Fighting Gravity With Powerbuilder Steve Shaw

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Steve Shaw is Masters-level powerlifter whose best competition lifts include a 672.5 lb deadlift, 382.5 lb bench press and 600 lb squat. He ranks 8th all-time in the SHW class with a 1653 lb total.

Before venturing into powerlifter, Steve spent 20 years focused on the muscle building process. He considers himself a powerbuilder at heart, obsessed with both strength and muscle mass.

Steve Shaw is also an industry writer and Editor-in-Chief at Tiger Fitness. He has written over 1,000 training, diet and supplement articles, and has interviewed hundreds of major names from the sports of bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman.

Steve Shaw Deadlifting

Perhaps the most insane thing I ever did was captured live via Ustream. I performed 500 deadlift reps with 315 pounds in 5 hours, rest-pause style.

Interview With Steve Shaw

How did you get involved with article writing?

Believe it or not I didn’t take an interest in writing until 2005. At that time I decided that I wanted to write some children’s books for my 2 daughters, Kori Grace and Erin Jo.

During the next 2 years I completed my first 2 novels, Sherman Oak and the Magic Potato and The Santa Mysteries. Both were met with some positive, albeit minor, critical review.

I continued to read every book I could on writing and editing for the next several years. In 2007 I was laid off from my factory job. With nothing but time on my hands I started to write about my favorite passion…lifting.

The rest, as they say, is history. I worked hard, wrote every day and now have a dream job. I get to write about something I love to do.

What gym accomplishment are you most proud of?

There are many. It’s too hard to narrow it down to one movement. I’ve been lifting for 29 years. Here are some of my favorite feats:

  • Deadlift off 3″ blocks – 725 x 4 reps
  • Buffalo bar squat – 625 x 2 reps
  • One arm dumbbell row – 270 pounds x 10 reps
  • Barbell row – 405 pounds x 5 reps
  • Strict seated overhead press – 315 pounds for a PR
  • Bench press – 505 pound chained deadlift, which deloaded about 60 pounds in the hole
  • Romanian deadlift – 635 strict RDL to about 2 inches from the ground

Perhaps the most insane thing I ever did was captured live via Ustream. I performed 500 deadlift reps with 315 pounds in 5 hours, rest-pause style. I was age 46 at the time.

Favorite movies of all time?

I’m a sci-fi geek. I actually majored in mathematics and astrophysics at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, New Mexico. My favorite movies are:

  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • John Carpenter’s The Thing
  • Event Horizon
  • Signs
  • Sunshine

Egg whites or whole eggs, and why?

Egg whites are just protein. They lack all the quality micronutrients and fats that egg yolks contain. When I eat I want micronutrient dense foods.

Bring on the whole eggs.

Steve ShawWhat are your 3 least favorite exercises?

  1. Front squats – Hate them. No matter how strong my lower back is, front squats always feel awful. I believe my body type and limb structure just aren’t built for front squats. I might perform front squats once a year, but after remembering how much I hate them I take another year away from them.
  2. Sumo Deadlifts – Another exercise I hate. No matter how much I work on form, sumo deadlifts make my knees feel awful. This is a very frustrating lift for me. I was once able to work up to a 545 x 4 rep sump set, but that’s my max.
  3. Crunches – I would rather stick a scalding hot poker in my eye than ever perform another crunch. That pretty much sums up my disdain for this movement.

I believe in maximizing every set, no exceptions. Why go to the gym if you are giving a half-ass effort on most of your sets?

What keeps you motivated?

Two things; helping others and building a legacy.

Life is short and not many people are truly happy. If I can help a few people reach their goals each week, then I feel satisfied.

I also want to be remembered 50 years from now. I want aging lifters to look back at my programs and pass them along to their children and grandchildren. Lifting is my life. If I can somehow continue to help folks after my death, then my life’s mission has been complete.

What do you want on your tombstone?

“Next time I’m getting one more rep.”

Most listened to songs on your workout playlist?

  • Grasping Air by YOB
  • Spirit In Black by Slayer

When it’s PR attempt time, I put either of these songs on. Both whip me into a frenzy, filing me with rage. The ending always satisfies.

Do you prefer a training partner?

No. No and no. It’s fun to lift with others occasionally, but I focus better flying solo.

I like to get into my zone, and keep a tight rest between sets. I don’t like my patterns disrupted. In addition, not many people show up on time each day, every day. I do. When I want to lift, I want to lift.

Any tips for someone who can’t seem to build muscle mass?

Massive IronYes. First, you want to maximize every set. Push it for as many reps as possible, stopping that set when your form wants to break down or if you feel like you might fail on the next rep.

This single change to your training can make a world of difference. Too many guys hit the gym and just do whatever.

I believe in maximizing every set, no exceptions. Why go to the gym if you are giving a half-ass effort on most of your sets?

If you want to learn more about this style of training, please check out my book Massive Iron.

What’s in your supplement cupboard?

What are your 3 biggest gym pet peeves?

Oh that’s easy.

People not putting weight back is my biggest pet peeve. I train with my fiance’ and there is nothing worse than to have to unload some douchebag’s plates from the leg press just so she can train. If this is you…gird up your testicles and put your damn plates back.

I also get annoyed watching people train front delts. Yes, you read that right. After 242 sets of bench press the last thing you need is more front delt work. I know front raises are easier than military presses, and you need to save your energy for bathroom selfies…but really, drop front delt work. 99% of you don’t need it.

It also drives me nuts to see someone half-squatting. It’s like watching a car crash in progress.

Steve Shaw

Life is short and not many people are truly happy. If I can help a few people reach their goals each week, then I feel satisfied.

Do you curl in the squat rack?

At home, yes. I own the rack.

At commercial gyms, no. Curling in any rack is idiotic. If you can’t pick the bar off the floor, and need to rack it in between epic sets, then you might be better off doing yoga.

Parting shots?

When I first starting writing in the industry I was banned from one forum and asked to be fired from my job for advocating full body workouts for the masses. These days if you don’t do a fullbody workout most of the channels on Youtube will laugh at you.

What does this show? Stick around long enough and you’ll be either attacked or praised for anything you believe.

Whatever you do, have fun. Don’t worry about the opinion of others. Lifting isn’t life or death. And thank Crom I wasn’t fired!

Connect With Steve Shaw

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Name: Steve Shaw

Bio: I don’t believe in magic training systems or rep ranges. My philosophy is simple: remain consistent, use the best possible exercises, focus upon progression and enter the gym looking to maximize each set. When you maximize each set, you maximize progress. Easy, obvious, insanely effective.