked back!
Your Strongman career has been a pretty rapid climb: four contests in a six-year career… what would you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success in Strongman first to my God-given abilities and size because without that I would not be where I am now. Secondly, I would say that my work ethic plays a huge role in my success in this sport because I work very hard to develop my abilities. And lastly, I would say that my knowledge of training and my ability to figure out new and better ways to train for Strongman and to train on my weaknesses plays a factor as well.
How do you prepare for the following events:
I think the only way to prepare for this event is to pick up a stone or sandbag and to go as far as you possibly can. There is no way to teach yourself to fight for the last few steps unless you put yourself through that in training.
There are a few different things I do to train stones depending on the contest I am getting ready for. I will normally rotate between lifting heavy stones one week and then do more speed work or speed runs with lighter stones to teach myself to load stones quickly.
It will depend on if I am training for reps or max weight but normally I will rotate so that I don’t do the same thing every week when getting ready for this event. So in other words if I am getting ready for reps I won’t just do max reps each week I would break it up and one week do sets of 3 or 5 and then come back to reps the following week. Same thing with training for max weight as I don’t do my max weight each week. I will instead work my way up each week in a training cycle.
This event is becoming a lot less popular in recent years due to the high number of injuries seen on it. I personally really like tire flip as I think it is a good event.
It is a good overall test of body strength and training for it requires doing tire flips to get the technique right.
A very popular Strongman event! The easiest way to train for this is to either get a car deadlift frame to train with or to find someone who does have one and borrow theirs. I think having a good squat and a strong back will carry over to car deadlift very well.
Give us a brief run through of your typical week of training at about 10-12 weeks out from The World’s Strongest Man Contest:
Training for The World’s Strongest Man is very tough because we don’t typically find out the events until there is not enough time to train for them so most of all you just have to try to be prepared for everything that you might have to deal with at the contest. Outside of that I always just try to focus more on what I feel are weaknesses for me and I train those things harder leading up to WSM.
Monday- Legs/Posterior Chain
Tuesday- Press Training
Thursday- Deadlift/Back/Posterior Chain
As you approach The World’s Strongest Man how does your training differ 2-3 weeks out?
At 2-3 weeks away I hopefully know what events my group will have as well as the events for the final. I like to set up a 100% training “contest” at approx. 2 weeks away from the actual competition with 100% weights. After that I start to back off my training and train lighter the following two weeks so that I show up to the contest well rested and ready to go.
Do you incorporate cardio into your training?
I don’t really incorporate cardio into my training other than with training the events like loading/carries/clean and press for reps, etc. It is my opinion that cardio won’t really carry over to Strongman that well because of the specific event disciplines and therefore training those disciplines will better prepare you for competition.
I guess, doing your anaerobic work, like medleys and the ones you mention get the heart rate going pretty well. What does your basic diet consist of?
I have started working with Nathan Payton for my diet planning and so far it has really helped me. I have cleaned up my eating (not that I was eating badly before) overall and feel like I am getting stronger all the time. My basic diet consists of a lot of lean meat chicken, beef, buffalo, fish, etc. and a lot of carbohydrates mixed in with fruits and vegetables spread over 7 meals throughout the day. It is a ton of work cooking and eating all of the food but I look at this as part of my job and in all honesty it is basically like a part-time job with eating and cooking taking me almost 3 hours a day with most of that time spent simply chewing and swallowing food!
What does your diet normally consist of?
For breakfast, I normally eat between six and eight eggs, some wheat toast, cereal/oatmeal, and a protein shake.
Lunch is usually 1lb of chicken/beef, potatoes, milk, and dinner is exactly the same. I normally eat about eight meals a day.
And finally, what’s your theory of rest and recovery?
Well, I am a big fan of learning to listen to your body with training. There is a fine line you have to walk down with training leading up to a big contest and being able to know when to push harder and when to back off a bit is very important. That being said rest and recovery is very important in the strength building process and I try to get as much as I possibly can when I am pushing myself hard in training.