528 – that is the weight of Hafthor’s first deadlift session leading into his record breaking 1,104 pound deadlift. Second week pull? 572. The most weight ever pulled from the floor began with working sets in the 500’s. As the weeks went on the weight crept up, but not in enormous jumps. Even when Hafthor was pulling a few reps at 770 people were still not quite getting it. One comment on his IG post was something along the lines of “770 is a long way from 1,100, don’t think he’s going to get it.” I thought perhaps the person who wrote this comment wasn’t a strength athlete and didn’t understand progression or training plans. But turns out, it was a strongman competitor. And then it dawned on me, even in strongman most people have no idea how to actually progress. Most athletes if they see someone’s top set of say, 3 reps, they assume that is the absolute most weight they can do for 3. Why? Because that is how they train themselves! They would never consider using sub maximal weights for a top set, much less posting it on Instagram!
But Hafthor had a plan. Keep in mind he had already come very close to hitting 1,100 before, yet somehow, baffling enough, people still thought his training weights were too far away for him to be able to hit 1,100. He could have gone higher at the start, but that is not the point of the early weeks. Those early weeks were about getting the movement down, getting the central nervous system firing gain, hypertrophy work, to build a base. Hafthor then could have jumped to much higher weights, but why? His body was going to be handling serious weights very soon, why force it to go through unnecessary stress? Give your body time to adapt. We all know how his training cycle ended. It ended with the most weight ever deadlifted from the floor. From 528 to 1,104.
Another strongman who followed proper training progression is Mariusz
Pudzianowski. Mariusz used to have a saying when he was getting ready for a contest, “Easy up.” For example, when he was getting ready for World’s in 2005 he said, “Easy up to China.
Every week 20 kilos more.” In other words, he didn’t just throw max weight on right away. Master a light weight first, with perfect form, perfect speed, and then go up slightly in weight; this is the way to success. Most people don’t want to add only 2.5 or 5 pounds per week or month. But let’s look at the overhead as an example. If you increased your log by only 5 pounds a month, in one year you have put 60 pounds on your overhead, now that is solid progress! So let’s take it even further, if you were able to put on 2.5 pounds a week on anything that comes to 120 pounds in a year! Again who wouldn’t take that kind of improvement?