Some people say the squat is the king of the lifts, but we’re not sure it deserves the title outright: After all, there’s something just damn impressive — and impressively simple — about picking up really heavy weight off the ground.
The deadlift is one of strength’s most straightforward, measurable tests, and while the lift has some significant variations (more on that below), it all ends with the athlete picking up the heaviest possible weight. And whether you’re a powerlifter, strongman, weightlifter, or CrossFitter, a weak pull is going to set you back from the competition.
Below, we’ve assembled the heaviest deadlifts ever made in competition settings, including raw, equipped, strongman, “long bar” strongman, partial, and tire variations. We’ve also outlined how standards and rules varied for each, but no matter the specifics, there are the most impressive pulls in history — and one record has stood since 1983.
Full text of the infographic is included below.
While the deadlift seems like one of strength sport’s simplest lifts, there are several variations on picking up ridiculously heavy barbells. Different federations and sports (for example, powerlifting versus strongman) have different rules governing which equipment and pulling styles can be used.
Below, we’ve compiled the top verified, competition deadlifts for some of the most common pulling styles. In all of these styles, a weight belt is permitted. Which lift do you find most impressive?
Icelandic strongman and powerlifter Benedikt Magnusson deadlifted 460.4 kg/1,015 lbs at the 2011 Ronnie Coleman Classic in Texas. He completed the lift without the use of straps or a specialized deadlift suit.
British powerlifter Andy Bolton 457.5 kg/1,009 lbs at the 2009 BPC South East Championships in England. He performed the lift with a deadlift suit (hence “equipped”) but without the use of straps or hitching.
In strongman, wrist straps are often allowed, which provides a much more secure grip on the barbell (and potentially reduces injury risk from using a mixed, underhand/overhand grip). Hitching the bar above the knees is also generally allowed.
Strongman Eddie Hall deadlifted 500 kg at the 2016 World Deadlift Championship on a conventional deadlift bar. Straps and a specialized deadlift suit were allowed.
Long Bar Strongman Deadlift
Eddie Hall deadlifted 465 kg/1,025 lbs at the 2016 Arnold Classic Strongman using a specially built Rogue Elephant Barbell — longer than a conventional deadlift bar. Straps and hitching were allowed.
Partial Deadlift (18″ off floor)
Canadian powerlifter and strongman Tom Magee deadlifted 535 kg/1180 lbs from 18″ at the 1983 World’s Strongest Man competition. Straps were allowed.
Lithuanian strongman legend Zydrunas Savickas lifted 524 kg/1155 lbs at the 2014 Arnold Classic Strongman. The tire deadlift uses truck tires instead of traditional weight plates, along with a longer barbell to accommodate them. Straps were allowed.