Life has changed pretty drastically for 2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Hafthor Björnsson in the last year. He entered fatherhood after celebrating the birth of his son. He is no longer a competitive strongman but a full-time boxer preparing to fight his rival, 2017 WSM champion Eddie Hall in Las Vegas, NV, in September 2021. He dropped from 450 pounds to a much leaner 340 pounds. And his training gained a significant increase in cardio alongside some of the fittest athletes in the world, including 2012 Fittest Woman on Earth® Annie Thorisdottir. But none of this means that the man who lifted the heaviest deadlift of all time — 501 kilograms (1,104 pounds) — has let go of his strongman roots.
Björnsson met up with powerlifter, bodybuilder, aspiring strongman, and now arm wrestler Larry Wheels in Dubai — where “The Mountain” will square up against heavyweight boxer Simon Vallily for his second-ever exhibition bout. Alongside strongman Mark Boyd, Björnsson and Wheels’ workout ventured to:
- Perform multiple sets of snatch-grip high pulls.
- Deadlift up to 320 kilograms (705 pounds).
- Finish out with Romanian deadlifts.
Check out the video below featuring the full workout, courtesy of Björnsson’s YouTube channel:
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Following the high pulls, which Björnsson admits he needs more work on, the three strongmen warmed up with some light deadlifts. After reaching 265 kilograms (584.2 pounds) and making it look like a “knife through butter,” Björnsson and Wheels stripped off their shirts and set up barbells facing each other. Each barbell was loaded with what appeared to be 320 kilograms (705 pounds). They both successfully pulled that weight while wearing lifting straps and belts. Although 320 kilograms (705 pounds) is a steep dip from Björnsson’s record 501 kilograms (1,104 pounds), it is still more than twice his substantial bodyweight of 155 kilograms (342 pounds).
Fending Off Unhealthy Habits
Another apparent change in Björnsson’s life is a better awareness of how training to be the best in the world — in his case, the WSM — can often lead to unhealthy habits. The changes he has made during his transition to professional boxing have led to a healthier overall lifestyle with regards to diet and training. Diets for strongmen, in particular, are often difficult to follow as they need to force-feed to get the requisite calories for extremely heavy training. Eating that volume of calories can be quite uncomfortable — the 2020 WSM champion Oleksii Novikov has said as much. Wheels echoed Björnsson’s sentiment:
I do think competing at the highest level in any sport, you will adopt unhealthy habits.
Björnsson acknowledged that when he intends to be “the best,” he will do whatever it takes. He did just that when he assumed the title of WSM in 2018, and he aims to do the same in boxing. Part of achieving that goal is the exhibition matches, which Björnsson touts as the most valuable learning experiences. Hall takes the contrarian view to exhibitions and has stated that he has no intentions of doing one before the bout in September.
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Regardless of what happens in his exhibition bout with Vallily, Björnsson’s full focus is on giving himself the best possible chance to claim a victory over Hall in his professional boxing debut. His mid-training session heart-to-heart with Wheels suggests that his mindset is in the right place to meet that moment.
Feature image: @thorbjornsson on Instagram