500 kg raw: New records in the future?

The 500kg deadlift barrier has already been broken, and I’ve written on this before; it really isn’t news. The current record sits at 501 kg, done by Hafthor Bjornsson in 2020. But this was done with a deadlift suit and straps. Today, two powerlifters look capable of breaking that barrier without a suit and, perhaps, even without straps. This week, I’ll look at the best lifts of each and decide who has the best chance to be the first man to pull 500 kg off the floor raw. Jamal Browner is among the best deadlifts in the world at the moment. He holds the total world record in the 110 kg weight class at 990 kg and has pulled 440 kg raw with no straps in competition. Browner’s greatest limiting factor has always been his grip strength, though. He only managed 417.5 kg in his most recent meet, failing two heavier attempts due to grip issues. However, Browner has a habit of going for broke after meets using straps, and in this past week, he did just that. He managed a successful pull at 483 kg and even attempted 501 kg on a whim. He managed to break the floor with 501 kg, but the lift wasn’t there on the day. Still, this has shown that a raw 500 kg deadlift may well be possible without a deadlift suit, contrary to the general assumption that this was far beyond human limits. 

Browner’s main issue is that he pulls sumo. While this would work perfectly well in a powerlifting meet as he is accustomed to, in order to take the overall record, he would have to pull conventional. Thor’s lift was done under strongman rules, which mandates a conventional stance. So, to take the record in this category, Browner would have to do the same. He is no slouch pulling conventional either, having moved 431 kg in the past. But this is a far cry from 500 kg.

Still, I hold out hope Browner may well have it in him with some added mass and a consistent conventional training program. Browner only pulls sumo at the moment, and switching techniques is not like flipping a light switch; it takes practice. He also weighs only around half of what Thor did when he pulled 501 kg. So, with some technique work and adding muscle mass, he may have it in him. Mass moves mass, as they say.

Krzysztof is the other man in the running to be the first to pull 500 kg raw. He competes even lighter than Browner at 100 kg body weight and holds the deadlift world record in that weight class at 456 kg. This lift was nearly fives times his body weight. Krzysztof is also a sumo puller, which would harm his ability to set a new record that would rival Thor. He does not pull conventional, so there is not much of a reference point for his conventional abilities. What brings him into contention is his recent training pull. In a one-up on Jamal Browner, Krzysztof pulled 484.5 kg in training this week. This is 17 kg less than Thor managed at again, nearly twice the body weight of those chasing him. Krzysztof has also managed 400 kg raw at a body weight of 82.5 kg, which, for reference, is under 200 lbs. Clearly, he has massive strength in the deadlift, but the question remains if he could translate it to conventional with a training block in that style.

In my opinion, Browner is the favorite to hit 500 kg first. He has more conventional experience, and his pulls look easier than Krzysztof’s. Even conventional, his technique simply looks effortless from the floor to lockout. And in terms of recent pulls, his 483 kg looked far easier than Krzysztof’s 484.5 kg. He is also the heavier man and so is closer to the necessary mass quantity to manage such a large pull. He is simply the more physically equipped of the two to manage the half metric ton. Will he do it any time soon? No, I don’t think so. Perhaps in two years or so from now. But one day, barring injury, Jamal Browner will pull 500 kg plus raw.