Strongman Mitchell Hooper was challenged by bodybuilder Jesse James West

Jesse james West and Mitchell Hooper

There’s nothing remarkable about putting progressive overload into your exercises, which involves adding weight to the bar as you gain strength over time. But how much weight would you need to put before the bar began to bend? And, more crucially, how powerful would you need to be to carry off such a stunt?

That is precisely the issue that YouTuber and bodybuilder-turned-powerlifter Jesse James West seeks to answer in his most recent challenge video, and he does it with the assistance of the reigning World’s Strongest Man, Mitchell Hooper.

West claims that if he loads the barbell in his hands with 311 pounds, it will begin to bend, thus he starts with 315 pounds for a single-rep deadlift. But the bar is stronger than he realizes, so West and Hooper continue to slide on the plates.

“I bet it’s stronger than you think,” Hooper adds. “I bet we’re looking at 650 to 700.”

West, who owns an all-time deadlift PR of 495 pounds, thinks that now is the time to set a new record… and achieves a new single-rep max of 500 pounds. But the bar is still intact, so Hooper jumps in and begins to load it with additional weight. He adds 535 pounds, then 605, and the bar still remains straight.

“If I can’t bend it and Mitchell can’t bend it, we have backup,” West explains. “We have a forklift.”

At 700 pounds, the barbell exhibits significant give at the peak of Hooper’s deadlift, while at 750 pounds, it is visibly bouncing on either end.

“Somehow this $35 barbell had survived being maxed out by not only me, but the World’s Strongest Man,” according to West. West, now determined to see the bar correctly bend or perhaps shatter, calls in a forklift to lower the bar—now weighing 915 pounds—onto a power rack. Now that it has been fully twisted, they set out to split it in half.

After piling 1,060 pounds of weight plates onto the bent barbell, West and Hooper add metal chains and any other weight they can find, pushing it up to nearly 2,000 pounds, before using the forklift to pull it off the ground—and it eventually breaks.

“We did it!” West exclaims.

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