Brawniacs Merge Brute Strength and Brain Power

Piccioli dove into Strongman with typical academic zeal. "I got into reading a lot of research about the training. I've amassed a pretty large body of knowledge about the subject," Piccioli said.

Brawny Professors Merge Brute Strength and Brain Power

It is precisely that erudite appeal that transforms esteemed Finance Professor Lauren Cohen of Harvard Business School from egghead to muscle man several times each week.

"I'm an empiricist and I like these very measurable things," said Cohen, 31, winner of a prestigious National Science Foundation grant, who has flipped an 800-pound tire end over end for 100 feet and raised a 280-pound steel log over his head for several repetitions.

"Facts are facts. The data doesn't change. That's true whether you're looking at asset financing or squatting pounds," Cohen said.

Cohen pulled the firetruck and picked up the Jeep after a busy week guest lecturing at Columbia University and preparing to testify before Congress this Wednesday about a possible second stimulus bill. His stellar performance in New Hampshire qualified him for the national Strongman championship in Reno in November.

While the thinking man and woman are taking strength sports to new intellectual heights, sometimes too much brainpower can actually dumb down a competitive score.

"I like to strategize before I perform," said Carbonneau, 28, referring to Strongman events like dragging a Hummer or lifting a fire hydrant. "Sometimes I over-analyze it and think about it too much and I fail. Other people just use brute strength and do it without thinking. There might be an advantage to that."

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