Brian Shaw’s New Training Program Includes Sumo Deadlifts

Joe Kenn is changing up Shaw's programming with lifts he's never done before.

When performing the deadlift, there are two stances: conventional and sumo. Opinions on each one, particularly the latter, are often staunch. Some go so far as to suggest sumo is cheating despite both being legal setups in powerlifting competitions. For clarity, sumo deadlifting is not legal in strongman competition.

Sumo is now a part of four-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Brian Shaw‘s programming thanks to 2015 NFL Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year Joe Kenn, who’s overhauling Shaw’s programming to increase his chances of winning a record-tying fifth WSM title in 2022 to match Mariusz Pudzianowski, the lone athlete with five WSM titles.

Check out the full video of Shaw’s sumo deadlift training session below, courtesy of his YouTube channel:

[Related: Tom and Luke Stoltman Teach Their Younger Brother Harry How To Train Like a Strongman]

Shaw’s training session opens with a warm-up. It kicks off with one-legged, on-side weighted Romanian deadlifts (RDL), meaning Shaw holds a dumbbell on the side of the leg doing the work. He supersets those with cable pull-throughs and back extensions. As with previous training sessions programmed by Kenn, Shaw performs the movements with a 15-minute time cap.

Shaw’s Warm-Up

Four rounds for time:

  • One-legged, on-side weighted RDLs — Six reps per leg
  • Cable pull-throughs
  • Back extensions

Shaw did not state how much weight he used for the pull-throughs, but the video shows the weight stack moving with 80 pounds. Shaw hops on a call with Kenn, who can see Shaw is sweating buckets following the warm-up.

It’s going to pay off when its 100 degrees at World’s Strongest Man.

The 2022 WSM contest is slated to return to Sacramento, CA. In 2021, the competition was performed entirely outdoors, and temperatures reached 108 degrees — little doubt that the heat affected the athletes’ performances.


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[Related: Watch Oleksii Novikov Kick Off His Training For The 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic]

Sumo Deadlift Training

Shaw opened his sumo deadlift training with a lighter weight. He tacked a pair of 45-pound weight plates on a barbell and ensured his positioning was correct with the 135-pound weight. He opted for a hook grip after dousing his hands in chalk.

As the weight increased to over 300 pounds, Shaw added a weight belt and lifting straps. He worked up to what appeared to be 495 pounds.

This is very much about hip hinge and hip position to start that lift. As a training modality, [sumo deadlift] has benefit; has carryover.

Following his deadlift training, Shaw added accessory work on the power runner. It is a machine that allows Shaw to perform donkey kicks, which he focused primarily on the eccentric portion of the movement to compliment his single-leg training during the warm-up. Shaw closed out his workout with farmer’s carries EMOMs (every minute on the minute).

Looking Ahead

The two major strongman contests on the horizon are the 2022 Britain’s Strongest Man contest on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Utilita Arena in Sheffield, England. A week later, strongmen will converge on Ohio for the 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) set for March 4-5, 2022, in Columbus, OH.

Unlike Shaw, who is not competing in any events until the 2022 WSM contest, other WSM champions such as Oleksii Novikov, Martins Licis, and reigning WSM Tom Stoltman will all be present at the 2022 ASC.

Featured image: @shawstrength on Instagram