Hafþór Björnsson officially deadlifting (with training straps) more than any other human ever: 501 kg. (1,104 pounds) / YouTube
Who is the strongest man ever? What’s your top 10? It’s endlessly debatable. How important are World’s Strongest Man titles? What about powerlifting records or weightlifting feats? Should an all-time deadlift or squat land you high on the list? What about the legendarily strong men who lived before any such titles or numbers? That’s a lot of questions, and A.I. has answers.
We asked the artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT to sort it all out and list, in order, the top 10 strongest men of all time. All of the following text in green was written by ChatGPT.
Determining the “strongest man ever” can be subjective and dependent on various factors, such as the type of strength (lifting, overall physical strength, endurance) and the time period considered. Throughout history, several individuals have been recognized for their exceptional strength in different ways. I can provide a rough ranking based on historical significance and achievements:
1. PAUL ANDERSON
He is often regarded as one of the strongest men in history. Anderson was a weightlifter and powerlifter who achieved incredible feats of strength, including a backlift of 6,270 pounds.
American Paul Anderson (1932-94) won the super-heavyweight gold medal in weightlifting at the 1956 Olympics, setting records. He was also a pioneering powerlifter, squatting 930 pounds raw without wraps in an exhibition. The 5’10” and 300+ pound Anderson’s most incredible feat is the 6000+ pound backlift of 1957…maybe. (What’s a backlift? The person is bent-over with hands on his knees, a support, or the floor, while the weight, often a table, is on his back. He then rises up to lift the weight off the ground.) Anderson’s over-three-ton lift at age 24 was for years listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the greatest weight ever raised by a human being,” but the record was removed because it was not officially verified and there is no film or photo of it. His biggest lift is disputed, but Paul Anderson was certainly one of the strongest men ever.
2. ZYDRUNAS SAVICKAS
Known as “Big Z,” Savickas is a Lithuanian strongman and powerlifter. He has won numerous strongman competitions, including the World’s Strongest Man multiple times.
Zydrunas Savickas won the World’s Strongest Man four times (2009-10, ’12, ’14) and the Arnold Strongman Classic eight times (2003-08, ’14, ’16).
3. HAFTHOR BJORNSSON
An Icelandic strongman and actor, Bjornsson gained fame for his role as “The Mountain” in the Game of Thrones TV series. He set a record for the heaviest deadlift by lifting 501 kg (1,104 pounds) in 2020.
Hafþór Björnsson won the World’s Strongest Man in 2018 and the Arnold Strongman Classic in 2018, ’19, and ’20.
4. MARIUSZ PUDZIANOWSKI
A Polish strongman, Pudzianowski has won the World’s Strongest Man competition multiple times and is known for his incredible strength and athleticism.
Mariusz Pudzianowski holds the record for most World’s Strongest Man titles with five: 2002-03, ’05, ’07-08.
5. LOUIS CYR
A Canadian strongman from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cyr was known for his remarkable feats of strength, including lifting a horse off the ground and supporting 18 men on a plank.
Louis Cyr (1863-1912) was the original World’s Strongest Man, eight decades before the official event. He traveled Canada, America, and England, taking on the strongest challengers in feats of strength and was never defeated. The rotund Cyr’s greatest achievement occurred in Boston in 1895: a backlift of 18 men crowded onto a plank, reportedly totaling over 4000 pounds.
6. BILL KAZMAIER
An American strongman and powerlifter, Kazmaier won the World’s Strongest Man title multiple times and set various strength records during the 1980s.
Bill Kazmaier set all-division powerlifting world records and then broke them again and again. In 1981, he totaled 2,425 pounds (1,100 kg), a powerlifting world record that stood for more than a decade, with a squat of 925.9 lbs. (420.0 kg), bench press of 661.4 lbs. (300 kg) and deadlift of 837.8 lbs. (380.0 kg). Kaz won the World’s Strongest Man so easily three times in a row (1980-82) that he was uninvited for years because he was “too dominant.” He travelled the world, taking on strength challenges to prove he was indeed Earth’s strongest human and perhaps the “strongest man who ever lived” (as he was billed). In 1991, Bill Kazmaier became the first person to press overhead with one hand the “unliftable” 173-lb., thick-handled Thomas Inch dumbbell.
7. EDDIE HALL
A British strongman who famously deadlifted 500 kg (1,102 pounds) in 2016, setting a new world record at the time.
Eddie Hall won the World’s Strongest Man in 2017.
8. JON PALL SIGMARSSON
Pioneering Icelandic strongman and multiple-time World’s Strongest Man winner.
Jón Páll Sigmarsson (1960-1993) won the World’s Strongest Man four times: 1984, ’86-’87, ’90.
9. VASYL VIRASTYUK
Ukrainian strongman and World’s Strongest Man winner.
Vasyl Virastyuk won the World’s Strongest Man in 2004.
10. GEOFF CAPES
Successful strongman and shot putter, multiple-time World’s Strongest Man winner.
England’s Geoff Capes won the World’s Strongest Man in 1983 and 1985.
It’s important to note that the title of “strongest man ever” can be subjective due to different criteria and eras. The field of strongman competitions has evolved over time, and different individuals have excelled in different ways. Additionally, records and achievements may change over time as new athletes emerge and push the boundaries of human performance.
STRONGEST MAN EVER: ANALYSIS
ChatGPT focused exclusively on strongmen, including eight winners of the annual World’s Strongest Man and two legends (Paul Anderson and Louis Cyr) who claimed that title during earlier eras. But what about competitive Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters?
Regarding weightlifters, Georgian super-heavyweight Lasha Talakhadze has dominated the unlimited division for the last eight years, repeatedly and routinely breaking his own world records, which currently stand at 225 kg. (496 lbs.) snatch, 267 kg. (588.6 lbs.) clean and jerk, and 492 kg. (1084.7 lbs.) total. For pushing more weight overhead than any other human ever, we’d fit Lasha on this list.
Regarding powerlifters, Daniel Bell is the first person to total over 2600 pounds raw (without a suit) with wraps (for squatting). In 2001, the American Bell totaled 1,182.5 kilograms (2,607 pounds) by squatting 500 kg. (1102 lbs.), bench pressing 272.5 kg. (600 lbs.), and deadlifting 410 kg. (904.5 lbs.). He also holds the world record for a raw powerlifting total without wraps. For his three-lift dominance, we’d fit the nearly 400-pound Bell on the list.
As for World’s Strongest Man winners, where are Brian Shaw and Magnús Ver Magnússon, both of whom are tied for second most WSM wins with Savickas and Sigmarrson? All four have four WSM titles. This list doesn’t necessarily have to be a tally of who’s won the most strongman world titles, and there’s an argument for putting one-time WSM winners Hafþór Björnsson and Eddie Hall high up because of their record deadlifts. However, America’s Shaw and Iceland’s Ver Magnússon should be here over one-timer Virastyuk and two-timer Capes. Shaw won the World’s Strongest Man in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016 and the Arnold Strongman Classic three times (2011, ’15, ’17). Ver Magnússon won the WSM in 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1996, was second in the only other WSM contests he finished, and totaled 1015 kg. (2238 pounds) in a 1991 powerlifting contest.
And then there’s Mark Henry, arguably the most glaring omission from A.I.’s list. Henry, number one on our list of the strongest pro wrestlers of all time (just ahead of Bill Kazmaier, though it’s a toss-up), excelled in weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman. In the ’90s, this American super-heavyweight set numerous world powerlifting records, and racked up the greatest combined total of the three powerlifts and the two Olympic lifts: 3218.7 lbs. (1460 kg.)—a mark that is unlikely to be broken, because so few men compete in both disciplines. A drug-free lifter, Henry retired from competitive lifting at 26, likely far from his peak strength; and he’s still the only under-25 person to hit a raw powerlifting total of at least 2300 pounds. His 2337 lbs. at age 24 is also the greatest drug-tested raw powerlifting total ever. In 2002, Mark Henry took a four-month break from pro wrestling to train for strongman and won the inaugural Arnold Strongman Classic against the world’s best strength athletes, defeating the reigning World’s Strongest Man. It was his only strongman contest, and, as a side event, Henry, like Kazmaier, also lifted the Thomas Inch dumbbell overhead.
Mark Henry belongs on this list, but how high? Is he the strongest man who ever lived? But Bill Kazmaier had a greater powerlifting total, and Daniel Bell and others have racked up even bigger totals. Is Lasha Talakhadze only the all-time strongest weightlifter or also the strongest human ever? What about Mariusz Pudzianowski with his five World’s Strongest Man titles or one of the four men with four? Should we print the legend and, like A.I., put Paul Anderson on top?
A.I. came up with some great contenders, missed some others, and settled nothing. Who is the strongest man ever? It’s debatable.
For A.I. top 10 bodybuilders, check out: Best Bodybuilders of All Time, According to A.I.