There aren’t many humans as strong as Laurence Shahlaei. The Cheltenham-born strongman came 4th in 2011 World’s Strongest Man, won 2016 Europe’s Strongest Man, and has smashed multiple world records along the way.
We’re proud to say that Big Loz is now a GSN ambassador – and a big fan of our Pot O Gold meals!
In this interview, the legendary strongman shares the approach to training, nutrition and psychology that made him one of the mightiest men on the planet.
GSN: Hi Big Loz! Since you stopped competing full-time in 2021, you’ve been smashing it as a coach, pundit, and YouTuber alongside your wife Liz. How are you settling into your new life?
Big Loz: It’s weird! It’s been an amazing transition from being an athlete to having this different role, where I’m doing lots of coaching, but also promoting the sport. There’s a lot of people who know me now as ‘Big Loz’ from YouTube, who don’t even know I was a competitor.
I’ll train later today, but first I’ve got work to do this morning. I’ll be programming for coaching clients, doing the school run, and I’ve got a couple of videos to film ready for our YouTube with World’s Strongest Man coming up next month.
GSN: How did you get into strength?
Big Loz: I’ve been interested in strongman since a very young age. I remember watching O.D. Wilson pull a truck at World’s Strongest Man, and I just thought this guy was a superhero. I was a young lad, and I thought wow, that’s so amazing – I’d love to be able to do stuff like that.
Through the years there’s been so many impressive strength performances, and hopefully I’ve done a few myself that have inspired people to get involved in the sport. I suppose I just like seeing people push themselves to these new limits.
Big Loz: The mental wellbeing of my clients is more important than the results. That’s not to say we don’t want results, but I focus on a slower, more long-term approach, rather than getting the athlete super-strong fast but then causing them to burn out. You see a lot of people in strongman and powerlifting who get strong really quickly, and then they disappear.
So, my approach is trying to keep that mental health as good as possible, and trying to focus on enjoying it first and foremost, so that we’ll keep coming back. They’re really important factors.
It’s better to keep progressing gradually, rather than having peaks and troughs where your strength goes up and down. If you steadily progress, you’re more likely to have a long, successful career and do extremely well over that period.
Big Loz: Training in general, having that outlet, is very important for a lot of people. Even in the last few years while I’ve not been doing full-time competitive strength, I’ve been trying to get in better shape.
Going to the gym and getting that workout makes you mentally feel better. It takes any stress that you might have out of you, and it’s a positive way to use up energy. It doesn’t matter if it’s strongman, swimming, football or going for a run – doing some physical activity is definitely gonna help anyone.
GSN: Let’s talk nutrition. What are your top tips for peak performance?
Big Loz: First and foremost, I try to eat foods that I enjoy. I think this is where people go wrong. Whether your goal is to put weight on or to lose weight, you should eat food that you like, because it makes it easier to stick to something.
Understanding the portion size you need is very important. You can’t just eat whatever you want. Right now I’m at about 135 kilos, and my goal is to stay around this weight. I’m having about 4,000 calories per day, split between about five meals.
Some athletes need 10,000 calories a day – but if I ate that, I’d be a blob. It’s about understanding how active you are, how fast your metabolism is, and eating food you enjoy. Allowing yourself something like four squares of chocolate per day can keep you from eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
A typical breakfast for me would be porridge oats with some whey protein and semi-skimmed milk.
Meal #2 of the day will probably be a GSN Pot O Gold. I find them so convenient. My nutritionist might recommend a chicken and rice meal, so I could have a Breaded Chicken Katsu Curry, or a Salt & Pepper Chicken Noodles. It’s all essentially the same kind of calories and nutrition, so it’s perfect for me. If I’m gonna spend all day working, I don’t want to spend ages cooking, so a Pot O Gold is ideal.
After that I’ll have something like a steak and potatoes, and then something like pasta bolognese later. It’s about eating nice food, and making sure I’m getting about 300 grams of protein per day, and getting the right amount of calories.
The aim is to fuel my workouts, make sure I’m recovering from those workouts, and maintaining as much muscle mass as possible. If I wanted to gain weight I’d probably go up to about 5,000 calories per day.
Big Loz: I’ve got a busy year, to be honest. Competition-wise I’m doing the Tattooed & Strong Push/Pull powerlifting comp in Manchester, the British Masters Strongest Man competition in May, and if that goes well I’ll compete at the World Masters in America in December.
I’m also gonna go to Scotland and try the Dinnie Stones again. I’ve got the current world record, and I’d like to try and go up and go all the way across the bridge, which has never been done before. That’d be cool to try. I love it up there, and the atmosphere is amazing.
I’ll also be doing commentary for ESPN, and content for YouTube at Europe’s Strongest Man, World’s Strongest Man… literally every few weeks we’re somewhere.
We’re travelling all over the world, commenting on strongman, reporting on strongman, all the different weight categories, men’s and women’s. It’s an amazing position to be in, and I’m very lucky.
Big Loz: It’s a hard question, because everyone’s different. One thing that’s important to understand with something like heavyweight strongman is that genetics play a role. A lot of people find this very hard to accept.
My advice is to focus on enjoying everything first. If you enjoy strength training, you can go to the gym and progress, compete in novice competitions and work your way up. If you enjoy it, you stick with it. But if you come in and your goal is to be the world’s strongest man, and you’re not genetically gifted, it’s gonna take you much longer.
You should have no limits on where you can get to, because who knows how good you can be? All of us can achieve whatever we want, but we have to be realistic about the process. Focus on the next goal, rather than the top goal – if you keep doing that, the top goal keeps getting closer.