As pure tests of strength go, many strength enthusiasts argue that there is nothing to rival the deadlift. In WSM, the deadlift has always featured heavily in one form or another and the competitors who have led the way have been the cream of WSM talent. Though the basic principle of the deadlift has remained the same, there have been numerous variations in terms of the equipment used. For example, in the earliest years of WSM the car deadlift gave way to the ‘silver-dollar’ variant, which is an iconic event to many. This was contested on a ‘rising-bar’ principle, with the aim being to lift more weight for a single repetition than any other competitor. The weight in question was provided by silver dollars, which were in transparent boxes on each end of the bar. Rather than adding more discs or plates to increase the amount to be lifted, more dollars were poured into the boxes. When Bill Kazmaier won this event in 1981, his winning lift was 960lbs, and rather than just lifting it once, he pulled it twice, just to illustrate his supremacy in this discipline.
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s a number of other deadlift variations were used, with silver dollar-type apparatus being used on a number of occasions, as well as a cart lift, a boat lift, and the ‘Flintstone’ deadlift, where rocks were used on the bar ends. The Flinstone deadlift was a fairly close imitation of a conventional type of deadlift in that no machine or frame was used. The glaring difference here was that rocks were used as opposed to weight plates. The South African Gerrit Badenhorst showed his deadlifting prowess on this lift in 1996 with a winning lift of 410kgs. Twice WSM Jouko Ahola took the top spot on the Flinstone deadlift three years later with a lift of 380kgs, ahead of 2001 WSM winner Svend Karlsen, who was 5 kgs further back.
For much of the last decade though, the emphasis has been on lifting either cars or barrels. With the barrel/keg deadlift, the objective is to lift as many of the six barrels which are added to the basket, in the fastest time possible. When a lift is successful, another barrel is added and so on, until either all the six additional barrels have been lifted, a competitor cannot complete a lift, or the time limit expires. In the 2003 final, the starting weight was 295kgs, and when all six barrels were added it totalled 365kgs. The winner of that particular event was 5-times champion Mariusz Pudzianowski, with 2009 champion Zydrunas Savickas in second place.
The car deadlift offers a somewhat different proposition, and this lift is all about the most repetitions that can be completed within a time limit. Unlike the barrel deadlift, the weight of the car remains static (315kgs in 2004, 330kgs in 2006, rising to over 350kgs in 2009), and it is a matter of who can lift it the most number of times. In 2009 it was Zydrunas Savickas who won with 11 lifts, on his way to securing his first WSM crown.
Throughout the 30 plus years of WSM, there have been a number of quite exceptional deadlifters, and any discussion of this discipline would not be complete without reference once again to Bill Kazmaier (with wins in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1988, and a tie for first in 1982), Gerrit Badenhorst, who was a deadlift victor in (1992, 1994 and 1996), Jouko Ahola (1997 and 1999), and lastly Mariusz Pudianowski who has two outright deadlift victories and two ties for first place.
At the present time, WSM fans are perhaps somewhat spoiled by the amount of deadlifting talent that is currently on view each year with Zydrunas Savickas, Terry Hollands, Mark Felix, Mikhail Koklyaev, Brian Shaw and Derek Poundstone, amongst numerous others, all capable of some phenomenally strong performances in the deadlift. Regardless of whether it is cars, kegs or something else to be lifted, whoever comes out on top in the deadlift will secure himself some significant bragging rights.
Our Deadlift t-shirt celebrates the event and a tribute to Jon Pall click here to shop
July 4, 2011 | by WSM