Zydrunas Savickas – ‘Big Z’: Strongman Legend

Zydrunas Savickas

The sport of strongman is still a young sport that’s not even 50 years old. Only a handful of strongman athletes are considered a legend, and all strongman fans acknowledge Zydrunas Savickas as a legend.

Name:Zydrunas Savickas
Date of Birth:July 15th, 1979
Place of Birth:Biržai, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
Nickname:Big Z
Country: Birzai, Lithuania
Height:6 ft 3 in(191 cm)
Weight:401 lbs(182 kg)
Career:1998 to present
Championships:4x World Strongman Champion, 8x Arnold Strongman Classic Champion, 2x IFSA World Strongman Champion

Here’s a breakdown of the strongman and powerlifting legend Zydrunas Savickas. Detailing his journey to becoming one of the most prolific strongman athletes ever.

Zydrunas Savickas’ Early Life

Zydrunas Savickas grew up in Birzai, Lithuania, and would get an interest in strongman early during his childhood. His first exposure to the sport of strongman was watching a televised Lithuanian strongman event when he was fourteen years old.

Savickas would initially try playing basketball since he was quite tall, standing at 6ft 3 in tall. But Zydrunas was also over three hundred pounds and incredibly strong.

His destiny would be to become a top competitor in strongman competitions.

Zydrunas Savickas

Zydrunas Savickas’ Entry Into Powerlifting & Strongman 

Two years after seeing his first strongman event, Savickas would enter his first strongman competition at just sixteen years old. He would do well in his first competition and even beat some of Lithuania’s most seasoned strength athletes.

Once Savickas got a taster for strongman competitions, he was hooked on strength sports. This competition would lead Zydrunas Savickas to pick up powerlifting immediately after.

Savickas would break every Lithuanian powerlifting record in just his second powerlifting meet. Setting records in every lift that would stand for years.

Zydrunas Savickas’ Early Strongman Career

At just twenty-three years old, Savickas had already been a strength athlete for seven years. But the best Big Z still wouldn’t be seen for years to come.

After seven years, Zydrunas Savickas would finally reach his goal of winning Lithuania’s Strongest Man in 1998. This win automatically qualifies Savickas for his first World’s Strongest Man Competition.

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The 1998 World’s Strongest Man competition was held in Morocco. Savickas would qualify but not rank in the top 10.

His most notable accomplishment in his first World’s Strongest Man was winning heat 5 of the anchor drag event.

In 2000, he would once again with Lithuania’s Strongest Man and qualify for the 2000 World’s Strongest Man held in South Africa.

Zydrunas Savickas

Zydrunas Savickas’ First Major Injury

In 2001, Zydrunas sustained the first serious injury of his career. At a contest in the Faroe Islands, Savickas tore both patellar tendons in the Conan wheel row.

Many assumed that suffering such an injury meant the end of Savickas’ career. He would shock the strength sports world by returning just nine months after suffering the injury.

In his first event back, Big Z would win the Lithuania powerlifting championships again. Following this win up with another Lithuanian World’s Strongest Man win. 

This would be the begin the next chapter in the career of Zydrunis Savickas.

World’s Strongest Man 2002 

After fully recovering from his gruesome injuries, Savickas would finally get over the hump at the World’s Strongest Man. This would be the first year that Zydrunas Savickas would not only rank, but earn a medal.

At the 25th World’s Strongest Man event in Malaysia, Zavickas would earn a silver medal that year’s event. Notably placing first in the lorry pull and two second-place finishes in the car deadlift and tire/anchor flip and drag event.

World’s Strongest Man 2003 

In 2003, Zydrunas Savickas would return to the World’s Strongest Man event and accumulate a score of 46 in six events. Earning him another second-place finish at the biggest event within strength sports.

World’s Strongest Man 2004

Savickas would earn another silver medal at the 2004 World’s Strongest Man for the third straight year. This time, Savickas would be beaten by Ukrainian strongman Vasyl Virastyuk.

Many were beginning to believe that Big Z was a good strongman but would never be a champion.

The Prime of Zydrunas Savickas 

During the 2000s, Zydrunas Savickas would begin transforming from top strongman competitor to a world champion. Here are some of the highlights from the prime of his career.

Zydrunas Savickas

6x Arnold Strongman Classic Champion 

While Zydrunas Savickas may have been coming up short in World’s Strongest Man, he made records at other strength competitions. Particularly at the Arnold Strongman Classic Championship.

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In 2003, Savickas would win his first Arnold Strongman Classic Championship. He would follow this win up with five more straight wins at the event.

These six straight championship wins would make Zydrunas the most-winning athlete in the event’s history.

Strongman’s Champion League

From 2008 to 2015, Savickas competed at events by the Strongman’s Champion League. During this timeframe, Zydrunas Savickas would win 36 different events that were held all over the world.

Big Z’s First World’s Strongest Man Championship & Repeat

In 2009, Big Z would prove all of his doubters wrong that he couldn’t win the World’s Strongest Man Championship. He would break through his ceiling to become the World’s Strongest Man for the first time in his career.

Savickas would finally beat Mariusz Pudianowski to win the biggest event in strength sports.

Big Z would prove that his win in 2009 was no fluke. Returning to the championship event in 2010 and repeating as World’s Strongest Man champion. Beating American Brian Shaw by the slimmest of margins

Injury & Comeback 

Just when Big Z was hitting the prime of his career, he suffered another significant injury. Tearing his bicep and earning his fourth second-place finish at World’s Strongest Man.

Many would assume that this was the end of the legend’s career, but he proved them wrong again. Rehabbing and returning to competition in less than a year.

After the injury, Zydrunas Savickas would win two more World’s Strongest Man titles in 2012 and again in 2014. Also earning three more silver medals after the injury.

Zydrunas Savickas’ Training 

Zydrunas has had an extremely long career as a strong sport athlete. A lot of his longevity is connected with his discipline in training.

Early on in Savickas’ career, he was known for his explosivity in training. Big Z has become more methodical in the gym as he’s gotten older.

His training routine consists of two types of weight training mixed together. Savickas will lift like a bodybuilder, where he trains different muscle groups on specific days. Of course, using more weight than a traditional bodybuilder would keep up his strength.

Then the strongman-specific training that Zydrunas Savickas does depends on the upcoming competition. Months out of the competition, Savickas will practice the exercises that will be performed at the event.

He will keep his strength up before the event and hopefully enter the competition with little to no injuries.

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World Records Held by Zydrunas Savickas 

In a career that spans over 25 years, Zydrunas Savickas has numerous records to his name. Here’s a list of all his world records and career highlights in various strongman lifts.

  • Log lift for Max Weight – 228 kg (503 lb) (former world record, 2015 Arnold Classic Brazil Strongman Pro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Giant Barbell Squat for Reps – 329 kg (725 lb) × 15 single-ply suit w/ wraps (World record, 2014 World’s Strongest Man, Los Angeles, California)
  • Ironmind S-Cubed Bar Deadlift at 1-inch deficit (with straps) – 442 kg (974 lb) (former World record, 2011 World’s Strongest Man, Wingate, North Carolina)
  • Rogue Elephant Bar Deadlift (raw with straps) – 404 kg (891 lb) (2016 Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Apollon’s Axle Press for Max Weight – 215 kg (474 lb) (2010 Giants Live, Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Apollon’s Axle Press for Reps – 166 kg (366 lb) × 8 clean and press each rep (World record, 2006 Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Apollon’s Axle Press for Reps – 208 kg (459 lb) × 2 clean and press each rep (World record, 2010 Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Giant Wooden Log Lift for Max Weight – 210 kg (460 lb) (World Record, 2010 World’s Strongest Man, Sun City, South Africa)
  • Apollon’s Wheels Overhead for Reps – 155 kg (342 lb) × 8 reps
  • Giant Barbell Deadlift for Reps – 320 kg (710 lb) × 10 (World record, 2006 IFSA World Championships, Reykjavík, Iceland)
  • Medicine Ball Throw for Height – 22 kg (49 lb) for 17 ft (5.18 m) (World record, 2004 Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio)
  • One Arm Weight Over Bar – 25.5 kg (56 lb) over 5.6 meters (18 ft 4 in) (2013 SCL Russia)
  • Atlas Stones (140-180 kg set) – 25.65 seconds (World record, 2006 IFSA World Championships, Reykjavík, Iceland)
  • Metal Block press – 150 kg (330 lb) (former World record, 2011 World’s Strongest Man, Wingate, North Carolina)
  • Hummer Tire Deadlift for Max Weight – 524 kg (1,155 lb) (former World record 2014 Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Heavy Super Yoke 640 kg (1,410 lb) – for 4 meters in 3.87 seconds (World record, 2014 Arnold Strongman Classic, Columbus, Ohio)

The Legacy of Zydrunas Savickas

Zydrunas “Big Z” Savickas is one of the most renowned athletes in the history of strongmen. Winning 84 international strongman competitions and numerous championships. Zydrunas Savickas has earned his place as an all-time great in his four decades-long career. 

But even though Zydrunas has left a huge mark on strength sports, he is still adding to his legacy. At 47 years old, Big Z is still one of the sport’s top athletes and will look to continue winning championships.