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It's Time To Talk About Shrubs

Sometimes there are people who walk into your life and change it forever.

Mr Shrubs, or Stuart Mosey as his birth certificate says is one of those people.

Today, we celebrate Shrubs. It's a tale of friendship, a love of strength sport and a mutual love of metal.

Origin Story

It's early 2019. I'm working at Graft Haus. Through the glass door I see a man wearing a Rotting Christ hoody looking like he was a man who thoroughly enjoys metal.

Fun-fact: my son was born while Rotting Christ- Dies Irae was playing in the room. "Dies Irae" or Day of Wrath is the day the trumpet sounds to beckon all to the throne of God.

Here, according to Wikipedia, the saved will ascend to heaven while the damned are cast into the eternal fire. Metal. As. Fuck.

I had to go speak to this man. I can't remember what I said.

It was probably something profound like "ooh, I like Rotting Christ too!" I clearly change lives with every interaction.

I may have said something about if he needed help, he could always ask, but that may be a time-invented mirage.

There aren't that many metalheads in the world, so it's our duty to all be friends to scream about how great Satan is by the way.

Fast-forward a few weeks and a few Friday gym visits with my partner who had noticed Shrubs's mighty calves.

(It was a bit mean of her to tell me how small mine are in relation to his. I'm not deeply wounded by that...)

At all...



One Friday, my partner noticed the impressively-calved Shrubs was observing us a lot as we trained.

Maybe he was a crazed sex-man?

Perhaps he envied the sleek lines of my smaller, sleeker, more convenient calves?

As far as I'm aware, neither are true.

Shrubs was carefully watching the PT's at Graft Haus to see who he would work best with.

Fortunately, Reiss was fully-booked, so he had to settle for me.

While Shrubs did choose me, Reiss is a wonderful coach and friend with his own studio, brand, and bad-ass coaching style. You can find out more about his services HERE.

Shortly after that Friday, we'd spoken more, consults and movement screens were booked and the coaching wheels were in motion.

When we were talking about goals, Shrubs wanted to lose weight. He was up around the 145-150kg mark, he had diabetes and in his mid-forties.

I screened his movement, which means I watched him do 10-20 movements, I made some notes to help me with his first program, and gained a good understanding of how to coach him.

His movement is excellent.

And his calves are well developed.

This told me Shrubs would love strength and strongman training.

My plan was to integrate strength training and strongman with cardio, bodybuilding-style training and some power exercise like throws.

Shrubs has worked with a couple of trainers before. He also works in data analysis, so I knew it would be tough to do a great job. I knew he'd love numbers, would have a high attention to detail, and wouldn't be afraid to call me out if I wasn't up to scratch.

I was determined to help him make progress with steady weightloss and enjoyable training.

He was given 3-4 sessions a week. He hits an average of 3.5 sessions a week now, so this works perfectly.

The amount he loves training still amazes me.

I potentially got something wrong around program 4 or 5 when Shrubs hurt himself split squatting with a barbell.

In hindsight it was too much too soon, but Shrubs was straight to a physio and on with a rehab plan without hesitation because to quote him "these things fucking happen."

(I wish my calf growth would just fucking happen...)

Plans adapted and training maintained, Shrubs hit PB after PB and was able to fully recover.


I work in an independent commercial gym with lots of active members. Most of the evening crowd know who Shrubs is because that man has a mouth almost as big as his calves.

He's friendly with staff members and PT's but his real impact is the positive impact he has on my clients. I work with many beginners, neurodiverse people and many who typically might not find a gym like Graft Haus to be the friendliest place on earth.

It's an intense gym, but Shrubs always has time to talk to my clients. He supports them in pursuit of their goals and is generally a grumpy ray of sunshine in our lives.

One of my favourite examples of Shrubs character was when he only knew vaguely of another client, Izzie Coomber (who I wrote about on the blog recently.)

The only time she could test her squat, bench and deadlift maxes was a time I wasn't there.

Who stepped in to help?

Shrubs of course. He gave up a large chunk of his weekend to spot, load, and encourage. She nailed it, and Shrubs played a big role. Shrub travelled out on a snowy winter's day to see Izzie compete for the first time in powerlifting. This man never fails in making me want to be a better person.

This brought Izzie into the client community more than ever and Shrubs has welcomed far more people into the fold than have thanked him for.


As Shrubs training progressed, we began to wonder if he'd like to have a go at a Strongman comp. He thought about it alot and decided to enter a local competition at a wonderful gym called Implexus.

He began training with another client and friend Steven Taylor, who you can hear on the podcast HERE. They were both practicing the competition events and getting faster, and fitter, all the time.

During a loading run, where he had to carry heavy objects across the gym as fast as possible, he twisted his knee as he dropped a sandbag in full flight, tearing a meniscus resulting in many weeks of rehab meaning he had to pull out of the event.

He could still lift. So we needed a short-term goal. Enter powerlifting and the Graft Haus Powerlifting competition, POWER HAUS 2.

As soon as Shrubs knew he had an injury, he booked in with Niall Walsh, a Leeds-based osteopath who was on the podcast which you can listen to HERE.

Niall gave us the plan and the timeline, it proved correct and gave us a map of the territory.

After his knee injury, Shrubs could deadlift from blocks and squat onto a high box. We knew it would take at least 6 weeks for his injury to heal and we had 12 weeks until the powerlifting competition.

I joked that his first full range squats would be on competition day.

Much to his dismay, we stripped all of the strongman stuff from his program, especially after realising push press and overhead stuff was aggravating his knee. It was all going to be powerlifting focussed until the comp.

Each time his knee responded with no pain in the days after a squat session, we lowered the box and worked up to a similar weight.

Progress continued and with 3-4 weeks to go, we could do full squats with heavy weights.

Squats were on point leading up to the competition, and bench was stronger than ever.

Deadlifts were a weird one. In the last few weeks they began moving slowly, so I shifted focus from moving pb or near PB weights, to moving near-guaranteed weights in a speedy, confident way, roughly 10kg below his usual heaviest lifts.

This worked very well.

His goal in the competition was to total 500kg or more. To those that don't know powerlifting, your total is the sum of your best squat, bench press, and deadlift in competition.

I knew he was close, and I knew we had to have a great day and any missed lift could mean curtains for his goal.

Here's how the day went:

Squat: 170 ○○○ / 185 ○○● / 190 ○○○

Bench: 100 ○○○ / 107.5 ○○○ / 112.5 ●●●

Deadlift: 175 ○○○ / 190 ○○○ / 202.5 ○○○

Total: 500kg

He'd done it. To the kilo!

What an incredible show. Shrubs' final squat got everyone talking. His 3rd bench probably should of been allowed and his final deadlift was perfect.

I'm pretty sure Shrubs shed a little tear after that performance. It was truly something special. Well done Shrubs!

The Goal

The goal is to keep the goal the goal.

Dan John

Shrubs came to me for weightloss. We did powerlifting. We did strongman. We'll continue to do both as it creates a foundation of fun training which Shrubs finds motivating, but the real goal is health, is weightloss, and creating healthy habits.

Here is his current progress as of December 2021:

Starting Weight: 145kg

December 2021 Weight: 118kg!

Total lost so far: 27kg


And he isn't finished yet.

How has he done this?

The Secret

Building lots of little habits.

Here are the two which I feel were the most important:

- keeping a food diary

- quitting alcohol

The food diary is magical for certain people, it presses a switch and magical things happen. Shrubs is one of those people.

The diary keeps him on point, and since he started keeping a diary, the weightloss became sustained, his energy levels remain high and he looks like a new man.

The story behind Shrubs quitting alcohol is his own to tell. The key part is quitting booze saves him thousands of calories a month.

Those thousands of calories tell their story on the scales, via the tape measure and by any health marker you want to check.

Shrubs' long-term weightloss target isn't achieved yet and he will see how he is feeling at 110kg. By the time this article is published he may have made that target.

Myself and Shrubs make a great coaching team. Together we'll go far, but to be honest, he has the tools to go this alone if he wants to but I think he wants me around for a little while longer which is fine by me.

Shrubs has become a great family friend, he is an extremely important part of the Graft Haus and Heavy Metal Strength Coach community and he is naturally far more suited to podcasting than me. Luckily we have a podcast together so we don't need to compete!

In transforming his life and body, Shrubs has been a guiding light to follow and steady ship in a crazy world over the last few years. He's setting an amazing example to his children, his friends and everyone around him by continuing to achieve his goals in a sustainable, habitual way. Long may progress continue Sir.

You can follow his progress HERE.

You can follow our podcast HERE.

And you can follow me HERE.

By Chris Kershaw

The Heavy Metal Strength Coach

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