Born Strong (2017)

The highly competitive sport of Strongman has rapidly increased in popularity lately. “Born Strong” is a documentary-style film which looks into the fascinating world of Strongman. Released in 2017 and directed by Gary Cohen and Ross Hockrow, this film has been well received by strength and muscle fans. Read our review to find out why!

Just about every character in “Born Strong” is big! Hafthor Bjornsson, Eddie Hall, Zydrunas Savickas and Brian Shaw are the four huge strongmen that the film is centred around. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Henry, who won the first Arnold Strongman Classic, feature regularly throughout the documentary. Others in the cast include World’s Strongest Man commentator Colin Bryce and writer David Epstein, author of the “The Sports Gene”.

One of the most prestigious strongman events on earth, the Arnold Strongman Classic, is the focus of the film. The planning and preparation of the four strongmen is filmed as they get ready for the event in 2016.

“Born Strong” is split into two distinct parts. The first half introduces us to the four strongmen and takes a look at their backgrounds. Eddie Hall is first up and we get a good look at his pre-strongman days and his future aspirations.  Icelander Hafthor Bjornsson tells us about his burning ambition to win the World’s Strongest Man and that he will not stop until he does so. American giant Brian Shaw talks about his competitive nature and his dislike of losing. Zydrunas Savickas from Lithuania informs us that he started strongman at age 16 and prefers to train alone to push himself harder.

It’s interesting to see that one common thing these strongmen find difficult to deal with is the vast amounts of eating. They must eat often and consume massive amounts of calories. Eddie Hall points out that you feel “like a cow, you just graze all day every day.” Later in the film, Brian Shaw admits that he considers eating to be the hardest part of being a strongman.

The second part of the film is where most of the action happens. Taking place in Columbus in Ohio, the Arnold Strongman Classic is described as the “Olympics of strongman lifting” by Mark Henry. Ten men push their bodies to the extreme in an attempt to win this coveted crown.

The deadlift is the first event up at the competition. Each man has three attempts to lift his best weight with the lifts starting out with a beastly 700lbs. The excitement builds as the weights get heavier. One of the most thrilling moments in this event is when English strongman Eddie Hall lifts a record breaking 1026lbs, and hardly gets a chance to catch his breath as Arnold Schwarzenegger rushes over to congratulate him.

Two pressing events follow the deadlift: The Austrian Oak and the Cyr dumbbell lift. The Austrian Oak is a log lift weighing in at 451lbs. Watching Hafthor and Eddie struggle to lift this log puts into perspective just how hard this lift is. The Cyr dumbbell barely proves to be any easier. Weighing in at 300lbs (a weight that most guys can’t even bench press) this dumbbell has to be pressed overhead using only one arm. Brian Shaw’s determination is great to watch as he pushes hard to try and beat Zydrunas, he stays very composed even though the pressure is on.

The Bale Tote is the penultimate event and is a 700kg weight that has to be carried on the shoulders over a 13-feet stretch. Thankfully, this event yields better results for the competitors than the previous two. This leads into the last event; the Timber Carry. A frame weighing 500kg has to be carried up a ramp as fast as possible. Tension is high at this point of the competition as these are the last few nail-biting minutes before you find out who wins the Arnold Strongman Classic crown. You’ll need to watch it to find out!

There’s just something fascinating about watching humans who love to push the boundaries of their physical strength potential and this is one of the reasons “Born Strong” is such a great film. It makes for riveting and entertaining viewing from start to finish. Anyone from the average Joe to the hardcore strongman fan will find lots here – yep, “Born Strong” impresses!

What do you think of the growing Strongman trend around the world, who’s your favourite strength athlete? Let us know below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!  (Want more iron? Then check out these awesome weightlifter physiques, Bodybuilding Legends and our review of World Strongest Man – Eddie Hall’s book!)

Alan Riseborough

Alan is a strength and physique enthusiast and has 28 years' of training experience behind him. He has competed in powerlifting, arm wrestling, bodybuilding and grip strength competitions. He also includes rigorous bodyweight, sprinting and kettlebell training regularly in his routines. He believes in the transformative power of the squat which is (believe it or not) his favourite exercise!

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