Mike O’Hearn talks with strongman Hafthor Bjornsson about passion, not desire for money, being a requirement for champion success… and the biggest thing most people miss about his massive lifts.

Hafthor Bjornsson, also known as simply Thor, barely needs an introduction at this point. He is a World’s Strongest Man champion, he is also known the world over for his performance as The Mountain in Game Of Thrones. He also had a quick stint in boxing that yielded surprisingly successful results under such a short amount of time. To many, he is considered to be one of the greatest strength athletes in modern history. That’s why Mike O’Hearn decided to connect with Thor to discuss his strongman origins and the mentality behind his grand success. In Generation Iron and Barbend’s latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, Hafthor Bjornsson discusses what separates him from the rest to become a world class strongman champion.

Hafhtor Bjornsson seemingly has it all. He is a modern legend in the strongman world and also has a charismatic personality that has garnered him a massive fanbase (not to mention a few TV roles and charmingly funny commercials). And while it may be easy to attribute his success to his impressive genes (he is, after all, a massive 6′ 9″ giant), there is a certain X factor that must be earned to become such a notable success.

That’s the focus of this week’s episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show. As a bodybuilder and athlete who has maintained success and an impressive physique for over four decades – Mike O’Hearn understands that it takes more than good genes to become a long term success or legend. But it can be hard to conceptualize what that mentality really is. How to achieve that inner state of being that drives you past what most humans believe to be possible.

Mike and Thor try to slam the door wide open – and provide actual applicable insight into how to set yourself up for champion success. Let’s jump into it.

The biggest thing people miss about Hafthor Bjornsson’s massive lifts

Beyond his impressive accomplishments in competition – people often love to watch Hafthor Bjornsson lift insanely heavy weight. The beauty of the social media era is that we can see this sort of thing on a near daily basis. Thor’s biggest PRs and lifting challenges can be recorded and posted on his channels for the world to see. It’s certainly impressive and has garnered him millions of followers and fans across the world.

But during their conversation, Mike O’Hearn points out that most people miss what is actually the most impressive aspect of Thor’s massive lifts. Yes, the insane weight is impressive in and of itself. But the range of motion is also very impressive – and can be a learning moment for those inspired by Hafthor Bjronsson.

O’Hearn points out that Thor’s lifts often display a full rang of motion on his lifts. Often times, when you see a bodybuilding or strength influencer ego lifting huge amounts of weight – they are half reps just to look impressive. Hafthor Bjronsson doesn’t do things simply to impress. He does them the right way so he can become the best athletes possible. This is a vital detail to his success. It turns what could be considered an ego lift into an actual accomplishment. And sets him up for mastering events in competition.

Hafthor Bjronsson goes on to point out that he has trained with many famous bodybuilders or strength athletes. Often times recorded for their channels. He states that many times, the workouts are designed around being as entertaining as possible for the video.

However, when Thor trains with Mike O’Hearn – he notices that the workouts are what work best for the actual training session. Thor respects that. He thinks that the content should not come before the actual training. In fact, a focus on successful training will lead naturally to good content. Most people miss that – and Thor thinks this is a big mental separation from good athletes to great.

Elite champion status cannot be forced, it has to come from passion

Mike O’Hearn asks Hafthor Bjornsson what his method for success is. Thor is, after all, the only strongman to win the Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe’s Strongest Man, and World’s Strongest Man in the same year. Thor answers that there is no secret – but what is most important is truly enjoying and being passionate about what you are trying to achieve.

Hafthor Bjornsson claims you have to live and breath the sport. Your passion for it needs to be your water that keeps you alive. Because the truth is, even if you are 100% passionate about something and very good at what you do, there is still no guarantee you will become a champion. That’s how hard it is to be the best.

He explains that even the slightest excuse to slack off, even the smallest of self made hurdle, is already adding onto the near-impossibility already stacked against you. Thor talks about some athlete friends he knows that are very talented, and successful in many ways, but also love to party. That’s a setback for them. It’s what separates someone world renowned like Thor from the rest of the pack.

That ultimately leads to the number one piece of advice Hafthor Bjornsson has to give aspiring young athletes. You have to enjoy the journey. Win or lose – you have to love it. That’s the only way to be the best. If reward and money is what drives you, it may lead to some sort of success. But it won’t make you the best. At least not in athletic endeavors.

Wrap Up

Hafthor Bjornsson and Mike O’Hearn discuss a much wider range of topics that can’t all be covered here. They dig into his transition into boxing and the reason he wanted to take on a new challenge. They also discuss how fatherhood affects a champion mindset – does it hurt or help achieving greatness?

You can watch the entire discussion by checking out the latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Don’t forget to check back every Friday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.