By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Local strongman muscles out the competition
From Boscobel
Boscobel Strongman
Boscobel native Gavin Bell participated in the National Strongman competition in New Hampshire on June 25. Bell placed 33rd out of 86 people competing. Bell will be competing in the Illinois Strongman competition in Manteno, Ill., on August 6 after Wisconsin’s competition was cancelled due to a lack of competitors.

By Chandler Brindley, Boscobel Dial

BOSCOBEL – Imagine strapping into a harness that’s hooked to a vehicle. Your task is to pull the vehicle across a parking lot. Now, think about repeatedly hoisting giant boulders through an obstacle course. Are you exhausted yet?

To the average Joe, these feats seem impossible. For Boscobel native Gavin Bell, it’s just another day at the office. 

Bell recently performed these feats and more at the National Strongman Competition on June 25, where he placed 33rd out of 86 competitors in this weight class. 

Bell was a 2017 graduate of Boscobel High School, where he had a memorable run with the football team. He earned second team all SWAL honors as a linebacker his senior year for the Bulldogs. Bell continued his education and passion for football at the University of Dubuque.


Bell’s journey to the Strongman nationals began when he decided his heart was in weightlifting, not football. He dropped out of the team and shifted focus to the weight room (while completing his master’s degree in sport management).

“I have always loved lifting weights,” he said. Competition seemed a natural outlet for that passion. 

“I did four or five competitions where I placed at all of them. One was called ‘The Battle of the Barbarians.’ I ended up getting third place, and they gave me a Viking dagger trophy that I thought was so cool! The biggest show that I won was called ‘The Western Wisconsin Show of Power.’ I just went because it was the first competition of the year and basically mopped the floor with everyone,” Bell said.

It was a friend who first told him about Strongman in April, with its unique competitions like pulling automobiles and bench-pressing logs. “I never thought anything of it and viewed it as being something fun to do. I showed up to my first competition and there were 14 guys in my group, and I was the youngest by far. I ended up getting second place at my first event,” he said.

“When I began competing, I never thought that I would qualify for nationals. I just went and thought to myself, ‘I guess I will see what I can do this year.’ And I won. In one year, it kind of really flipped upside down and I am into it,” Bell said. 


You don’t develop the kind of monster muscles that can deadlift a boulder overnight. Bell’s been working on his for years. 

He lifts weights every day except Thursdays and Sundays, which serve as rest days. His diet consists of 300 grams of protein and whatever else is in the kitchen pantry. “I don’t keep track of calories. I eat four or maybe five meals a day,” Bell said, though he sometimes has to change up his diet, as competitors are classified by their weight. 

And, just like you, Bell gets aches and pains when he works out—especially after competitions. “There are days that my knees tell me, ‘Hey, dude you need to stop!’” he said.


At the national level, Bell found himself up against famous bodybuilders and musclemen from around the country. 

“I was surrounded by professionals who are absolute freaks when it comes to lifting weights,” said Bell, who was one of the youngest competitors in the nationals.

He wasn’t nervous about the competition, though. Instead, he said he was more worried about the weights—some of the heaviest things that he had ever lifted in a competition.

“I was more concerned about injury potential than I was with my performance,” Bell said. “I walked in and approached it telling myself that I was already here, and I don't have anything to prove. I really was not nervous, but each time an event got closer my adrenaline would kick in and I would get super jacked.”

Turns out, Bell was a contender. “I was really happy with where I placed,” he said. “There was only one of the five events that I did not get any points on,” Bell said. “I just couldn't pick it up. It was too dang heavy! Out of the 600 people there, I felt that I did really well.”


Bell says he isn’t done yet with lifting or with Strongman. Wisconsin’s Strongman competition was cancelled this year, but Bell plans instead to compete in August at the Illinois Strongman competition in Manteno, Illinois. 

“I am going to try and win that,” Bell said. “If I place in the top three at Manteno, I qualify for nationals again next year which is my goal. Plus, it would be really cool to have a title.”

In the meantime, his travels are fueling his love of weightlifting. “I’ve got to meet some new friends from all over the United States,” Bell said. “That was really cool.”

He’s submitted an application to break a world record at the Guinness Book of World Records (he is keeping secret which record he’s going for until he finds out), and he’s got big plans for moving forward, including a dream of opening his own gym. 

“The end goal from all of this is that I would like to earn my pro card. I want to be a professional weightlifter,” he said.

Boscobel will be cheering him on along his way!