By doing an Instagram or Facebook search for #fitfam or #fitness, you probably couldn’t tell that the United States is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Girls in scantily-clad workout attire, guys with big muscles popping out of XS-sized tank tops, and certainly no shortage of pictures of healthy food litter the internet. What happened to the days of eating meat and potatoes, lifting as much as you could, and making a name for yourself? For some, this may remind you of the “Golden Age” of bodybuilding, dating back to Arnold Schwarzenegger flexing for fans on Venice Beach. For others, feats of pure strength and raw power are as popular now as they ever were, but it often goes unnoticed.
Ok, we get it; Crossfit is really cool and stresses all parts of athleticism. There really is no need to post your WOD every day to “motivate” your followers. Some of the world’s strongest men are some of the most unassuming people you would ever meet. Some are former football players, others just like to see how much weight they can move, but either way, they aren’t who you would expect out of professional athletes. Some look like they are ready to pull off the doors of their cars, meanwhile, others generally look like they enjoy pizza and beer as a perfect source of post workout carbohydrates and protein.
Standing at over 6 feet tall and well over 245 pounds, some of the World’s Strongest Man participants are literally the strongest humans on earth. Pulling an airplane 100 feet for time? Check. Dead lifting a VW Beetle for maximum reps? Check. Along with their strength, these are some of the world’s most creative athletes who spend hours honing their craft. If you don’t believe me, here’s eight of the most impressive feats of strength that prove the world’s strongest men are some of the baddest dudes on the face of the planet.
8. Zydrunas “Big Z” Savickas Deadlifts 1,155 Pounds
Yes, you read that right; one thousand one hundred and fifty five pounds of pure weight. Big Z has been on the strongman scene for years, winning the title of World’s Strongest Man four times and being named the Arnold Strongman Classic champion seven times. Standing at 6’3, 384 pounds, its’ no wonder where Big Z got his name from. At the 2014 Arnold Strongman Classic, Savickas set the world record for deadlift by lifting up 1,117 pounds like it was nothing. For those of you that can’t count, that is eight Hummer tires!
7. Andrey Malanichev Squats 1,014 Pounds…Twice!
If you thought Vladimir Putin was scary, you have never seen Andrey Malanichev load up a squat rack before. Born in a small village outside of Moscow, Russia, Malanichev has spent his entire life perfecting his form and trying to squat as much as humanly possible. He broke the world record for the squat initially in 2012 with a raw squat of 933 pounds. Following up on his performance, in February of 2014, Malanichev squatted 1,014 pounds not once; but twice! After watching the video, I can seriously feel my knees buckle and my back crack the second he unloads the bar from the rack. Malanichev is a four-time winner of the Cup of Titans and has won the Russian, European, and World Powerlifting titles.
6. Tiny Meeker Benches 1,102 Pounds While Raising Money
Despite his name, Tiny Meeker is not a small guy. When he isn’t pushing his body to its absolute limits, he is a bouncer and a body guard. Standing at just 5’9, Meeker weighs around 280 pounds and has a 55 inch chest. In December of 2013, Meeker was asked to participate in a powerlifting event to raise money for a local Texas Girl’s powerlifting club. When he obliged to the request, Meeker got the show sanctioned so that any weight lifted would be official for all the participants. After completing all of his lifts, he finished up the meet with his best lift yet; becoming the first human being in the world to bench press 1,100 pounds or more. While he has only appeared in a few meets outside of the United States, he currently has four powerlifting meets scheduled abroad, in which he hopes to bring a couple titles back to his home in Humble, Texas.
5. Brian Shaw Runs Stairs With 225kg Kegs (496lbs)
In one of the most punishing events at the World’s Strongest Man competition, the power stairs offer an all-encompassing and brutal workout for any competitor. Starting on the ground with a 225kg weight, the participant must pick the weight up, walk up a flight of stairs with it, place it down, and repeat two more times for an overall time. Even though there are only twelve steps, each one is over 50cm tall which puts further emphasis on the legs, shoulders, and grip of the athlete. In 2010, United States Strongman Brian Shaw blazed through the course in 41.58 seconds, setting a course record. The work capacity of this event is astounding, and even though it is not widely used, it is a good gauge to how strong one really is. While he didn’t win the overall competition that year, Brian Shaw did go on to win the title in 2013.
4. Arild Haugen Tosses 27kg (59lbs) Kegs For Time
No, Frat bro, these aren’t empty kegs being chucked out the back door onto the grass. Drawing inspiration from the Highland Games, the Keg Toss is a total body, adrenaline-pumping workout that is not for the faint of heart. While the weights have changed over the years, in 2008 Arild Haugen of Norway tossed all 10 kegs over the 14-foot tall barrier in just 42 seconds. Using your legs, lower back, shoulders, and hips, throwing almost 60 pounds of metal over your head will make anybody do a double take before they yell liftoff!
3. Mark Kirsch Pulls A 205,000 Pound Boeing 767
Throughout the 30 years of history at World’s Strongest Man, it hasn’t been uncommon to see a competitor pulling a large truck or even an airplane behind them. After the initial pull, the momentum gets rolling behind them and it is easy to forget exactly how much these vehicles weigh. After using small semi-trucks and tractors in previous years, in 1999 the event coordinators decided to get on a whole different level; pulling a 70 ton airplane down a runway. Not to be outdone, in 2008, Mark Kirsch wanted to pay homage to the US troops at a US Air Force Base. This resulted in Kirsch pulling a 100 ton airplane over 100 feet to the finish line in just 39 seconds. To date, it is still one of the most impressive feats of strength ever witnessed.
2. Zydrunas Savickas Overhead Presses a 223kg (491lbs) Tree Trunk
As a staple of the overhead lifts since 1980, the overhead log lift is one of the most impressive feats of strength in the entire competition. Throughout the years, event organizers have used stones, barrels, and even giant dumbbells, but there is something to be said when you see a large man lifting a tree trunk over his head. What started out at just 157kg (346lbs) in 1980, has grown to now over 200kg. In 2014, Zydrunas Savickas recorded a lift of 223kg (491lbs) at the Arnold Strongman in Rio, Brazil. Big Z is currently the world record holder and he is a three-time defending world champion in log lifting; truly a modern day lumberjack that doesn’t need an Ox.
1. Carrying Two Refrigerators (415kg/904lbs) 30 Meters For Time
If you’ve ever moved before, you know how difficult it can be to move any household appliance, let alone a refrigerator. But when it comes to the World’s Strongest Man competition, one fridge simply isn’t enough, so they use two! During the fridge carry, competitors are tasked with carrying two refrigerators weighing 415kg total (904lbs) 30 meters within 60 seconds. Seriously, not only do you have to be tall enough, you have to be brutally strong, mentally tough, and certainly creative to be successful in this category.