GOLDEN (CBS4) – There must be something in the water in Denver. How else do you explain how two different suburbs of the city are home to Mr. Olympia and the World’s Strongest Man?

Phil Heath and Brian Shaw may not be household names, but if you bump into them on the street in the Denver area chances are you won’t soon forget it.

Heath, 31, of Arvada, is the new Mr. Olympia champion. Brian Shaw, 29, of Thornton, is the new winner of the World’s Strongest Man competition. The two had come close in the past, but each won their respective crowns for the first time this year.

Phil Heath (photo credit: FLEX Magazine)

Heath and Shaw met up at Abrusci’s in Wheat Ridge this month to dine together and talk about calorie consumption, workout routines and pleasing the crowd. CBS4’s Vic Lombardi performed the waiting duties while CBS4’s cameras rolled.

“I grew up as an only child, so I like being by myself. So I train predominantly — 98 percent of the time — by myself,” Heath told Shaw. “Obviously what you’re doing with the stones and with the truck pull you need some encouragement or maybe someone working with your technique?”

“Well I think the hardest part is the setup for the training,” Shaw said. “I bring in guys, for instance other competitors from World’s Strongest Man, to fly over and train with me.”

Heath and Shaw both agreed that when people see them on TV it’s easy to get the wrong impression.

“We make it look easy because we’re smiling all the time,” Heath said. “We’re not this grunt and cuss guy who goes to the gym and is unapproachable. I don’t know what your experience is but I know with mine people are like ‘Well, is that all you do?’ and I’m like ‘Man, you don’t understand, bro, with my day the minute I get up until the minute I rest it’s all about bodybuilding.’ ”

Heath then asked Shaw about Atlas stones — the heavy stones competitors often lift during strongman competitions.

“I actually own one of the heaviest Atlas stones in the world. It’s 558 pounds, and I’ve loaded that over a 5 foot bar. And then the heaviest one I’ve ever lifted off the ground — which I haven’t loaded yet — is 629,” Shaw said. “One of my goals, before I’m done, is load a 700 pound Atlas stone. That’s on the list of things to do.”

Shaw also asked Heath about poses in Olympia competitions and the facial expressions that go with them.

“Sometimes you’re just giving them the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ look,” said Heath, who said he loves it when the crowd goes nuts.

Both men played basketball in college — Heath for the University of Denver and Shaw for Black Hills State University

“Looking back it’s been really good for me going into ‘Strongman’ because the athletic base that I had to get to play basketball made me transfer really well,” Shaw said.

After a massive dinner Lombardi joked that who should pay the bill should be determined through a best-of-5 free throw contest on his driveway. CBS4 footed the bill, of course, but the shootout was a go and Shaw out Heath by a nose.

Additional Resources

– Visit Shaw’s website at

– Visit’s Heath’s website at

More About Phil Heath

Heath won the 2011 Mr. Olympia contest in September 2011. With the win, Heath — whose nickname is “The Gift” — joined names like Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the world champion in bodybuilding. Heath lives and trains in Arvada, and was a member of the DU Pioneers from 1998-2002. He played 65 games as a point guard and shooting guard before beginning his professional career in bodybuilding.


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