She Can Deadlift 225kg? Meet Anja Schuffner

By Kirby John Carney, February 26, 2024

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“I cannot imagine a life without being able to deadlift,” confesses Anja Schuffner, a sentiment that resonates within the strength training community. It echoes the legendary words of Jón Páll Sigmarsson, the first four-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man, who famously stated, “There is no point in being alive if you cannot do the deadlift.”

Schuffner began her training journey in May 2019, quickly developing a deep passion for the sport. “I was pretty serious from the beginning... I went to four or five classes a week,” Schuffner reveals, highlighting her commitment. Not even adverse weather conditions or the global pandemic could deter her from her rigorous training schedule. It was at the gym Strength Culture where Schuffner discovered her aptitude for Strongman activities, greatly influenced by her coach, Ian Nam. Schuffner praises Nam not only as a coach but as a mentor and friend, crediting him for her success and for believing in her potential even in moments of self-doubt.

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Schuffner's journey faced a significant challenge when she lost her job during the pandemic, threatening to extinguish her initial fervor. However, her resilience shone through, and she remained steadfast in her training. "All I did was train," she states, reflecting on her determination to persevere despite the setback. Schuffner's story is not just about physical strength but also about the power of persistence, mentorship, and the unyielding spirit of a competitor who refuses to give up, no matter the odds.

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Strongman is different from powerlifting. While it does involve similar exercises like deadlifts, it has truck pulls, log presses, and atlas stone lifts as part of its competition. This means that competitors have to have strength and cardio to do well in all competitions. This assumption was proven at a recent Strongman event in Guangzhou when two competitors injured themselves in the dragon-boat event. “I like to say Strongman is a mix between CrossFit and Powerlifting,” says Schuffner, “we still move, but it's just very heavy.”

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She has participated in Hong Kong’s Strongest as well as the Arnold Amateur in Europe and the US. She got to meet two of her idols, Donna Moore and Andrea Thompson, who were competing in the professional tournament. Schuffner tells us she was excited to see them watching the amateurs compete. She placed 11th in competition which stopped her from competing on the second day, something she hopes to change in 2024.

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Schuffner likens deadlifting to meditation, adding that her favorite place to deadlift is her rooftop in Hong Kong where she has peace and quiet to focus on her training. Her ultimate goal for deadlifting is to lift 250 kilograms. Back in 2017, she managed to lift 80kg, in 2019 she reached 180kg, 200kg in 2021 and in December of last year she set a record of 225kg.

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Initially met with some skepticism from her parents regarding cultural and societal norms that meant, Schuffner tells us how she had to shed a few stereotypes about Asian women. Another person battling those stereotypes is her rival, Joyce Heng from Malaysia. “She just goes around and conquers everything.” With two goals in mind, Schuffner is looking to compete at the Arnold Amateurs again later in March and get into the top 10.

Scan the QR code below to follow Anja Schuffner on Douyin.

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[Cover image via Anja Schuffner]

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