Pull-Up Challenge: Strongman Brian Shaw Vs. A Navy SEAL

Do you think the four-time World's Strongest Man can beat a Navy SEAL in a pull-up challenge?

Pull-ups are one of the most challenging bodyweight movements to master, but if you’re a four-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man, a pull-up challenge is just another day in the life, right?

Strongman Brian Shaw decided to put his bodyweight strength to the test with former Navy SEAL, Sean Rosario, in a series of four events. 

  • Event 1: Grip Challenge
  • Event 2: 500-Meter Row for Speed
  • Event 3: Max Pull-Ups
  • Event 4: Cold Tub Challenge

The first event Shaw and Rosario went head-to-head in what was called “the grip challenge.” This was a test to determine overall grip strength. At 2:30 in the video, you can see them begin the grip challenge — and after a very close first event — Shaw picked up the win.

For the second challenge, Shaw and Rosario took on a 500 meter row for speed, which Shaw titled the “Rower Challenge.” Shaw picked up the second event’s win with a time of 1:14. Rosario finished with 1:33.8. Shaw’s rowing challenge win might seem like a surprise to some, but remember, Shaw almost broke the 100-meter Concept 2 World Record just last year, so he’s proven he can row quickly!

The third event was the pull-up challenge and Shaw managed to complete six reps, but Rosario took home this round completing 20-reps.

Pull-up strength in general is the ultimate movement to increase upper body strength and muscle growth. While we wouldn’t categorize Shaw as a beginner in the pull-up field, it is not an easy movement for someone who sits around 400 pounds.

The final competition was a “cold tub challenge”, which was used to see who could last the longest in a cold tub — an activity both professional athletes and Navy SEALs are usually accustomed to. With very little movement, and from what on the outside looked like just two guys hanging out in a jacuzzi, the event ended in a draw. Something tells us this cold tub challenge was really just a way for these two to ice their muscles after three strenuous challenges.

So, despite Shaw winning the day of challenges going 2-1-1 against Rosario, when it comes to pull-ups, it appears the navy seal had the edge over the professional strongman.

Feature image from SHAWSTRENGTH Youtube channel.

Celia Balf

Celia Balf

Celia is a Staff News Writer at BarBend. At the BarBend office, you can find Celia writing news stories covering the largest strength sport competitions in the world, in-depth features with world record-holders, big lifts, and everything in-between. Celia also orchestrates and helps create content for the BarBend social media pages. She is a former Division 1 soccer player turned content producer and sports journalist.

Leave a Comment