2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion Hafthor Björnsson has postponed his powerlifting ambitions to return to competitive strongman. The Icelandic strongman-turned-boxer–turned-powerlifter-turned strongman broke the news in a video published on his YouTube channel on Sept. 20, 2023.
In February 2023, Björnsson made known his plans to break the all-time raw (w/wraps) world record powerlifting total via a to-be-determined sanctioned meet by the end of 2023. However, Björnsson tore his pec on April 15, 2023, while competing in the first of three scheduled powerlifting meets on his journey toward breaking the record.
Dan Bell currently holds the raw (w/wraps) powerlifting total world record of 1,182.5 kilograms (2,606.9 pounds) set on Feb. 20, 2021. Björnsson currently ranks 13th worldwide with a competition-best total of 1,100 kilograms (2,425 pounds) scored at the 2018 WRPF-Iceland Thor’s Powerlifting Challenge.
Although Björnsson is shifting his focus to strongman, he’s not giving up on his powerlifting goal. He plans to begin training again after recovering fully from his pec tear and building the necessary static strength. Björnsson has allotted a generous three-year timeframe to prepare.
I’ve decided to come back to strongman because I have so much love for this sport.
Björnsson opined his pec injury was due to insufficient time to adapt to lifting heavy weights following the transition away from his two-year boxing career. “I set my goal so high, and I was getting strong so fast that my body wasn’t ready for it,” said Björnsson.
Having learned from his pec injury, Björnsson won’t pursue lofty records or extraordinary feats of strength upon his return. Instead, he will prioritize gradual progress and incremental improvements.
At the time of recording, 22 weeks had elapsed since Björnsson’s pec tear. Since finishing his surgery, he’s undergone Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment and stem cell injections to aid the healing process. Björnsson expects to begin lifting heavy for his impending strongman return approximately at the end of October.
The 34-year-old Björnsson could have retired from competitive sports after his pec tear to focus on his businesses but believes he still has a few years of high-level competition left.
A Look Back and Way Forward
Björnsson competed in the international strongman circuit for 10 years and won every major title available, including the WSM (2018), Arnold Strongman Classic (2018-20), and Europe’s Strongest Man (2014-15, 2017-19). He also pulled the heaviest deadlift ever, 501 kilograms (1,104.5 pounds), in May 2020.
Björnsson retired from competitive Strongman in 2020 following his 10th consecutive Iceland’s Strongest Man victory. Later the same year, Björnsson challenged 2017 WSM champion Eddie Hall to a boxing match dubbed “The Heaviest Boxing Match in History” on March 19, 2022. Björnsson won via unanimous decision.
Björnsson hung up his boxing gloves after two and a half years and a record of two wins and two draws, citing a lack of passion for the sport. His decision to box was meant to settle a long-standing rivalry with Hall regarding the 2017 WSM finals, where Hall won gold to Björnsson’s silver following a disputed rep in the Viking Press event.
Björnsson briefly returned to competitive strongman at the Rogue Record Breaker competition featured at the 2022 Rogue Invitational. He threw a 25.5-kilogram (56-pound) Scottish Highland Games weight over 6.17 meters (20 feet, three inches), using one arm for a new world record.
Björnsson has decided which strongman contests he will compete at in 2024 but did not disclose which they are.
Featured image: @thorbjornsson on Instagram