Once upon a time, Hafthor ‘Mountain’ Bjornsson was a skinny basketball center, but a broken ankle ended his basketball career at age 20. That same year, strongman Magnus Magnusson convinced Bjornsson he had good prospects as a strongman, and his prediction was proved right when Bjornsson finished 2nd at the Jon Pall Sigmarsson Classicjust 2 years later, and won the Strongest Man in Iceland contest a year after that. Bjornsson scored a wild card invitation to the World’s Strongest Man contest in 2011 and came in 6th overall. In 2012, 2013 and 2015, he came in 3rd. In 2014 and 2016, he claimed second place. Finally, in 2018, Bjornsson won and became the first Icelandic man since Magnusson won it back in ’96. Bjornsson also won the Arnold Strongman Classic in 2018, breaking the world record on the Elephant Bar deadlift. He broke his record again in 2019, increasing it to 1,042 lbs. Bjornsson has also done some acting for tv and film. He played in Game of Thrones and Kickboxer: Retaliation.Bjornsson is a co-founder of Icelandic Mountain Vodka and has appeared in ads promoting environmental awareness. He is 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs about 440 lbs.
Hafthor Bjornsson’s Diet
Bjornsson eats a whopping 8,000-10,000 calories per day. Even so, he chooses his food carefully and counts macros. Because it can be difficult to eat so much — every 2 hours or so, day after day — Bjornsson must keep his appetite high by avoiding foods that are slow to digest. He started working with nutrition coach Stan Efferding because he was getting fatter rather than stronger. He also had high blood pressure, high blood sugar, fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome. Efferding helped Bjornsson drop about 50 lbs., then gain it back using what his coach calls The Vertical Diet. Bjornsson eats 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight; about 0.4 grams of fat per pound and the rest of his calories come from carbs, which is about 5,000 calories.
- Medium Fat 25% 25%
- Medium Protein 35% 35%
- High Carb 55% 55%
Bjornsson’s meals have a basic template which includes red meat, white rice, broth, bell peppers, and spinach all mashed together. He washes it down with coconut water or fruit juice.
FODMAP foods (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are a type of carbohydrate that can be difficult to digest, and are often avoided by people with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive problems. The list of FODMAPs is long and varied, and includes things like wheat, milk, figs, onions, garlic, and honey.
Hydrate For the Win
Bjornsson drinks a LOT of water, 30-35 cups a day. He down a minimum of 2 cups before each meal.
Bjornsson will have 50 grams of casein or raw eggs in the middle of the night. Not what most people would look forward to as a midnight snack.
What to Eat
Low-FODMAP foods (red peppers, tomatoes, berries)
What to Avoid
Processed vegetable oils
Oats (unless soaked and fermented)
Legumes (unless soaked and fermented)
High raffinose vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, etc.)
Bjornsson On His Early Diet
‘I basically ate everything. Pizza, pasta — anything to make myself bigger.’
Bjornsson On His Current Diet
‘I am now very conscious of what I put into my body. My mindset has changed to think about what I can eat to become a better athlete, not just a bigger one.’
Bjornsson On Maintailning His Physique
‘It’s just like constantly work for me. I have to eat every 2 hours to maintain my body mass. When I’m filming, I always have to have breaks to eat.’
Bjornsson On The Importance Of Digestion
‘With such big portions, the food needs to digest quickly.’
Bjornsson On How To Get Huge
‘I don’t recommend you to try this!…Drink a ot of water throughout the day plus juices to get more calories!’
Hafthor Bjornsson’s Fitness Routine
Weekly Workout Routine
Full Body Workout
Three times a week, Bjornsson does a routine that works the whole body, which is unusual for bodybuilder who often opt for split routines, focusing on one area, such as the legs or arms, on different days.
On the weekend, Bjornsson focuses on developing his technique for strongman events.
Consistency Is Key
Bjornsson says sticking with a routine which includes diet, exercise, sleep and recovery is the key to being at the top of your game.
Early AM Cardio
Bjornsson is up early each day and does a 30-minute cardio routine.
Warming Up The Mountain
Bjornsson does warm ups like the Pause Deadlift, the dumbbell Cuban Press and the Farmer’s Walk to get his body ready for the heavy lifting.
Mid-Day Sweat Session
Bjornsson usually does his strongman training in the afternoon.
A Thor Bjornsson Routine
Bjornsson varies the weight, reps and sets each week, starting with lower weight and higher reps on week 1, building to more weight and fewer reps & sets during week 3.
Conditioning: 30 min. Of sprints, kettlebells, circuit training, etc.
Speed or deficit deadlift
Upper body assistance exercises: any 2 done to failure x 3 sets.
Core exercise: 10 min.
Strongman event practice: 3-4 events x 3 sets.
Strongman event practice: 3-4 events x 1-2 sets.
Some of Bjornsson’s records
Deadlift (elephant bar, raw with wrist straps): 1,042 lbs. World Record.
Keg toss: 8 kegs in 16.35 seconds. Strongman Record.
Bench press: 551 lbs.
Squat (with wraps): 970 lbs.
Tire deadlift (raw with wrist straps): 1,014 lbs.
Log press: 470 lbs.
Bjornsson On Basketball
‘I was pretty good but I broke my foot a couple of times. I was probably overtraining.’
Bjornsson On How He Bulked Up
‘The biggest changes were that I didn’t do much cardio anymore, and I put more food into my diet.’
Bjornsson On Improving Oneself
‘There’s a lot of things I can get better at. For instance, I’m always trying to improve my grip strength. Working with such heavy weights, that is often the first thing to go.’
Hafthor Bjornsson’s Supplements
Vitamin B12 helps to form red blood cells, supports strong bones and can boost energy.
Folate or vitamin B9 normalizes cholesterol levels and is good for your heart, amongst other things.
Potassium helps regulate blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of stroke and disorders of the heart and kidneys.
Magnesiumplays a role in literally hundreds of functions in the body and studies show many people are deficient. Every cell in your body has some and needs it in order to work properly. Just to name a few of the things it does: it creates energy, creates protein, repairs DNA and coordinates muscle contractions.
Vitamin D3 also has many important roles to play, particularly absorbing calcium and phosphorus and making sure the immune system works correctly. People who live in northern climes like Bjornsson that are dark for half the year usually do not get enough from sun exposure alone.
Get it here
Glutamine boosts immunity and may improve athletic performance. Bjornsson takes 2 servings of glutamine before and after working out.
Casein is a high-quality protein helps you retain more muscle even as you burn fat.
Hafthor Bjornsson’s Lifestyle
In 2015, Bjornsson carried a 33-foot long log weighing 1,430 pounds for 5 steps, breaking the thousand year old record set by Orm Storolfsson.
Fluffy & The Mountain
Bjornsson has a tiny Pomeranian named Astrikur who has his ownand more than 20k followers.
Plaguing Health Problems
In addition to his metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease and high blood pressure, in 2017 Bjornsson was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a kind of facial paralysis that is usually short-lived, but can recur. Other celebrities that have been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy include Angelina Jolie and George Clooney. The cause of Bell’s Palsy remains unclear, although it is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, and stress.
Mountainous Weight Gain
Bjornsson went from about 200 lbs. to 400 lbs. in just 2 years.
Pesky Steroid Questions
Bjornsson admitted during an ESPN interview to steroid use. When asked to elaborate, Bjornsson chose not to.
Bjornsson On His Success
‘I’m at the top but I strongly believe that you can always improve.’
Bjornsson On His Favorite Feat
‘The thing I’m most proud of probably is my Viking record.’
Bjornsson On Winning
‘When you want to be the best, you do whatever it takes.’
Bjornsson On Steroid Use
‘Can we just skip those questions?’
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