It’s official — strongman Laurence “Big Loz” Shahlaei is training for a powerlifting competition again. The 2016 Europe’s Strongest Man (ESM) champion is prepping to compete at the Global Powerlifitng Comittee (GPC) Tattooed & Strong contest on April 9-10, 2022, at the Manchester Central Convention Complex in Manchester, UK.
Shahlaei will compete in the bench press and deadlift only — he is still in rehab for a torn Achilles tendon sustained at the 2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest. Check out the video below of a full training session for his upcoming meet, courtesy of Shahlaei’s YouTube channel:
[Related: Brian Shaw’s New Training Program Includes Sumo Deadlifts]
Shahlaei’s workout consisted of 11 working sets on the bench press. He opted to return to a training technique that paid dividends early in his strongman career — speed work. Rather than loading heavier and heavier weights, Shahlaei focuses on the speed at which he moves the barbell to generate more force.
Shahlaei opened with 90 kilograms (198.4 pounds) on the barbell while wearing a weight belt. He upped it to 130 kilograms (286.6 pounds) and added wrist wraps. He followed that with 150 kilograms (330.7 pounds) and put on elbow sleeves.
My goal is to bench press as close as I can to what I did last time. Bench is by far my weakest lift.
The Tattooed & Strong contest is not new for Shahlaei. According to Open Powerlifting, of the four sanctioned meets he’s competed in across his competitive career, two were Tattooed & Strong. He competed in the superheavyweight division in 2016 and 2020 and earned the gold in each sanctioned meet he’s appeared in.
2020 Tattooed & Strong — Laurence Shahlaei
At the 2020 Tattooed & Stong contest, Shahlaei scored the following:
- Bench Press — 227.5 kilograms (501.6 pounds)
- Deadlift — 380 kilograms (837.8 pounds)
- Total — 607.5 kilograms (1,339.3 pounds)
Shahlaei expects to step onto the Tattooed & Strong stage 25 kilograms (55.1 pounds) lighter than when he competed in 2020. The 2016 ESM champion continued his session with 165 kilograms (363.7 pounds). Once the weight was increased to 170 kilograms (374.8 pounds), Shahlaei sniffed ammonia before his set — the weight moved relatively smoothly. He closed the session after scoring three reps at 175 kilograms (385.8 pounds) and then incrementally lowered the weight back down.
View this post on Instagram
[Related: Tom and Luke Stoltman Teach Their Younger Brother Harry How To Train Like a Strongman]
Wrap Wrists Properly
Shahlaei offers tips on correctly using wrist wraps to provide sufficient support when performing a lift. Rather than simply wrapping the material around the wrist, the wrap should incrementally wrap up the hand. It will offer more support and not allow the wrist to break or the hand to bend back.
Properly wrapping the wrists in this fashion will maintain alignment of the arm as the weight on the barbell increases. It is a valuable precaution for Shahlaei, who is scaling the weight while maintaining his explosive approach when locking it out.
Shahlaei’s time in the gym ended after accessory work, which often includes incline dumbbell bench press with a neutral grip, incline dumbbell rows, barbell rows, overhead EZ-bar triceps extensions, skull crushers, hammer curls, and dips.
Come April, we’ll see if the added adrenaline that comes with stepping onto the competitive stage again will give Shahlaei the boost he needs to match his 501-pound bench press from two years prior. At a significantly lower body weight, it will be quite the challenge. But judging from how the barbell moves for Shahlaei in the gym, he could win Tattooed & Strong for the third time.
Featured image: @biglozwsm on Instagram