For anyone that’s ever stepped foot in the gym, the deadlift is something of an impressive exercise. Regardless of your strength, the fact is that while you can master the basic movement technique, the exercise is one that merely continues to see you test yourself and so, you can never truly conquer it. You amass more plates than you’d see at a Christmas lunch and yet the body screams in protest, lungs straining and veins protruding from every limb as you struggle to make the lift.
Where most of us are comfortable to simply stay within our limits, others know that limits – and records, for that matter – are made to be broken. Which is precisely what Ukrainian strongman Oleksii Novikov sought to do at the recent 2022 Shaw Classic Competition.
Having been crowned the 2020 World’s Strongest Man, Novikov is no stranger to punishing feats of strength and has made them his profession. His is a body that runs up against the boundary of human potential constantly, and somehow he always manages to defy all expectation. At the Colorado event, he took to the stage where he performed the impossible: deadlifting a staggering 1,210 lbs (549kg) to shatter the world record.
For the uninitiated, the Shaw Classic invites the world’s strongest men to the international stage where they then battle it out against four-time champion Brian Shaw in a mixed discipline competition that includes favourites like the Super Yoke Carry, Circus Dumbbell, Atlas Stones and Car Leg press. Though Novikov didn’t come away with the win at the event, with the prize instead going to Texas strongman Trey Mitchell for a second year running, he did send audiences into a frenzy with his deadlift.
The giant barbell is loaded with Hummer tyres and requires athletes to lift it across a series of rounds. Each competitor is challenged to lift the heaviest weight possible as the total weight increases each round. In the final round, a number of competitors tried to lift the 549kg figure, but ultimately failed. That is, except Novikov.
The 26-year-old simply assumed the position and picked up the 549kg of steel and rubber like it was a piece of paper. The feat was captured on film by Shaw himself, along with a number of fans who were in attendance and has since basically broken the Internet as people have been in awe of Novikov’s power-to-weight ratio.
At just 185cm tall and weighing 136kg, Novikov’s maximum deadlift is more than four times his total bodyweight, something that’s made all the more impressive when you learn that he also had little to no training leading up to the event due to the ongoing conflict in his home country that has seen whole communities left in ruin and cost countless lives. In achieving such a feat, Novikov has not only inspired hope in so many back home watching his incredible feats of strength and perseverance, but also shown that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. But a word of caution: don’t go trying this at the gym if you haven’t been established as a Strongman for some time.