Saturday, 28 July 2012

Big Loz interview for VKR

Little Sen, on behalf of VikingR presents,

An Interview with:

Laurence Shahlaei

In a dimly lit warehouse , somewhere in Gloucester, no larger than about 50” by 20”, sits a bench, a couple of racks, an assortment of thick and cambered bars and various bits any normal person would gloss over as “junk”.

But look a little deeper and you will see steel logs, hammers and beer kegs crafted into training tools.
That stack of pallets? They are carefully fixed together to fashion a loading platform; and the only window in the corner at the back, sheds light onto an assortment of rough-looking stone-balls and a 6 foot table.

There is a steel yoke and some farmers walk handles… you would be excused from thinking the viking press was actually a towel rack.
But every little bit of kit, every stone, bar and clamp in here has its uses, and most of it fashioned together by the members, or Mike the owner.
This is where Laurence comes to train and calls “home”.
This is a Strongman gym.

A rusted and dilapidated gate swings open and crashes open and a huge smiling man plods down the courtyard outside, lugging a large bag over his shoulders..
Loz is here, and as always he has some training to do before our interview can start.

After any good training session, comes eating, so we head down to our local chicken restaurant.

Sen: I’m a fan of several guys on the scene at the moment, but do you have an favourites that you compete against?

LS: Well… no, 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, 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… I’m gonna beat these fuckers!

Sen: You recently held the strongman deadlift record –albeit briefly?

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

Sen: And how about your British log record, are you worried about anyone like Hixxy snatching it from you?

LS: Haha, no, in a word, I saw him, two weeks ago actually, very impressed with him

Sen: He has crazy shoulders, like a mini Savickas…

LS: Strong all over! But his shoulder strength, it’s just unbelievable.

Sen: Pressing, does looks like one of this strongest events! In contrast your weakest event, we know, the stones?

LS: My biceps are weak, I had an injury I never had operated on, if I lap them I can place them, but I am weak off the floor, and at the top level that can be a real problem. I’ve beaten Travis, Savickas, Terry, on stones in other competitions, I’ve gotten a lot better but seem to fuck up at worlds.

Sen: You also lose a few inches on those people… but, if stones favour the tall people, what favours your build?

LS:I feel I’m good all round, I’m not too big, not too small and I love moving events, anything with speed, loading, carrying…

Sen: Do you feel that’s what keeps you in par with say, Terry and big Z ?

LS: I don’t worry about how big and how strong they are, 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.

Sen: Obviously, you haven’t really got any strongman idols, once you reach the level you are at, so do you find yourself getting more impressed with the smaller guys like Hixxy who are able to give the big guys a serious run for their money

LS: Not necessarily,but one of the guys now who I respect a hell of a lot, is Mike Jenkins, he is a smart trainer, and apart from his deadlift, he seems to have no weaknesses, but he is improving all the time.
I respect a lot of the guys, but someone like that, who trains smart, is always impressive.
People like an underdog – I think that’s why people like to watch me, I’m just an “average guy” to a lot of people

Sen: You seem to take on a lot of ideas from the people around you, you work with legends like Nick McKinless and Phil Learney a lot - I’ve seen you do a lot of unusual stuff lately, such as, progressively lowering deadlifts, log-front-squats and box squatting how has that come about.

LS: I was using a lot of explosive techniques for a long time, bands, speed work etc., I got good results but ended up neglecting two weak areas for me, my shoulders – which although improved, my log/axle strict is fairly weak. I am trying to bring that up to a stronger level now, working on my ability to rep things. Using maximal weight I am happy with, but, someone like Poundstone, is very very good at repetitions, I am trying to narrow the gap between my push-press and strict press.

Sen: So you are a fan of taking it as it comes, looking at how you perform and acting on it?

LS: Well, yes, there are three areas I think I need to improve; Stones, still need to get better, I’ve looked at added a bodybuilding day, bigger arms, stronger chest for that
and so on; strict pressing – I’ve cut out benching quite so much recently, and thats helped loosen up my shoulders.
Deadlifting off blocks – I have an awful lot of power from the floor, but when I hit the knees, I hitch like a bastard to lock that weight out! – So I’m trying to smooth that out by using the deadlift variants and heights.

Sen: I see, starting from a more disadvantaged position, working the hip drive and using bands a bit more too?

LS: Exactly, I think I’ve pulled more from the floor than I’ve ever rack pulled actually!

Sen: So, what are the top numbers you’ve knocked out, in the gym or competition – let’s work some ego here

LS: My max squat, 365 for 3.

Sen: I’ve never seen you work 1 rep max in the squat…

LS: I haven’t done a 1 rep max in a long long time, no…

Sen: Overhead?

LS: 205 on the axle or oly bar, I’ve also pulled a 430 competition deadlift (half suited with straps).
I’ve not done a powerlifting competition in a long time, but the last time I did, I did a 350 squat, 200 bench and a 382.6 deadlift

Sen: So the key to your strength up until now, has been focusing on explosive strength, but you found you burn out too easily now?

LS: As you know, we’ve all got different make ups of muscle fibers, I believe I’m predominantly fast twitch, so I’ve been targeting my strengths as it were…

Sen: Ever had a fiber biopsy?

LS: I’d like to, that would be very interesting!

Sen: So far, you have your world records under your belt, coming 4th at worlds but what’s all this about overhead pressing Noel Edmunds on national television?

LS: I’ve pressed a few celebrities overhead actually! A nice looking Chinese presenter in China from the GWR… I couldn’t tell you her name though…

Sen: Would you say fourth in WSM thus far, has been the high point of your career?

LS: Yes, 4th at WSM, 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… but I am always looking to
improve and come back better each year, which I’ve managed to do, I think, and this year will be no different, the only problem is, they all keep improving too!

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

LS: Yes, it can! I still have a few weaknesses I need to overcome now, events and on the day is what it’s all about, but I think, with a bit of luck on the day, I still believe I can win WSM.

Sen: I feel, one reason you progress so well, is you seem to stay virtually injury free throughout the year…. Except for the biceps…

LS: 3 months before WSM I actually tore the fascia in my foot; the first year I went to worlds, I dislocated my toe, pulling a truck…. The fascia was very painful, I did it in 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.

Sen: How do you treat prehab/rehab work…

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

<A waiter interrupts…. Food comes>

LS: Haha… hahaha That looks disgusting… what is it, chicken liver?

Sen: Yeah, chicken liver…. Wanna try some?

LS: ….yeah I’ll try a bit…. Hey that’s not bad actually…

< A light post training snack of ½ a Chicken, a bowl of livers, two wraps and salad, 1 large pitta, rice, corn and much post training eating ensues>

Sen: So, you run a website,, with Nick McKinless, which at the moment serves as a blog, along with your facebook and twitter, seems a great way to follow you and your progress.. How did that come about?

LS: Well, Nick had the site himself, it was just a blog, he took it down for a while, you see, Nick is a pro-stuntman doing really well, very busy, he’s directing stunt coordination at the moment in various films, I’m sure you’ve seen his stunt reel, but due to how busy we are with strongman, and his work, it’s taken a step back recently and is mostly a blog. (Nick’s stunt reel can be seen at

Sen: How did you two meet?

LS: Nick grew up in Cheltenham, which is where I am from, he actually won the British U105kg strongman about 7 or 8 years ago now, he is a very good all round athlete, one day, he came down to the Gloucester gym, through one of the old owners, as he is into his grip training on the side and I happened to be there… I suppose he took me as a bit of a raw talent at the time and he really took me in and helped me a lot! We still sit down from time to time and I take advice from him… or not… as the case may be! He is very knowledgable, he has worked with various athletes and film stars over time….

Basically he saw I had talent, saw I was just a brute maxing out every week….

Sen: So, the routine you do now, you mostly worked that out with Nick?

LS: Yes, it’s a 4 days 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 and stone work then either Friday/say I work on push pressing, assistance work for my shoulders and event training

Sen: So, you have your staples, covering your deads, squats, overheads… do they stay in your training all year round?

LS: 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 has overhead work, deadlifting… 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… whereas my squats and so on, tend to stay pretty strong.

Sen: We’ve seen pictures of you at worlds last year say, warming up squatting 300 from the back of a forklift just before the 320 for reps event, is that not too heavy before such an event?

LS: Well, there, I worked up to 300 kilos for a set of 3, which pretty much a normal train­ing weight for me anyway… you’ve trained with me a good few times now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed how I often use triples, 5’s 3’s and rarely 1’s….
Often I like to do a drop set, working up to a heavy weight, then dropping down… say I wanted to do 200 kilos for reps, obviously I can’t just jump in – it would be heavy as… so I work up to a triple 300, then drop down to 200, it feels light as anything.

Sen: So, you worked up to 300 kilos for 3 at worlds 2011, then went out?...

LS: Actually, I’ll tell you a story about 2011….
I worked up to 300 kilos, then went out and did my squats, ultra deep, 4 reps… only one other guy in my group managed a rep, everyone else bombed, so what they did for the next group was raise the height they squatted too, to 2 inches.. It was no good for tv. Zadrunas then went out and did 7….
Then, they decided they would let my group go again, this was an hour and a half after I’d squatted and I got no warm-up, so I was quite cold… I was offered the opportunity to not go again at the new height and keep my 4…. Well…
One guy managed to push out 5, so I had to go again, but this time I went out and hit 8 on pure adrenaline and it was easy…. Honestly, it was easy… I am sure I could have done 12 I was so pumped up.

Sen: And that’s what we all saw, on tv, your second go at a new height?

LS: Yes, and 2” higher than before…. I mean, I always squat deep and as you know I never hit massive massive weights and that really helps me when competing…. You hear so much “I can squat this, I can squat that” but it’s difficult to gauge really, it depends on depth, equipment… squats are just a training tool to help me in competition and, it hasn’t let me down so far.

Sen: I never see you drinking much whilst training, bar the odd strange colour shake…. Can you tell me much about your supplementation?

LS: I generally have a period of the year I use nothing, but when I do, Whey protein, mrp’s glutamine and chondroitin, creatine, Bcaa’s and so on are staples. I also have an intra-workout which is bcaa’s allanine… I take that during my training along with some extra bcaa’s.
I do also like a good pre-workout, but I tend to avoid using it, you can get reliant on them… you feel like you need it, often in competition these things are not available, luggage can get lost, you can’t pack enough to last… It’s just when I have a big competition coming, I try to get every edge I can.

Sen: Recovery is really important to you… do you use anything to aid that ?

LS: I try to focus more on nutrition, I up the amount of meals per day and go for lots of whole-food options, good quality meats veg, carbs and fats with each meal.

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

LS: 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, but this is boosted through MRP’s and shakes around competition time… I just like my real food.

Sen: Hah, I hear that….so after a top performance at the Brits and a very respectable finish at Europes, your goals for this year?

LS: Yes, I was very happy with my performance in May and Europes was good and after Europe we have worlds as well, I’d love to win the overall champions league this year too.

Sen: And how on earth do you stay motivated all year round? What is on your playlist?

LS: Lets see…(gets out Ipod and shuffles) Oh dear, Johnny Cash.. walk the line…. Lets try again… Teenage dream… oh here we go, System of a down… 2 out of three aint bad… Oh and Glee.My taste in music is varied as you can see… haha.

Sen: Well, some will know, you are not all about the strongman; tell me about you and table tennis….

LS: Haha, I used to coach table tennis for a living – I haven’t played for a number of years now.I used to coach the U12’s national squad and play for the country, but… I hardly have the build for that now; I do love the sport though.
I enjoy watching darts who knows, that might be my next
career move , but I think I need a bit of practice first…

Sen: And strongman after your 30’s…. you have said a few times you want to be out by the time you are 30… it’s not going to happen… but what are you plans?

LS: Haha, Well, we have beyond strong, but I do want to stay involved with strongman, I don’t want to keep competing if I think I’m taking a step backwards, 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 want to stay involved with the sport.

Sen: And you do some personal training now?.,.

LS: Yes, I do coaching and PT work now as well….

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

LS: 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 fan-page)

Sen: And finally Loz, what advice would you give to someone looking to start out in Strongman or just wanting to improve their strength?

LS: Well, 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 all-round health. Don’t go burning yourself into the ground.

Sen: That’s top advice and I will end on that thought.
Thank you so much loz and – see you for deadlifts tomorrow!

LS: See you soon buddy!

The above interview was carried out in a restaurant in
Gloucester at 8pm after an evening of squats and pressing
with Mr Shahlaei, not only does this interviewer talk the talk
but he also is happy to get under the bar and… hobble…
the walk.

I’d like to, on behalf of everyone from VikingR thank
Laurence for his time and also wish him the best for his
2012 strongman career.

Britains Strongest Man u105kg

BSM u105kg

What do you get when you throw together an unbelievable venue, unbelievable organisation, outstanding competition and fantastic support? Well on the 22nd July the answer to this question was Britain’s Strongest Man u105kg 2012. Everyone that made the trip to Lancaster was treated to an absolute stunning strongman show, that at times defied belief and definitely lived up to the hype that surrounded the show in the months leading up to it.

Well what can I say about Britain’s Strongest Man u105kg 2012? For the athletes it was the culmination of months of hard work and various regional and national qualification competitions. The competition would bring together the best u105 strongmen from England, Scotland and Wales and see them do battle in 6 gruelling events that were not for the faint hearted. The English national champion Ben Kelsey would be joined by 5 other strongmen vying for the BSM title. Scotland’s best Stuart Yule would be joined by 2 other team mates and Wales premier Anthony Griffiths would make the journey accompanied by Andy Gozwell. With Kelsey dominating a stacked England’s strongest man back in June, he went in as the favourite; however he would be up against the best of the best in Britain and would by no means have an easy ride.
The 12 strongmen would battle it out and go up against an incredibly heavy and varied set of events that were perfect from both a spectators’ point of view and would push the athletes to the limit. The competition would kick off with a superbly heavy log medley, follow on to the VikingR Powerstairs and then a brutal carry and drag medley. There would then be a well deserved half hour break before the final three painstaking events that would decide the strongest u105 in Britain. The crowd were treated to an awkward looking axel squat for reps, a rising bar frame deadlift and then the competition would conclude with the classic strongman event, the atlas stones. Not until the culmination of the atlas stones would we have a definite answer on who was the strongest under 105kg competitor in Britain.

After going through their own personal warm ups and tests on the various implements the athletes would be treated to their first event, the log lift medley. There were 5 logs in total, each log increasing in weight. The first log would weigh in at 110kg, which is of course already 5kg over bodyweight. The next log would then rise to 120kg and then 130kg, 140kg and 150kg would be lifted in order in the quickest time possible. First out on this event was Englishman George Winston who absolutely flew through the first 3 logs, combining great strength with solid jerking technique. He went on to lift the 140kg just within the time limit but was too burnt out to attempt the massive 150kg log. Little did the crowd know at the time just how remarkable George’s effort would be? Strong competitors followed but didn’t manage to eclipse George’s effort, Daz Clarke even having a rep cruelly disallowed by strict referee James Clayton for lifting the 130kg of his head. After watching his fellow competitors struggle with the weight of the middle logs Ben Kelsey came out and stormed his way into the lead, lifting 4 logs in a remarkable 42.49 seconds. He had an attempt at the 150kg beast, but this was 1 step to far, even for Ben. 4 competitors followed Ben on the event, but none could surpass his efforts so he was able to take the first event win of the day.

The top 3 on the event read;

1st Ben Kelsey – 4 logs in 42.49 seconds
2nd George Winston – 4 logs in 78.18 seconds
3rd Andy Gozwell – 3 logs in 31.78 seconds

The second event would see the strongman move onto a relatively unseen event in amateur strongman, the Powerstairs, which was sponsored by VikingR. This event would see the 12 strongmen put through their paces and be forced to carry a 185kg implement up 5 stairs come back down carry a 195kg implement back up the 5 stairs and if that wasn’t enough they would then return for a final 202.5kg implement and carry it up the 5 12” stairs in the quickest time possible. With this event being relatively new, I was not sure what to expect and to enjoyment of everyone, every athlete finished the event with there being only 15 seconds between first place and last place. The event saw Scotsman Mark Robertson or Leggiez as he is better known, come out a set a house record with a blistering time of 29.72 seconds, which pleased his large travelling contingent in the crowd. He was then surpassed by his Scottish counterpart, last minute entrant John Pollock, who flew up the stairs in a very quick time of 28.5 seconds. I knew from the first 2 competitors that this event was going to be one full of drama and excitement. John Rudgard then came out in a stunning pair of Cowboy boots and flew up the first 4 steps, then came down without loading the implement to the 5th step. This error cost John a very quick time on the event. With John Pollock’s time looking better and better, Damian Turner took the stage; complete with stunning tan, with one thing in mind, and that was a win in this event. Damo flew up the 15 stairs in an unbelievable time of 24.19 seconds to the delight of his home crowd. The time made even better by the fact he had managed to “out-tan” loader Shane Jerman. The competitors would try in vain to eclipse Damian’s time but it just proved too quick. Notable performances came from Sebastian Iwaniak, George Winston and Daz Clarke, with Ben Kelsey missing out on another event win by 1/100th of a second. However no one could take the win away from Damo, who was crowned king of the VikingR Powerstairs.

The top 3 were;

1st Damian Turner – 15 steps in 24.19 seconds
2nd Ben Kelsey – 15 steps in 24.2 seconds
3rd Daz Clarke – 15 steps in 25.45 seconds

The third event would see the competitors tackle a 130kg each hand farmers walk carried 20 meters and then go straight into a 230kg sled drag which would surely punish the strongmen’s legs beyond belief. This event would see the battle for the podium really start to form and would be a huge indication of the amount of effort that was being exerted in order to be crowned the strongest in Britain. This back and leg breaking event would see only 2 of a 12 man field not finish and would show just how strong these guys in an incredible, lung busting display of strength endurance. The first race showed the difficulty that the drag would provide the athletes, with Stuart Yule coming within 1cm of finishing the course. We would then see Dan Cave and Ant Griffiths take great steps to climbing the table and posing a big threat to the podium. They would clock times of 47.37 seconds and 49.69 seconds in a race which the whole crowd would be on their feet, willing the guys on for. Their efforts seemed to spur on the competitors around them and Daz Clarke and Sebastian Iwaniak charged into the top 2 places with times of 44.93 and 45.88 seconds respectively. The all out effort that these 2 athletes showed made the crowd believe that their times could not be surpassed but once again came Ben Kelsey. He flew down the first part of the course with the 130kg farmers walk and then dragged the heavy sled back to post a stunning time of 37.59 seconds and take his second event win out of three.

 The top three times were as follows;

1st Ben Kelsey – 37.59 seconds
2nd Daz Clarke – 44.93 seconds
3rd Sebastian Iwaniak – 45.88 seconds

The athletes were then given a 30 minute break to regain the feeling back into their legs after the incredibly heavy drag. Unfortunately their legs were about to take a battering with the axel squat and rising bar frame deadlift to follow. This would see the competition form and the athletes would start to take their places and key battles would form for the top 3 spots.

Barely refreshed from their break the strongmen were now to tackle the 240kg axel squat, which from first look, seemed awkward and would test the leg strength of the competitors to the max. The first 3 athletes came out and favoured a “low bar” squat style which with the big fat bar seemed awkward and forced the athletes to lean forward and loose balance. Stuart Yule favoured the best in the early exchanges with 3 reps which showed just how tough this test really would be. We then had former Olympic weightlifter Andy Gozwell take the stage and show us all just how it was done. He demonstrated perfect “high bar” Olympic style and would blast out 12 reps to take a lead that looked unreachable with only Damian Turner and Sebastian Iwaniak coming close with 8 and 7 reps respectively. However out strode Ben Kelsey, calm and confident, and completely focussed on what he had to do. He approached the bar with the Olympic style again and flew through to 13 reps. He asked referee James Clayton for conformation that he had achieved his target and re-racked the bar and soaked up the deserved applause of the crowd. For the athletes to even be able to rep the squat after the strength sapping carry and drag was an outstanding achievement in itself.

The top 3 for the event read;

1st Ben Kelsey – 13 reps
2nd Andy Gozwell- 12 reps
3rd Damian Turner – 8 reps

After 4 strength-sapping events the competition rolled onto the rising bar frame deadlift which would provide constant excitement from start to finish for more reasons than one. To complete the event the competitors would have to complete 7 lifts in the quickest time with the max weight to be shifted being a whopping 656kg. After a very leg dominant competition, the deadlift was the last thing on the competitors minds, however they would have to dig deep to claim the points they needed. The first explosive element f this event was seen from the second lifter, a certain John Rudgard. John would pull 5 deadlifts whilst projectile vomiting during each lift, he even managed to get referees James Clayton and Graham Hicks. The effort than John was willing to go to in order to complete his lifts was testament to just how much the guys put in to the events. Once the bar had been wiped down and the referees dried off Mark Robertson strapped onto the bar and became the first of the day to finish 7 reps, again much to the delight of his travelling support. By this point the fight for the third podium sport had really lit up, with no less than 6 people vying for the places behind Ben Kelsey and Sebastian Iwaniak. Dan Cave, Andy Gozwell and Anthony Griffiths put there best feet forward on the deadlift, with Cave coming out on top of the pack chasing the third spot with a splendid time of 21.68 seconds for all 7 lifts. Seb then took the stage and told the loaders to be quick coz he would be, he did not disappoint, taking the lead by .44 of a second. Seb was delighted with this, only for Ben Kelsey to come out and fly through the 7 reps in an outstanding time of 18.16 seconds, and if it wasn’t known already, Ben was pretty much confirmed as the strongest u105 in Britain with just the Atlas Stones to go.

The top 3 for the deadlift event were;

1st Ben Kelsey – 7 reps in 18.16 seconds
2nd Sebastian Iwaniak – 7 reps in 21.25 seconds
3rd Dan Cave – 7 reps in 21.68 seconds

After 5 events this exhilarating competition would culminate with the classic strongman event, the atlas stone. This event would see the athletes load a series of stones to 48”; however this atlas stone run would incorporate a run in of the stones. A 110kg stone would be ran in 4.5m and loaded, a 120kg stone would be ran in 3.5m, a 135kg stone 2.5m, a 160kg stone 1.5m and a huge 175kg stone would need to be loaded, but to be nice the competitors would not need to load this stone with a run in. Many positions were still to be decided and the effort that all competitors were able to give in this final event was outstanding. The first 4 athletes came out and were unable to load the tricky 160kg stone, until Daz Clarke took to the platform to continue his battle with Damian Turner. Both men flew at the stones and loaded the first three in almost identical time, but whilst Damian was just re-working his tacky, Daz lapped the 160 stone and took a 2 second lead over Damian. This would prove crucial in the final standings. At this stage Daz was sitting in third place, but knowing Andy, Dan, Anthony and George were still to go on the stones, his battle for third place in the final standings ay be over. The next 2 out were Andy Gozwell and Dan Cave, again both fighting for third. Dan flew out of the traps and managed to load 4 stones in a rapid time of 27.3 seconds. A tacky malfunction caused Andy to slip with the 160, but he re-grouped and loaded the stone, but with his slip he saw the chances of third unfortunately slip away. So now Dan Cave was in pole position with only George and Anthony in his way. Both athletes were rapid in the first 3 stones and whilst Anthony progressed to load the 160, George seemed to be fighting a loosing battle with the massive boulder. It was so unfortunate to see, but it’s the nature of the strongman game. The same feelings went out to Anthony as he was just .79 seconds off Dan’s time. He faced an agonising wait to see the outcome for third. So just 2 athletes remained; the two stand-out competitors of the day. Seb just needed a solid 3 stones to confirm second and I’m not even sue Ben needed to lift a stone to confirm himself as champion. However this did not deter the two from putting on a great last battle. To this moment no athlete had loaded the huge 175kg stone, a few had lapped it, but none had come very close to loading. Both came out like a bullet from a gun and fired through the first 4 stones. They then both took their time and had a bash at the final stone. The big boulder got the better of Seb, but like a true champion Ben was able to lap and load the 175kg to the delight of a huge crowd which supported the competitors from first lift to last lift.

The top 3 on the stones were;

1st Ben Kelsey – 5 Stones in 41.73 seconds
2nd Sebastian Iwaniak – 4 Stones in 24.33 seconds
3rd Dan Cave – 4 Stones in 27.3 seconds

So after 6 superb events, full of blood, sweat and a fair bit of John Rudgard’s stomach, the Strongest under 105kg athlete in Britain in 2012 was found. Ben Kelsey won 5 out of 6 events and only missed out on total domination by 2/100ths of a second. His performance from start to finish was nothing short of outstanding and to witness it first hand was incredible. You will see from the results below, the race for third was incredibly tight with 3rd place and 8th separated by 5 points. What a comp it was to witness! So without anymore rambling the final results were as follows;

1st Ben Kelsey – 71 points
2nd Sebastian Iwaniak – 58 points
3rd Dan Cave – 46 points
4th Anthony Griffiths – 46 points
5th George Winston – 43 points
6th Daz Clarke – 42 points
7th Damian Turner – 41 points
8th Andy Gozwell – 41 points
9th Mark Robertson – 23.5 points
10th John Pollock – 21 points
11th John Rudgard – 21 points
12th Stuart Yule – 13.5 points

Ben Kelseys Winning Performance

Then to top it all off Ben Kelsey won the Hardcore Gym Monster Dumbell challenge and a £100 for lifting the heaviest dumbell out of all competitors, loaders and spectators. After the 6 monstrous events he was then able to press a 105kg dumbell overhead, which was quite an achievement to top of an incredible day for Ben, and confirm him as one of the strongest around.
A special mention also goes out to “The General Dan Withnall” who got a massive PB dumbell on 85kg.

The Hardcore Gym challenge just cemented what an unbelievable competition this was. So well organised and ran from start to finish. The loaders were efficient and superb, if not a little under tanned, Sanderson Scoring System was brilliant all day, keeping fans and competitors up-to-date all day, and finally the sponsors and the pries they were able to offer were amazing. I think Ben France has raised the bar with this competition and it was a privilege to witness such a great event.

So with one more set of congratulations to the winner Ben Kelsey, I’ve been Daniel Ashcroft reporting for VikingR, thanks for reading.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Good Luck Team GB

Team GB are ready to take on the world

All the very best of luck to the 3 Great Britain Teams headed up by Jack Lovett, Simon Thomas and Adam Hales ..

WORLD'S NATURAL STRONGEST TEAM - International contest will take place on 23rd of July at The Hippodrome of Cote D'Azur in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France. The contest will be held with the participation of Natural Strongman athletes from 9 nations.

The events will be as follows:

1. ATLAS STONES 120 KG - 175 (5 STONES)
2. TIRE FLIP 500 KG - TO BE FLIPPED 6 TIMES by two athletes
5. POWER STAIRS 200/230/260 AND 280 KG

VikingR are extremely proud to be sponsoring team GB and hope they can bring home some silverware.... 


Sugden Classic is back !

Thats right ..

This historic competition has been such a fantastic success through the years that VikingR Strongman Clothing are going to bring back this historic competition and bring back the original name ..

Sugden Classic VI

Sunday 19th August 2012 - Olympic Sports Gymnasium Sponsored by VikingR

BBQ - Beer Licence - Bouncy Castle - VikingR Shop - Sugden meet up and after party .

There are 3 competitions on the day 

SUGDEN CLASSIC (C&J + Deadlift) entry fee £15


Floor to overhead - Karl Grant 200kg - Deadlift Mark Felix 405kg - Total Mark Felix 565kg 


Three attempts to see who the log lifting champion is !!

Under 80kg Record = 130kg
Under 90kg Record = 135kg
Under 105kg Record = 172.5kg 
Heavyweight Record = 190kg


Rising Stone challenge - 120kg, 135kg 150kg,160kg,175kg, 194kg, 203kg, 215kg, 240kg

To enter this competition you must pay by PayPal to to book your place

any queries email me at

Below is a look back into the history of this competition .. Apologies about the lack of in depth results .. 

The first Sugden Classic was arranged by Ex Commonwealth Games Weightlifter Andy Littler and Alan Fairclough down at the old Adlington Weightlifting Club but the organisation of the competition was down to a small new formed online lifting community that trained at the Sugden Sports Centre`s gym in Manchester..

They had a computer clever member of their training team called Rob Bethell who decided to make a forum for his friends and training partners to communicate training and competitions together. Sugden Barbell was formed and the members quickly began arriving for all the latest Strongman, Weightlifting and Powerlifting news along with training articles and journals .. Sugden began to grow quickly and after an influx of new members the Sugden Classic was organised by this new online community ...

Members quickly signed up for the first Sugden Classic to be held in Adlington Weightlifting Club on 1st March 2008 .. The rules were simple - 3 Attempts floor to overhead then 3 attempts on the Deadlift - Biggest Total wins.

Sugden Classic I

Saturday 1st March 2008 - Adlington Barbell Club

I was lucky enough to participate in the 17 man field against Worlds Strongest man competitor "Mark Felix" and a fantastic days lifting was had by all without doubt the highlight of the Show being Mark Felix`s 400kg Deadlift that blew the roof off the old gymnasium ..

Sugden Classic 1- Final Results were as follows - Name/ OH Lift/ Deadlift/ Total

Mark Felix, 160/400 - 560 
Mark Clegg, 182.5/285 - 467.5

Steve Leigh, 150/310 - 460
Andy Littler, 175/262.5 - 437.5
Jeff Williams, 150/250 - 400
Richard Harris, 95/280 - 375
Jonny Mills, 120/255 - 375
Joni Purmonen, 115/245 - 360
Gaz Boulton, 105/250 - 355
Joe Bullock, 87.5/260 - 347.5
Ian McDonald, 90/227.5 - 317.5
Rick Booth, 95/222.5 - 317.5 
Hayden Vincent, 102.5/210 - 312.5
Johnathan Chevallier, 110/170 - 280
Jonny Wignall, 80/195 - 275
Luke Corcoran, 50/142.5 - 192.5
         Alex Stuart, 0/185 - 185

Sugden Classic II

Saturday 9th August 2008 - Adlington Barbell Club

The second competition  was just as successful with Mark Felix extending his Sugden Classic deadlift record to 405kg .. and I managed to increased my overhead record to 195kg on the Clean and Jerk ...

Final Results Top 5 were as follows - Name/ OH Lift/ Deadlift/ Total

Mark Felix, 160/405 - 565
Mark Clegg, 195/295 - 490
Shawn Kenny, 170/300 - 470
Andy Littler, 175/255 - 430
Gary Boulton, 120/290 - 410

 Sugden Classic III

 Saturday 13th December 2008 - Adlington Barbell Club

The third instalment was the biggest turnout with over 20 athletes and with Mark Felix competing abroad in a strongman event it gave the mortals a chance of a win . Myself and Karl Grant battled it out in a great competition finishing 490kg to 480kg in my favour ..

Final Results Top 8 were as follows - Name/ OH Lift/ Deadlift/ Total
Mark Clegg, 190/300 - 490 
Karl Grant, 180/300 - 480

Shawn Kenny, 140/330 - 470
Alex Curletto, 140/310 - 450
Tony Warbrook, 130/302.5 - 432.5
Andy Littler, 170/250 - 420
Ben France, 112.5/290 - 402.5
Nat Cooper, 150/240 - 390

The only real video i`d like to show is the most controversial Deadlift video of all time Jonny "Boar" Wignall pulling sumo .. This would later haunt him as the banter continues even now .. ;-)

  Sugden Classic IV
 Saturday 23rd January 2010 - Fred Smiths Storage Unit in Chorley

Jeff Williams put lots of hard work into bringing back the Sugden Classic in 2010 and hired abig unit for the competition to take place and it was a very successful competition .. Unfortunately i can only find details of the top 4 places from this competition but we was treated to our first 200kg Clean and Jerk by Karl Grant Ex Commonwealth Games medallist

Final Results Top 4 were as follows - Name/ OH Lift/ Deadlift/ Total
Karl Grant, 200/330 - 530   
Mark Clegg, 185/300 - 485
Adam Travis, 185/270 - 455
Andy Littler, 175/260 - 490

Deadlift was won by Martin Brown with 330kg pull taking it on lighter bodyweight from Karl Grant. Matt Griffiths pulled 320kg for 3rd place.

Here is Karl Grants 200kg and 330kg performance

Sugden Classic V

Sunday 24th July 2011 - Olympic Sports Gymnasium 

Karl Grant, 190/340 - 530

Sugden Classic 5 was dominated by Karl Grant and he narrowly missed a 200kg Clean and Jerk and almost locked out a 360kg Deadlift .. Results to the rest of the competition have gone walk about it seems but if i find them i will update this post accordingly...

So as you see this competition is Rich in history and as i look through the history books for results i`m frustrated i can`t bring you more of the results that contributed to these fantastic competitions over the years ... Many personal battles have taken place and many personal bests have been broken ..

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bob Peoples "King of Deadlift"

Bob Peoples  by Luke Corcoran 

When people talk about the greatest deadlifters of all time some familiar names will come up, from Bolton to Coan there has been some bar bending, record shattering and mind blowing deadlifts over the years.  The feats of Andy Bolton or Ed Coan will be nothing new to readers of this blog. However, a less familiar is that of Bob Peoples. However no discussion of the greatest deadlifters of all time would be complete without mentioning the man known to some as “Mr. Deadlift”, Bob Peoples.  

Unlike many legendary deadlifters Peoples was not a huge man, in fact he weighed around 180lbs, but the weights he lifted were huge: 728lb. What was also remarkable about Peoples was that he often deadlifted 4 or 5 days in a row, all at a time when the foam roller didn’t exist let alone some of the pharmaceutical enhancers that might make such an effort much easier. People’s was a farmer and years working long, hard hours on the farm built tremendous strength and stamina. He often trained after working for 8-10 hours a day lifting, dragging and pushing heavy equipment on his farm in Tennessee. What might now be called GPP was simply work to Peoples.  

The story of Bob People’s lifting journey was born on August 2nd 1910. He began lifting at the tender age of 9. The young People’s started by lifting his father’s dumbbells and just about anything else he could lay his hands on that was heavy enough to challenge him. Much of People’s equipment was homemade such as 50 gallon drums that he filled with rocks. He also built was is considered by some to be the world’s first power rack.  Peoples made the rack out of heavy timbers, and although initially used this to work his lockout for his Military Press and Jerks, he quickly adapted this to the Deadlift. Peoples used the rack to do a variety of deadlift movements from partial deadlifts to negative deadlifts. Using this setup Peoples pulled 900lb from the pins. He also built a bar similar to what is now known as a Trap bar, although his was round the effect was the same. He also did deadlifts stood on blocks and these deficit deadlifts built awesome strength off the floor. 

People’s lifted in the era before powerlifting and many of his lifts were done at the end of bodybuilding shows as an exhibition lift or after competing in weightlifting meetsAs a middle weight in 1937 he did a 150 pound press, a 160 pound snatch and a 205 pound clean and jerk in competition. His favourite and best lift was always the deadlift and at the age of 30 People’s won the Tennessee State Olympic Lifting meet then after a long days lifting made his official deadlift of 600lbs. Following this Peoples suffered from a number of illnesses including a severe kidney problem. These illnesses are the type of lay off which would see many other lifters drift away and forget lifting for good, but not Peoples. The demands of being a farmer during the war years also took their toll but following the end of the war at Tennessee State championships in 1946, Peoples lifting returned to the heights it had reached previously as he won the light heavy weight division with a deadlift of 651.25lbs at a bodyweight of 175lbs, which was a world record, beating Jack Hope’s record of 624.25lbsIn the same year Peoples passed the 700lb barrier, or at least he thought he had. After the lift the bar was weighed out at an agonising 699 pounds. It also turned out that he newspaper photographer who had turned up to catch the moment missed the lift so Bob did it again so he could get the photograph. Peoples did manage to did however break the 700lb barrier with a lift of 710lbs the same year. Bob’s top deadlift was 728 pounds at a body weight of 178 pounds. He did all his lifts with an overhand grip, and of course at that time there were no power suits. 

Part of the key to People’s success, alongside his relentless work ethic, was his constant quest to perfect his form. Peoples would examine his form in a mirror over and over again, and would adjust and perfect his form accordingly. He kept meticulous notes and records of his training and his lifts. Eventually People’s perfected the form which he used to pull his biggest lifts that made him famous across America.  
People’s form was unconventional and in his book “The Development of Physical Strength" he explained his reasoning behind it: "On October 4 I finally made a new world record Deadlift record of 700 pounds. At this time I was lifting on normally filled lungs. However, I then started lifting on empty lungs and with a round back - that is I would breathe out to normal, round my back, raise the hips, look down and begin the lift. I feel this is much safer than following the customary advice of the experts. By breathing out you lessen the internal pressure and by lifting with a round back you lessen the leverage - all of which adds many pounds to your lift.” 
Peoples thought that this form, similar to that executed by Konstantinov in recent years, although difficult to execute perfectly gave him the best possible leverages to shift the immense weights he lifted over the years. 

Peoples also used the hook grip favoured by modern deadlift greats Koklayev and Gillingham and also pulled with his legs almost completely locked out, wearing just socks for footwear with his head and eyes facing down. This motion according to him actually shortened the back, and the stroke, at the same time. Some of history’s greatest pullers used this style- Anello, Eisman and Gant although crucially they were all, like Peoples, built for the deadlift. All of People’s contemporary rivals were much bigger men. One of those was William Boone, another one of the best deadlifters around at that time. Despite weighing close to 100lb more than Peoples in their head to head battle Peoples came out on top with a 700lb deadlift to Boone’s 680lb. People’s biggest ever lift was 728lb at a deadlifting exhibition at a bodybuilding show. 

A lasting part of People’s legacy is his inspiration to another great Strength Icon – Paul Anderson. Paul was so impressed by People’s strength that he once claimed that Bob could have, given enough time and training pulled 1,000 lbs. This might seem fanciful exaggeration but given a proper deadlift bar, a deadlift suit and using standard weights rather than the setup used at each and every one of Peoples’ massive pulls were performed using smaller 45lb and with extra weight literally tied to the bar so that it fit. 1,000lb might have been a stretch too far but who knows what Peoples’ limits could have been had he been born today? We can but speculate but what we can do for sure is to appreciate People’s legacy as one of the greatest deadlifters of all time.