Larry Wheels is an enigma.
A rare-breed athlete who seems capable of excelling in pretty much anything he turns his hand to in the world of strength sports.
A glance at his physique and you’ll see he’s a genetic freak. Watch him lifting weights and it seems he’s from another planet. And all at the age of just 24.
The American is not accustomed to the stage, but has built a following – of more than 1.5m people – very much in the 21st century way, on social media.
When he started lifting weights in his early teens, the physique changes were impressive, yet it was when he discovered the extent of his strength that Larry’s notoriety grew.
Lifts of more than 800lbs in both the deadlift and squat, along with a 600lbs bench press, and the ability to take well over 400lbs overhead made him an internet darling.
And it’s this raw ability which brings him to Dubai.
When the team behind World’s Ultimate Strongman were devising their latest venture, the Strongman Incubator, Larry was the obvious choice to be the first participant.
The WUS team is taking athletes with potential and nurturing them into world-level stars through intensive training camps with access to the best coaching, nutrition, and recovery.
Eyebrows were raised at Larry’s inclusion, but he’s determined to make the most of the opportunity.
“I feel like I am starting a legacy as I’m the first to do this, and I definitely don’t want to disappoint. The incubator has taken me away from all my distractions in the States, back at home so I can just focus on training and eating,” he told Sport360.
“I definitely want to add a few kilos, I have had a plateau in bodyweight for a long time so I am looking forward to pushing myself with my diet. I am training with a very experienced coach, Mark (Boyd), and I want my technique on the yoke, log, and many of the strongman events to improve.”
Getting into strongman has long been a goal for Larry – but he always thought he was restricted because of his size. Tipping the scale at a, ahem, paltry 125kg (just shy of 20 stone), he would be one of the smallest athletes on the circuit, on what is a land of giants – with many getting close to 200kg, but that’s less of a concern now.
“When I first started lifting, I wanted to get into strongman, as a teenager,” said Larry. “Then I would look at the top guys, people like Brian Shaw at the time, and I would say ‘how could I ever compete amongst them?’
“At that age I only wanted to do what I thought I could be great at. So I picked up bodybuilding because that’s where I thought I could do well, I picked up powerlifting. But now, I have built up such a strong foundation with powerlifting, I feel I can be a top competitor in strongman so now is the time to strike.”
Now, another great opportunity awaits Larry in the early part of next month. Thanks to his overhead pressing prowess, he has been invited as a wildcard to the World Log Championships which is being held as part of the Europe’s Strongest Man event.
A newcomer to the bright lights and huge crowds of competitive strongman, Larry is setting realistic goals he wants to come away from the show having attained.
“A the very least, a 200kg log,” he says with certainty, but with a sense of a tough battle to get there.
“I’ve hit that in training. The log I was using in training, I gripped it down the centre, the log at the Championships is going to be a wooden log so the distribution of the weight is slightly different to the log I was training with at Thor’s Powergym. I am hearing it will be more difficult on this log at the competition, it’s smoother, it rolls, the clean is harder, and I’ve never performed in front of a crowd of 10,000 people – I’m not expecting to take any records but I am expecting to do, at the very least, a 200kg log.”
The mention of Thor, brings us on to one of Larry’s biggest advocates – Hafthor Bjornsson. The undisputed strongest man on the planet has taken Larry under his rather hefty wing. It is something that’s not lost on Wheels and his development.
“It’s a huge privilege. Thor is like a real-life superhero. He’s the biggest and the strongest in the world and he’s at his prime right now so I am just super grateful to have this opportunity to spend so much time training with him and learning from him.”
In strength sports, achievement is not measured in potential, social media followers, or gym lifts – when it comes down to it, it’s performances on the biggest of stages that matter.
In strongman that means the World’s Ultimate Strongman, World’s Strongest Man and Arnold Classic event, and Larry is laser-focused in predicting how far he can go: “As far as I want!” he says with a knowing smile. “Realistically, I think a podium finish at World’s Strongest Man or World’s Ultimate Strongman is there.”
They are big words. But this is a big man, with a big talent.
Are you competing in any fitness events this month?
Here’s our top five to get involved in!
Friday, April 5
Organisers of the event are expecting over 1,000 cyclists as popularity in the event and the sport has grown over the years.
Starting and finishing at Al Zorah Marina 1, full road closures will be in place and the exciting cycling routes will make their way through the centre of Ajman.
In addition to the longer route, Ride Ajman will also feature a dedicated 58km and 115km UAE National Development Race for UAE nationals to spark interest and participation.
MORE INFO: Ride Ajman
BURJ AL ARAB SWIM
Friday, April 12
The Dubai Holding Burj Al Arab Swim is back for its 15th year, where up to 900 swimmers are preparing for a 1,600 meter open water swim in the Arabian Gulf – all in aid of a good cause.
Organised by Wild Wadi in partnership with Jumeirah Group, all funds raised at the event will be donated to Al Jalila Foundation to support obesity research.
MORE INFO: Burj Al Arab Swim
DUBAI DESERT ROAD RUN
Friday, April 12
One of the most popular races in the UAE’s running calendar is back to offer athletes another chance to take part this month.
Since its first run back in February 2012, the Dubai Desert Road Run has steadily grown to hold races several times throughout the year, bringing together some of the best in the region’s running community.
Three distances are on offer, 10 kilometre, 5km and 3km races that will be run on private roads on a safe, traffic-free course. The race, held at The Sevens, will kick-off at the village area between Pitch 1 and Pitch 8 before concluding between the village area and Pitch 5.
TIME: From 06:15am *
MORE INFO: Dubai Desert Road Run
AL MARMOOM WOMEN’S CYCLING CHALLENGE
The Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge – the region’s first cycle race dedicated to women – will take place inside the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve.
Participants can register as individuals or teams. Individual categories will be divided into the following age groups; Under 13 years, 13-15 years, 16-19, 20-39, 40-49 and 50-plus.
The team competition, meanwhile, will take place in three categories: Teams of four plus are encouraged in the kids, juniors and adults categories.
There are three distances offered: 10 kms for kids under 13 years, 20kms for juniors 13-15 years, 20 kms adults over 16 years and 50 kms for adults over 16 years.
TIME: From 07:00am*
MORE INFO: Al Marmoom Women’s Cycling Challenge
URBAN-ULTRA WADI RACER
Friday, April 20
One of the toughest and most enjoyable races in the region, the Urban-Ultra Wadi Racer, is set to return for a six year and will take place in the stunning mountains at Wadi Showka.
The fully supported single-stage race, which features a choice of 30 kilometre, 20km and 10km distances to entrants, will see you navigate through rocky terrain and over the spectacular mount passes.
This is a race not to be missed.
TIME: From 05:00 *
MORE INFO: Urban-Ultra Wadi Racer
Isn’t it about time you upgraded your footwear?
What better way with the bright, vibrant and super lightweight Ultraboost from Adidas.
Floaty, but functional, and available in six colourways, they are one of the must-have shoes this season.
ADIDAS PRIMEKNIT 360 – adidas Primeknit upper wraps the foot with an engineered fit for targeted support that enhances movement
ENDLESS ENERGY – Boost is Adidas’s most responsive cushioning ever, delivering incredible energy return: The more energy you give, the more you get
3D HEEL FRAME – Fitcounter molded heel counter provides a natural fit that allows optimal movement of the Achilles
SUPPORT THROUGH YOUR STRIDE – Torsion Spring is integrated in the midsole to provide support during landing and propulsion at toe-off
Find out more here