Top 6 Best Strongmen of All Time

Best Strongmen of All Time

Amongst the many difficult achievements in the sporting world, becoming a successful strongman is certainly near the top of the list. Dedicating oneself to becoming a strongman takes time, effort, and unbelievable stamina. Unsurprisingly, only a few men have earned the right to be remembered for incredible feats of strength. Here, we will take a look at the top six best strongmen of all time.

Who Are the Best Strongmen of All Time?

  1. Žydrūnas Savickas
  2. Brian Shaw
  3. Bill Kazmaier
  4. Hafþór Björnsson
  5. Eddie Hall
  6. Mariusz Pudzianowski

1. Žydrūnas Savickas

  • Four-time World’s Strongest Man
  • 29-time Arnold Strongman Classic winner
  • Two-time IFSA Strongman World Champion
  • Three-time Europe’s Strongest Man

A Lithuanian athlete born in 1975, Žydrūnas Savickas grew up taller and stronger than most of his schoolmates. After watching a strongman competition on television in 1989, the then 14-year-old devoted himself to becoming a professional strongman. Following two years of training, Savickas entered his first strongman competition at 16. Though he did not win, he defeated many of the adult competitors, gaining instant recognition for his skills. Savickas also participated in powerlifting contests, a sport that he had practiced since the age of 13, and in only his second powerlifting competition, he set a nationwide Lithuanian record.

Savickas quickly became a big name in the strongman world, and in 2000, he won the silver medal in the IPF World Powerlifting Championships, lifting over 2,200 pounds. A double knee injury in 2001 nearly ended Savickas’ career, but he fought back to return to the sport and resumed his strongman feats in spectacular fashion, winning six Arnold Strongman Classics and three TWI World’s Strongest Man Contests. Among Savickas’ weight records are 490.5 pounds in the Log Lift, 467.5 pounds in the Axle Press, 705.5 pounds in the Giant Barbell Deadlift, and 1018.52 pounds in the Hummer Tire Deadlift.

2. Brian Shaw

  • Four-time World’s Strongest Man
  • 16-time Arnold Strongman Classic winner
  • Two-time America’s Strongest Man
  • Six-time Strongman Super Series winner

Born in Fort Lupton, Colorado, in 1982, Brian Shaw first rose to fame as a strongman in 2011, when he won both the Arnold Strongman Classic and the TWI World’s Strongest Man Contest. Shaw chose to become a strongman after early success as a basketball player in his hometown and during his college career. After graduating from college, Shaw entered his first strongman competition, the Denver’s Strongest Man contest, in 2005. He stunned the crowd by winning the event without any training as a strongman. Afterward, Shaw decided to pursue strongman contests as one of his primary sports.

After achieving his groundbreaking feat in 2011, he went on to win many more official competitions, including two more Arnold Strongman Classics and four World’s Strongest Man titles. Among his most impressive strongman feats is his Stone Lift at the 2011 Arnold Strongman Classic, in which he performed with a 535-pound stone, lifting it over a four-inch metal bar for four reps in 53.13 seconds, and a 1128.14-pound Hummer Tire Deadlift at the 2014 Arnold Strongman Classic.

3. Bill Kazmaier

  • Three-time World’s Strongest Man
  • One-time World Power Muscle Champion
  • Six-time Scottish Power Challenge winner
  • One-time Iceland’s Strongest Man

Born in 1953, Bill Kazmaier is one of the many legends of strongman competition history, and he began his career with an impressive display of the feats he would continue to perform over the course of decades. At his first national powerlifting competition in 1977, the 24-year-old Kazmaier managed to squat an astonishing 782 pounds while also bench pressing 534 pounds and deadlifting 804 pounds. The following year, at age 25, Kazmaier won the IPF World Championships, setting a world record when he bench pressed 622 pounds. His skills only continued to improve, and in 1981, Kazmaier became the first man ever to bench press 300 kilograms (661 pounds). 

As a strongman, Kazmaier also impressed, winning the World’s Strongest Man title three years in a row, in 1980, 1981, and 1982. Kazmaier’s victories came at such a wide margin over his competitors that the competition asked him not to return for a few years in order to give other athletes a chance. Kazmaier retired from competition in 1992, but his all-time weight records remain impressive and include a 915-pound raw deadlift at the Highland Games (1981), a 1,055-pound silver dollar deadlift at the 1982 World’s Strongest Man Competition, and a 675-pound gym bench press record.

4. Hafþór Björnsson

  • One-time World’s Strongest Man
  • 12-time Arnold Strongman Classic winner
  • 10-time Iceland’s Strongest Man
  • Five-time Europe’s Strongest Man

A name known not only in strongman competitions but by many people outside of the sport, Hafþór (or Hafthor) Björnsson is a towering presence who has become known not only for his feats of strength but for his skills in the ring and on the screen. Björnsson began his strongman career after his career as a basketball player was impacted by injuries. Starting up in the strongman business at age 20, Björnsson began his many feats by winning the Iceland’s Strongest Man competition, which he then proceeded to win a further eight times across his career.

Beginning in 2014, Björnsson became known worldwide for his recurring role on HBO’s hit TV Show Game of Thrones, in which he played the villainous and imposing Gregor Clegane, also known as “the Mountain.” His character’s nickname stuck to Björnsson outside of Game of Thrones, and he is often referred to as “the Mountain” on the strongman circuit. After working on Game of Thrones, Björnsson also achieved the pinnacle of strongman competition, winning the title of World’s Strongest Man in 2018 and also winning three consecutive Arnold Strongman Classics from 2018 to 2020. Recently, Björnsson has also taken up boxing, fighting in an exhibition match against former fellow strongman Eddie Hall in March of 2022, which Björnsson won by unanimous decision.

5. Eddie Hall

  • One-time World’s Strongest Man
  • Five-time Britain’s Strongest Man
  • Six-time UK’s Strongest Man
  • Two-time England’s Strongest Man

Born in Staffordshire, England, in 1988, Eddie Hall initially hoped to be a professional swimmer, but family health problems, anxiety, and issues at school caused him difficulty in this pursuit. However, after working through his struggles and vowing to turn his life around, Hall decided to pursue becoming a strongman. He found training as a strongman to be a natural remedy for his anxiety and used that training to improve both physically and mentally. In 2010, Hall was able to enter his first strongman competition after another competitor dropped out, and in a stunning upset, he won the event by a half-point margin. Now convinced that he could succeed as a strongman, Hall went on to win the UK’s Strongest Man competition and performed well at various European and World’s Strongest Man events.

In 2015, Hall set a world record at the Arnold Strongman Classic by deadlifting 1,019 pounds and then broke that record a few months later at the 2015 World Deadlift Championships. In 2017, Hall finally achieved one of his lifelong goals by winning the World’s Strongest Man competition. Since then, Hall has continued to perform at strongman competitions and even fought in an exhibition boxing match against Hafþór Björnsson, though he has retired from most major strongman competitions.

6. Mariusz Pudzianowski

  • Five-time World’s Strongest Man
  • 16-time Strongman Super Series winner
  • Seven-time Poland’s Strongest Man
  • Six-time Europe’s Strongest Man

Widely considered one of the most underrated strongmen, Polish-born athlete Mariusz Pudzianowski proves that even lesser-known strongmen are still capable of astonishing feats. First entering strength contests at the age of 16, Pudzianowski won a Polish Bench Press Championship in 1983 by lifting 353 pounds. After taking a break from strength training to study martial arts, Pudzianowski still managed to impress when he returned to strength competitions, bench pressing more weight than he previously had (452 pounds) without any extra training. 

At age 21, Pudzianowski turned his focus entirely to strongman competitions, making his formal debut at the 2000 World’s Strongest Man Competition, where he finished in fourth place. Pudzianowski’s career nearly ended the following year, however, after he was arrested in Poland for assault and incarcerated for 19 months. In 2002, despite having been largely forgotten, Pudzianowski made a stunning comeback, besting Žydrūnas Savickas to win the 2002 World’s Strongest Man title. Pudzianowski went on to win four more World’s Strongest Man Competitions, along with six Europe’s Strongest Man titles, seven Poland’s Strongest Man titles, and 16 Strongman Grand Prix titles.

Honorable Mentions

Vasyl Virastyuk

  • One-time World’s Strongest Man
  • Six-time Ukraine’s Strongest Man
  • One-time IFSA Strongman World Championship Winner
  • First man to win both World’s Strongest Man and IFSA World Championship titles

Vasyl Virastyuk is a retired Ukrainian strongman who saw an immense amount of success in the early 2000s. He is most famous for becoming the first man to win both the World’s Strongest Man and IFSA Strongman World Championship titles. Additionally, Virastyuk won the Ukraine’s Strongest Man competition a whopping six times, four in a row from 2000-2003 and two more in 2006 and 2007. In the Arnold Strongman Classic, Virastyuk was able to take home three second-place medals, but was never able to win the competition. Virastyuk is now retired and is a politician in his home country of Ukraine.

Jón Páll Sigmarsson

  • Four-time World’s Strongest Man
  • Five-time World Muscle Power Championships Winner
  • Two-time Europe’s Strongest Man
  • First WSM athlete to win four titles
  • First strongman to squat 804 pounds

A five-time Iceland's Strongest Man, Jón Páll Sigmarsson is one of the greatest Icelandic strongmen of all time. He began his weightlifting career at age 16, after a childhood in which he worked on a farm and played soccer, karate, and competitive swimming. He won runner-up in the World’s Strongest Man competition in his very first year at the event (1983), and went on to win the competition four times thereafter (1984, 1986, 1988, 1990). This made Sigmarsson the first athlete ever to win four WSM Titles. Sigmarsson’s career was filled with additional titles and feats, but tragically, his life was cut short in the prime of his career when he suffered an aortic rupture during a workout at his gym in Reykjavík, dying at the age of 32.

Svend Karlsen

  • Three-time Norway’s Strongest Man
  • One-time Europe’s Strongest Man
  • One-time World’s Strongest Man
  • One-time World Muscle Power Championships Winner

Svend Karlsen is a retired Norwegian strongman who saw success in several international, continental, and national competitions. He was a three-time winner of the Norway’s Strongest Man competition and one-time winner of the Europe’s Strongest Man competition. Karlsen was most successful during the early 2000s, winning the Europe’s Strongest Man competition in 2001 and the three Norway’s Strongest Man competitions in 2003, 2005, and 2006. The pinnacle of Karlsen’s strongman career also came in 2001, when he won the World’s Strongest Man competition. Karlsen has stayed in the strongman community following retirement, organizing competitions in his home country of Norway.


Who is the best strongman of all time?

Lithuanian-born athlete Žydrūnas Savickas is widely-considered to be the greatest strongman of all time. Also known as “Big Z,” Savickas has won four World’s Strongest Man titles, eight Arnold Strongman Classics, and dozens of other high-profile competitions. At the 2020 World’s Strongest Man Competition, when asked who they believed to be the greatest strongman of all time, the majority of athletes chose Savickas.

Who has the most World’s Strongest Man titles?

Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski has won the most World’s Strongest Man titles. Over the course of his career, Pudzianowski has won five WSM titles, winning his first in 2002. Out of the 59 events Pudzianowski has competed in, he has won 42.

Who has the most Arnold Strongman Classic titles?

Žydrūnas Savickas is the athlete with the most Arnold Strongman Classic wins. In all, Savickas has successfully won 29 Arnold Strongman Classic titles, a large margin of victory over any other strongman. In second place after Savickas is American strongman Brian Shaw, who has won 16 Arnold Strongman Classics.