Four-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Brian Shaw might have retired from competitive strongman following his second Shaw Classic win in 2023, but that doesn’t mean he’s done lifting heavy in the gym. On Nov. 13, 2023, Shaw entered eight-time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman’s, gym to perform an arm workout with the gym’s legendary namesake. Their workout was filmed and published on Shaw’s YouTube channel. The duo performed the following:
Ronnie Coleman’s Biceps Workout
Ronnie Coleman brought Brian Shaw through the three biceps movements below:
Check out Shaw and Coleman’s training session in the video below:
Cable Biceps Curl
Coleman used to jump right to the free weights upon entering the gym during his bodybuilding heyday. However, in modern times, he warms up on the cable machines. He and Shaw began their arm workout with cable biceps curls. Coleman’s preferred set and rep scheme during his competitive career was a 20-15-12-10 structure.
Coleman would shoot for 10-12 reps to failure, followed by a pair of drop sets of 20 and 15 reps, respectively. Shaw routinely trained with shorter sets at higher loads. When training for strongman competition, strength and efficiency of movement are prioritized. For bodybuilding, the priority is muscle stimulation rather than efficiency of movement or weight lifted. Training with higher-volume reps is common for Coleman but relatively foreign to Shaw.
Comparing biceps size, Coleman recalls measuring 24 inches during his time atop the bodybuilding world. He weighed around 330 pounds during his off-seasons before cutting to 290-295 pounds for the Olympia. Shaw, in contrast, weighs about 410 pounds and has a previously measured biceps of 26 inches. Granted Shaw has never dipped to the single-digit bodyfat percentages that Coleman was accustomed to.
Preacher curls were the second exercise in the programming. The duo performed single-arm dumbbell preacher curls of 20-rep sets. Coleman lifted 30-pound dumbbells but mentioned his peak training days featured 60- and 70-pound dumbbells.
When Coleman inquired as to why Shaw decided to retire from strongman at age 41, Shaw expressed wanting to exit the sport on top. He is tied for the second-most WSM titles with Žydrūnas Savickas and holds the record for most consecutive WSM Final appearances (15). After a decade and a half at the top of strongman, Shaw was ready for something different.
[Related: Team USA Wins 2023 World’s Strongest Nation]
Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls
Coleman never performed more than three exercises per body part. As such, alternating dumbbell hammer curls closed the biceps session. Coleman expressed a period during his Olympia career when he had to limit his arm training because they grew too fast and might appear out of proportion with the rest of his physique on stage. During those times, he prioritized training lagging body parts to ensure he was proportionate in the eyes of the judges.
Past and Future
At the end of the workout, Shaw asked Coleman about Coleman’s origin in the gym. As a teenager, Coleman had several reliable coaches who helped him learn effective lifting techniques. Coleman initially started as a powerlifter and fell in love with training. Part of why he proved to be an exceptional bodybuilder was the strength he acquired during his time as a powerlifter. A famous aspect of Coleman’s lore is his 800-pound deadlift double caught on camera.
When Shaw mentioned his desire for new competitive endeavors, he meant it. Next on his docket is his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut in a tournament on Feb. 17, 2024, at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.
Featured image: @shawstrength on Instagram
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