This is Scotland's strongest man - and he's from Leith
When, just four months ago, 28-year-old Stuart Graham decided to set himself a new challenge, he had no idea it would lead to him being crowned Scotland’s Strongest Man, earlier this month.
With a background in rugby, five-a-side football and weight-lifting in the gym, Stuart first got into power-lifting as a personal challenge.
He says, “The plan was to try out Power Lifting and Strongman to find out which one I preferred, and then maybe go down one specific route.
Explaining, he continues, “There’s a distinct difference between Power Lifting and Strongman. Power Lifting involves much more rigid training as you are just attempting three big lifts whereas in the Strongman category, you are lifting and throwing weird objects and carrying anything from cars to big Atlas Stones. So the training has to be a bit more varied.”
When Stuart who weighs in at 150 kilos, or 23st 9lbs, won the Scottish Eastern Championships in Power Lifting in February he decided to turn his attention to the British Natural Strongman Federation’s (BNSF) Strongman competition.
“I’d only been doing Strongman specific training for three months or so when I entered the competition.
“I’ve always been big and quite strong and I just wanted to test my strength in a competition rather than just being strong in the gym. So I got a coach, Marc Keys who owns Edinburgh Barbell Club in Leith where I train, to devise a programme for me.
“I trained between 6pm and 8.30pm five nights a week as well as playing five a side twice a week. I’ve always playing rugby, football and running about, which is helpful for Strongman because you need good cardio as well.”
Three and a half months later, Stuart walked away with the BNSF Scotland’s Strongest Man crown having competed successfully in five trials of strength.
He says: “There were five time-based events. For the first I had to lift a yolk weighing 125 kilos above my head as many times as I could in 75 seconds. Whoever lifted it the most won the event.”
Winning that event, Stuart moved onto event two, a Frame Carry designed to replicate lifting and pulling a car. “That weighed 280 kilos and you had to lift it up and run with it for 20 metres,” he recalls.
Winning that event in the quickest time, just seven seconds, event three beckoned.
“That was a 250 kilo dead lift for as many reps as possible in 35 seconds, which I won with 9 reps,” he says, continuing: “The fourth event was a sandbag throw, you had to throw four sandbags weighing 18, 20, 22 and 24 kilos in that order over a three and a half metre scaffold in the quickest possible time.
“The final event, the Medley of Doom, involved picking up four implements – a 100 kilo safe, 100 kilo sandbag, 100 kg steel block and then a 120 kg sandbag.
“You had to pick each one up, run with it for 15 metres drop it and run back for the next until you had done all four in shuttle runs.”
Despite coming second in the final two events, Stuart’s cumulative score of 23 out of 25 was enough to secure him the coveted title BNSF – Scotland’s Strongest Man and he will now go on to represent Scotland in the British Final, later this year.
Leith-based Stuart says: “It’s all a bit surreal because I didn’t plan on winning, I’d only planned on taking part to see how I got on, so, although I knew I was strong, it was a nice surprise.”
He adds, “The British Final is going to be interesting because it has different events that I need to train for, like Atlas Stones which I have never lifted in my life so I need to learn how to lift them properly because they really are a strongman staple.”