Martins Licis’ 500-Pound Steinborn Squat Is the Heaviest We’ve Ever Seen

Latvian strongman Martins Licis is currently ranked as the fourth strongest man on Earth — that’s where he placed at this year’s World’s Strongest Man contest — but he may have the strongest obliques we’ve ever seen.

In an extraordinary show of lateral strength and stability, Licis posted a hair-raising Steinborn squat of 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms) this weekend. It’s the heaviest we’ve ever seen on video. Take a look.

He made the lift, which he says he also completed on his left side, during a workout at The Training Hall, a California gym owned by strongman legend Odd Haugen. (Check out our interview with him for the best grip strength tips you’ll read all day.)

The Steinborn squat is one of those exercises that is super effective and functional but looks pretty bizarre to the casual onlooker. (See also Jefferson deadlifts and Turkish get-ups.) When an Instagram commenter told Licis that this movement would send him straight to the doctor’s room, he made a solid defense:

This motion slightly mobilizes the thoracic spine which is better suited for movement than the lumbar, in addition, my torso is braced by my thighs, so there’s hardly any sheering forces during the transition of the bar from floor to my back.

My back feels great doing these, and my legs have been well conditioned to take lateral strains for years. 😌😉 Steinborn himself, who performed the world record on this lift, squatted heavy into his 70s.

Of course, we wouldn’t recommend trying this lift without significant experience and an incredible base of strength.

[Curious as to the finer points of form? Take a look at our ultimate guide to safely performing the Steinborn squat.] 

Milo Steinborn did indeed lift well into old age. The guy back lifted an 800-pound elephant in 1950 at 57 years old, and he was said to be able to squat 300 pounds in his 80s.

He pioneered the lift, but after this 500-pounder, we’ll also be thinking of Martins Licis whenever we hear “Steinborn squat.”

Featured image via @martinslicis on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.

At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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