I have seen a few records of "deadlift for reps" event in various strongman competitions and it seems that they do an all-out first set quite often, no matter how much time left till time limit. This is going against common sense, experience, observations of other sports, and any theory I can relate to this subject.

It seems that it is quite common for them to start with an all-out set and get exhausted far from the time limit - for example 6 fast reps in 30 seconds and no successful rep (or at least try) in the next 30 seconds.

See for example:

If am correct, there is not a single one competitor using evenly spaced sets of one rep (in records I have seen). This lack of timing discipline seem to be really irrational in those professional athletes. My question:

Is there a reason for this unusual strategy?

The possible hypothesis to explain this behaviour I already reject:

  • Their body works in a different way (I have not found any reason why it should be like that). Even though they could have superior genetics and use various drugs and have decades of training, they are still humans obeying the laws of this universe.

  • They do not really know what they are doing - I do not think this is possible, they are professionals, they should know that 60 seconds is way too much time for all-out set.

The only hypothesis that seems to be somehow possible:

  • They are avoiding doing too much work/reps (via resting between reps) to preserve energy for other events/days of the competition.

1 Answer 1


Your hypothesis about the strongmen conserving energy is certainly one part of it. A few times in World's Strongest Man, I've seen a competitor do just enough reps to take the lead, and then just put the bar down and walk away even though they could probably do more. They would also be reducing their risk of injury, by not straining themselves for more reps.

But the main factor in this, at least in my opinion, is that if two strongmen tie for repetitions, whoever completed their reps in the fastest time wins. So if one strongman paces himself as you suggest and does 6 reps just inside the time limit, and another strongman goes all-out and does 6 reps in 30 seconds, the one who went all-out will win. The first strongman would have been better off going all-out too, and seeing if he could get 7 reps.

  • The second paragraph is truly interesting. I have not thought about that in this way.
    – matousc
    Mar 4, 2020 at 21:04

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