The 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) is scheduled for March 4-5, 2022, in Columbus, OH, and will be unique compared to years past. For the first time in its two-decade history, the 2022 ASC will not feature a deadlift event — not a max lift nor max reps. Instead, the contest will feature a max squat event.
It is relatively common for a squat for reps event to be used in strongman competition — that was the case for some of the athletes in the group stage at the 2021 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) contest. A max squat event is relatively rare, but many of the 10 athletes slated to compete in Columbus are honing their technique in a suit and knee wraps. 2019 Arnold Australia champion Rob Kearney is one of them. He took a gargantuan 430.9-kilogram (950-pound) squat to 90 degrees and then hoisted it up to a smooth lockout. Check it out in the video below, courtesy of Kearney’s Instagram page:
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With six spotters and several additional onlookers in the gym eyeballing the scene, Kearney positions himself under what appears to be a Duffalo bar — the curved barbell that Chris Duffin of Kabuki Strength used to squat 1,000 pounds on multiple occasions, including his iconic 1,001-pound triple in March 2020.
Kearney’s recent training has involved building up to his 950-pound top single. Two weeks before the lift above, he suited up in the same lifting suit, knee wraps, lifting belt, and wrist wraps and lifted a 401.4-kilogram (885-pound) top double in training. The format of the max squat event at the 2022 ASC is likely to match that of the max deadlift events of the past. Either each strongman is allowed three attempts to establish their max squat with the strongman with the lowest stated weight to lift first, or there is a set weight that each athlete must successfully lift each round with rounds continuing until only one athlete remains or all athletes bow out.
Without any previous max squat events in recent elite strongman competitions, it isn’t easy to assess how heavy anyone on the roster is capable of lifting. Judging from Kearney’s lift and recent training videos shared by 2022 Força Bruta champion JF Caron and 2019 WSM champion Martins Licis, the heaviest squats in strongman competition history are likely to be hit in Columbus. According to Strongman Archives, the heaviest squat ever scored in a max squat event in an elite strongman contest occurred at the 1981 WSM competition. That contest’s champion Bill Kazmaier lifted a 440-kilogram (970-pound) squat — 40 kilograms more than Dave Waddington and Durwin Piper.
We’ll see if Kearney ups the ante in training again before heading to Columbus. Although he will be the lightest strongman competing at the 2022 ASC in terms of body weight, he could be one of the biggest contenders to score a win in the max squat event.
Featured image: @worlds_strongest_gay on Instagram