Hafthor Björnsson Urges Lifters to Not Train Too Heavy Too Often

Björnsson recommends improving recovery and nutrition to improve training inside the gym.

After his short stint as a professional boxer following his retirement from competitive strongman, 2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Hafthor Björnsson‘s new goal is in powerlifting. He intends to break the all-time world record raw total that Jesus Olivares recently extended to 1,152.5 kilograms (2,540.8 pounds) at the 2023 Sheffield Classic Championships on March 25.

On March 28, 2023, Björnsson took to his YouTube channel to share mistakes he sees other athletes make during a bulk. The video titled “Biggest mistakes when trying to GROW!” features the soon-to-be pro strongman returnee training his bench press at the two-week mark of his powerlifting journey. Check it out below:

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Lifting Too Heavy, Too Often

One of the most common mistakes Björnsson encounters with lifters looking to increase strength is training too heavy, too often. He feels lifting four days per week with sufficient programming is plenty to generate gains.

It’s hard to stay consistent…[but] you have to be as consistent as you possibly can.

Instead of training too often, which can lead to burnout, Björnsson suggests improving aspects outside the gym that support the work inside the gym: dialing in nutrition, improving recovery, and getting more sleep.

When Björnsson trains heavy, he leaves ample time between sets to recover. During his heavy deadlift session in the video, he rested for approximately eight minutes between sets.


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A post shared by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (@thorbjornsson)

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Training Bench Press

Even though Björnsson is one of the strongest athletes on the planet, he always warms up with a set or two using an empty 20-kilogram barbell before hitting his working sets. This is used both as a warm-up and to acclimate his body to the position he’ll train in during the session.

Björnsson’s programming for this bench press session called for five sets of 165 kilograms (363 pounds) for three reps each. He did not wear any equipment during his working sets — no elbow sleeves or wrist wraps.

The work seemed breezy for Björnsson, who focused less on load and more on mechanics. He is building the habit of pausing at the bottom of the rep before exploding to the top and maintaining the lockout until a judge gives him the signal, as is the requirements for a sanctioned powerlifting meet.

Björnsson supplemented his bench press training with a dumbbell overhead press and lat pulldown superset. He followed with a triceps pushdown and dumbbell hammer curl superset. He closed with dumbbell lateral raises superset with rotator cuff work on the cable machine.

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Featured image: @thorbjornsson on Instagram