The History Of The Deadlift
The Deadlift is rumoured to have been given its name after military battles, somewhere in ancient Rome, when young Roman soldiers would go out into the field to lift their fallen comrades onto wagons to later be buried. This replicates the way in which we perform deadlifts today, which is lifting a “deadweight” from the floor. And ultimately, this is the reason lifting a heavy barbell from the floor with no assistance is called a “Deadlift”.
Hermann Görner, a German strongman who started lifting weights at the early age of 10, brought the barbell deadlift into the public spotlight in 1910 to 1920. Although he was not the first strongman to perform this lift, he is known to be a deadlift master as he completely redesigned the event to make it his own. Görner was recognised into the Guinness World Records for a one-handed deadlift of 301kg (664 lb) in October 1920. He then went on to impress with more unique techniques of performing this event, such as using only two fingers of each hand (normal and reverse grip) to deadlift a weight of 270kg (600lb) in 1933. Among Görner’s best (and most unorthodox) deadlifts was a lift of 830 pounds (380 kg) in which he took a bar weighing 441 pounds (200 kg), had two men stand on either end of the bar and then deadlifted it to the full competition height and held it for several seconds to the satisfaction of the judges. He was 42 years old at the time!
From this time, The Deadlift as we know it has become a widely used lift within; bodybuilding, powerlifting, the Olympics and now also the strongman events. Being such a hard lift (as experienced by the Roman soldiers), The Deadlift has become one of the best ways to train the body for overall strength and endurance. Although this has been used for training purposes for over a century, The Deadlift is now known in many events as a true test for the strongmen, to see how much weight they can deadlift from the ground.
About The Deadlift
The Deadlift is familiar to most gym-goers. In its strictest form, it is used as a powerlifting move that must be completed in one “pull” from the floor to lockout. Strongmen typically take a more brute strength approach, allowing competitors to perform multiple reps of this heavy weight, proving that although they have the strength to lift the weight, they also have the endurance to perform this lift more than once. In contrast to powerlifting, straps are usually accepted within most of the strongmen events, as this removes the grip element of the lift and allows these strongman competitors to save their hands for other events within the competition.
Another important difference between a conventional deadlift and that of what you might see at the gym, along with those featured at strongman competitions, is the height at which the competitor pulls from. This can vary wildly, with the bar starting near the floor, on the floor or up as far as the competitors knee height.
In competitions, The Deadlift can be performed for a maximum weight which is usually done in a round-robin fashion, with each competitor lifting every increment of the weight. The other way in which this can be performed within these competitions, is for a maximum number of repetitions within a set time frame (usually 75 seconds).
When The Deadlift is performed within these strongman events, because there are variations and they can be allowed to use straps, the weight in which they lift is incredible and you can literally see the metal bar bending before the weights even lift of the ground! And although sometimes a maximum rep can win the event, when multiple reps are required, you can see the stress that these strongmen’s bodies are put under during these events. These strongmen with their huge weight lifts make a strong gym user (lifting what they think is heavy weight) look like Mary Poppins!
Training for The Deadlift: Training for The Deadlift is fairly straight forward. There are many different variations in which a deadlift can be performed depending on the event, but they are all derived from the standard deadlift which is a widely known compound exercise. When training for The Deadlift it is as it states, to progress within The Deadlift, you have to deadlift! This can be done from home, within the gym or where ever suits you best. All you need is a barbell and some weights to place onto the barbell. For beginners it is advised as always, that before deadlifting any heavy weight, you must perfect your form and technique before continuing to train and adding weight to your barbell as you deadlift. Deadlifting the wrong way can cause serious back injury and it is common for people to get herniated discs in their back from lifting with the incorrect form and technique. With that said, once you learn how to deadlift and you have had an experienced gym user or trainer check that you are lifting correct, you can then start to push yourself and add weight onto your barbell.
When you are serious about The Deadlift event and you start to train it is important to choose what deadlift event you are training for. The different types of recognised events are; The Deadlift, The Silver Dollar Deadlift and The Hummer Tyre Deadlift. Although these are all very similar, The Silver Dollar Deadlift (also known as the 18inch deadlift) starts from a higher point, so this requires a strong back but takes away added strain from the legs. The Hummer Tyre Deadlift is similar but starts from the floor, but due to the hummer tyres being bigger than normal weight plates, again the bar starts from higher, still using the leg power but not as much as the standard deadlift. Then the gold standard which is The Deadlift, this event requires some serious leg power, back power and core strength to allow the strongman to pick the barbell up from the floor and get a full lockout. In the power lifting sport, deadlifts are usually done without straps, this is known as a “Raw” deadlift, meaning that no guidance or safety equipment is used. This tests the true power of a powerlifter’s abilities. But in strongmen events, straps, weight belts and knee straps are sometimes used and while training, this is definitely encouraged! Remember, start with the weight that your body can tolerate until you hit fatigue and then increase the weight as your body gets used to the weight. If you are training for a one rep max weight, you need to be hitting fatigue so that you cannot pick up the bar again. If you are training for multiple reps (say 4), you need to make sure that your body is fully fatigued after the 4th rep and you cannot lift the 5th. Only then will you push yourself and your body hard enough to hit its limits and grow strong enough to become the next upcoming deadlift world champion!
With deadlifts possible from a various number of heights, it’s difficult to name an all-inclusive record holder. Below are a list of deadlift variants and their respective world record holders.
Official Deadlift Strongman World Records
|July 2016||Eddie Hall||Deadlift Championships, Leeds, England||500Kg|
|July 2016||Benedikt Magnússon||Deadlift Championships, Leeds, England||465Kg|
|July 2016||Eddie Hall||Deadlift Championships, Leeds, England||465Kg|
Before The Europe’s Strongest Man / Deadlift Championships in 2016. Eddie Hall held the world record for the heaviest deadlift which was 462Kgs at The Arnold Classic Championships in March 2015. He then went on to set a new world record at The Europe’s Strongest Man in July 2015 at 463Kgs.
In 2016 at The Europe’s Strongest Man / Deadlift Championships, Eddie set a new world record of 465Kgs. Benedikt Magnusson challenged Eddie by Matching his record with a 465Kg deadlift. But unfortunately for Magnusson, Eddie went on to beat his own record with a new record of a 500Kg deadlift within the same event. Making Eddie Hall the current record holder within the strongman competitions.
Here is the amazing footage of Eddie Hall claiming his world record title:
Official Silver Dollar Deadlift World Records
|July 2020||Anthony Pernice||Strong Record Breaker event, Strongman Farm, USA||550Kg|
|Oct 2019||Anthony Pernice||Strong Record Breaker event, Strongman Farm, USA||539.7Kg|
|May 2017||Eddie Hall||World’s Strongest Man, Gaborone, Botswana||536Kg|
|Feb 1983||Tom MacGee||World’s Stongest Man Competition, Canada||535Kg|
The Silver Dollar Deadlift is an event which takes place following the historians, that used to lift crates full of silver dollars attached to the end of their barbells. Because of this bizarre event exercise, these records have been set in weight, but the weight they are lifting differs in variation. For example, when Eddie set the world record in May 2017, he used two boxes attached to the end of his barbell, full of his “strongman” books that equated to the weight of 536Kgs. When Tom MacGee held his record of 535Kgs for an astonishing 34 years, he used boxes full of bricks attached to the end of his barbell. Anthony Pernice, set a record of 539.7kg Silver Dollar Deadlift in October 2019, whilst using a barbell with proper weight plates and continued to do so with his latest world record of an astonishing 550Kgs! Here is the footage of Eddie lifting his books, just to show how different this 18inch deadlift event really is:
Official Hummer Tyre Deadlift World Records
|Mar 2014||Zydrunas Savickas||The Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio, USA||523.8Kg|
|July 2016||Zydrunas Savickas||The Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio, USA||521.6Kg|
|Mar 2008||Benedikt Magnusson||The Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio, USA||498.9Kg|
The Hummer Tyre Deadlift is one of the favourites within The Arnold Strongman Classic, as you can see here. The world record was set by Benedikt Magnusson and was not beaten until, Zydrunas Savickas, the Lithuanian Hummer Tyre Deadlift king arrived in 2014. Here is the incredible footage of Savickas claiming the current world title:
Although these are the official world records for the different strongman deadlifts events. These world records have been broken by other strongmen, but they are still yet to achieve their title within an official strongman event. Here are the open world records for the heaviest deadlift at current:
Official Deadlift Open World Records
|Date:||Name:||Location of Record:||Record Weight:|
|May 2020||Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson||Thor’s Power Gym, Kópavogur, Iceland||501Kg|
|July 2016||Eddie Hall||Deadlift Championships, Leeds, England||500Kg|
The heaviest deadlift is 501 kg (1,104.5 lb), and was achieved by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson also known as “The Mountain” from Iceland. This record was claimed at Thor’s Power Gym, Kópavogur, Iceland, on the 2nd of May 2020. Making him the official world record holder for the heaviest deadlift within the Guinness Book of Records. Unfortunately, this has not been approved within a strongman event yet. Here is the amazing footage of Bjornsson claiming the new open record of the heaviest deadlift, beating Eddie Halls record by 1kg! He almost made it look easy: