World’s Strongest Man and the ‘Flintstone Barbell’

The World Strongest Man competition is undoubtedly one of my favourite events of the year. It features the strongest athletes in the world, competing against one another in a variety of presses, pulls and runs. While today’s competitions are undoubtedly professional, those from yesteryear tended to mix the serious with the spurious in a greater way.

This was seen in 1983 when competitors were tasked with a ‘cheese deadlift‘ and even in the inaugural games, which featured a refrigerator run. Today’s short post casts our attention to 1995 when athletes were forced to do an overhead press with the ‘Flintstone Barbell’. The Barbell, perhaps obviously given its name, was a normal barbell in appearance aside from the fact that instead of plates, we had large boulders. Was there any reason for this change? None whatsoever. Was it enjoyable? Absolutely.

For those doubting the seriousness with which that year’s strongmen took the lift, I refer you to the below video c. 16 minutes.

When I first saw the lift as a young child two things stuck with me. First that the haka done by Joe Onosai was absolutely mesmerising (if not terrifying). Second that Flintstone boulders or not, Gary Taylor’s 210kg overhead press was downright impressive. While the Flintstone Barbell has yet to return to WSM, its memory lives on!

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