The 2022 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest is fast approaching. The five-day competition kicks off on May 24, 2022, in Sacramento, CA, and will feature 30 of the world’s top strongmen battling for the most coveted prize in the sport. Four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw is seeking his record-tying fifth WSM title — a feat only Poland’s Mariusz Pudzianowski has achieved.
A unique event will return at the 2022 WSM after a 17-year hiatus — the Flintstone Barbell. While it is functionally a behind-the-neck press, it eschews weight plates for giant rocks, hence the event’s cartoon-inspired name. As the Flintstone Barbell is of a different era, Shaw trained with reigning Magnus ver Magnusson Strongman Classic champion Maxime Boudreault and 2022 U82KG Arnold Amateur Strongwoman World Champion Sam Belliveau on May 6, 2022, at his gym in Colorado to prep for it.
Check out the video below from Shaw’s YouTube channel, wherein he behind-the-neck presses a monstrous 445 pounds:
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Behind-the-Neck Press Training
The strength trio opened their training session with relatively light weight on the barbell to warm up their shoulders and ensure their mobility was there. Shaw opened with a 45-pound weight plate on each barbell end while wearing elbow sleeves, wrist wraps, and a lifting belt. Boudreault forewent the wrist wraps and lifting belt but matched Shaw’s weight before dropping the weight on elevated blocks.
Belliveau performed the same opening weight, except she lifted in a squat rack rather than between the blocks. The two strongmen tacked on another 50 pounds and locked out another set — Boudreault finally suited up the wrist wraps and belt. After moving up to 180 pounds on the barbell, it appeared shoulder mobility would play a role as a limiting factor.
Both Shaw and Boudreault assumed their widest grips to ease the mobility limitations. Belliveau appeared right at home, maintaining a hand position on the barbell she might use for a standard back squat. Shaw and Boudreault reached the 270-pound mark, excluding the barbell, and traded single reps, followed by three reps each at what appeared to be 300 pounds.
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The Flintstone Barbell event is reminiscent of the WSM’s illustrious history of strange events. From fridge carries to crucifix holds with baskets of bananas, to hoisting poles over beams in the ocean, overhead pressing a barbell loaded with rocks on each end was par for the course.
The Flinstone Barbell event was last featured in the 1995 WSM contest. That competition took place on the beach in the Bahamas and had enough cultural influence to inspire rapper Action Bronson to superimpose his face on the contest’s eventual winner, Magnus ver Magnusson, for the music video of his song “Latin Grammys.”
According to Strongman Archives, below are the Flintstone Barbell event results from the 1995 WSM contest. It offers context as to how heavy Shaw’s 445-pound lift is by comparison and what to expect from the strongmen competing in Sacramento:
1995 World’s Strongest Man Results | Flintstone Barbell
- Gary Taylor — 463 pounds
- Joe Onosai — 452 pounds
- Magnus ver Magnusson — 441 pounds
- Phil Martin — 419 pounds
- Flemming Rasmussen — 397 pounds
- Gerrit Badenhorst — 375 pounds
- Wayne Price — 375 pounds
- Heinz Ollesch — 331 pounds
- Marko Varalahti — 287 pounds
- Magnus Samuelsson — 265 pounds
Shaw’s 445-pound training lift would have secured him a third-place finish in the event had he competed against the greats in 1995. Four of the 10 athletes in the 1995 WSM Final eclipsed 400 pounds. Judging from Shaw and Boudreault’s training attempts, it seems like that will remain the milestone to land at the top of the leaderboard in that event in 2022 as well.
Yabba Dabba Doo!
The 2022 WSM contest is shaping up to be one to remember. The contest’s second consecutive year in Sacramento already has plenty of drama baked in between Shaw’s record-tying attempt, the return of 2019 WSM champion Martins Licis to the WSM stage, and a blast from the past in the Flintstone Barbell event.
Featured image: @shawstrength on Instagram