Reigning three-time Ms. Olympia champion Andrea Shaw is on a mission to become the most accomplished athlete of her division. In a recent Muscular Development interview with Ron Harris, Shaw discussed the habits and practices that led to three Ms. Olympia titles. In addition, she laid out her opinion on hypothetical matchups against legends Iris Kyle and Lenda Murray.
The Super Bowl of bodybuilding — Olympia — welcomed the first Ms. Olympia contest in 1980. This was a long-awaited event for female bodybuilders, who had been sidelined by the promoters for 15 years since they launched Mr. Olympia in 1965.
In 2014, the division was discontinued again. Finally, in 2020, Jake Wood, the Rising Phoenix promoter, took over the Olympia brand and welcomed the category back. That same year, Andrea Shaw brought her absolute best, which kicked off the reign she’s enjoying today. As a now three-time Ms. Olympia champion, Shaw has quickly become one of the most dominant titleholders of her era.
Given her accolades, Shaw’s efforts have gained attention from veterans, such as Chris Cormier and judge Terrick El Guindy. During an Olympia TV YouTube video, they agreed that Shaw had the potential, mindset, and work ethic to one day hold the record for most Olympia victories of her category.
Andrea Shaw Lays Out Ingredients to Her Success: ‘Recovery Should Match Workout Intensity’
According to Andrea Shaw, she’s injury-free despite a career of tough training and on-stage battles. In order to avoid injuries, Shaw stops lifting heavy weights eight weeks before she performs and instead focuses on volume.
“Absolutely, [one day at a time]. I still want to make sure I stay in a good mental space with it. Obviously, I still want to make sure I remain injury-free. Those things are what add to the longevity in this sport. As long as I’m still in a good mental space and I have that fire and that passion to go after it. You know, a prep takes a lot. It does. It’s very time-consuming with the amount of hours you have to practice. The routine, the posing, preparing the food, all while sometimes still traveling right.”
“Correct [no major injuries]. Well I make sure at a certain point during the prep I make sure to lift moderately heavy until a certain point. And after, once we hit the eight-week mark, I’m not lifting heavy. I’m lifting more moderate weights and the reps are where it’s at for me. Sometimes it’s 30 reps, sometimes for lower body it may be 50,60,70 reps, which seems like a lot but yeah. I really go after that because it really helps to dial me in,” added Shaw.
Similar to the time Dorian Yates spent training, Shaw aims to get in and out of the gym within 45 minutes.
“If you do it the right way it can add a little bit of a cardio element to training, that with supersets. There’s a lot that can be done in a short amount of time. I try to be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes. So I’m not in there for hours just hammering, hammering hammering. It’s a matter of making sure you’re efficient with your time and making sure your recovery matches your training intensity.”
Shaw favors recovery practices that help with ‘myofascial release,’ which includes methods like massage, cupping, and cool-tempered rolling.
A lot of people look at me crazy when I tell them I get body work done. Bodywork is not just massage, I don’t know where that notion came from. The person that I use, we go into Graston, cupping, cool-tempered rolling, as well as some of the yes more myofascial release techniques. Those are key components for me. I need that fascia to be loose and I will get that done sometimes three, or four hours at a time,” Andrea Shaw said.
Looking back on the 2020 return of Ms. Olympia, Shaw admits she felt a lot of pressure to succeed.
“Yeah, a little. Only because I felt a lot of pressure going into it. Because at that point, it was like who is really going to take the lead and the charge for what the industry standard will be. So yeah, I felt a lot of pressure, like a lot of pressure. To the point where I was doing probably excessive amounts of cardio at that point.”
“Iris was slated to come, Iris was slated to come that year in 2020. She ended up getting sick and from what I remember, that night, she may have gone to the hospital,” explained Shaw. “She didn’t quite feel like she could get up that strength to do it. I know she had the heart to do it. She really did not look like she was in good shape.”
Fantasy Matchup: Andrea Shaw vs Iris Kyle/Lenda Murray?
If she could go back in time and compete against anyone, Shaw would have liked to test her mettle against Iris Kyle, Lenda Murray, Elina Popa, and Yaxeni Oriquen.
“I mean that would be a call for the judges to make, I mean we all have such different looks. Lenda was a little more streamlined. Iris brought intense crazy conditioning, I feel like I have a little more mass than the both of them. So yeah, that would be a tough call. I think we would definitely make the top three [at Olympia]. I can probably guarantee you that.”
“So I definitely would have wanted to get on stage with Elna Popa, Iris, I mean I competed with Yaxeni [Oriquen], from when she was competing then. Yeah, after looking over videos, they just had a different era but they had fun. I would have loved to have gotten a shot at a Ms. International title at the Arnold,” said Andrea Shaw.
Shaw Talks Rising Phoenix Events and How Many Cars She’s Won at Contests
Shaw appreciates that Rising Phoenix competitions are within close proximity to Olympia’s date.
“Yeah [Rising Phoenix] is usually about five weeks [before Olympia] except for the first year. The first year we had like 12 or 11 days. No pressure. I was riding the high from the Rising Phoenix win, so it wasn’t as much pressure but I was still nervous because it was the first one right. I liked that. I liked the window of the five weeks. Number one, I get a break. A little small break of like three days. I still train but I get to eat a little more liberally for those three days and then I jump back on the diet.”
Thus far, Shaw has won three vehicles: a Silverado High Country, a Corvette, and a Camaro.
“I’m curious to see what are the bells and whistles [for the next Rising Phoenix]. Last year, I won a Chevy Silverado High Country, which I didn’t think I would like but I am not getting rid of that truck. I love it. I won a Corvette, a C8 Corvette in 2021 and then I won a Camaro z01 in 2020.”
While she endures immense pressure as a dominant champion, Andrea Shaw is accustomed to the demands of a top-tier bodybuilder. She believes her ability to recover will dictate how hard she’s able to train during the season.
All roads lead to the upcoming Olympia competition. This year’s contest takes place from November 2-5, in Orlando, Florida, inside the Orange County Convention Center. Fans are excited to see the new and improved physique Shaw brings to the table in an attempt to secure her fourth title.