While squats are considered the king of all barbell exercises, the deadlift is a close second. Many will argue that there is no greater test of raw strength than deadlift pulling power.
This article will take a detailed look at the history of the deadlift, as well as present you with current deadlift world records.
The Early Years of the Deadlift – Goerner and Peoples
The history of the barbell deadlift can be traced back to Hermann Goerner circa 1910 to 1920. While Hermann was not the first man to perform this lift, he brought the deadlift into the public spotlight.
At 6′, 290 pounds, Hermann Goerner was a deadlift master. He trained every possible variation, from the one finger deadlift, to the one-handed deadlift, and of course the conventional two-handed deadlift.
Goerner’s best 4 finger deadlift was a whopping 596 pounds. Goerner was also credited with a 728 double overhanded deadlift, and an 830 pound deadlift using an over-under grip. These lifts were unofficial.
Prior to 1946, the official deadlift world record was 650 pounds. In September, 1946, deadlift legend Bob Peoples broke that record by pulling an incredible 651 pounds while weighing a mere 175 pounds.
On October 4th, 1947 Bob Peoples become the first man in history to officially deadlift 700 pounds. In 1949, at a bodyweight of 181 pounds, Bob Peoples broke his own record by pulling 725.75 pounds.
The Amazing John Terry
Though Bob People’s deadlift numbers were unheard of, he was not the only potent deadlifter of his era. John Terry of the York, Pennsylvania Barbell Club managed a deadlift of 610 pounds while weighing a mere 132 pounds. This deadlift was pound for pound the strongest in the world.
The Modern Era – Ben Coat to Andy Bolton
Bob Peoples held the deadlift record for 12 years. In October of 1961, Canadian Ben Coats became the first man in history to deadlift 750 pounds. He did so at a bodyweight of 270 pounds. A mere 8 years later in 1969, American Don Cundy smashed the 800 pound barrier by deadlifting 801 pounds at a bodyweight of 275 pounds.
During the 1970s and 1980s, deadlift records continued to fall. In 1975, powerlifting legend Vince Anello became the first man in history to deadlift over 800 pounds while weighing under 200 pounds. He was able to pull 805 pounds at a bodyweight of 198.
Later that year Anello bested his own record, hitting an 809 pound pull at a bodyweight of 198. By 1977, Vince Anello was able to pull 811 pounds, but at a bodyweight of 220 pounds. By November of 1978, his weight was back down to 198 pounds. It was during this time that Vince pulled an amazing 815 pounds.
Big Men, Little Men – Amazing Deadlift Numbers
Vince Anello wasn’t the only deadlifting stud from his era. The 1970s also witnessed amazing pulls by some of the biggest and smallest lifters in the history of powerlifting.
In 1974, 123 pound deadlifter Mike Cross managed a 549 pound pull, while 148 pounder Don Blue was deadlifting 625 pounds. That same year 242 pound deadlifter John Kuc ripped an incredible 849 pounds off the floor.
One year later, in 1975, 350 pound behemoth Don Reinhoudt deadlifted a mind-blowing 881 pounds.
Deadlift records continued to fall throughout the rest of the 70s. In 1979, Lamar Gant deadlifted 617 pounds while weighing only 123.
1982 saw the first 900 pound deadlift in the history of powerlifting. On December 12th of that year, 295 pound Dan Wohleber set an all-time world record of 904 pounds.
Wohleber’s pull was not the only amazing feat of the 80s. Lamar Gant also managed a 682 pound deadlift while competing in the 132 pound class. This record still stands today.
Along Came Ed Coan and Andy Bolton
By 1984, Ed Coan began making a name for himself. He pulled 788 pounds at a bodyweight of 181. By 1985 Ed was competing in the 198 pound class and deadlifting 859 pounds.
6 years later, on July 28th, 1991, Ed Coan pulled arguably the best deadlift in the history of powerlifting – 901 pounds at a bodyweight of 220.
15 years later, Andy Bolton hoisted an unbelievable 1003 pounds of the ground and changed the world of deadlifting forever.
Current Deadlift World Records
114 Pound Class – E. Sajeeva Bhaskaran: 573.2 pound deadlift
123 Pound Class – Lamar Gant: 639.3 pound deadlift
132 Pound Class – Lamar Gant: 683.4 pound deadlift
148 Pound Class – Dan Austin: 705.5 pound deadlift
165 Pound Class – Oleksandr Kutcher: 793.7 pound deadlift
181 Pound Class – Giovanni Brunazzi: 793.7 pound deadlift
198 Pound Class – Ed Coan: 859.8 pound deadlift
220 Pound Class – Ed Coan: 901.7 pound deadlift
242 Pound Class – Yuriy Fedorenko: 892.9 pound deadlift
275 Pound Class – Konstantin Konstantinovs: 948 pound deadlift
308 Pound Class – Konstantin Konstantinovs: 939.2 pound deadlift
308+ Pound Class – Benedikt Magnusson: 1015 pound deadlift