After winning the World’s Strongest Man competition in 2019, Hafthor Bjornsson went on to break the strongman deadlift world record with a lift of 501kg in 2022 and then retired from competition. Citing longterm health considerations and one of the most impressive resumés in the world of strongman, Bjornsson spent the next 2 years training for a boxing match with rival strongman Eddie Hall — whose 500kg deadlift record Hafthor broke.
After some delays, including Hall suffering a torn bicep, the boxing match finally went down. Aside from a few big shots landed early, Hall’s unrefined technique was thoroughly dismantled by the more studied and better conditioned Icelander. Bjornsson took a clear decision win and ended their rivalry definitively.
At the end of 2022, Hafthor dipped his toes back into the strength sports waters, holding a powerlifting meet at his gym in Iceland and posting the following total:
- Squat – 380 kilograms (837.7 pounds)
- Bench Press – 210 kilograms (463 pounds)
- Deadlift – 380 kilograms (837.7 pounds)
- Total – 970 kilograms (2138.5 pounds)
Considering this was done with approximately 6 weeks of preparation, at a bodyweight over 100 pounds lighter than when he set the deadlift record, this was a very impressive showing in my opinion. He may have fallen short of his 1000 kilogram goal, but came very close if not for a failed third squat attempt.
The results were obviously encouraging to Hafthor, as he recently announced his intention to compete in powerlifting again this year and return to strongman in 2024 at the Arnold Strongman Classic. Bjornsson was present at this year’s competition to formally announce his participation.
Not only does Hafthor intend to do another powerlifting meet, but his stated goal is to break the raw total record — which is 1182.5 kilograms (2606 pounds) — currently held by Daniel Bell. A massive undertaking, but given Hafthor’s determination, genetic gifts, and past performances competing at the highest levels of strength sports, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable goal.
Bjornsson and Bell have kicked off their friendly rivalry with a head-to-head deadlift challenge, and it’s going to be fun watching their competition prep on YouTube.