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The Heaviest Deadlifts of All Time

The deadlift world record is currently held by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, often referred to as Thor, at 501 KG. The lift was performed on 2 May 2020 at Thor’s Power Gym in Reykjavík, Iceland. To avoid confusion, the ‘deadlift’ here refers to strongman deadlifts, which allow the use of straps, deadlift suits and belts. Other records exist in categories that allow a mix of equipment or none at all.

There has been considerable controversy surrounding the 501 KG lift by Thor and who rightfully holds the record of the world’s heaviest deadlift. A point of contention is that Thor broke the previous world record by a minimal amount, exceeding Eddie Hall’s 500 KG lift by only 1 KG. Others point out that a record is a record, regardless of how much it exceeds the previous world record. People also point out that Eddie Hall himself achieved the deadlift world record by 1 KG as well on 14 March 2015, lifting 462 KG at the Arnold Expo, beating the previous world record lift held by Benedikt Magnússon.

Another point of contention is that Thor achieved his 501 KG deadlift in his own gym, not in competition. The accuracy of the weight being lifted was confirmed by Thor’s father; a clear conflict of interest. However a reputable judge, Magnus Ver Magnusson, was present to confirm the legitimacy of the lift.

On one side people argue that if the lift isn’t done in competition, it doesn’t count. A competition has other events and the accumulated fatigue from these events affect the weight competitors are able to deadlift. On the other side, people argue that lifting in competition is advantageous because competitors are able to leverage the momentum and adrenaline from a roaring crowd.

Despite arguments for and against the legitimacy of the current deadlift world record, the consensus among the fitness and strongman communities is that both Björnsson and Hall’s lifts are incredibly impressive. Björnsson’s lift is impressive in that no one has ever deadlifted 501 KG before and Hall’s lift is impressive in that it broke the 500 KG barrier, pushing forward the limits of human capability.

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