Heaviest Deadlifter in History (with Victoria Long)

Today I’m talking to strongwoman Victoria Long. She’s a pro strongwoman, the current America’s Strongest Woman, and a 2-time Arnold Pro Strongwoman Champion. She’s also a world record holder in the Elephant Bar deadlift, having pulled 651 pounds earlier this year at the Arnold in strongman style. We talk about her background in strength — she really only started competing seriously in 2019 — and mental tips for turning back days into small (or in her case, sometimes big) wins. It could be argued Victoria is the strongest overall woman in the world right now — some more wins could cement that — so it’s rare to get training, nutrition, and mindset insight from someone at this level.

Victoria Long on the BarBend Podcast

In this episode of the BarBend Podcast, host David Thomas Tao talks to Victoria Long about:

  • Why “cheat meals” actually start BEFORE the competition (2:45)
  • Did Victoria have the best competition turnaround in strength history? (6:30)
  • Pulling the heaviest women’s deadlift in history (11:20)
  • Is the “wheel of pain” the toughest implement in strength? (14:50)
  • Victoria’s first competition (17:40)
  • Fighting (or ignoring) social media trolls (21:00)
  • Celebrating the women who lift each other up (23:15)

Relevant links and further reading:


I had to make a decision that night when we went back to the hotel either I was going to let my first day define the rest of this contest or I was going to start from scratch on day two, and that’s very, very difficult to do.


I said on previous podcasts, I don’t know how I would deal with defeat. This was one of the first times that I actually felt it, and I had to decide what I was going to do.

David TaoDavid Tao

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast,” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.


Today I’m talking to a strong woman, Victoria Long. She’s a pro-strong woman, the current America’s Strongest Woman, and a two-time Arnold pro champion.


She’s also a world record holder in the deadlift, having pulled 651 pounds earlier this year at the Arnold in strongman style. They use straps, by the way, just so powerlifting purists don’t get upset with this intro.


We talked about Victoria’s background and strength, she really only started competing seriously in 2019, and her mental tips are turning bad days into small or in her case sometimes big wins. It could be argued Victoria is the strongest overall woman in the world right now.


Some more wins at top levels could cement that. It’s rare to get training, nutrition, and mindset insight from someone at her caliber of performance. I really hope you all enjoy this one.


Victoria, thanks for taking the time today. You are a busy athlete coming off a string of very good competitions. It’s always nice to catch people in the come down, not the lead up that we will talk about what you’re preparing for now.


I got to ask, how are you feeling? How’s the body? How’s training? And recovery? All That jazz, right now?

First of all, David, I’d like to thank you for having me, these are always fun for me to do. I’m still licking a few wounds on the Arnold. I think with every contest that just, there’s something else that hurt, than, it’s just that whole thing. Otherwise, I’m feeling good. I’ve gotten back to training again, back to the dieting and eating right, all that good stuff. Overall, it’s going.

David TaoDavid Tao

Back to dieting and eating right, it implies that after the Arnold which was about a little less than a month ago. It implies that after a competition, there’s a period of not eating right, and really enjoying yourself.


I got to ask, what is that like for you? How long is that period? What are those go to cheat meals? The things that when training is really sucky, you’re like, “I get to eat this after the competition.”

[laughs]. Honestly, for me, it starts during the contest because, the way you have to carb load and feed your body during the contest so that you’re able to perform at your best. After that there’s this several day period, maybe a week where I’m like, “Gross, don’t put like Uncrustables in front of me, don’t put anything gross or sweet.”


You know what I mean? I’ve had to eat so much of it during the couple of days contest. I wouldn’t say that there’s a go to cheat for me. We may go and have Chinese a few more times that we should, or order in more than we should for a couple weeks, but it doesn’t get too crazy after all.

David TaoDavid Tao

You mentioned Uncrustables. You are probably the seventh…This this podcast is not sponsored by Uncrustables. I don’t know who makes Uncrustables,


You’re probably the seventh strength athlete in the past couple of years to mention Uncrustables on this podcast.


Here’s the question. Some people say Uncrustables are pre-workout, some say they’re intro-workout, some say they’re post-workout. What are they for you? Under which of the food groups, [laughs] pre, during or post-workout do Uncrustables fall for you?

I really only eat them during contests, before and during contests. Occasionally maybe I’ll pop one in if I need some extra during a workout here. Generally, they’re pre-workout or pre-contest and then during. That’s what works best for me. Some people you see eating the Sour Patch Kids or things like that, but Uncrustables seem to do the trick.

David TaoDavid Tao

I just can’t emphasize enough how not sponsored by Uncrustables this podcast is…

…but they always come up. OK, so I’m going to go in reverse order. Normally I ask people like, “Oh, what’s your athletic background? How’d you get to where you are today?” I will, I’ll do that whole thing. Since we’re talking about the Arnold anyway. Tell us about how the Arnold worked for you this year, in 2023.


[laughs] Well, it’s no secret that day one was not my best performance by a long shot. I got seventh on the wheel of pain, which is their first event. Fourth in the log. Needless to say, I was disappointed, I was frustrated. Of course at myself.


Those are times where you think back on your training like, “Should we have done more here or there, or switch something around.” At the end of the day, it is what it is. Like I said, I was very frustrated, and I had to make a decision that when we went back to the hotel either I was going to let my first day define the rest of this contest, or I was going to start from scratch on day two.


That’s very, very difficult to do. I had said on previous podcasts, I don’t know how I would deal with defeat. This was one of the first times that I actually felt it. I had to decide what I was going to do. I decided, “You know what, it is what it is, day one I can’t take back, let’s go onto day two and see what we can do.” Day two went very well for me. Placing first in all of the events.


By the grace of God and the way things worked out. I was able to take home the win. It ended very well. It didn’t start off very great, but it end through.

David TaoDavid Tao

I’ve actually talked with a lot of strongman athletes before about the difference between single-day contests, like a Giants Live or something. Talking to athletes who really excel in those quicker, call them stadium formats versus a multiday competition.


The longer ones being World’s Strongest Woman, Strongest Woman of the World, World’s Strongest Man, where you’re going across multiple sometimes three, four, sometimes five days. Real slogs with recovery days in between. I am going to say the best turnaround I’ve ever heard is going from “Shitting the bed” day one…


…to winning every event day two.


That’s a heck of a comeback. I want to get to the event’s day two. There’s some really memorable ones there. There’s real highlights we covered on “BarBend”. What do you think helped you mentally? You talked a little bit about it.


You’re like, “Hey, I can’t take day one back.” Is there a mantra, is there a vision board? Is there something your coach says that you know is going to put the focus back on, or at least put the blinders back on to any other distraction and look at what’s in front of you?


I don’t know if there’s a mantra necessarily. One of the things that my coach does a really good job of is keeping things real with me. I’m not a person that needs the extra pats on the back or the extra encouragement. Like “Alright Vic, here we go”, “It’s alright we got this, we got this.”


No. He keeps it real with me. He’s like, “This is what needs to happen, this is what you need to do to dig yourself out of this hole.” That works best for me more than anything, because it’s realistic. The things I have to do if they’re put to me in that context, what I have to do is very realistic and it’s achievable.


That has worked better for me than anything, really. I talk a lot about being positive over the course of my career, and in the sport. We can kind of play into that. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and have a shit attitude about the rest of the contest because I didn’t do well.


I have to pick myself up. This is what I preach to other people. It’s OK, we fail. We as humans fail. Even the best of us fail. That was important for me, too, not only for myself, but for the people that follow me and watch and all that.

David TaoDavid Tao

Let’s talk about those event’s day two. I’m always curious from…I don’t want to just reread the BarBend article about this. A lot of people already read that. I can tell you exactly how many tens of thousands of people read that because I can just go to the analytics.


I want to hear this from your perspective. It doesn’t necessarily need to be event by event, day two. It totally can be from your perspective how that went.

Sure. We will start with the first event because it was the deadlift. Deadlift is one of my better events.

David TaoDavid Tao


 I would say so. Sorry spoiler alert…


…for those who don’t know what is going on.

It wasn’t always that way, though. It did start off like we weren’t so great. Anyway, now, present day, it’s one of my better events. I was looking forward to it, I knew what I was capable of, because of how our trainings went. It was powerlifting [inaudible 9:17] so you got three pulls, and that was it.


I was feeling really, really good, I was feeling really strong. My last pull was 651, and Tamara matched it. She decided she was going to go up to 651, and she matched it, so we tied. That’s kind of how that event went. Obviously, I was very proud of myself. [laughs] especially with that event. It was really cool.


The second event was the stone throw. I’m not even going to try to pronounce how they actually say it. The stone throw. That was an event where nobody really knew how that was going to go for them. Nobody could actually put hands on the implement or get a replica of it prior to the contest. You just had to, in your training, make it work.

David TaoDavid Tao


 Did you like that? By the way, I know some athletes are frustrated when they can’t replicate the implement in a training environment. Some athletes are like, “Yeah, it goes back to the sport’s roots. You don’t really know what’s going to be thrown at you, literally, Oh my God, I can’t believe I use that three stone throw event.”

I’m curious as to where you fall on that spectrum.

Sure. I’m on the side of, you know what, everybody’s in the same boat when it comes to this because nobody can get their hands on this. This is the first time when you’re there, it’s the first time that anyone’s never touched the stone.


I enjoy those events better because it puts everybody on more of a level playing field when it comes to events like that. I enjoyed it. It was different. That’s where I’m at with it.


During my training, I was like, “Well, this is going to be what it’s going to be, so hey, [laughs] let’s do the best we can with it.” Yeah, and then the last event was the Timber Carry. Frame is also one of my stronger events.


I have a pretty good grip, I knew that frame carry was not easy, but it was going to be a good event. I pulled off on that one by just the skin of my teeth because [inaudible 11:06] was like 6.8 something, and I was 6.5 or 6.6 something or something like that, so it was very, very close for that.

David TaoDavid Tao


I’m curious on the deadlift event, 651 basically pulling more weight on a deadlift than any woman has ever pulled, so that’s cool. I don’t know how to not undersell it because it’s an historic achievement. Were you surprised that Tamara just matched it instead of going heavier?

I wasn’t and the reason why I wasn’t is because her second attempt was 641, and they didn’t give her the rep on the 641 and so when she went up to the same, I wasn’t surprised because it was all or nothing for her.


She probably knew, I don’t say she knew because I wasn’t in her head, but she probably knew that being that 641 didn’t go as she had planned that, probably going more than what I was going for, it probably just didn’t make sense.


She had a better chance probably of getting the 651 than she would have the 671 or whatever the next jump was 660 so no, I wasn’t surprised at all, she matched.

David TaoDavid Tao

All right, I’m just curious on that. There’s always a little gamesmanship when it comes to these things and in strength sports matching as opposed to exceeding, it is a little different because this isn’t like powerlifting or weightlifting where you can take much smaller increment jumps like a 10 lb.


It was like a 10 lb or 20-lb jump for the next increment. That is pretty significant, so I do appreciate the context there. Would you say the win at the Arnold, has that been the highlight, the high point of your strength career so far?

Yeah, I would say so. The reason why is because we were treated exactly like the men were treated this year with everything from accommodations to warm up time and equipment.


To be a part of something like the Arnold, and you’re on the same playing field as the guys finally is just a really cool it’s a really cool thing. It’s really cool to be a part of. The fact that I was able to win was icing on the cake, I guess.

David TaoDavid Tao


What is your favorite event in the sport? I’m going to ask after that just as a preview. What is your least favorite event in the sport?


Oh. Hey, I really like Yoke.

David TaoDavid Tao

Not frame carry. Like yoke, like across the back.

Yeah, across the back.

David TaoDavid Tao

Across the shoulders, yoke. OK.



Yeah. I really like yoke. I’m able to put a lot of weight on my back and be pretty speedy with it. There’s just something about it, I don’t know. Putting that much weight on your back and moving not just squatting it, but moving it, is really cool and I really enjoy it. That would probably be my favorite. The least favorite event now would be the Wheel of Pain.

David TaoDavid Tao

The wheel of pain. For those who aren’t clear, you can hang on there for just a second…


…so I want to say, it’s also so fun to say wheel of pain.


I can envision the wheel of pain. I’ve never attempted it, but which is a good thing for all involved. For those who don’t know, who can’t envision the wheel of pain, please describe the wheel of pain.

I will not do it justice by describing it, so I encourage everybody to hop on Google and check it out for themselves, so they can get a [inaudible 14:24].


This thing is massive. It has several different heighted arms, I guess, that come out from the actual apparatus. In the inside, the middle of it, there’s chambers and as you push forward, there’s sand inside these chambers that dropped.


As you push, the sand can drop as you’re going around. There’s always like this constant, like, push back.


If anybody who watched saw when a competitor would let go of it, it would come back a little bit so as you’re pushing, you’re fighting that and then the weight, the heaviness of it and just trying to inch your way along.


That was another one of those where they brought it back because they had it the past couple years. That’s another one of those things where you can’t 100 percent mimic that event in training because there’s only one wheel of pain, so some people were pushing vehicles, some people were pushing yokes.


It was, again, just one of those things you had to figure it out and do your best, but yeah, that would be my least favorite [laughs].

David TaoDavid Tao


Every athlete I know who I’ve talked to some not on this podcast about the wheel of pain, they go, “Yeah, there’s only one wheel of pain. Thank God.”


Yes. Agreed [laughs]. Agreed.

David TaoDavid Tao

They got, it’s not something that they’re like, “Yeah, I’m glad I can’t train with it.”

[laughs] Yeah, I’m glad that it’s not a part of like the normal comp. Maybe it would be a good thing because we get to practice on it, but no. If I only saw that once a year, I wouldn’t [inaudible 15:57].

David TaoDavid Tao

You gave a little preview earlier. You talked about how deadlift was not always a very strong apparatus for you. Now you are the best in the world, or certainly among the best in the world at it. The way to turn the negatives into positives, but let’s talk about your strength career. Where did that start and how long ago was that?

I was a high school athlete. I played volleyball and basketball. I messed around with those a bit, and then the sport that I was in the longest was track and field.


I was a thrower, so those of you who know about throwing, your success in that comes from power, so I did a lot of power-lifting movement, those power movements in gym like in high school.


After high school, I was a collegiate athlete for about like 5.6 seconds [laughs] and then after that, I got out of it. I transferred colleges, and it wasn’t until about probably I was like in my early 20s that I actually started going to the gym and just training on my own, random stuff.


Got into a little bit of bodybuilding that taught me some things about muscle control, muscle memory, nutrition, which is a huge thing. Through that, I met my Strongman coach and tried it out, tried Strongman out in 2019. I’ve been good at it and enjoyed it. Here we are.

David TaoDavid Tao

2019 was that the year of your first competition, or was that just the year you started training?

That was the year of my first competition. It was at a local county fair, just a small contest. I had only trained like three or four weeks for that contest prior, so yeah, it turned out to be something good [laughs].

David TaoDavid Tao

I have a few questions because I’m trying to predict…I could be wrong, and I have a few questions. I want you to tell me if I’m right or wrong on these, and if I’m wrong, like how wrong I am.


First competition, local strength competition at a county fair. Was it in a parking lot?


More or less. Yeah, it was pavement, it was on. [laughs]

David TaoDavid Tao


Were competitors eating things like funnel cakes and fair food right afterward?


If I recall, yeah. [laughs]

David TaoDavid Tao


Were the spectators just standing around or were there actually bleachers?


There was one small set of bleachers, but the rest was chilling, hanging out.

David TaoDavid Tao


I think I have a somewhat accurate vision of this in my mind. There’s only so much you could do at a local fair when it comes to strength competitions.

It was very standard. The events were very standard. It was like a farmer’s, the yolk, axle clean and press, a truck bowl, so very standard, easy to set up.


David TaoDavid Tao

What was the moment, if there is one, where you decided you’re like, “Hey, I really want to commit to this sport. I really want to commit to working toward my full potential in this sport”?

I qualified for the [inaudible 18:58]. I think that was my first big contest. I was still very new to the sport. I didn’t follow the sport. I’m still guilty of not following the sport as much as other people right now.


I still really had no clue. I knew that I was somewhat decent at this. I did OSG on a whim, I qualified, and I took second place to Donna Moore.

David TaoDavid Tao


The legend, Donna Moore.

Right, and again, after that contest, I still had no clue. I was like, “OK, Donna Moore, she’s cool.” She came over and said, “Hi.” Talked to me a little bit. Of course, now I understand the significance of that and how just grand that was.


I think it was after that when I realized I’m like, “OK, all right, let’s start buying some actual higher quality training gear, all the sleeves, the shoes, and all that stuff.” I think it was after that when I realized that this is something I should probably continue to do this.

David TaoDavid Tao


 I’m going to completely change the tone here because you’ve been so positive and awesome about this. What don’t you like about the sport right now?

This is something that is not just our sport of strongman, but it’s across our sport. The negativity, I don’t appreciate it. When things are posted like videos of these contests, the training videos, whether it be of me or another female, you have this tribe called Internet trolls, they like to come in and they like to share their wonderful opinions, I really dislike that.


I dislike the fact that people want to discredit the accomplishments of women, when it comes to strength sports actually, by throwing out falsities, a lot of the times they’re false statements, they jump to conclusions, stuff like that. If there is one thing that I dislike about the sport, that would be it. Again, like I said, it’s not just in our sport.

David TaoDavid Tao

I think there’s something to be said, this is going to sound a little antithetical, I started BarBend, and it’s going to sound weird for me to say this, there is something to be said about not getting obsessive over sports coverage and especially the social media sphere in your sport.


There’s a lot of negativity, and that’s kind of where it lives, that’s where trolls live. They used to live under bridges, and then social media was invented…

…and they’re like, “We don’t have to live under bridges anymore, we can live on social media,” right?

It’s a home for trolls, and there is something to be said as far as creating a little separation, not obsessing over checking every single comment thread and every video thread, because it allows you to just focus on what you like about the sport, and the factors you can control in your training and competing.

Yeah, a hundred percent. I guess [inaudible 21:45] not being very reactive on social media because of that fact because there was a very short period of time, where I would get on, as a lot of people do, and they looked for affirmations from people who are doing right, their success, [?] when there’s PRs or militants that aren’t good enough for them almost.


They need to see it and hear it from other people, but like you said along with that is the negative comments, so they contradict each other, one cancels the other out. There was a period of time where I would get upset over those comments.


Now, it’s to the point when I’ve asked advice from other people who’ve been in the sport longer, the pros. I’m like, “How do you deal with that?” The simplest answer was, “I don’t, I ignore it.” You shut it off. That’s what I do. So me not responding to people’s likes and support has nothing to do with them, it’s just me separating myself from the negative…

David TaoDavid Tao

There’s a lot to be said for creating, for choosing to create that distance, so I appreciate you’re sharing that. Who do you look up to in the sport?


We talked a little bit about Donna Moore, learning after the fact, what she’s done for the sport, her longevity in the sport, and now across weight classes. Is there anyone else you either look up to or, maybe a better question is, really like competing against?

[laughs] I don’t know that I have necessarily a favorite or I look up to the women who are positive role models and influencers for other women who are coming in the sport or like, the young girls who are looking at what we do and hoping that one day they can do it. I don’t like drama. I don’t like the bantering back and forth that sometimes competitors do.


It’s just the women that don’t do that and who make the sport a great sport, what I mean to be a part of. When we’re talking about Arnold, that’s all of the women that were there. I’ve competed against all of them except for on camera. That’s the[ [inaudible 23:48]. They’re all such great sportsmen when you’re not only when you’re competing with them, but when it’s all over.


You get messages from them saying, “Hey, great job, it’s great to see you, can’t wait to see you again.” I guess it would be just those women overall, and then of course the great [laughs]…You always look up to the great, because it’s because of them that we’re able to do what we do now.

David TaoDavid Tao


Well, Victoria, I know you’re not super active on social, but if people do want to follow along with you when you do post…By the way Victoria, you’re a great follower on Instagram. You’re underselling yourself just a little bit.

Your social presence is very good. I just want to be clear here…


…to rush to your defense against yourself.


We got in touch with you via social, you’re super responsive.


David TaoDavid Tao

What is the best place for people to follow along with you and to bring…Only if they’re going to bring that positivity?


Well, unfortunately, we can’t control that part of their…

David TaoDavid Tao


We can ask nicely. I’m asking everyone nicely.

You can follow me on Instagram. That’s probably the most, I guess, popular way or common way that will follow me. My Facebook’s more like for closer friends and family and stuff like that. You can follow me on Instagram, message me on Instagram. I’ve had several people message me, asking me questions about their training and stuff like that.


I’m always open to giving advice where I can. Things that are going to work for me, may not work me, may not work for the next person. By no means am I a strength coach. I don’t coach athletes. I’m not there yet. I don’t know if that will be. I’m just a regular person, who lives a regular life, has a full-time job.


Any time I can help anybody out, I’m all for it so they can message me [inaudible 25:32] or, sorry, Instagram.

David TaoDavid Tao


You’re a regular person who just so happens to deadlift more than any woman in history.


David TaoDavid Tao

Yeah, there you go, just regular, casual, regular.


I just want to be clear, it’s not like that just happened. That’s a testament to the work you’ve put in and actually, I will say the hard work in a relatively short period of time, your career is still very much in its…I would hope early stages and I speak for a lot of people when I say I’m really, really excited to see how that develops over the coming years. Thank you very much for joining us today.

I appreciate it. Thank you, David.