Muscle mass and strength aren’t exclusive, but bodybuilders — while still relatively strong compared to most average gym-goers — aren’t usually pushing and pulling fully loaded barbells for low reps. So you can imagine the internet’s shock when IFBB Pro League Men’s Open competitor Joe Mackey deadlifted 800 pounds for a triple.
Mackey is not competing at the 2022 Arnold Classic — taking place on March 3-6 — and so he’s bulking up and making the most out of his off-season. You can check out the clip below, posted to his Instagram on Jan. 15, 2022:
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Mackey’s first rep was a bonafide speed rep, and his last two didn’t appear too challenging. In the video, he’s wearing a weightlifting belt and lifting straps. Mackey’s deadlift triple took place less than two weeks after pulling a personal record lift of 840 pounds.
Who is Joe Mackey?
Mackey is 37 years old and hails from Texas, a state known for producing notable champion bodybuilders such as Ronnie Coleman, Branch Warren, Johnnie Jackson, and Hunter Labrada. He joined the amateur scene by winning the 2015 Ronnie Coleman Classic as a super-heavyweight.
Mackey earned his pro card in 2016 by placing second in the super-heavyweight division at NPC Nationals. In five professional contests, his highest placing is 8th, which he scored at the 2020 Tampa Pro. His lone contest in the 2021 season was the 2021 Chicago Pro, where he finished in 12th place. While Mackey has yet to win a professional contest, fans and insiders see him as someone with the potential to break out in 2022 because of his size and thickness.
Other Monstrous Deadlifters in Bodybuilding
800-plus-pound pulls aren’t as common in bodybuilding compared to powerlifting and strongman since strength isn’t the main priority for physique-focused athletes. And there aren’t many pro bodybuilders who can pull off such a feat. This is why the post was celebrated in a repost by a well-known bodybuilding coach and nutritionist.
“Joe Mackey is putting in work. 2022 is going to be fun,” Mackey’s coach, Chad Nicholls, wrote in the caption of his repost on Instagram.
If anyone is familiar with big and strong bodybuilders, it’s Nicholls. He is one of the coaches of the 16th Mr. Olympia, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay (along with Dennis James), he was the coach of eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. And Coleman knows a thing or two about big pulls.
In his 2000 video, The Unbelievable, Coleman deadlifts 800 pounds for two reps. Coleman was actually five weeks out from his to-be third Mr. Olympia title at the time of his big lift, making the feat all the more impressive since he was presumably depleted and functioning on minimal calories. He used lifting straps and an over-under grip.
The late Dallas McCarver was considered by many to be the second coming of Coleman in 2016. Aside from his offseason weight of 300 plus pounds, he moved insanely heavy weights. His best gym lift was a deadlift of 845 pounds, which he pulled in February of 2016. Unfortunately, McCarver died in August of 2017 at the age of 26.
Jackson once held the claim as the world’s strongest professional bodybuilder. Like Coleman, he started his athletic career in the sport of powerlifting. Jackson actively participated in both sports throughout the majority of his athletic career.
At the 2009 Olympia, he won the title of “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” by bench-pressing 523 pounds and deadlifting 815 pounds (wearing a deadlift suit).
“The Rhino” arrived on the scene in 2010 and defeated Jackson to win the “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” title at that year’s Olympia. This was thanks to an 800-pound deadlift as well as a bench press of 628 pounds. In 2013, Efferding took his clout to a new level by pulling 380 kilograms. Efferding completed his lifts without a deadlift suit.
Two-time Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu was among the early strength icons within bodybuilding circles. A former boxer and powerlifter, Columbu’s best lifts are recorded as a 750-pound deadlift, 665-pound squat, 525-pound bench press, and 400-pound clean & jerk.
There is footage of Columbo deadlifting 700 pounds for three reps. It’s important to note that Columbo is the lightest man mentioned on this list. He weighed around 185 pounds, which is nearly 100 pounds less than McCarver and over 100 pounds less than Coleman during his offseason.
Columbo also competed in the inaugural World’s Strongest Man competition in 1977. Unfortunately, he could not finish due to an injury he suffered in the Refrigerator Carry event.
Can He Turn the Strength into Success?
Mackey hopes that the combination of his power and the experience that Nicholls brings to the table will help him have a successful season in 2022. As of this writing, there is no word on when he plans to compete, but he will be on the hunt for his first professional win as well as his first Olympia qualification.
Featured image: @jmackey33_ifbbpro on Instagram