Whenever two world-class strongmen train together, it is often fascinating to see how they help further each others’ skillset. That is the case with the Stoltman brothers — Tom, Luke, and sometimes Harry — and is a fairly common facet of 2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Martins Licis‘ training.
Licis trained with 2018 WSM champion Hafthor Björnsson when Björnsson was still active in the sport, got heavy dumbbell tips from 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov, deadlifted with the reigning Fittest Man on Earth® Justin Medeiros, and most recently trained with 2022 Força Bruta champion JF Caron to improve his max squat for the upcoming 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) in Columbus, OH, on March 3-5, 2022.
Also getting into the training-as-a-pair mentality is four-time WSM champion Brian Shaw and “The Texas Titan” Gabriel Peña, who is notorious for pulling a variety of extremely heavy deadlifts with a variety of barbells.
Deadlift day is the best day.
The duo trained at Shaw’s home gym in Colorado. Check out their full training session in the video below, courtesy of Shaw’s YouTube channel:
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Shaw and Peña performed a 15-minute warm-up consisting of single-leg Romanian deadlifts, “back attack” — a variant of weighted back extensions — and reverse hypers. After checking in with Shaw’s coach, Joe Kenn, they put some chains on a barbell loaded with two 45-pound weight plates on each sleeve and hit some mid-shin paused deadlifts. They progressively increased weight by 40 and 50-pound increments for a 15-rep EMOM (every minute on the minute) on the same barbell.
That starting position is what we’re trying to emphasize.
Once the paused lifts were complete, the two strongmen moved to “vert pull” deadlifts which focus on the eccentric portion of the lift. With the barbell on blocks, the lifter’s shins are pinned by a T-bar that forces their shins to remain in an upright position (the bar prevents their knees from tracking forward over the toes. This applies more tension to the posterior chain and is an implement Peña never used before.
If it’s another way to fortify my deadlift…I’ve got an open mind and am ready to learn.
While the focus was on the eccentric portion of the movement, both strongmen also dedicated energy to being explosive on the concentric portion of the movement. This type of training likely translates to better performance in a deadlift for reps event like the one featured at the 2021 WSM contest. They closed out their workout with yoke walks.
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[Related: Strongman Evan Singleton Deadlifts a Hulking 855-Pound Double In Training]
2022 World’s Strongest Man
Shaw is not competing at the 2022 ASC. His next elite competition appearance will be at the 2022 WSM contest scheduled for May 24-29, 2022, in Sacramento, CA. Should Shaw improve upon his runner-up finish from 2021 and claim the title again in 2022, he would tie the record for all-time WSM wins at five with Mariusz Pudzianowski.
The official roster has not yet been released for the 2022 WSM contest and the only athletes guaranteed a spot are previous WSM champions. Licis, Novikov, Shaw, Tom Stoltman, and potentially Žydrūnas Savickas could return as previous champions in 2022. 2017 WSM champion Eddie Hall and 2018 WSM champion Hafthor Björnsson both retired from strongman and will face off in a boxing match against each other in Dubai on March 19, 2022.
As for Peña, training with one of the strongman G.O.A.T.s is likely to help propel him to a WSM return. In 2020, he withdrew from the contest due to a potential heart-related issue. In 2021, he was present in Sacramento, CA, as an alternate.
Featured image: @texastitangabe on Instagram