In a true test to find out who the real alpha of the mat really is, a triple threat match has been set for WWE WrestleMania BackLash that will see Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre vs. reigning WWE Champion Bobby Lashley. It promises to be an epic battle of the big men, and they don’t come any bigger than the “Monster Among Men,” Braun Strowman.
In an exclusive chat with Muscle & Fitness, the 6’8’’ strongman from North Carolina lets us in on his excitement for the match, and the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into the making of this monster.
Eyeing up the big main event clash, broadcast live May 16 on Peacock in the Unites States, (WWE Network everywhere else), the big man is raring to go. “It’s got the big-fight feel,” says Strowman. “This is a clash of the titans. This is King Kong vs. Godzilla vs. The Incredible Hulk, and it’s a fight for dominance.”
It seems the prediction by some pro wrestling critics that big men are a dying breed was more than a little premature. “I think we are going to open people’s eyes so that they say ‘hey’, because these big boys are what made the industry what it is today,” says Strowman.
Strowman Along to the WWE Beat(downs)
Of course, the Monster Among Men is no stranger to knockdown, drag-out matches. At WrestleMania 36, he blasted his childhood hero, Bill Goldberg, with four running powerslams to win the WWE Universal title. “Who didn’t want to be Goldberg when they were a young kid?” Strowman asks. “The dude said he was going to go out there and beat somebody up, and that’s cool! He’s an icon and a Hall of Famer, and they don’t hand that stuff out for no reason.”
With another title opportunity on the way, Strowman has never been more ready. “I try to bring the best Braun Strowman I can to the table, because our fans deserve it. They work hard and pay money to see us, and I want to make sure that they get their money’s worth,” he says.
Aside from his power, Strowman has worked hard to keep up with the lighter and faster guys too. He conditions himself with 30- to 40-minute bike rides every morning for fasted cardio. “I try to keep the tempo up,” says Strowman. “It’s about bursts, being able to go 100% for a couple of minutes, and then breathing for 30 seconds to get your heart rate down. But nothing mimics the cardio of actually getting in the ring. You have to keep that engine burning.”
It’s an engine that has served the Strowman Express well, even in his early days as a strong man competitor. “The eating was probably the hardest part of the job when I was doing strong man,” he says. “Between 15,000 and 17,000 calories per day. In the Arnold Classic, in 2013, I weighed 418 pounds. I drank almost an entire kilo of protein powder each day, I’d stop on the way to training and eat five double cheeseburgers. We would monitor it, and during a two- to three-hour deadlift session, I would burn 5,000 or 6,000 calories. I didn’t know the best way to eat and I wasn’t anywhere near as meticulous on my diet as I am now.”
Less Braun, More Lean
In the last couple of years, Strowman has moved away from throwing down as many calories as possible and now implements cutting phases and a calorie deficit in order to get the ripped physique that he has today. “I always tell people it’s not a diet, it’s just that I’ve changed the way I look at life,” he says. The change in outlook has paid off, because Strowman now appears to be in the best shape of his career.
“I don’t really count calories, but I do carb cycling, so I do high-carb days, moderate days, and low days,” says Strowman. “I weigh everything out. Let’s say I was eating 5,300 calories per day on my last cut, so if you get your body used to eating 5,300 calories and then you take 200 calories away from that, your body now has to continue to work like it did when you were eating the original amount, so that’s where you start to trim into the body fat without losing your muscle mass.”
But unlike many athletes, WWE Superstars have no off season, and that presents challenges to maintaining a solid routine. “On TV days it’s hard to eat because you can’t wrestle with all that food in you, then there’s anxiety and everything else”, says Strowman. “So, if I forget to eat, my weight can fluctuate by 25 pounds on a Monday depending on my food and water intake.” In addition to changing up his nutrition, Braun Strowman’s Instagram account, shows that he is also passionate about improving lifting technique. “That’s something that I have learned in the last few years,” he says. “Whereas before it was all about how much weight I could move, now it’s more about how I move it. The mind and muscle connection is a real thing. What the human body can do is so cool if you are willing to put a little work in.”
In order to make sure that his opponents suffer at his hands for many years to come, now at 37 years of age, this monster is taking good care of himself, including taking ice baths for recovery. “Especially after big crazy matches, or hard gym sessions, I’m a big ice bath guy”, says Strowman. “It just flushes all that lactic acid out that wants to build up in your muscles. It helps with inflammation. I run hot, so it cools me down. I find it helps my body to recover a lot faster. I’m big fan of on any natural type of healing. I do infrared therapy; I do everything I can to fight father time.”
Outside of the ring, Strowman still has one more ambition to fulfil. “I’m going to do a bodybuilding show,” he says. “That’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do. I always joke around about doing a men’s physique show. I think it would be hilarious seeing me on stage at 330 pounds where everyone else is probably 180 pounds (laughs).”
Strowman may be a scary giant between the ropes, but the 385-pound gargantuan indeed has a gentler side. “Fans have appreciated the work I have put in to make myself look better, but it’s been really awesome seeing all the people that I’ve inspired to help change their lives,” he says. “That, even more to me, is the reason why I continue to train and be better, bigger, stronger, leaner. The money is awesome, don’t get me wrong, the fame I could live without, but being in WWE isn’t about having a 15-minute wrestling match every Monday on TV. It’s bigger than that. Being a WWE Superstar is about changing people’s lives.”
Braun Strowman’s Monster (Non-Match Day) Training / Meal Plan
Wake up (Strowman normally wakes up at around 7:30 a.m.): 1 cup coffee (about 90mg Caffeine
Workout 1: Fasted Cardio, in the form of 30 to 40 minutes of cycling.
Breakfast (Meal 1): 75g Cream of Rice / 50g protein (Strowman goes with Redcon1 MRE Lite protein powder), 1 tbsp of peanut butter with a fudge brownie
Workout 2: Gym weight-training session
Post-Workout (Meal 2): 10 oz fish or chicken / 300g rice
Meal 3: 10 oz of either fish, chicken, or lean beef and 150-300g of rice)
Meal 4: Dinner: 10 oz of beef, 6 whole eggs
Meal 5: 10 oz of either fish, chicken, or lean beef and 150-300g of rice)
Strowman’s Supp Schedule
Morning: Fish oil CLA (helps metabolism), MCT oil
Pre-workout: Redcon1 total war big noise, 5g Citrilline
Post-workout: 2 scoops Grunt BCAA
Braun Strowman will face Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre in a triple threat match for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania Backlash on Sunday, May 16 at 7pm ET on Peacock in the U.S. and WWE Network everywhere else.