Muscle-Munch talks exclusively with WSM Competitor: Laurence Shahlaei

Muscle-Munch talks exclusively with WSM Competitor: Laurence Shahlaei

How did you get started in strongman?

I started strongman because I used to watch it on TV and fancied giving it a go. I joined a gym in 2005 and then found a competition on the Internet. I came eighth from having done little to no event training at all, and I guess you could say it all pretty much started from there. Ever since then I have just progressed year after year, but that’s’ pretty much where I began in the sport of Strongman.

Who’s your favourite strongman on the circuit at the moment and do you look up to?

Well I respect a lot of the guys, but I’m not a fan of any of them; that sounds a bit horrible really. I’m a fan of strongman, I started off as a fan – but now as a competitor I don’t fear anyone or look up to anyone. I respect all the guys but some for example have that “I’m happy to be here and enjoying it thing going on” but I’m not like that I’m more like… “yeah I’m going beat these guys!”

Now (with the upmost respect) you’re not as tall as some of the guys in strongman, how do you think you size up against them?

I feel I’m good all round, I’m not too big, not too small and I love moving events especially anything with speed, loading or carrying! I don’t worry about how big and how strong they are, If I did I might as well just give up, you just have to try and get better all the time, that’s what I focus on with my training. I just keep trying to improve and I have been improving consistently.

What is a typical training routine for you?

My training varies depending on the time of year and what upcoming contests I have, but at the moment it’s a 4 day a week programme. Mondays I do Squatting and strict pressing with as­sistance work, Tuesday is my deadlift day, Wednesday I tend to have off, Thursday is my bodybuilding type day (so mainly arms) and stone work then either Friday/say I work on push pressing, assistance work for my shoulders and event training

So, you have your staples that cover your deads, squats and overheads… do they stay in your training all year round?

I don’t always squat all year round, at the moment I’m not doing any back squats – the rea­son being, none of my competitions right now have squats in, but almost every other has over­head work, deadlifting so those tend to stay in all year round. I also find I tend to lose power when I’m not working my overhead very fast… where as my squats and so on tend to stay pretty strong.

Can you talk us through what supplements you take?

I generally have a period of the year where I use nothing but when I do I take the following:

  • MyProtein Whey
  • MyProtein Glutamine
  • MyProtein Chondroitin
  • MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate

I also take BCAA’s mid workout and I also like a good pre­workout but I tend to avoid using it! I feel you can get reliant on them… you feel like you need it, often in competition these things are not available. Often luggage can get lost, you can’t pack enough to last e.t.c. But when I have a big competition coming, I try to get every edge I can.

You mentioned joint support, do you find yourself counting tablets or do you find variety of food is the key?

I tend to stay away from capsule oils but I like to put oils into my shakes in the morning like flax and so on, I usually only hit about 5000kcals per day though. This is boosted through Meal Replacement Shakes around competition time which I get from my sponsor MyProtein.

What are the top numbers and max lifts you’ve knocked out, in the gym or competition?

  • My max squat, 365kg for 3
  • Overhead press, 205kg axle or oly bar
  • Deadlift, 430kg (half suited with straps)

And although I’ve not done a power lifting competition in a while, the last time I did, I did a 350 squat, 200 bench and a 382.6 dead lift!

You also held the world deadlift record (briefly)

I did, last march which was joint with Brian Shaw, we both pulled 430 kilo’s beating the previous record by 20 kilos.

So – fourth in Worlds Strongest Man thus far, has been the high point of your career?

Yes – coming fourth at WSM was amazing. I really wanted top 3 but the 3 that beat me, were better than me at the events and on the day, I gave it my all. I am always looking to improve and come back better each year though which I’ve managed to do I think, and this year will be no different, the only problem is that they all keep improving too!

But as you say it can all come down to the events on the day!

Yes almost definitely! I still have a few weaknesses I need to overcome now, events and on the day is what it’s all about in the end! However I think with a bit of luck on the day I still believe I can win World Strongest Man.

Obviously Strongmen are renowned for pushing their body’s to the limit and injuries are quite common, have you had any injuries this past year?

3 months before WSM I actually tore the fascia in my foot and the first year I went to worlds I dislocated my toe when pulling a truck. The fascia was very very painful, I did it in the competition pulling a truck and it’s very difficult to recover from! You don’t get a lot of blood flow in the foot and I had to cancel a lot of competitions that year to recover for worlds. But then not having other events allowed me to prepare well… I got enough training in to get into good shape.

How do you treat prehab/rehab work?

I get a lot of physio and chiropractic work, a lot of people go when they get injured but I try to go before I’m injured! To try and help keep tabs on my body as much as possible, I do foam rolling quite a lot at home and a self­massage stick, it’s basically a flexy rolling pin. One thing I neglect is taking care of my flexibility as much as I should do.

And your goals for this year?

The British championships this year, May 26th is a big goal for me this year, first time we have had a proper championship for a few years so I’m really looking forward to that.

And you will be against the likes of Terry Hollands and Mark Felix for that?

Terry and Mark yes… I don’t care what people say, this is between Me and Terry Hol­lands…. There are a lot of amazing guys there and I’m being a bit big­ headed, we have some seriously good guys in the country right now but on paper, we are the two best guys at the moment…  but anything can happen on the day.  On the day there will be a lot of guys at our heels, but on paper its number 3 and number 4 in the world, there are some good events for the both of us, it should be great. A lot of people are talking up Ed Hall, I think he is great and in another year or two he is defi­antly going to be a serious challenge!

You have said a few times you want to retire by the time you’re 30, realistically will this happen and if so what will you do?

Basically I don’t want to keep competing if I think I’m taking a step backwards, so if I’m still improving, I’ll keep competing. Other than that I have the blog, I’ve done some commentating with Colin Bryce, I’d love to do more of that promoting and I’d really like to ref in WSM, that would be very good. I basically just want to stay involved with the sport.

And you do some personal training now?

Yes, I do coaching and personal training work now as well.

How would someone go about getting in touch with you for PT work?

The best bet is to contact me through Facebook or twitter really if people are interested and we can go from there. (Loz can be found on Twitter @Biglozstrongman and on Facebook through his fan­page)

Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to start out in Strongman or just wanting to improve their strength?

Don’t compete unless you love it, that’s for sure! It’s not something you can just do because you are good at it… you have to love it; but if you do, keep it simple. Get good at the basics and get strong all over, if you are strong all over you will be strong when you try and learn the events. Fight against yourself only and take care of your all­round health. Don’t go burning yourself into the ground.

Interviewed and written by Richard Sennewald

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