Photo from @thorbjornsson on Instagram

I witnessed it live.  A human being pulled 501 kg (1104.5 lbs) off the ground and stood up with it; unbelievable.

This was one of the most hyped lifts I’ve ever seen.  As a world-record attempt, there was great media coverage, including the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN.

While the lift itself was absolutely incredible, the hype, coverage, and after-effects will have a lasting impact on the world.  Thor’s meteoric rise to fame started with a role in the popular television series, The Game of Thrones, continued with numerous strongman titles, and now we add the world’s greatest deadlift in history to his resume.

What does this mean for strength sports, and more importantly, how does it impact us?  If you are a trainer, coach, or content expert in the area of health, do not let this event pass you by without some reflection.  The world is changing; being strong is becoming very, very cool.

What’s The Big Deal?

First of all, let the gravity (no pun intended) of this lift sink in… 501 kg.  501 kg is heavier than a fully-grown polar bear.  501 kg is heavier than a concert grand piano.  501 kg is a MASSIVE deadlift!     

500 kg has only ever been ATTEMPTED a handful of times in competition.  That alone should give you an idea of how truly elite this lift is.  For those who don’t know, Eddie Hall (another World’s Strongest Man Champion) deadlifted 500 kg (1102 lbs) in 2016.  Eddie’s lift was another astronomical lift at the time. While Thor only bested Eddie by 1 kilogram, it was the way he did it that will cause a ripple effect throughout the world of health and fitness.

Personally, the deadlift has always been my best lift.  It’s an archaic, primal exercise that requires tremendous strength and determination to excel at. First, the lifter must break the inertia of getting the weight off the floor.  The legs initiate this movement.  Once the barbell passes the knees, the lower back and glutes engage in order to help the lifter stand up and lock out the lift.  Thor’s lift was smooth and clean – 100% legitimate.  It was an absolute spectacle.

ESPN’s Coverage of The Event

Now, as the crowned King of Strongman, Thor’s fame continues to grow.  I truly think that the world watching this lift on a televised platform like ESPN will have lasting effects on our society and how we view strength, fitness, and health.  

Having coverage from a worldwide network brought more viewers to this lift than any other deadlift in history.  On Saturday, people who don’t know what a deadlift is sat in the comfort of their living rooms, turned on ESPN, and witnessed what might be considered the greatest feat ever achieved in strength sports – that is amazing! In addition, people have been completely without sports during the COVID-19 quarantine.  Many people tuned in to watch this lift because it was one of the only sporting events we’ve had recently.

You already know The Milo Mission:  Get more people moving, healthy, and STRONG!  Why the emphasis on ‘strong?’  Strength is a fundamental part of physical fitness that is so important to overall health and quality of life.  Not all of us aspire to deadlift 501 kg, but all of us should aspire to be strong.

Thor vs. Eddie Hall

Thor’s record-breaking lift was an obvious attempt to dethrone Eddie as the greatest deadlifter of all time.  Record-setting lifts of this caliber are broken kilo by kilo – Thor’s attempt is not unusual, however it stirred up some controversy in the strength world.

Both Thor and Eddie made some videos that were floating around on social media that chastised the other.  Most of it was relatively playful, but there were some personal digs in there as well about questioning the validity of the other’s accomplishments.  This is unusual in the world of strength sports.  Normally, competitors are extremely humbled, disciplined, and friendly with one another.  Even if competitors don’t like each other during competition, they can still respect what each athlete accomplishes and we understand that we are all trying to move the sport (and general strength training) in a positive direction.

This is why I believe much of this ‘beef’ is manufactured between Thor and Eddie – and I say, “Bravo!”  Boxers have been doing this for decades.  They build up some controversy, question the other athlete’s accolades, drive viewership, and then put on a performance.  At the end of the day, most elite athletes respect one another and I believe these two strength behemoths are no different.  If it gets the world watching, I’m all for it.

Closing Thoughts

Thor has given us a blueprint to create an interest and an impact.  While we all won’t attempt record-breaking lifts, we all have the opportunity to make strength training cool.  

I think of Thor’s impact and how his outreach is growing – he would be an incredible Milo partner at this point in his young career.  We would be able to build an unbelievable platform for him to share his training with the world and not only create an incredible impact, but another stream of income for him.  Partnering with Milo is a win-win in the sense that athletes get to create a lasting impact and also a sustainable training business.  

Thor made an incredible push for The Milo Mission on Saturday.  There is no doubt in my mind that he inspired someone to get moving, healthy, and strong.  In the end, all of our cumulative efforts contribute to this mission and we are grateful for record-breaking deadlifts and non-record-breaking lifts, alike.

Until next time, go watch Thor’s deadlift and stay moving!

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