Powerlifting Articles

The History Of The Deadlift, Including Deadlift Records

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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.

bob peoples deadlift

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.

ed coan deadlift

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

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the founder of Muscle and Brawn, and a powerlifter with 30+ years of experience. Steve's recorded a 600lb squat, 672lb deadlift and a 382lb bench press.
Steve Shaw

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  • Pete Dec 31,2013 at 1:05 pm

    If you go onto youtube and search Bill Kazmaier dead lift you can see him dead lift silver dollars 1055lb = kg 478.54 in the 1980’s world strong man competition this must still stand as a world record ??

  • mike Dec 8,2013 at 10:58 am

    You should have also posted about the suits and belts.

    Like for example Konstantin Konstantinovs pulled 939 lbs without a suit or belt in the 308 lb class, but his 948 lbs in the 275 lb weight class was using a belt and power suit.

    Also, Andy Bolton pulled 1003 lbs in a suit and belt while Benedikt only used a belt to pull 1015 lbs.

  • Trevor Lane Nov 13,2013 at 10:28 pm

    I was hoping this would detail the development of the lift itself more. Still interesting though.

  • Steve Sep 14,2013 at 10:01 pm

    I’m lost with records in deadlift. How can 1015 lbs. be the record in deadlift if Jon Pall Sigmarsson deadlifted 1153 lbs at Pure Strength 1987?

    • Mick Madden Sep 14,2013 at 10:04 pm

      1153 wasn’t competition height.

    • Dude Oct 25,2013 at 12:26 am

      Ummm…because JPS’ deadlift at Pure Strength was an extremely short ROM partial pull. Benni pulled his 1015 from standard full ROM powerlifting height. Just a guess, but JPS pulled his from like 22″ or higher bar height, whereas Benni pulled his from around 9″ bar height. The lower the bar the harder the pull. Put the par up to 22″ and I guarantee Benni would pull 1300 easily probably. Benni’s Arnold Strongman Classic deadlift from 13″ bar height was 1100 lb. So you see, bar height plays an important role, and Benni clearly holds the world record as a result.

      • Steve Oct 25,2013 at 6:32 pm

        Oh I see now, thanks for clearing that up

    • Rob Mar 19,2014 at 7:32 am

      Deadlifting is a powerlifting sport and such records need to be IPF recognized using an olympic sized bar (7ft) and regular weight plates. The bar’s height, using cross-section measure should be 9 inches off the ground. The 20kg, 25kg and 50kg (these may or may not be allowed depending on which federation you belong to) plates are 18″ in diameter thus the bar is at half the height.

      Thence the Silver Dollar Deadlift (Bill Kazmaier – 1,055lb (478.5kg), Cheese Deadlift (see WSM’83 where Tom Magee of Canada pulled 1,180lbs (535.25kg) which, I believe is the outright record for a weight deadlifted by anyone) Hummer Tyre Deadlift (Zydrunas Savickas – 1,155lb (523.9kg) and any other non-standard like car-deadlifting do not count to a powerlifting world record because the bar and weights are non-standard. If they could lift that on a regular bar, the record is theirs and would probably remain so forever.

      It would be good to see a deadlift record page where the weight rather than what the weight was made up from is counted.

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