Strength athletes around the world have been on the edge of their seats waiting for the 2018 World’s Strongest Man contest to kick off — and the athletes have never trained harder.
This may be the world’s toughest strongman contest, and every year the athletes push the limits of human performance not only in strength, but in power, endurance, and coordination. It’s brutally hard, and winning the title requires brutal training methods.
We decided to take a look at how five of the most popular athletes are preparing for the fight of their lives. Don’t try this at home.
Brian Shaw: Deadlifting an SUV
One of the only four men to have won the World’s Strongest Man event four times, Shaw came in third last year but in 2018, he’s coming in hot. Fueled by a monstrous twelve thousand calories per day — watch an average grocery store trip of his here — Shaw pulled two sets of five SUV reps at what he estimated to be a little over a thousand pounds of weight. The leverages mean it’s not quite the same as a pulling that much on a barbell, but it’s still pretty darn impressive.
[Wondering when you can watch this year’s competition on TV? Here are the air dates.]
Hafthor Bjornsson: Winning Europe’s Strongest Man and the Arnold Classic
Some guys would avoid the toughest strongman events on Earth in the weeks before World’s Strongest Man, but Thor Bjornsson didn’t seem too fussed. One month after winning the Arnold Classic he took home first place at Europe’s Strongest Man, just three weeks before the qualifying rounds of World’s Strongest Man would begin in Manila on April 28. His performance included a 213-kilogram log press (a new Icelandic record) and six reps on an Axle deadlift of 360 kilograms.
Zydrunas Savickas: Breaking the Log Press World Record in Training
The current world record for the log press sits at 228 kilograms and was set by “Big Z” back in 2015 at Brazil’s Arnold Classic. While he didn’t manage to break that record at Europe’s Strongest Man, he does claim that in the video above he broke his world record — though he wouldn’t say how heavy it was. Lately, we’ve also seen the man do eight reps of 350-kilogram hip thrusts and more recently a three-rep set of what looked like 420-kilogram back squats.
Martins Licis: Breaking the Steinborn Squat World Record
This took place at this year’s Arnold Classic when the Latvian strongman — widely considered this year’s dark horse — set a record for the heaviest ever Steinborn squat, an unusual movement that trains lateral strength in addition to raw strength and stability in the core, lumbar spine, and low body.
This year, the reigning Mas wrestling world champion also became the first man to shoulder the oddly-shaped and unbalanced “Odd Haugen Tomb Stone,” weighing over 180 kilograms, plus he’s been putting in work with classic barbell sessions that have included three sets of ten beltless 256-kilogram back squats, five 143-kilogram strict presses, and a gut-wrenching set of seven 365.5-kilogram deadlifts.
[Watch Martins Licis teach Kevin Hart how to pull a car in this hilarious training clip.]
Iron Biby: A 220kg Log Press
A few months after we saw him more or less strict press 220 kilograms, the rising star of strongman has continued hammering his overhead strength, posting set after incredible set to his Instagram. The 220-kilogram lift above may have had trouble passing muster in competition but it represents a serious milestone for Biby, who has been dabbling in hypnotherapy as a means of improving performance. More recently he’s uploaded a seven-rep set of 183-kilogram log presses, five reps of 200-kilogram military presses, and a four-rep set of 203-kilogram log presses.
Who Will Win 2018 World’s Strongest Man?
Let’s be honest: most of the hype out there centers on Hafthor Bjornsson, who has finished in second or third place every year since 2012. Last year he missed out on first place by just one point, and the guy who beat him isn’t competing this year.
But there’s a good chance that World’s Strongest Man is due for an upset. Shaw and Savickas have multiple wins under their belts and Licis, Biby, and even Konstantine Janashia could all be dark horses in their own right.
With a huge breadth of experience, age, and ability, nothing is certain in this year’s competition.
Featured image via @savickas_bigz and @ironmind on Instagram.