Health & Fitness | August 8, 2022 1:24 pm

Watch Hafthor Björnsson Deadlift an Icelandic Boulder in the Tradition of “Fullsterkur”

The Mountain from "Game of Thrones" has lost a few pounds, but he’s still scary strong

Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson at the premiere of "Game of Thrones."
The stone Björnsson lifts in a recent video has to be at least 400 pounds.
Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty

The world’s strongest man just lifted what we have to assume is one of the world’s heaviest stones.

Hafthor Björnsson, the 33-year-old Icelander better known as “Thor,” or “The Mountain,” the nickname for his monstrous character Gregor Clegane in Games of Thrones, is one of the most decorated strongmen of all time, and depending on who you ask, the strongest human being to have ever walked the planet.

His most recent feat, though, is a reminder that supernaturally strong folks have been around for a long time, and especially up in the unforgiving environs of Iceland. In a recent video, Björnsson participated in the age-old rite of fullsterkur, which involved him deadlifting a massive boulder while searching for his footing in loose, volcanic gravel.

It’s telling, and somewhat jarring, to see Björnsson struggle to lift this stone. On one hand, that could speak to his bodily transformation over the last two years; the strongman dropped 110 pounds to get into boxing shape (a regimen that saw him eating 6,000 fewer calories a day) and fight Eddie Hall, the brash British strongman, who had formerly owned the world deadlift record. Björnsson bested it by lifting an insane 501 kilograms (that’s 1104.52 pounds!) at his home gym in Reykjavik in 2020.

Naturally, Björnsson and Hall had a testosterone-fueled tête-à-tête after the record was broken, which eventually led to a meeting in the ring in Dubai, billed as “The Heaviest Boxing Match in History.” (Björnsson knocked Hall down twice, en route to a victory by unanimous decision.)

But whether we’re looking at a “slim” version of Björnsson or not, know that in this recent video he’s having trouble with that stone because it’s unfathomably heavy. It looks like it would have to be equal to (or likely heavier) than the legendary Húsafell Stone, a 410-pound boulder located near a goat pen that a pastor built over 200 hundred years ago. For decades, worthy Icelanders have tried their hand at lifting the Húsafell Stone. Meanwhile, fullsterkur translates literally to “full strength,” and achieving fullsterkur status in the Iceland of old was a way to earn your seat on a fishing boat. If you could haul a boulder, you could be trusted to row the North Atlantic.

Björnsson once carried the Húsafell Stone 90 meters — that’s about the length of an American football field. Here, he brings the stone up to his chest, then drops it back to the earth, howling in triumph. Some things to notice: his high-top Nikes are an underrated lifting shoe, with a wide, flat base. They help him spread his toes wide and create a reliable foundation. Also, check out how long he has to remain in a squat position. He isn’t just negotiating with the weight of the stone, but the clunkiness of it — in modern weightlifting speak, a stone is an “unconventional training tool” (like sandbags, truck tires, battle ropes, etc.) without an obvious grip or latch for easy lifting or carrying.

In the seafaring days of old, unconventional training was conventional living. Bags, wheels and stones needed to be moved in order to clear fields or load ships. In the geological minefield that is Iceland, it’s little wonder that local communities prized those with the strength to do so. It’s safe to say that regardless of the era — or whether he’s got a boxing bout on the calendar — Björnsson is one of the very best stone-lifters to ever do it.