Friday, July 20, 2012

The World's Strongest Man

This week's issue of The New Yorker profiles Brian Shaw, a modern strongman billed as the "Strongest Man in the World."

Like the rise of NASCAR over Formula One, professional wrestling over boxing, and “Jersey Shore” over “The Sopranos,” the return of men like Shaw seems to signal a shift in our appetites—a hunger for rougher, more outlandish thrills and ruder challenges. A modern strongman has to have explosive strength as well as raw power, Shaw told me, but most of all he has to be willing to lift almost anything, anywhere. “I’m a fan of functional strength,” he said. “If you’re the strongest man on the planet, you ought to be able to pick up a stone or flip a tire. Those Olympic lifters—how can you call someone the strongest man if he can’t walk over to a car and pick it up?”
The writer of the article, Burkhard Bilger, tags along with Shaw as he competes in the Arnold Classic, and along the way, offers a fascinating look at the history of strength and conditioning in the United States. If you've ever watched the World's Strongest Man competitions on ESPN and wondered about the crazy-huge competitors, I think you'll find this article to be a fascinating read.