He did it. Hafthor Bjornsson successfully pulled the heaviest deadlift ever — 501kg/1,104lb.
The historic lift was televised throughout the United States by ESPN and the rest of the globe via CoreSports.world and Rogue Fitness’ live stream and it did not disappoint. Despite all of the surrounding controversy about whether the lift should be considered an official world record or not, the 6 foot 9 inch tall, 450lb Bjornsson now has claim to heaviest deadlift ever recorded.
The deadlift took place at Bjornsson’s gym in Reykjavik, Iceland with 4-time World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Magnus Ver Magnusson as the official judge.
After a couple of warm-up deadlifts of 420kg/926lb and 465kg/1,025lb, Bjornsson pulled the heaviest deadlift that has ever been lifted.
Check out the historic deadlift below from Rogue Fitness’ Instagram page:
The World Record Deadlift
This was not the first time Bjornsson attempted the 501kg/1,104lb deadlift. He was unsuccessful in his attempt at the 2019 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) and then decided not to attempt it at all at the 2020 ASC despite Rogue Fitness offering $101,000 to anyone able to pull 501kg/1,104lb.
If this lift were performed in competition, it would be universally considered a new world record. However, given the circumstances of the lift taking place outside of competition — due to the postponement and cancellations of events caused by the coronavirus pandemic — there have been discrepancies within the strongman community about considering this 501kg/1,104lb deadlift a world record.
Strongmen opposed to considering Bjornsson’s lift as the world record include 2017 WSM champion and deadlift world record (500kg/1,102lb) holder Eddie Hall, 4-time WSM champion Brian Shaw, Robert Oberst, and 4x WSM champion Zydrunas Savickas.
When Bjornsson first announced the 501kg/1,104lb deadlift attempt on his Instagram page, he said:
“This will be recognised as a world record as there will be an official/judge there to make the call, and the event will be held to the same high standard that competitions are. I will be making the attempt with a suit, figure 8 straps and a deadlift bar.”
So there is no doubt that Bjornsson believes that the world record is up for grabs outside of competition, or at least he does given the current circumstances around the globe related to COVID-19.
The first man to ever deadlift 500kg/1,102lb said in a Q&A on his YouTube channel that he would not count Bjornsson’s lift as a world record saying:
“If the tables were turned, and I was going to go for 501kg in my basement downstairs with calibrated plates and a referee, no one would count it. No one would count that as a world record. I’m not going to count it as a world record.”
Here is Hall’s 500kg/1,102lb deadlift from the 2016 World Deadlift Championships below from his Instagram page:
On May 2, before Bjornsson’s 501kg/1,104lb deadlift, Hall and his team shared a post on Hall’s Instagram page with a post that read:
“Good luck to [Hafthor Bjornsson] for his 501kg deadlift today, hope he smashes it and look forward to him attempting it at a competition too when all this is over.”
Brian Shaw decided to give his thoughts on Bjornsson’s deadlift on his YouTube channel. He expressed concern that it would be like “opening Pandora’s box” to allow for a lift outside of competition to be considered a world record; that it would actively harm the sport.
Oberst shared concerns on his YouTube channel that were similar to Shaw’s. Oberst went a step further saying that Bjornsson should not even do the lift at all outside of competition.
“We have to stand together. We have to. We can’t let the sport fall by the wayside just because we want to compete. It’s time to sit this one out.”
Savickas’ stance is a bit more specific in that he believes that if Bjornsson’s goal was to break Hall’s 500kg/1,102lb deadlift record, that he should do so in the same type of competition — in this case in a Giants Live event. Savickas’ rationale is that since there are many different kinds of deadlift world records depending on the equipment used. For example, the elephant bar deadlift world record was different from Hall’s 500kg/1,102lb deadlift.
“It should be a special world record. Hafthor cannot beat Eddie’s record but he can set a new world record in this way if World Ultimate Strongman wants this kind of record. Competition world records are competition world records.”
The debate as to whether Bjornsson’s lift should be considered a world record, or a special world record, or just a gym lift is almost assuredly going to continue, but Bjornsson can now claim that he has pulled the heaviest deadlift ever.