Sure, hanging plates off your waist is one way to get stronger at chin-ups. Or you can just gain a couple hundred pounds.

Hafthor Björnsson is usually recognized for crushing skulls as The Mountain on HBO’s Game of Thrones, but he’s also one of the world’s most elite strength athletes. In 2016 alone he won the Arnold Classic Strongman competitions in both Brazil and Australia, and he broke his own world record in the keg toss at the 2016 World’s Strongest Man event in Botswana. His 990-pound deadlift ain’t bad, either.

At 6’9” and currently weighing in at 400 pounds, we’d forgive him for leaving bodyweight chin-ups out of his routine, but for Hafthor, that just wouldn’t do. Take a look at the video he recently posted of himself completing multiple chin-ups (with straps) for reps.

Sure, some of those might have earned him a “no rep” at the CrossFit Games, but we’re not about to find fault with someone doing 400-pound pull-ups.

Nearly as impressive is this this astonishing video below of powerlifter Ray Williams, at 395 pounds, completing seven surprisingly smooth chin-ups at his gym in Fulton County, Mississippi.

If you’re wondering what the heaviest chin-up of all time is, it’s hard to say – but in October 2016, Spanish YouTuber David Marchante broke the Guinness World Record in weighted pull-ups when he hung an astounding 230.49 pounds off of his frame as he completed one rep on the talk show, El Hormiguero.

That’s got to be harder than it looks. You can start the video at four minutes if you’d like to see about a minute of Marchante contemplating the daunting feat he was about to achieve. Nice work!

Featured image: @thorbjornsson


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I’m a journalist and content producer with over seven years' reporting experience on four continents, with most of that spent covering health-related issues. My resume includes covering cholera outbreaks in Kenya and the clubbing scene in Shanghai, which is also where I wrote my first ever health article for an English language magazine. (It was on diarrhea.)After returning to Australia to finish up degrees in Journalism and International Relations I wound up in New York City where I’ve worked for Men’s Health, VICE, Popular Science and others. I try to keep health relatively simple — it’s mostly vegetables and sweat — but I live to explore the debates, the fringes, the niche, and the nitty gritty.