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Watch TV star lift more than 1,000 pounds

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He’s known as the Mountain to “Game of Thrones” fans and Thor to his friends, but in real life Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is just your typical strongman who lifts half a ton like it’s nothing.

Thor is gearing up for the World’s Strongest Man competition in May and posted a video of his training. It was back day at the gym, and if you ever wondered what deadlifting 1,003 pounds looks like, let Thor show you how it’s done.


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First Björnsson got some friendly Icelandic encouragement from his lifting partners that just sounds like grunting to the rest of us. Then he took a double-whiff of some smelling salts, which is quite common in powerlifting for a mental boost.

Björnsson then approached the bar and applied his wraps while using a double overhand grip. This grip would be unusual for an Olympic weightlifter, who usually prefer a mixed grip, but it’s considered the correct grip for deadlifts.

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While this was going on, Thor’s buddies were shouting encouragement to him in a way that only fellow meatheads can understand (and I mean that affectionately). Björnsson began his lift as the roars got louder, and he locked out at the top to successfully complete the lift.

This is a big increase over what Björnsson was pulling at this time last year. At the Arnold Classic in March 2017, he deadlifted 961 pounds, so he’s gained 42 in a year’s time.

While this is no doubt impressive, Thor still has a ways to go if he wants to set the world record for the deadlift. Eddie Hall lifted 1,102.3 pounds in 2016, which is like lifting an entire NFL defensive line — in a 4-3 formation.

That number is an important one for Thor and he’s aiming for it. He’s previously said that his goal in 2018 is to set the world record for the deadlift.

Hall also has another thing on Björnsson besides the deadlift record, as he won the one competition that’s eluded Thor: the World’s Strongest Man title.

Hall won the event in 2017 while Thor finished in second place. Björnsson has finished in either second or third place in each of the last six World’s Strongest Man competitions and can’t seem to get over the hump.

The two will again go head-to-head at this year’s event in May. Provided they can get through qualifiers in late April, they will meet in the Philippines as that country hosts the event for the first time.

Apart from lifting half a ton in his spare time, Björnsson has portrayed Gregor Clegane, aka the Mountain, on “Game of Thrones” since its fourth season. He is the third actor to portray the character and will return for the show’s eighth and final season, which will premiere in 2019.

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Thor was also a different kind of athlete long before he took up Strongman competitions and acting. He was one of the top junior basketball players in Iceland and later turned pro at the age of 16.

At 6 feet 9 inches, Björnsson played center and was on the Icelandic junior national team from 2004 to 2006. Chronic ankle injuries forced him to retire from that sport in 2008 at the age of 20.

He then met Magnús Ver Magnússon in a gym, and the four-time World’s Strongest Man winner persuaded him to switch to a strongman career.

And the rest is history.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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