In early 2023, Hafthor Björnsson revealed he would be returning to both professional strongman and powerlifting. However, after notable feats of progress in training, the former 2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion tore his left pectoral muscle, temporarily derailing some of his planned competitive timeline. As he continues working to regain strength, Björnsson recently revealed he’s been busy in other avenues.
On July 20, 2023, Björnsson posted a video to his YouTube channel where he explained how he used a new (total) $116,000 investment to expand his personal gym in Kópavogur, Iceland. The athlete seemingly thought of every avenue, purchasing and showcasing various high-quality pieces of equipment focused on building leg, upper body, and back strength.
In order to make space for his new pieces of equipment — which are primarily for larger-sized athletes — Björnsson purchased the unit next door to his gym’s primary facility. Here’s an overview of what he ran through in the video:
Björnsson said his new belt squat machine was his favorite purchase. The machine allows an athlete to perform squats without a barbell and without additional pressure on the neck, shoulders, and back muscles. Athletes lock into the machine by wearing a belt from a seated position.
“This is the belt squat, which is probably the best investment that I have made,” Björnsson explaned. “Because I’ll be able to train my legs right away … I’ve been wanting this for years, and finally I own one.”
Lying Hamstring Curl
A lying hamstring curl allows athletes to build muscle and strength in their hamstrings by either curling with both legs or performing a single-leg variation from a prone position. Björnsson’s new curl machine was almost double the size of a traditional machine.
Standing Calf Raise and Leg Extension
Like most of his equipment, Björnsson’s calf raise machine could load more weight than standard machines, making it a potentially ideal implement for more robust, bigger athletes. Meanwhile, the leg extension machine was more of a traditional variety and will help mold quad muscles accordingly.
Flat Chest Press and Incline Chest Press Machines
Björnsson placed his flat chest press and incline chest press machines near the entrance of his new unit to accommodate athletes seeking to refine their pectoral muscles. Both present quality options to work out the chest as alternatives to a more traditional barbell bench press.
Combo Pec Flye-Reverse Flye, Cable Machine, and Inverse Leg Curl
Further along in his tour, Björnsson presented a dual-purpose upper body machine to perform chest flyes as well as rear delt flyes. He also displayed an adjustable cable machine to isolate and contract upper-body muscles from a variety of angles. The inverse leg curl machine presents a change of pace but is nonetheless an effective way to work on balance and functional strength from an unconventional position, similar to the bodyweight-only Nordic hamstring curl. The exercise could be more challenging for larger athletes, given how much bodyweight they have to lift, and the inverse curl machine allows resistance to be added to assist the movement.
Björnsson appeared to be a big fan of the latter.
“It [the inverse curl] is very cool for heavy guys,” Björnsson said. “It is a killer for the hamstrings. The more weight you put on, the easier it gets. I think it was made for big guys, because big guys have a hard time doing this specific movement.”
Seal Row, Hip-Quad Machine, Hack Squat
To finish his tour, Björnsson introduced the seal row, equipment with athletes performing a strict barbell row variation. The difference is that athletes lay face down on the seal row bench to perform the row, taking the legs and lower back out of the equation. The hip-quad machine effectively isolates the thigh muscles, and a hack squat demands a lot more from the quads than a barbell squat due to the machine’s positioning, while also providing upper body support which reduces lower back fatigue.
Per a July 2023 Instagram post, Björnsson is well on his way toward complete recovery after his pec injury. The athlete clarified he was starting to regain a “full range of motion” and was “feeling better” by the week. Perhaps, when healthy in due time, he’ll start using his new equipment all around in earnest.
Featured image: @thorbjornsson on Instagram