The History Of The Deadlift, Including Deadlift Records

Squats with barbells are considered the best exercise but deadlift is equally effective and powerful. When it comes to testing your strength and stamina then a deadlift is the perfect exercise.

History of Deadlift

In this article, we will discuss the history of the deadlift and also find out who holds the current world records of a deadlift.

History of Deadlift - Bob Peoples

Hermann Görner and Bob Peoples

The barbell deadlift history can be traced to circa 1910 – 1920, from the time of Hermann Görner (also known as Hermann Goerner).

It could be said that Hermann was probably not the first person in history to perform a deadlift, but he definitely made it famous. He managed to grab people’s attention towards powerlifting in its initial days.

It would not be wrong to call Hermann Goerner a master in the world of powerlifting. He was 6’1″ (6 feet and 1 inch) tall and weighed 290 lbs. During the time when modern equipment was not there or even trainers, he brought deadlift into the limelight.

He carried out special bodybuilding training with every variation possible just to build that strength to carry out the lifts that he wanted. Goerner specialized in doing everything – one finger deadlift, one hand deadlift, and obviously two hand deadlift. You name it and he could do it.

He has some of the best records under his name, for example:

  • 4 finger deadlift of 596 lbs.
  • Double overhanded deadlift of 728 lbs.
  • Over-under grip deadlift of 830 lbs.

On top of that, these amazing and outstanding deadlifts were unofficial.

Before 1946, the official world record was of a 650 lbs deadlift. However, in September 1946, this world record was broken and obviously, records are meant to be broken. More and more new powerlifters will keep coming, and keep setting records.

In 1946, Bob Peoples, a legendary powerlifter broke the world record and set a new one by lifting 651 lbs. At the time, he weighed only 175 lbs.

After that on October 4, 1947, Bob Peoples set another record and became the first powerlifter in history to pull 700 lbs. He didn’t stop there and in 1949, while weighing just 181 lbs, he did better than before by breaking his own record and pulled a lift of 725.75 lbs.

John Terry – The Super Powerlifter

Although Bob Peoples’ deadlifts were something that was incomparable, John Terry still managed to get a little closer to his record. One of the strongest deadlifts in the world was performed by John Terry. He belonged to the York, Barbell Club of Pennsylvania.

John weighed just around 132 lbs but he managed to perform a 610 lbs deadlift. This definitely is an amazing deadlift and only a few can pull it off.

Ben Coats to Andy Bolton

The deadlift record that was under Bob Peoples name stayed that way for 12 years. No one could dare to break his record for more than a decade.

History of deadlift

Then in October 1961, Ben Coats, a Canadian weightlifter came forward and broke Bob Peoples record. Ben Coats had the title of the first person in history to perform a 750 lbs deadlift. So, he became the new record holder. While performing that deadlift, Ben only weighed 270 lbs.

However, he could not maintain his record for a long time. Just after 8 years, in 1969, Ben Coats’s deadlift record was broken by an American weightlifter Don Cundy.

Don Cundy performed a deadlift of 801 lbs, while his own body weight was just 275 lbs. This made him set the record easily.

Then for almost a decade, from 1970 to 1980, new deadlift records were continuously set. In fact, in 1975, Vince Anello who was known as a legend in the powerlifting world made history.

He was the first man to perform a deadlift of over 800 lbs, while his own body weight was under 200 lbs. To be precise, he did a deadlift of 805 lbs and his weight was just 198 lbs. This was something no one had ever expected.

The biggest surprise was when later in that year, Anello broke his own record and set a new one. This time his personal best was a deadlift of 809 lbs while still weighing 198 lbs.

Vince was on a record-breaking spree and he just didn’t want to stop. It was like he was motivated to pull a bigger deadlift every time.

Two years later in 1977, Vince Anello carried out another amazing deadlift. This time, it was an 811 lbs deadlift and his own body weight was 220 lbs. It was the first time, he was over 200 lbs.

Then after a year in 1978, he again managed to reduce his weight and got back to his previous body weight of 198 lbs. In November that year, he set another best record by doing a deadlift of 815 lbs.

Amazing Deadlift Numbers

Vince Anello was surely one of the best deadlifters of that era but he wasn’t the only one. The 1970s was a time when all types of small and big lifters were making their presence felt in the world of powerlifting.

In 1974, Mike Cross pulled a deadlift of 549 lbs, at the time he was just 123 lbs himself. Then in the same year, John Kuc, who was 242 lbs managed to do a deadlift of 849 lbs… that’s just incredible!

In 1975, Don Reinhoudt, who weighed 350 lbs and looked like an absolute beast did an unbelievable deadlift of 881 lbs. This is simply beyond imagination for many powerlifters.

After that in 1979, Lamar Gant, who weighed only 123 lbs managed to perform a 617 lbs deadlift.

Then in 1982, another powerlifting history was created. It happened on December 12, 1982, when Dan Wohleber pulled a deadlift of 904 lbs. At the time, Dan himself weighed only 295 lbs but he still managed to set a world record.

So, the 1980s saw two amazing world records:

  • Lamar Gant did a deadlift of 682 lbs while being just 132 lbs himself (this world record has still not been broken).
  • Dan Wohleber’s 904 lbs deadlift.

Ed Coan and Andy Bolton

In 1984, Ed Coan started shinning in the world of powerlifting. He pulled a 788 lbs lift, while just being 181 lbs. This made people realize his capability and how much he can lift.

Deadlift World Record

After that, in 1985, Ed Coan went higher and did an 859 lbs deadlift. At the time, he was weighing just 198 lbs. This was just the beginning of this amazing powerlifter’s career.

On July 28, 1991, 6 years after the first deadlift record of Ed Coan, he geared up to set another record. This time he pulled one of the best deadlifts in powerlifting history. He weighed 220 lbs and did a deadlift of 901 lbs.

Then 15 years later, something unbelievable happened. Andy Bolton changed deadlifting forever by lifting 1003 lbs off the ground.

Current World Records of Deadlift

  • E. Sajeeva Bhaskaran: Deadlift – 573.2 lbs, Weight Class – 114 lbs
  • Lamar Gant: Deadlift – 639.3 lbs, Weight Class – 123 lbs
  • Lamar Gant: Deadlift – 683.4 lbs, Weight Class – 132 lbs
  • Dan Austin: Deadlift – 705.5 lbs, Weight Class – 148 lbs
  • Oleksandr Kutcher: Deadlift – 793.7 lbs, Weight Class – 165 lbs
  • Giovanni Brunazzi: Deadlift – 793.7 lbs, Weight Class – 181 lbs
  • Ed Coan: Deadlift – 859.8 lbs, Weight Class – 198 lbs
  • Ed Coan: Deadlift – 901.7 lbs, Weight Class – 220 lbs
  • Yuriy Fedorenko: Deadlift – 892.9 lbs, Weight Class – 242 lbs
  • Konstantin Konstantinovs: Deadlift – 948 lbs, Weight Class – 275 lbs
  • Konstantin Konstantinovs: Deadlift – 939.2 lbs, Weight Class – 308 lbs
  • Benedikt Magnusson: Deadlift – 1015 lbs, Weight Class – more than 308 lbs


Image taken from Wikimedia Derek Pomana