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A Strongman Record You’ll Want to Try (and Fail) to Beat: Double Overhand Axle Deadlift

If you’re professional strongman competitor Terry Hollands, 240 kilograms/528 pounds isn’t a whole lot of weight on most lifts. That’s especially true when it comes to deadlifts, as Terry (and other top strongmen) are consistently pulling near or north of 1,000 pounds in competition (with lifting straps and hitching allowed, as is normal for strongman competitions).

So Hollands’ 240kg deadlift might not seem that impressive — until you understand the style he’s lifting in. And it’s perhaps one of the easiest strongman records to test out yourself in a local gym (assuming they have one increasingly common and very important piece of strongman equipment).

Hollands is lifting on an axle bar — thicker than your regular powerlifting or weightlifting bar, and with no grip-friendly knurling — in a double-overhand style. Basically, the impressive thing about this lift isn’t the weight that’s being lifted off the ground — we assure you, Hollands is good for much more — but the fact that he’s able to hold onto the bar in this style with over 500 pounds.

It’s not a record that we see tested too often, but Hollands’ lift was official and made in competition.

And relative to other strongman records (these seem to need constant updating!), it’s a simpler movement we want to try in our home gym — assuming there’s an axle bar handy. Even if you’ve got over a 500 pound pull, it’s humbling to see how quickly that max drops off on a thicker, non-knurled apparatus with double-overhand grip. So far, we’ve found as much as a 50% (or greater!) drop-off from our normal deadlift maxes.

It’s easy to criticize strongman competitors for “cheating” because they use straps to latch onto the bar. But strongmen train grip for so many other events, it’s sort of silly to think they don’t have a lot of power in those fists. As Terry Hollands shows, the reports of strongmen lacking grip strength are largely overblown.

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David Tao

David Tao

BarBend's Co-Founder and Editorial Director, David is a veteran of the health & fitness industry, with nearly a decade of experience building and running editorial teams in the space. He also serves as a color commentator for both National and International weightlifting competitions, many through USA Weightlifting.

David graduated from Harvard University and served for several years as Editorial Director/Chief Content Officer of Greatist.com. In addition to his work in the health & fitness industry, David has been a writer for Fortune and Fortune.com, as well as a contributor to Forbes.com, Slate, and numerous other outlets across the web and in print. He's especially passionate about the intersection of strength sports and quality, professional media coverage — overlapping interests shared by the BarBend editorial team and which drive their content strategy each and every day.

David is a proud Kentucky native. In his free time, David is a voiceover actor and can be heard in animated films, independent shorts, music videos, commercials, and podcasts.

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