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BHSU graduate earns 2011 World's Strongest Man title

Brain Shaw
Black Hills State University graduate, Brian Shaw, Class of 2004, participates in the car walk event
at the World’s Strongest Man competition. Participants pick up the 1000-pound car and carry it 82 feet as fast as possible. Shaw, after going undefeated in every strongman competition he entered in 2011, claimed the ultimate title of World’s Strongest Man in September.
 Brian Shaw wins WSM!
Shaw (center) accepts the 2011 World’s Strongest Man trophy. The competition, which has been held at various locations world-wide, took place this year at Wingate University in North Carolina.

After just five years on the professional strongman circuit, Brian Shaw, Class of 2004, is dominating the strongman world and building a successful business, creating training products, and booking appearances across the country. After going undefeated in every strongman competition he entered in 2011, Brian claimed the ultimate title of World’s Strongest Man in September.

Created in 1977, the World’s Strongest Man has become the premier event in strength athletics. For over 30 years, the strongest men on the planet have come together in a series of unique and amazing tests of strength to determine the World’s Strongest Man. The competition has been held in locations such as Zambia, Iceland, Mauritius, Malaysia, Morocco, China, and the United States.

Brian, who currently lives in Thornton, Colo., was born and raised in Ft. Lupton, Colo. He grew up watching strongman competitions on television, but didn’t think about it becoming a reality for him until he started getting serious about weight training in high school and as a student at BHSU. After playing Yellow Jacket basketball and earning his wellness management degree at BHSU, Brian decided he had a good shot of making it to the World’s Strongest Man competition. He’d always been strong and very competitive so he entered his first contest in late 2005, with no formal training, and went pro in only seven months.

He began competing in international competitions, winning numerous strongman contests, including back-to-back Strongman Super Series World Championships.  He qualified for his first World’s Strongest Man competition in 2008. A year later he placed third in the World’s Strongest Man competition; the following year he placed second; and in 2011 he officially became the World’s Strongest Man. That victory has given Brian even more drive to keep winning, “I want to be considered as one of the strongest men to ever walk on this planet, and I have to keep winning to prove that to everyone.

Although Brian famously won his first strongman competition with no formal training, it didn’t come easy. There wasn’t a lot of money for him in the beginning, and he had to overcome many obstacles to get where he is today. He started out making most of his own training equipment so he could practice for the contest events – something he still does today.

“I am very detailed with my training and there are always new and different events in strongman competitions. I always try to duplicate the equipment that I will use in the contests so that I can train with it and get a good idea of how it will feel during the actual competition. In order to do that I either go buy what I need or have a local metal fabricator make special pieces to train with,” said Brian. He has even personally developed atlas stone sleeves that can be purchased on his website

Brian has made his love for strength training into a profession and has transformed his career into a full-time professional strongman. He sells Shaw Strength merchandise on his website, offers training advice, and makes appearances at special events.

Dr. Robert Schurrer, professor of exercise science, was Brian’s advisor and professor at BHSU. “Brian took what he learned at BHSU and worked very hard these past years to become the best in the world.  He knew what he wanted to do, and by becoming the best he is able to do this full time as his profession,” said Schurrer.

Brian’s dedication to the sport is obvious by the transformation he made to his body since he began his career. When he graduated from BHSU, Brian was 6’8” and 280 pounds - now he’s 420 pounds. He builds his training schedule during the week around four main training days. Depending on the contest, he may add extra sessions on the events in which he will be competing, using a mix of regular strength training exercises along with strongman training.

He works with a nutritionist who develops his food plans for each competition. He normally eats seven meals a day with a specific mix of lean proteins, carbohydrates, and fats equaling about 8,000 calories a day. Brian says on an average day he eats over three pounds (cooked weight) of meat, up to 14 eggs, and lots of carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables.

Brian’s favorite strongman event is the atlas stones. The event has been regarded by many to be the signature event of the World’s Strongest Man competition. The contest includes five round stones of increasing weights between 250 and 475 pounds. The athlete picks up the lightest stone first and places it onto the highest platform and continues until all five have been put on the platforms or until time has run out. The winner is the athlete who places the most stones onto the platforms in the quickest time.

Brian won the 2011 King of Stones title by completing the event with a time of 22.36 seconds. He holds several other world records in the event including the heaviest atlas stone ever lifted, which was 558 pounds. He also holds world records in the strongman deadlift.

With a demanding schedule that takes him around the world, Brian still makes time for his fans. His Facebook page has many loyal followers who describe him as an excellent athlete and humble person. Many of his fans state how polite and kind he is at competitions and how grateful they are that he takes time to meet them at strongman contests.

Brian notes how thankful he is for his supporters over the years. “It wasn’t an easy road but it makes me appreciate everything more now,” he said. His fans mean the world to him, and he hopes he can keep the World’s Strongest Man title in the United States for quite some time.

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