The former World’s Strongest Man has a new outlook on competing.
Hafthor Björnsson sent a clear message to the strength sports world by announcing he will shift his focus from powerlifting to competing in strongman again.
The 2018 World’s Strongest Man and three-time winner of the Arnold Strongman Classic made headlines in February of 2023 when he officially came out of retirement. However, just two months later, Björnsson encountered a serious setback in his quest to prove his dominance again when he tore his pectoral muscle during a powerlifting competition held at Thor’s Power Gym in Kópavogur, Iceland.
Nearly six months since suffering the injury that forced him to alter his training plans, Björnsson shared a video on his YouTube channel on Sept. 21, 2023 detailing his decision to take his career in a different (but familiar) direction.
“As of now, because of the injury, I feel like it’s the smartest decision for me to step away for a little bit, keep training, keep building up the static strength,” Björnsson explained. “Then at some point later on in my journey, maybe a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, I might pick it back up.”
This isn’t the first (or likely the last) time the 2023 International Sports Hall of Fame inductee has switched his athletic priorities. After earning a reputation as an all-time great strongman, Björnsson retired from the sport in August 2020 and subsequently competed in both boxing and powerlifting.
Although he didn’t fare quite as well in the ring, the experience of changing sports provided some important perspective.
“When I decided to do powerlifting in the first place, after being in boxing for two years, I set my goals so high and I was getting strong so fast that my body wasn’t ready for it, and that’s why I got injured, in my opinion,” Björnsson said. “I need to be smart with my training. I need to give myself more time to build up that static strength.”
After providing his rationale for putting his powerlifting aspirations on pause, the legendary competitor gave a simple explanation behind his decision to return to strongman.
“The main reason is just because I have so much love for the sport,” Björnsson said.
Motivated to make a successful comeback, the man known for portraying “The Mountain” in the television series “Game of Thrones” plans to take a patient approach to the process. Björnsson said he will take things at his own pace as he prepares to compete again.
“I’m obviously going to set big goals for myself, but when I’m going to go into a competition I’m going to do my best,” he explained. “What that means is I’m not going to be chasing a man, chasing a record, chasing something right away. I need my body to get used to the heavy lifting. I need my tendons to get stronger, and that just takes time overall.”
Despite being three years removed from his last strongman contest — a championship title at Iceland’s Strongest Man in August of 2020 — it might not be long before Björnsson captures his 39th victory in the sport.
Once he returns to active status and competes again, he would be automatically qualified to enter the 2024 World’s Strongest Man thanks to his status as a former champion. Of course, if that occurs, the Iceland native would face a tall task to take down reigning winner Mitchell Hooper, who became the first Canadian-born victor in April 2023.
But if Björnsson wins his second World’s Strongest Man title six years after earning his first, that might just be the most impressive accomplishment of his decorated career.
Featured Image: Hafthor Björnsson / YouTube
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