Champion Strongmen Took on CrossFit Athletes in a Fitness Contest
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Never let it be said that Thor Bjornsson is afraid of a challenge. After quitting strongman competitions to retrain as a boxer, completely transforming his body in the process, The Mountain has since set himself the new goal of becoming a professional powerlifter—but he’s also still taking on new fitness challenges on his YouTube channel.
In a recent video, Bjornsson shares footage from his time at The Buttery Games, an event hosted by fitness influencers Heber Cannon and Marston Sawyers, a.k.a. the Buttery Bros which pits athletes working at the top of their game against each other. These include several of Bjornsson’s fellow strength athletes, including two-time World’s Strongest Man winner Martins Licis, bodybuilder Kai Greene, strongman and self-proclaimed “World’s Strongest Gay” Rob Kearney, and bodybuilder and acrobat Jon Call, a.k.a. Jujimufu. Also competing are several CrossFit athletes, including the reigning “Fittest Man on Earth” Justin Medeiros, who secured his second consecutive win at the CrossFit Games in 2022.
“I am a little nervous, I have to admit,” says Bjornsson ahead of the first event, a 400 meter relay which “gasses” a number of the competitors almost immediately.
The second round is another cardio challenge; the progressive aerobic cardiovascular endurance run (PACER), more commonly known as the beep test, where participants must complete a series of shuttle runs of 20 meters in continually decreasing time intervals. Originally designed to test athletes’ aerobic capacity, the beep test proves difficult for some of the strongmen and bodybuilders competing who don’t usually tend to prioritize cardio in their own training, like Kearney, who jokes that he’s “gonna go until it kind of hurts, then stop,” and Licis, who describes the test as “deceivingly horrific torture.” Somewhat predictably, the beep test whittles down the contestants until only CrossFitters remain, with Medeiros emerging victorious.
The next couple of rounds an obstacle course test the athletes’ upper body strength, speed, agility, mobility, power, and accuracy, including an obstacle course and a basketball shootout, before the final WOD-inspired event: a 1,200-meter row followed by barbell thrusters and burpees.
Bjornsson goes so hard on the rowing portion of the workout that he ends up actually breaking the equipment, and has to rapidly switch machines to keep up his “super-impressive” pace—something which he then regrets when it comes to the burpees and barbell thrusters, where his fatigue and pain force him to pull out of the competition.
“I just really went blasting, and I just burnt myself out on the rowing,” he says. “I was absolutely crushed.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.