It’s fair to say that Thor Bjornsson’s 501kg deadlift this summer was the most famous deadlift of all time.
We’d venture that it’s more famous than Eddie Hall’s 500kg deadlift, given the fact that it’s the current world record, it was broadcast live on ESPN — on television, where real people watch sports — and it was performed by that guy on Game of Thrones who killed Oberyn Martell.
Now of course, everyone’s wondering who will break that record. Who will be the man to lift more than 501 kilograms?
Thor himself said he strongly believes he could have pulled 510kg that day. Benedikt Magnusson has said he can totally deadlift 528 kilograms — OK, sure, Benedict — but for our money, there’s one man who’s most likely to do it.
Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
This Russian powerlifter and strongman is fanatically obsessed with lifting five hundred and something kilos. (A couple of sources say he’s Georgian, but most say he’s Russian and that’s where all of his competitions have taken place.)
Remember how in Rocky III there are all those shots of Rocky training in his fancy gym, surrounded by fans, reveling in his celebrity, and they’re juxtaposed with shots of Mr. T training even harder, in obscurity, all alone, with no one motivating him but his eye-of-the-tiger super intensity? Ivan Makarov is the Mr. T to Thor Bjornsson’s Rocky.
It’s the best metaphor we could come up with.
The First 501kg Attempt
Why is Makarov the heir to the deadlift world record throne? For starters, he deadlifted 405 kilograms raw at a 2017 meet in Moscow, but 2019 was when he really came to the fore. Take a look at his first attempt at a 501-kilo deadlift in October of that year:
That cleared his knees! With straps and a powerlifting suit, yes, but that’s how Thor and Eddie made their lifts. Makarov wrote at the time,
Made a very serious mistake and bore the consequences: excessively tightened the suit and couldn’t catch a breath. (…) The record will be broken soon enough, just a few small steps ahead of me. (…) As my wife says: “Die if you have to, but lift it.”
(Damn, Mrs Makarov.)
The Successful 540kg Off of Blocks
That was in October. In November he made, an astonishing 540 kilograms off of 12-centimeter blocks. A ludicrous, ludicrous lift of which we can’t overstate the significance.
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Perhaps we should make it clear that given these lifts have all thus far taken place in a gym, we can’t be 100% positive of the weights. But you’re about to see him in a bona fide competition.
The Second 501kg Attempt
One month later in December, he tried 501kg again, but this time it wasn’t in the gym. It was at an exhibition at WRPF Worlds: calibrated plates, judges, exciting neon lights, the whole nine yards.
In the video below he lifted 435 kilograms at the 0:48 mark, then he successfully made 470 kilograms at the 3:42 mark. At the time, that was the second heaviest deadlift of all time. One thousand and thirty-six pounds.
The 501 kilos is at the 5:50 mark.
But he was not discouraged by the missed lift. He kept lifting and his goals have grown and grown.
A couple of weeks before Thor’s 501, he posted this video of himself claiming he’ll lift 510 kilos in September, 2020.
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Right afterward, he made twelve 220-kilo beltless deadlifts.
Some preparation for Deadlift World Championship: 510 kilo. let’s go!
The Deadlift World Championships to which he’s referring were scheduled for July this year, then they moved to September… but now they’ve been canceled.
So is Makarov going to do a 510-kilo gym lift instead? We don’t know. But there’s one more gigantic, albeit failed, lift that you should know about.
A 550kg Deadlift Off of Blocks Attempt
In this session, he actually warmed up with a successful 500-kilo deadlift from 12-centimeter blocks.
Then he cranked up the intensity and went for 550 kilos. It’s at the 00:45 mark, but it’s worth watching all the way to get yourself hyped up alongside him.
OK, that could have gone better, but look.
If anyone’s deadlifting over 501 kilos, it looks like it’ll be Ivan Makarov.