Gabriel Peña may have withdrawn from his 2020 World’s Strongest Man debut, but he’s having a productive offseason. On Jan. 9, 2021, The Texas Titan managed to rip a 481-kilogram (1,060-pound) axle bar deadlift from 18-inch blocks. (He was wearing a suit, straps, and a lifting belt for the lift.) According to Pena’s Instagram post, this “may be an unofficial world record.” Check out the lift below, courtesy of Pena’s Instagram account:
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According to Peña, the heaviest 18″ axle bar deadlift he could find was Jerry Pritchett’s 478-kilogram (1,053-pound) pull, which was done at the 2018 Static Monster World Wide event.
This is not the heaviest 18-inch deadlift ever done, however. Also known as the silver dollar deadlift and partial deadlift, strongman Anthony Pernice pulled 550 kilograms (1,212.5 pounds) in July 2020 for the current world record. Then, at 2020 WSM, champion Oleksii Novikov set a WSM record with a 537.5-kilogram (1,185-pound) partial deadlift. These records were performed on a standard barbell, whereas Peña’s lift was done on an axle bar.
It’s important to note that an axle bar is significantly thicker than a standard barbell, so it taxes the grip far more. An axle bar is also more rigid than a standard barbell, so it doesn’t bend. This means that the weight Peña is pulling — from the first tug to lockout — is consistent throughout the lift. With a more pliable barbell, a deadlift may initially feel easier — as the bar bends and the weight sinks — but then feel much harder as the load sits below the barbell’s center of mass. Take a closer look at the video, and you’ll also see that Peña is wearing Figure 8 straps, which are looped around an implement and then secured around the athlete’s wrist for a completely locked-in grip. These straps essentially bind the lifter to the barbell.
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If you follow Peña on Instagram, you know he’s grown into a prolific deadlifter in the back half of 2020. Eight days after Peña was hospitalized with heart issues, which forced his withdrawal from WSM, he pulled 520 kilograms (1,145 pounds) from 18-inch blocks (with a regular barbell). Then, on Dec. 18, 2020, he strapped into 454-kilograms (1,000 pounds) and pulled it from the floor for an all-time best one-rep max.
It’s clear that Peña is a forced to be reckoned with in 2021. Along with Novikov, who was 24 years old when he won the WSM title, and 2020 WSM runner-up Tom Stoltman, who is 26 years old, Peña is among the new wave of strongmen making a name for themselves. How will Peña fare in next year’s WSM? Of course, no one can say — but smart money would say not to bet against him.
Featured image: @texastitangabe on Instagram