For thousands upon thousands of years, mankind has been on a quest to become as strong as he can possibly be.
Strength has long been viewed as an attribute, and ancient strength contests have been held since the dawn of time, in countries all across the globe, ranging from Scotland and Iceland, to Greece and much more besides.
In actual fact, strength contests pre-date written history, so that alone shows you just how important it is considered to be strong.
That would also perhaps indicate why strongman is now more popular than ever, and why YouTube strongmen, powerlifters, and strength athletes, now have millions of followers on social media.
When talking about feats of strength, you simply have to talk about the deadlift as, for many, the deadlift is the ultimate feat of strength and is THE lift which indicates just how strong a person is. Sure, bench pressing hundreds of pounds is great, and squatting heavy weight is awesome, but it is the deadlift that sorts the men from the boys.
To prove just how amazing this exercise is, and that has been involved in bodybuilding workouts, Crossfit Workouts, and strongman workouts, in no particular order, here’s a look at the 10 heaviest deadlift performances of all time.
Brian Shaw is considered by many to be the ultimate ambassador for the sport of Strongman. A former 4 x World’s Strongest Man winner, not to mention a record holder in a variety of different lifts, Brian is one of the strongest men to ever walk the planet.
Not only is the Colorado native one of the strongest men in history, he also happens to be one of the nicest and is the ultimate embodiment of a gentle giant.
At 6ft 8 inches in height, weighing in around 420 – 430 pounds on average, Brian is a man mountain who has displayed some incredible feats of strength over the years, and as he is still in his mid thirties, he’s not done yet either.
In 2016 at the Arnold Strongman Classic, Brian pulled 1020.8lbs, or 264kg on the controversial elephant bar, which is still one of the best lifts ever performed at the contest.
Incidentally, Brian will be hosting a strongman contest at his home gym in Colorado this December, so be sure to check that out.
Up next we have another US strongman who has a rep as being one of the best deadlifters to walk the planet.
Back in 2016 at a Giants Live contest, Jerry pulled 265kg on a standard 7ft deadlift bar, as opposed to the Elephant bar, which is 9 feet in length and a little whippier.
A former World’s Strongest Man finalist and former America’s Strongest Man, Jerry is one of the best deadlifters in the sport of strongman.
Zydrunas Savickas, better known as Big Z, is considered to be the Godfather of Strongman and many consider him to be the best of all time.
Big Z was on top of the sport for close to 20 years, and he is still competing now.
A multiple World’s Strongest Man winner, as well as Arnold Strongman Classic winner, and plenty more besides, Big Z is arguably the best static presser in the world and holds the record for log press.
He also deadlifted a 1,155lb, or 524kg deadlift in 2014 at the Arnold Strongman in Ohia. The lift however, was performed with a Hummer tire, so had less distance to travel, so that lift, as amazing as it is, does not make him the best deadlifter in the world.
Okay, so far we’ve focussed solely on strongmen, so where’s the love for other strength athletes and strong mofo’s? Well, up next we’ve got former 8x Mr Olympia winner, bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman.
Ronnie Coleman is considered one of the best bodybuilders of all time, he is also one of the strongest.
Ronnie used to compete as a powerlifter, and was an absolute beast in the gym.
As well as that infamous video of him squatting 800 pounds (408 kg), there was also a video doing the rounds whereby he deadlifted 900 pounds for 2 reps, just two weeks out from the Olympia.
Nowadays, 408kg for 2 reps is nothing too special in terms of strongman, but Big Ron made our list because he didn’t train for strength and when he completed this lift he was severely caloric depleted as he was dieting down for a contest. Yeah Buddy!
Benedict Magnusson doesn’t get the credit he deserves when it comes to raw deadlift strength and power, and for us, that is something that should really change.
Benedict Magnusson is a multiple World’s Strongest Man finalist and has won multiple other contests over the years. He is also the current raw deadlift record holder, when in 2011, he deadlifted 460kg, or 1015 pounds.
Raw, incidentally, is a term used to describe a lift without any kit or gear, so in this case, he completed the lift without a deadlift suit or straps. Straps are permitted in strongman, so for Benny to complete this exercise without them, or a suit, is quite remarkable.
Incidentally, there is a video of him deadlifting 465 kg in the gym, again raw, which is also incredibly impressive and again, it really deserves more love because to do a lift like that without straps or a suit is nothing short of remarkable.
Benny actually held the world record for deadlift in 2014, for 461 kg, until it was beaten by Eddie The Beast Hall a year later.
Eddie Hall in 2016
Speaking of Eddie Hall, here’s our first look at The Beast, though it’s not for the lift you’re thinking of (although that is coming).
In 2016 at the World’s Strongest Man, Eddie deadlifted a staggering 472.5 kg on the elephant bar, which is still one of the best elephant bar deadlifts in the history of the sport.
Eddie holds multiple world records, and has held numerous others, including the big one which we will get to a little later on.
Thor Bjornsson in 2019
Up next we’ve got The Mountain, Hafthor Bjornsson, better known as Thor.
Thor will also be making an appearance later on, so don’t worry, this isn’t THE lift.
Thor is a mountain of a man, standing at 6ft 9 inches in height and weighing between 420 and 440 pounds. He is known as The Mountain because he was cast as Ser Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane in HBO’s hit fantasy TV series Game of Thrones.
Thor has won multiple strongmen contests, including the Arnold Classic and World’s Strongest Man, and recently he was crowned Iceland’s Strongest Man for the 10th consecutive year.
Back in 2019 at last year’s Arnold, Thor deadlifted 474 kg on the elephant bar, and narrowly missed out on 501 kgs.
When talking about the 10 heaviest deadlifts of all time, no list would be complete without the UK’s own Andy Bolton.
Strongmen, powerlifters, CrossFit athletes respect Andy Bolton, and strength athletes alike and what he doesn’t know about deadlifting isn’t worth knowing.
Andy in his prime, was an absolute beast of a man and was one of the strongest in the powerlifting business.
Andy will go down in history as one of the best deadlifters in the world as he was officially the first man to deadlift 1000lb, or 453.5 kg.
Whilst his record has now been broken, as he was the first man to ever lift 1000lbs, he has earned his place in history, and rightly so.
Eddie Hall 500kg
Eddie Hall is synonymous with the deadlift due to the fact that he was the very first man in history to deadlift 500kg in a lift that many people never thought would happen.
When Eddie deadlifted 500kg the toll it took on his body was evident from the outset as he bled from the nose, passed out, blacked out, and even went partially blind for a while.
The 500kg was a world record that many still consider to be the ultimate feat of strength and it is one which Hall is rightfully proud of.
Thor Bjornsson 501kg
And finally, when talking about the 10 heaviest deadlift performances of all time, you can’t not include the current world-record holder for deadlift at 501 kg.
In May, Thor broke Hall’s world record in controversial fashion. Because of the global pandemic, live shows couldn’t go ahead so Thor actually went on to break the record at his home gym in Iceland, in front of Strongman legend Magnus Ver Magnusson, who served as referee for the lift.
The equipment was calibrated correctly, and the weights were of course legit, but Hall took exception to this as he believed the lift should have been completed at a live show.
As controversial as the lift was, Thor lifted 501 kg comfortably and could probably have gone heavier as well.
Immediately after the lift, he called out Eddie Hall for a boxing match, reportedly worth 7 figures which is set to take place in Vegas in late 2021.
Regardless of whether or not you think the record should stand, it does, and in all honesty, you can’t help but be impressed by just how easily The Mountain lifted it off the floor.