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The 501kg Deadlift | Strongman vs Powerlifting

Updated: Mar 5

501 kilograms is an insane amount of weight to deadlift and it's no wonder that Hafþór "Thor" Júlíus Björnsson's effort is only the second time in history anyone has deadlifted half a metric ton or more from the floor.


There is problem, however.


Both powerlifting and some strongman events both contain a deadlift component to their competitions and often, the name is the only similarity.


When compared to IPF raw powerlifting (What we at NSBB know) both the equipment used and the rules in a strongman deadlift differ. These changes add up, the result of which is often a bigger weight lifted in strongman competition.


To compare, the strongest lifter in the IPF, Ray Williams, has a best deadlift of 398.5kg and Hafthor himself has a best powerlifting competition deadlift of 410kg (albeit on a deadlift bar, which we'll discuss soon). These figures alone highlight the contrast between the two events.


Before we discuss the equipment used in the strongman deadlift, let's be clear. We aren't trying to discredit the 501kg deadlift. This article is here to discuss the differences and talk about why you might see a difference in weight from powerlifting to strongman.


Below, we discuss the five key differences in equipment and rules between a strongman deadlift and an IPF powerlifting deadlift.


Video detailing the behind the scenes action of Thor's 501kg deadlift - the biggest ever.



Deadlift Bar

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You might've noticed that the bar was bending a lot during Thor's 501kg deadlift. That's because in Strongman competitions the bar generally used is a purpose-built deadlift bar.

Deadlift bars are generally thinner in diameter than standard barbells, have lower tensile strength, and are slightly longer. All these factors allow the barbell to flex (or whip) more.


In this case, the bar being used was likely a Rogue Ohio Deadlift Bar, which has a 27mm diameter and tensile strength of 190K. In contrast, an IPF approved power bar such as the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is 29mm thick and has a tensile strength of 205K.


So, why does this matter?


A deadlift bar will allow the lifter using it to get into a more advantageous, upright position when the weight leaves the floor and also lessen the range of motion of the lift. Power bars used in the IPF are made not to flex, which can result in it being harder for the bar to break the floor.


For contrast; Ray Williams deadlifting 398.5kg on a stiff Eleiko power bar.



Lifting Straps