Hafthor Bjornsson Reveals Why He Missed the 501kg Deadlift

The Icelandic strongman discussed the world record that almost was in a new interview with Sport360.

The reigning World’s Strongest Man™ has been spending a lot of time training in Dubai, where he recently sat down with Sport360’s content director Dan Owen to talk about filming, competing, and of course, the near-miss 501 kilogram deadlift that was watched around the world.

There was a lot of hype surrounding that lift. The heaviest deadlift ever made was performed over two years ago when Eddie Hall pulled 500 kilograms on a stiff bar and in a deadlift suit. Since then, 500 has been the number to beat and Hall’s biggest rival Hafthor Bjornsson said several times that he was the one to do it.

Come game day at the 2019 Arnold Classic, all eyes were on the elephant bar loaded with 501 kilograms. Bjornsson had already made history that day by lifting 474 kilograms — the most ever pulled on an elephant bar — but the 501 kilograms “only” made it to his knees.

Take a close look at the man’s left foot as he attempted the lift — it slips. It slips ever so slightly, but as he says in this interview, that’s why the lift failed. The discussion starts at 5.20 when he’s asked if the outcome would have changed if he’d been lifting on a stiff bar.

I can sit here and say “Yes, I would have made it,” but I can’t say that. I know how strong I am and I know that if I would have had a perfect pull on that day in Ohio, I would have gotten that 501. In the pull I slipped a little bit, my left foot, and if the pull is not 100 percent then you’re never going to pull that kind of weight.

But I also know that the other record you’re talking about, that was done in a suit. That gives you about 30 kilograms at least. So this close to lifting 501 raw without a suit, I’m pretty confident that I’m able to pull 501 on a regular bar with a suit.

He adds, around the 6.35 mark, that he’s less interested in breaking records than he is in winning titles.

I’m in this game to win titles. Records are constantly being broken, but no one can take away from you a title that you own. I won Europe’s Strongest Man four times, I won Iceland’s Strongest Man eight years in a row, I won World’s Strongest Man, I won the Arnold Classic in Ohio two years in a row. No one can take that away from me. But records are constantly being broken and one day I know that record will be broken.

The whole interview is worth a watch as he describes the great lengths he does to in order to remain a world class athlete during 16 hour days filming Game of Thrones. But we really enjoyed the end of the video, when he said that he can “stay number one for a decade,” provided he stays healthy and injury free. We hope he does and we look forward to his performance at this year’s World’s Strongest Man.

Featured image via Rogue Fitness on YouTube.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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