The Bearded Beast of Duloc
To me he is known as – The Bearded Beast of Duloc, Bend The Bar, and Hulk Smash. Steve Shaw is a writer, bodybuilding enthusiast, powerlifter, disciple of the Iron, a family man, and a pretty big dude as you can tell by the picture to the left.
I was lucky enough to connect with Steve through his forum Muscle and Brawn back in 2009. Damn, has it really been that long ago. He became a great friend of mine although we have never personally met and a great supporter.
He has a great story and a great mission in life that I wanted to share with everyone. I was lucky enough the Bearded Beast of Duloc could take the time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts on the bodybuilding as well as the strength and fitness industry:
Aipa Project: What got you into being a writer especially for strength training and natural bodybuilding?
Steve Shaw: Unemployment. I was laid off from my job, and decided to take things into my own hands and do something I enjoyed. I contacted some websites looking for work, and found it. My first position was with a female bodybuilding site. I had the opportunity to interview many of the top Olympic competitors. It was a dream job, but I preferred working with the male side of the sport, so I left and committed myself full-time to writing in the male-focused side of the industry.
AP: Were you always into weight training?
SS: I’ve been into lifting my entire adult life. My college, New Mexico Tech, had a small weight room. There was little else to do other than lift, eat and read muscle magazines. So that’s what I did.
AP: Many people don’t know this but you are one of the main reasons why I decided to compete in a bodybuilding show.
SS: It was a true joy to watch your journey. There are far too many people in this industry who would rather split hairs and argue than to encourage someone to climb the mountain. Any time I see someone one achieve their goals, I am a happy man.
This might sound quaint, but I judge the value of my life by how many people I can help, impact or encourage – so knowing I was somehow part of your journey means a lot.
AP: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about bodybuilding?
SS: I think one of them is that bodybuilders only care about standing in front of a mirror, looking at themselves. It’s much deeper than that for me. There are few things in life we can control. Bodybuilding is one of the few things in life where you get out of it what you put into it. It’s very satisfying for that reason.
Another misconception is that all bodybuilders use drugs. The natural side of the sport is huge. People on the outside of the sport don’t see this. They’ve never been to a natural show that had over 200 competitors.
On the other hand, I’ve been to NPC shows with only a handful of competitors. Because the IFBB gets all the attention in the magazines, people somehow get the impression that most bodybuilders look like IFBB competitors. Far from it. GO check out a local natural show sometime.
AP: Speaking of bodybuilding, who do you think are you top three bodybuilders of all time? Mine would have to be Arnold, Ed Corney (Hawaii Represent!), and Phil Heath.
SS: Arnold and Lee Haney. Lee had a more complete package, in my opinion. But Arnold was Arnold. After the Haney era I lost interest in the sport. Though I love the hardcore attitude of Dorian Yates, and the caricaturesque human being known as Ronnie Coleman, bodybuilding seemed to detach itself from chalk and bars and dark gyms at some point in the 90s. I just stopped connecting with it. I can’t say why.
Looking back though, my heroes were Tom Platz and Mike Mentzer. Tom was a machine. He didn’t follow the crowd, and carved his own path. Mike did that too, with his writing. Love them or hate them, they were their own men. You don’t find that much any more these days.
My heroes have always been men who found the conviction to say…here I am. This is my way, and I will live by it, and die by it.
AP: I’ve been following your training log at Muscle and Brawn, and have seen that you’ve been crushing it in powerlifting competitions. Can you share with us a little about your accomplishments in that area and what your numbers are, don’t be shame?
SS: I had an odd relationship with powerlifting for about 3 years. I loved bodybuilding so much, but hadn’t made any substantial amount of size gains in over 10 years. So because of this, powerlifting started to tempt me slowly, more and more each day.
About 18 months ago I fully converted and committed to the sport. Now I don’t know if it’s in my blood to turn back.
My first meet was a local meet with the ADFPF. I hit a 1501 pound total, and succeeded wildly; far beyond my best expectations. I next moved on to the UPA Nationals, which is a well run meet. One of the best. I hit a 1652 total, including a 5672.5 pound deadlift and a 600.5 pound squat. These are all raw, by the way. Not even a belt.
Currently I am training for the 2013 Raw Unity meet and am on track for an 1800 pound raw total. My ultimate goal is to reach a 2000 raw total. Only 78 men in the history of the sport have reached that level. I will do everything in my power to join them. I live and breathe this goal.
AP: Now just for fun. I want you to read the following words and say what comes to your mind first…
SS: Bleu cheese! The best steak I’ve ever eaten was a blackened Cajun t-bone with bleu cheese on top. I can still taste it to this day!
SS: Wisconsin culture. We are cheesemakers, and cheese is really a huge part of our life and culture. We call ourselves cheeseheads.
SS: Tom Platz. Tom taught me to love the squat, and I always have. To me, anyone that doesn’t squat is merely working out.
SS: I started the site because I was tired of all the snake oil and BS in the industry. This industry is filled with a lot of crap, for lack of a better word. It’s hard to find quality information that isn’t somehow tied to supplement cash, or a specific e-book, personality or training system,This industry has lost it’s way. The simplicity of the iron has been replaced with confusion.
I was once kicked off a forum for calling out a bodybuilder who was propagating lies and deciept. The owners of the forum saw it fit to back the bodybuilder and his amazing training system, and allow me to be mocked. So I left and tried to create a haven where people could discuss lifting intelligently, without being attacked.
AP: What is one of the biggest mistakes beginners have when they first start to strength train?
SS: Instead of focusing on progression using the big lifts, and being patient, they try to add in volume or complicated systems to speed up the process.
Another big mistake is undereating. There are guys that grind out workouts, year in and year out, gaining very little size because they are obsessed with staying lean. Food is anabolic, and a tool that should be maximized.
AP: If you could choose one exercise: what would it be, and why?
SS: Though I love the squat, I feel there may be big things for me coming with the deadlift. It’s a natural lift for me. If I had to specialize with just one powerlift, it would be the deadlift. It would be a dream accomplishment to pull 900 pounds.
AP: Can you take the lessons your learned from strength training and apply them to everyday life?
SS: Strength training and muscle building has made a huge impact on other areas of my life. I am far more disciplined and confident, and am not afraid to take the bull by the horns when problems arise. I also don’t let failure bother me as much, as I realize it’s all part of the process.
AP: Tell us something that we don’t know.
SS: I live to serve others. It is the greatest joy in my life. I had no one to help me growing up. No one ever gave me a pat on the back, or a word of encouragement. Now that I am older, I love being able to give that to others.
Nothing about what I do is forced. I truly care about everyone I meet, and want the best for them. When I die I don’t mind if people say, Steve was an odd son of a gun, as long as it’s followed by the words…he would do anything for anyone, willingly.
AP: Would you like to share any last thoughts or shout outs?
SS: We have two choices each day…see the faults in people, or see their potential. People need heroes. If you start to see their potential, you will change your world, and be a hero to many.
AP: Steve, I want to thank you again for all of your support and generosity. You have played a very large role in my journey of sharing my experiences and knowledge with people on the Aipa Project. Especially big thanks to you and everyone at Muscle and Brawn who supported me in getting into the best shape of my life.
SS: Thank you Daniel. Though we have never met, you have always been my brother.
If you are looking for a community where you can learn more about strength training I highly suggest checking out Muscle and Brawn. I’m still a frequent poster there and update my training log every so often. The community Steve built there is full of positive and helpful people from all over the world.