T Nation

Old-Time Strongmen vs Modern Strongmen


More of a conversation starter than anything and I’m sure it’s been spoken about before but I couldn’t find a similar thread to read through.

How do you all think people like Doug Hepburn, Paul Anderson etc. would fare vs modern strongmen? I know it’s perhaps hard to compare as they were closer to powerlifters/olympic lifters than modern strongmen but is there a comparison at all?


I’m not sure about at the SHW level, because only a few of those guys were close to that big, but there were a ton of <200# strongmen who would probably destroy in modern strongman once they familiarized themselves with the skill aspect. People who started getting strong by doing heavy manual labor from a young age out of necessity have tendon and ligament strength that most people can’t even touch nowadays.


Paul Anderson was as heavy as 370lbs at some points in his life. Big Z competes around 375lbs. Anderson was a good deal shorter though, at only 5’9.5". I’d say Anderson would definitely be a force at WSM if he were at his prime today.

He might struggle though on some events because of his height. On the other hand, Vytautas Lalas is only 5’10" and has podiumed at WSM, so I wouldn’t be against Anderson.

Doug Hepburn topped out at 300lbs, so I don’t think he would be big enough to compete in present WSM. He might have been a force in the 90’s, though.


Am I the only one that thinks old timers would get fucking buried? They didn’t have the tools or fervent competitiveness that guys do now. By tools, I mean training protocol/implements and PED’s.


Nah, I agree with you. Current strongman playing in current era strongman would slaughter past. Playing in the 2005-2008 era of WSM? Odds are a little better. Current strongman playing in the field of weird circus lifts that the old timers did? Gets a little more interested, due to the different skills needed.

Now, if it’s a question of take those dudes from the past, have them born today and give them all the advantages, THEN it gets interesting. If most of the things said about Paul Anderson are true, he would be quite a force with modern training, equipment, drugs, and, ya know, not having graves disease. Kaz born 30 years ago instead of 60 years ago would be absolutely terrifying.


I’d like to see Eddie Hall do a potato sack and hang from a bar for time over a pool.


I have it on good authority that, though Eddie Hall is now retired, if he were to try it, he’d completely dominate it.


Do they still squat girls? That would be a good event for Paul Anderson. He did that all the time.

Also, what about Don Reinhoudt? He’s a big strong dude.


You’ve got so many variables to account for, it’s kind of an impossible comparison. Moving events is the most problematic thing in my mind. We have NO idea how Anderson could have moved with heavy weights. Maybe he would have been great at that too, but we don’t have a way to know.

That being said, Paul Anderson was a freak, and my hunch is that, given the training/drugs/etc of today, he would have been pretty good today. Height would have been a problem though. The best strongmen in the world today are all 6’3 and above. Thor and Shaw have really changed the game.