Tom Shaw, GB Strongman: Interview
34yrs old, 6ft 5″, 24 stone, 20 years of training, mostly for fun, PB’s squat 325kg, deadlift 375kg
Q. How did you become interested in strength & fitness?
A. I got into training for fun at school, then expanded it for rugby and athletics. When I left school I got back into it just for fun until I started participating in Strongman.
Q. What shaped your decision to follow the route of strongman?
A. I was going to go and watch WSM live with a friend, who unfortunately got killed in a car crash before we could go. So I decided to take up the sport as a way of honouring his memory.
Q. What motivated you at the beginning, how does it differ to what motivates you now?
A. Initially it was to honour a friend’s memory, then I discovered I was quite good at it and got the competitive bug. I just wanted to try and get to national level comps. Now I want to win, to do national shows and hopefully get a chance to do some Giants and international shows.
Q. Do you listen to anything whilst you train? What are your playlists like?
A. I’m a metal head, so various genres of metal are always on when I train. At the minute it’s the new Deicide, Carcass and Phil Anselmo albums.
Q. What’s your current training routine?
A. Tuesday is deadlift and back day, Wednesday is overhead and assistance Friday is squats and then Sunday is events.
Q. How often do you change your routine?
A. The days tend to stay the same but I vary the heights/exercises etc. quite frequently to keep it fresh.
Q. Do you include different styles of training in your routine (i.e. heavy strength training, supersets, time under tension etc)?
A. My training has always been quite basic, but I’m now adding band work, 3×3 and 5×5, super sets on dumbell exercises etc. all based around deadlift, squat and press.
Q. What do you change when you need to focus on certain lifts or weaker muscle groups?
A. My overhead is constantly evolving to try and hit everything from every angle.
If I need to train a certain height for deadlift in a comp, one week I’ll do that height and deficits and the next I’ll do normal gym height.
Q. Do you change your nutrition through the year much?
A. Not really to be honest. I’m not one for eating loads in one sitting, so tend to graze! I’m making an effort to eat more at the min and find my homemade weight gain protein flapjacks are helping a lot!
Q. Do you change your nutrition much in the last few weeks leading up to a competition?
A. Not really although I use it as an excuse to eat more naughty things, or I used to! I’ve cut out a lot of sugar, chocolate and biscuits all together, not to lose weight as such, just to be healthier.
Q. Which supplements would you recommend?
A. PPS Nutrition supplements are what I use and whole heatedly recommend. I tried their products before I agreed to represent them, and I do genuinely use and recommend them.
I use Ano Mass pre and post workout, Nitro Pump mixed with Creatine Delivery System and BCAA Matrix as a pre and intra workout/comp drink.
I use their Pro 90 Hardcore whey for making my flapjacks.
I also use multivitamins, fish oils and glucosamine daily.
Q. How much cardio do you include in your routine?
A. Not much to be honest. I have a physical job, go hill walking on the weekend and then do speed farmers/yoke/sandbag runs for fitness during events.
Q. What was the experience of your first competition like? What did you learn from it?
A. My 1st comp I overdid the caffeine and was a mess! So I learnt to go steady.
Be realistic about your chances or you will be disappointed. Never underestimate your rivals.
Q. Have you met anyone who has been particularly influential in your Strongman life?
A. Mark Lawson has probably done the most to help shape and train me. I started out with Bob Daglish then moved to train with Mark. Bob gave me a good base but Mark has helped me progress to where I am now.
Q. Do you have any other role models?
A. I look up to a lot of previous and current Strongmen, from Magnus Samuelson and Svend Karlsen, through to Eddie Hall and Lloyd Renals, and many in between.
Q. What have been the high and low points of your career so far?
A. High points are coming 2nd at UKSC ESM 2011 and winning the ESP ESM 2013. Also making the UK’s final every time I’ve been.
Low point would be rupturing my biceps.
Q. If you could give any advice to our readers, what would it be?
A. Gym strong isn’t Strongman strong, find somewhere to give events a go.
Be realistic. You are unlikely to walk into events one day and be at WSM that year! It takes years of hard work and sacrifice! But it’s worth it I think, as long as you enjoy it. It’s too hard if you don’t enjoy it.
Don’t worry too much about other people’s training, focus on finding what works for you. Internet warriors are keyboard strong.
Q. What are your favourite quotes?
A. “You only have one life, live it.”
Keep up to date with Tom Shaw through his Facebook page