Legendary strongman Zydrunas Savickas dramatically downsized his midriff. He’s visibly more vascular than ever before, maybe even too lean to hang onto his perennial nickname: “Big Z”.
Weight by the Numbers
According to The World’s Strongest Man, Big Z competed at a weight of 375lbs (170kg) in their 2015 competition. It’s a size and shape he’s maintained for WSM contests since 2009, though he did not compete at the yet-to-be televised, officially concluded WSM 2016 in Botswana, Africa. His absence left fans such as myself curious to learn what his current weight might be, as he perceptibly shrank his stomach down inch-by-inch while staying out of competition.
On Friday, November 4th, I caught up with four-time World’s Strongest Man Zydrunas Savickas to learn exactly how much weight he’d lost.
“Mr. Savickas, I am writing an article about your weight cut for BarBend.com. Can you tell me your current weight?”
“My current bodyweight is 155kg [~342lbs].”
“Thanks. Keep shredding. Looking great.”
This isn’t the first time Big Z has trimmed down. The now defunct International Federation of Strength Athletes catalogued Savickas’s weight at 400lbs (~181kg) before they went offline in 2007. The physical differences between the 400lb and 375lb versions of Zydrunas Savickas, however, were less jaw-dropping than those resulting from the more recent 33-pound drop from 375 to 342.
Why Change? A History of Success
In a four-way tie with Jon Pall Sigmarsson, Magnus Ver Magnusson, and Brian Shaw, Zydrunas Savickas’s four WSM championships are second only to Mariusz Pudzianowski’s record-setting five. He has been on the podium celebrating Top-3 finishes more times than any other strongman (10). Given his accolades, it seems improbable to suggest that Big Z’s size had been holding him back.
Prior to 2007, a 400lb Zydrunas Savickas had three second-place finishes in WSM. He won six Arnold Strongman Classics in a row, from 2003 to 2008. The 375lb Savickas had an even more impressive trophy collection. It was at this size, in 2009, which he defeated the quintessential lean-strongman, his rival Mariusz Pudzianowski, to earn his first of four claims to being The World’s Strongest Man. (Savickas also earned three second-place finishes and another two triumphant performances at the Arnold in 2014 and 2016). His previous weight, ipso facto, does not seem to have held him from any accomplishments.
Here, he defeats his rival Mariusz Pudzianowski to claim first in 2009:
While I’m nearly prepared to denounce the idea that his weight is an independent variable which his performance correlates to, the truth remains uncertain. His newest weight, after all, has not been tested. We’ve not yet seen him perform as “Lean Z”, as he sported his usual frame for the 2016 Arnold Strongman Classic, last March. So it’s possible his extra pounds have been helpful to him in the past.
Something I would have asked Zydrunas Savickas, had we the time for a full-length interview, is whether we’ll ever see him perform at this size. Unlike some other sports where athletes gain weight in the off-season, it’s not uncommon for strongmen to move in the other direction. Zydrunas Savickas’s MHP profile (posted in 2012) suggests his off-season weight is 353lbs. (Remember, he was competing at 375lbs in 2012.) Granted, that’s still larger than his present self, so we’ll probably still see a smaller performer – though probably a good deal larger than 342lbs.
It’s entirely plausible that Zydrunas Savickas did not change his belly shape as a professional athlete, but as a man. We often scrutinize the pros, but general health is just as valuable to them as it is for the average person. And let’s not discount the psychological benefits of looking good.
Zydrunas Savickas has steadily gotten stronger each year – his ultimate goal as a pro strongman. He beat the shredded Mariusz Pudzianowski with a belly some fans of aesthetics might shame him for. To suggest that he needed to lose weight to stay effective is erroneous. He has been maintaining his rank as a Top-3 strongest athlete in the world, and it wouldn’t make sense to fix what was not broken.
Additionally, the cut will bring Zydrunas Savickas income opportunities. He is indeed selling a supplement for one of his sponsors, Finland based FAST nutrition. Sponsorship is a popular source of income for athletes, and showing off a genuine physical transformation is one of the best marketing tools a supplement company can implement. Furthermore, Savickas’s physique is now much more likely to find itself in muscle mags and online advertisements. It’s a professional next step for someone who has already placed himself in the sport’s history books forevermore.
All things considered, I expect Zydrunas Savickas to regain some mass in advance of next spring’s major strongman contests. I have found that his weight has not served as a predictor of his success, with wins at 400lbs and 375lbs, and see the recent change as independent from his role as a strongman. Of course, the lower weight is yet untested, and if it has resulted in an unintended loss in muscle mass, we may see a negative change to come. I do not expect such a change from the most consistent strongman in history.
Featured image: @savickas_bigz on Instagram
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.