A Rebellion in Fitness
The top 100-plus Really, No-Bull, Strongest Coaches you should be learning from in 2016 and beyond!
If you’ve been in fitness for more than five minutes you should know that the first month of the year is the silliest time all year. Home fitness gadgets and nincompoopery sales skyrocket. Gyms are flooded with New Years resolutioners that clog up every possible weight or machine and then mysteriously disappear by February.
Internet sites are shocked and awed with lists. Lists of which foods make your butt look big, the best ways to take ridiculous fitness selfies, the hottest trends of fitness that only the coolest kids can follow and the inevitable – the big dog – “The Hottest Fitness Coaches of the Year.”
This usually entails many branches of Cool-Kid fitness. Often times it only has people who have cool lookin’ websites even though they’ve only been in fitness for five minutes, but they look purrrty. They have huge Insta-whatever followings. Now in fairness some of these lists contain legitimate practitioners who are very smart and tend to work with populations that I’ll probably never be a part of. I love Yoga. Do it all the time, but I’ll never be part of the, “Top 10 Instructors Who Look Hot in Yoga Pants,” – mostly because I don’t wear Yoga pants.
Here’s the thing – no matter where you come from or what your deal in the fitness or strength world is, actual fitness must contain some type of strength. Many people reading this will say, “But I don’t want to look like the big savage boys, Mommy! They’re huge, beastly, bulging people and they scare me!”
Let me inform you of a few facts. The people who are telling you they know everything about strength and selling it to the mainstream are simply copying the people who are going to be on this list. The normal humans out there – and this is especially for the ladies, are not going to get huge, beastly, bulgingly scary or whatever associated adjective that makes you want to sit in the corner and cry, which you or the mainstream media associates with “strength.”
You aren’t going to suddenly grow 20” arms or squat or deadlift 900-pounds like a few of the people on this list have done. However, learning from them can make the most of your potential. Consider this – If you wanted to learn how to fly the space shuttle would you want to learn from the guy who actually flew the space shuttle or the guy who read the book written by the man who actually flew the space shuttle, but he himself has actually only ever flown a Cessna?
Of course you’d pick the real deal. The internet makes it hard however, to figure out who is the real deal. Why is that, you may ask? Because the first thing you have to do on the internet when you have a website is to swear you are the real deal, when you couldn’t even pick up the real-deal’s gym bag. Here’s the point – these people are the real deal. They know things. Like how to actually dissect every technique of a lift you want to learn. They aren’t trying to make you into them, they’re giving you PhD level knowledge to make you, the best you. Legit strength isn’t a genetic accident, it’s a lifetime of learning.
Here’s the next point and why in the title of the article I said, “…2016 and beyond.” These aren’t the flash in the pan people you’re going to follow this year and then never hear from again next year. Well some of them might go on a protein binge and never be heard from again, but gaining real strength is something that can help you for a lifetime, not getting fit for five minutes so you can wear a bikini this summer.
So how did we pick the people for this list?
Well, strength is one of my passions and my business. It’s been my full time business for sixteen years since I wrote my first book on strength training. I’ve actually been in the trenches either writing or competing in everything you can possibly think of at what time or another. I’ve been blessed to actually know many of the best lifters and coaches in the real hardcore side of the industry. Still though – that’s not enough. I could list hundreds of incredibly strong lifters across the many strength disciplines out there, but that would do you little good, because most of them don’t actually teach. A few coach at their own gym but it’s not something you could actually participate in unless you were local to them and even then you’d probably have to pass an Ozzie Osbourne-level initiation to get in.
So – here’s what they have to be to be on this list:
- They have to be legit, world-class strong in one way or another or have been at some time in their life if they are older and choosing to pursue lighter things now. Now, there are many ways to be strong and not everyone here is going to be the same kind of strong. That’s okay boys and girls, everyone doesn’t have to do the same thing. We’re not going to be strength fascists. They have to have proved this in one way or another – either via competition or video. This isn’t the 1940s and we aren’t accepting hear-say legends, because Uncle Bob swears he saw it happen. Every five-year-old on the planet has a camera phone so pics or video or it didn’t happen.
- Finally, they have to publicly teach or coach or produce information in some way that you can get your hands on to actually learn from them and it can’t be plagiarized, repackaged information from someone who really IS strong.
Another point I want to make is that this isn’t going to be a straight up click-bait list. Where everyone glad hands the next guy, because they have a big following and they’ll swear you are the best thing since sliced bread just because of the follower count. I put this list together and none of these people were independently contacted to see how many people they could get this out to. Now – it would probably be unwise of them not to share it with their own followers, which is most likely how you came to read it.
The point here – This is an honest, organic list of true trainers who know what they’re doing, not just looking to turn other people’s insecurities and popular Google topics into a fast buck with slick marketing. These are men and women who have dedicated their time, study, effort and sweat into the world of strength and fitness, becoming exceptional at their craft and have chosen to then share that knowledge with others.
Some of these people have huge followings and some are relatively unknown. Some of these people are my friends because it’s a small industry, but truthfully a few people on this list I don’t even like, and some of them don’t like me. Whether or not we like each other personally should not factor into the recognition of achievement, skill, or knowledge. Some of these people know each other, some don’t. Some like each other, some seem to hate each other. We also did not allow in as much as possible, whatever other potential moral, perceived persona, or shtick traits that might be a consideration by some to not make the list. If you’re strong and legit – end of story.
Lastly, even though there will be some significant variety as I mentioned – you have to be able to do something unmistakably heavy or unmistakably strong to play here. The other forms of fitness that do require significant and often athletic strengths are well represented and I believe the true heavy lifting is far under-represented in the mainstream, which is why I wrote this article.
People will not be listed in order of strength. You can’t quantify these people by 1 to 100. They are however top in their field and their order is alphabetical by first name.
To start this list we’re going to give you a very brief description of exactly why each of these people was included. Mostly a statistic about their best feats of strength and what they do. Included is a link to their website, social media or both when possible. We were going to feature a full description of each person, but that would make this article unbelievably long. So instead, we’re going to give you a quick snippet about them and in the weeks to come, we’ll give multiple parts to this article with a full bio and feature on each person. We will announce it every week so come back and read the full story as it plays out on everyone listed here. I’m absolutely sure we may have missed someone so I apologize now and we’ll be editing the list as we see fit in the coming weeks.
Here we go:
An extraordinary strongman with some of the strongest hands on the planet. Not only has he dominated many of the classic feats of hand strength like lifting an Inch Dumbbell, but he’s gotten into bodyweight exercises and is the only person I’ve ever seen do a pinch-grip muscle-up.
Kettlebell and bodyweight specialist and instructor. Teaches in workshops all over and is actually a model for many of the kettlebell and bodyweight exercises in books. If you see her somewhere she probably just got done doing a flag.
Not only does Alex possess a radio-quality voice, but he’s probably the only human being to squat 700 pounds in a competition and then run a marathon in a couple of months time. The definition of defying the old stereo-types on what’s possible in strength and endurance.
Probably one of the greatest all-around strength athletes on the planet. Over the top world class grip and combination of top end strength and endurance and probably the biggest legit rock climber ever. A modern super athlete.
The first man to ever deadlift 1,000 pounds in competition. I really don’t need to say anymore than that, but he’s also world-class in his other lifts and has some phenomenal training.
Art’s been featured everywhere in mainstream media as an Over-50 Fitness Pro. And while I would usually say that’s a bad sign for a strength person, Arts if a serious old-school strength athlete, competitive in high-level strongman and Highland Games.
Artemis went from a ballet dancer and IT consultant to one of the gifted strength trainers in America. Co-owner of Iron Body Studios in West Roxbury, MA, she also has a powerful seminar workshop entitled, “I Am Not Afraid to Lift,” geared towards empowering and inspiring women. Artemis was the 9th woman to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge, has a black belt in Kung Fu and a host of training certs to her credit. Phenomenal.
Beth Andrews is the senior instructor and owner of Maximum Body Training in Cartersville, GA. She is also a PCC team leader and leads and certifies HKC and RKCs. She was the 5th woman to complete the Iron Maiden Challenge and possesses numerous training certs. A strong woman and an inspiring trainer helping others achieve their PRs and goals.
Brandon is a monster! An elite powerlifter and author of a very popular training style called, “The Cube Method.” He ranks in the top-20 of powerlifting of all-time. A bit more than a year ago he suffered an injury during a meet, but has rehabbed back and is primed to be stronger than ever.
Brett Fain is a youngster who trains out of Tallahassee Kettlebell Club in Florida. He is a truly strong national record holder who has a voracious appetite for training and a brain to match. At 200lbs bodyweight he held 700lbs in his hands with 300lbs of me sitting on his shoulders.
Brett Jones is a smart guy. One of the early and longterm kettlebell instructors in America and at a very light bodyweight bent the IronMind Red Nail and more. Great training with invaluable information.
Brian Carroll is the author of “10-20-Life,” and holding top ten all-time totals in 220, 240 and 275 classes in multi-ply powerlifting including an 1185 squat at 275.
Brooks is the author of one of the seminal books in strength training in the last 50 years – “Dinosaur Training.” It really brought to the forefront some of the older training styles and was a national bench press champion.
Bud Jeffries is a professional performance strongman and a strength author. He’s probably best known for his Anderson style or bottom position 1,000 pound squat and for generally being as he was last described in the DVD series, “Strength Expert Secrets,” “crazy.” That crazy happens to include the most unique combinations of strength and endurance anybody’s doing, cataloging hundreds of different strength feats and exercises casually doing things like thousand kettlebell snatch workouts along with 450lb stone lifts etc. Bud also won a lifetime drugfree world powerlifting championship and set over 30 records in powerlifting. He also competed in strongman and Highland Games and various forms of fighting. He now majors on anti-bullying assemblies and continuing the crazy that got him here.
Carl is the host of the extremely popular and aptly named, “Superhuman Radio,” which is a radio program all about health and strength. Carl is no slouch! Moving some serious weight after injuries at 50 years of age and after losing 100 pounds and getting his health in order. He now crusades for health and strength for everyone.
Chad is a perennial dominant strongman in America and even competing on the world stage. Chad has done everything from football to powerlifting and was one of the early organizers of strongman in America. A smart man who programmed much of the training for big athletes and has written for some major publications. He’s strong in a way most people can’t fathom.
The man behind Juggernaut Training. A two time collegiate national track and field champion who then pursued powerlifting and strongman with some of the greatest raw lifts ever, including 959lb squat with wraps.
Chris Duffin is the owner of Kabuki Strength systems and is poised to be one of the next greats in powerlifting as well as an extremely interesting human being. A brilliant technical mind who dissects lifts in a way most people never thought of and an exceptionally motivational life story and oh yeah… there’s that 900lb deadlift.
Known as Hairculese for his unusual feats of strength done with his hair, Chris is a phenomenal old time strongman who came in under the Dennis Rogers lineage and now teaches in workshops and via the net. Some amazing feats of steel bending and other old time strongman feats.
Known as Chris “Wonder” Schoeck and subject to the popular Tribeca film documentary, “Bending Steel.” Chris also teaches workshops on strongman feats and has some of the most amazing steel bending you’ll ever see, especially for a guy who’s only 150lbs.
Christian is a Canadian muscle building specialist who works primarily with bodybuilders and athletes looking to gain muscle mass. He’s a very innovative trainer and writes for some of the big dogs in the industry.
Cole Summers is one of the ageless wonders on this list. Also a Canadian who coaches athletes and has done some amazing things in his life, but has coached Olympic hockey teams as well.
CT is one of the more controversial people on this list and one of the most popular trainers in the last decade. Love him, or hate him, CT is a motivational guy and oh yeah – let’s not forget that he did bench press 600lbs and hold a world curl record.
Dan is a guy you might not know unless you’re into the hardcore strength world, but is a very smart trainer and is heir to John Brookfield’s Iron Bonsai steel sculptures. If you don’t know – that makes him one of the best steel benders in the world. Not a one-trick pony, Dan is very good with barbells, kettlebells, etc and does some incredible things.
Dan is one of the new breed of powerlifters and one of the dominate lifters in the 220 classes with some monster lifts including an 850 squat and an 840 deadlift.
Dan John is who rather started this list, because he’s been on more lists than most guys have even read. He’s one of the legit guys who graces the mainstream lists. Even though Dan is the bell of the ball he is the real-deal including things like a 628lb deadlift and a perennial winner in Master’s heavyweight throwing, Highland Games and Olympic Lifting – national level. Plus, you know – he writes smart and witty stuff that people love.
Dave DePew is a very smart and strong gym owner out of the California who also happened to have a very popular podcast as well as a monster arm wrestler.
Dave Lemanczyk is a very strong and interesting human being. Former basketball player who became very big and strong and then used whole food nutrition to cut down to a super-ripped physique. All the while still easily playing with 350lb stones. Works in Special Ed, has a penchant for cooking, art and spending time with his beautiful wife and daughter.
Dave Tate owns Elite Fitness. One of the biggest strength sites on the planet that supplies with tons of articles and equipment. Tate was quite a powerlifter with a 1,000lb squat and also famous for cutting weight to rebuild his health.
David Horne is a legend in the grip world writing one of the all time masterpieces on grip strength, “Gripopaedia.” He is absolutely dominant in a huge variety of grip tests and an all-around strength monster. His wife, Elizabeth’s grip would probably put yours to shame.
Iron Tamer Dave is another of the early world-class kettlebell instructors who also turned old-time strongman. He actually wrote the modern book on the bent press and is doing casual things now like bending 12″ wrenches and hanging out in ice baths in 30° weather. Dave has been in the strength business since 2003 and a performing strongman since 2008. He learned feats of strength from many notable strongmen, his primary mentors Dennis Rogers and Slim the Hammer Man Farman. He uses feats of strength such as tearing decks of cards, bending steel spikes and breaking chains as a vehicle to share the message of developing a super human mindset.
Dennis Rogers is the most successful old time performing strongman of all time. Due in no small part to when he was 143lbs he was holding back airplanes with his arms and casually preacher curling a 100lb dumbbell or doing one-arm, middle-finger chin ups. He’s the original teacher to most of the people performing old time strongman feats today and is now sharing his unique knowledge in seminars and courses.
Donica is a kettlebell monster from the northeast. A fitness model looking woman who lifts kettlebells heavier and more times than you do as well as teaches other people how.
Donnie Thompson is the first man to total 3,000lbs in multi-ply equipped powerlifting. Today Donnie teaches unique approaches to mobility and muscle repair to athletes and lifters about how to keep your body healthy while lifting insane weights.
Ed Coan is called, “The Goat,” in powerlifting. It means, “The Greatest of All Time.” Ed dominated 5 weight classes posting all time records and totals consistently across a 20+ year career in lifting including a 1,000lb squat and 900lb deadlift. He now teaches seminars on how to be strong and awesome and stuff. Plus, he once had a pet tiger. For that reason alone he should be on the list.
Elaine LaLanne is the wife of the late-great Jack LaLanne. I have no idea how much Elaine can lift, but the fact that she’s still training and representing at the age she is, makes her strong in a way that most of us really need.
Elliott Hulse has one of the most popular YouTube Channels on fitness as well as some incredible informational material. Elliot is a very well-read, intellectual man who also happens to be a light-weight pro strongman competitor.
Eric Bugenhagen may be the strongest guy you never heard of. He is certainly one of the most intense trainers I’ve ever seen. The guy has done an 850lb bag style deadlift which to my knowledge is far and above the heaviest ever done. Ever. He’s coaching the strength and conditioning for multiple wrestling teams and is now rolling out of Madison, Wisconsin you should definitely check him out! Super strong, super motivating.
Eric Fiorillo hosts the very popular Motivation and Muscle podcast and actually trains doing hard things like power rack training and stone lifting and having lifted the Husafelt stone in Iceland which if you don’t know, is a strength test that few have done.
Garin is probably one of the most unique and interesting guys on this list. A world class musician who actively plays all over the world, magician and artist who has an incredibly unique approach to sound and strength. He does things like fingertip superman push ups.
Greg Nuckols may be the most prolific writer and sciency-guy who can actually lift his way out of a paper bag on the net today. Greg is the rare combination of researcher and writer who legitimately trains and holds a world record raw total with a great website and ebooks.
Henk is a very interesting and popular character from Holland who is all about unconventional training. Likes to do stuff like 1,000 rep workouts that includes lifting logs and anchors and fun stuff like that.
Ingrid is a phenomenal all-around athlete competing in Olympic level bob-sledding and Olympic lifting. She partnered with John Brookfield for some very innovative training.
Jack and Stacia are the first of a few power-couples on the list. Jack runs Crossfit50 in Hawaii and is a tough and strong trainer. Stacia is, well… a petite monster with raw records in the 97lb weight class and coaches powerlifters along with Jack.
Jamie Lewis is another of the interesting characters amongst this cast of interesting characters. He runs one of the most popular, well written, although insane websites in strength, “Chaos and Pain,” and is a well-read intellectual who trains like a savage and holds several powerlifting records even with his short time in the sport.
Let me start off by saying that Janelle impressed me with the fact that she overhead strict-pressed more than bodyweight using a pair of kettlebells. That friends, is a no-joke feat of strength whether you are a man or woman or beast. She writes, trains and has an awesome gym in Pittsburgh, PA. She’s now into rock climbing and rock lifting.
Another power-couple who own a facility and teach out of Denver, CO. Jason is a competitive powerlifter and certified in just about everything. Rachel is, well, Olympic Lifting royalty. Even though they are very strong, very smart and very accomplished at teaching, I hate to say that their greatest accomplishment may be at having the cutest babies alive.
Ashman is a very competitive lifter, rugby player, strongman and trainer out of Oklahoma. He’s a smart man who writes for some of the big dogs in the industry. And of course – looks epic smoking a cigar.
Jedd Johnson has been publishing under the Diesel Crew moniker for years everywhere and known for innovative strength and grip training. He’s also the world record holder for two-hand pinch grip. Basically – he’s a grip monster.
Jeff is a guy with a different kind of strength and owner of Tactical Athlete. One of the first guys in America to teach kettlebells and THE crossfit instructor. He for years made his living teaching combat to some of the toughest guys in America. He had a record setting performance recently in kettlebells and oh, on his way to the meet – he ran all the way to the competition from the hotel instead of taking a cab like normal people.
Jen Sinkler, co-owner of The Movement Minneapolis, has become a state-record-holding powerlifter and holds the national USAWA record for the Jefferson lift. To me, one of the greatest strengths Jen has is translating legit training to mainstream ladies and championing being strong, instead of being thin.
Jill Mills literally won the World’s Strongest Woman competition and is a legend in the strength world, man or woman. You’d be hard pressed to find an area where Jill isn’t world record strong and stronger than 95% of the men walking this planet and that’s after having a baby in the prime of her career.
Jim Wendler wrote one of the most popular books on strength training today. “5-3-1.” He is a truly strong powerlifter with a no-nonsense, back to basics approach to strength and athleticism that is truly great.
Joe Kenn is one of the most legit lifters who is actually a pro-strength coach. As in – he’s the pro strength coach for the Carolina Panthers who just went to the Superbowl. They call him, “House,” because he’s big and strong – he’s world class. He also won the first professional strength and conditioning coach of the year award.
Johnny is one of those guys with a whole different kind of strength. A world record holder at bodyweight strength and endurance exercises and real no-nonsense guy – he literally wrote one of the books on push ups.
Jon Andersen is one of the only guys to go pro at three different things almost simultaneously. Pro Bodybuilder, Pro Strongman, and Pro Wrestler. He’s the author of Deep Water Training and one of the most muscular and hard training human beings you will encounter.
Jon Hinds is a totally unique human being. Former strength coach of the LA Clippers, inventor of the Power Wheel and owner of Monkey Bar Gym. One of the strongest vegans you’ll ever meet and one of the most mobile and intelligent trainers on the planet.
Jordan Syatt is a 5x World Record Powerlifter and Precision Nutrition & Westside Barbell certified coach, who has been featured in and contributed articles to Men’s Fitness, CNN, The Huffington Post, T-Nation and more. Jordan has a training program that he teaches which helped him pull 4 times his bodyweight in the deadlift.
Josh Bryant is a monster powerlifter and strongman and one of the greatest young bench pressers coming off the block, ever. Tremendous training knowledge and a class act.
Josh Hewett runs one of the most popular podcasts on strength – Straight to the Bar chat. He is a former competitive strongman and a very smart guy who distributes solid training information on a regular basis.
Julia is a Sports Performance Coach and former Division I Strength Coach. She currently trains athletes from 7 years old through college. A trainer, consultant and professional powerlifter. She has a training program, “Just Strong,” as well as an apparel line, “Bella Forza.” A strongwoman dedicated to helping others reach their potential and goals.
Karen Smith is currently a Chief Instructor SFB for StrongFirst as well as a Master SFG and the only female to have completed such. An advisory board member of Girls Gone Strong. She completed the Iron Maiden Challenge in 2012 with a host of other strength and endurance training certs. Coaching since 1999, she has had her own gym, but now focuses primarily on teaching through workshops and certifications. A phenomenal example of women in strength!
Keira Newton is an extremely popular kettlebell instructor who is super strong and hyper-Gumby-esque flexible. If you want to talk about tremendous mobility with strength then Keira is your woman. Owner of DKB Fitness in Santa Fe, NM, she is one of only a few female Master RKC instructors.
Kirsty, a former competitive gymnast, turned trainer after an injury benched her. Now Canada’s only certified GMB trainer she is powerfully strong using garage gym methods and gymnastics to continue her own superhero training and help others achieve the same results. She is also an Agatsu level 2 kettlebell trainer and NCCP Gymnastics coach.
Larry Pacifico is another powerlifting legend. Enough so that the greatest of all time Ed Coan called him one of his heroes. An early pioneer with absolute monster lifts who is still coaching today. Raising a whole new crop of excellent competitive lifters. And by the way his son Jimmy is now one of the top dogs on the powerlifting scene today. Don’t miss learning from a legend.
Laura is one of the strongest women walking the planet today. She now coaches strength to the Crossfit community and beyond, but is one of the greatest squatters to ever walk. She squats more than you and everybody on your block put together.
Laurel Blackburn owns two gyms in Tallahassee and is probably one of the strongest grandmas on the planet. A super flexible kettlebell instructor who’s recently turned to powerlifting and all things crazy-strong. For her 50th birthday she flipped a 400lb tire 50 times – ya know, your normal Grandma kinda strong.
Layne is one of those guys who makes you a little ill because of how ripped he is from being a high-nutrition guy. He’s also a PhD and a world class powerlifter. Crazy strong and crazy smart.
Louie Simmons may be the God Father of the modern era of powerlifting and owner of legendary Westside Barbell. It would be impossible to estimate the depth of the influence that Louie has had on strength training, plus he was squatting 900lbs at 60 years old and benching about 400lbs raw at 69 years old after shoulder replacement surgery.
Marilia Coutinho is a high performance powerlifter, president of the Brazilian Powerlifting League, and Brazilian representative, international judge at the USPA/IPL. She is an accredited strength training professional in Brazil. Marilia is also a Brazilian researcher, university professor and technical consultant. She holds degrees in Biology, Chemical Ecology and a Ph.D. in Sociology of Science. She is also a speaker in strength sports and training, and sports media director and has created a continued education program in strength training in Brazil based on 6 basic courses.
Mark Bell is a record holding powerlifter who also publishes Power Magazine and hangs out and brings you info from some of the strongest cats walking the planet. He was featured in a documentary, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster,” and also owns the incredibly popular Slingshot bench press assistance training device.
Marshall is known affectionately as “Sweet Dub,” he is a monster deadlifter and strongman who teaches out of the Houston, TX area when he isn’t pursuing his other love, tacos. Seriously, Marshall is a strong, athletic guy who knows his stuff and is more than world class strong.
Matt Kroc is another of those guys who crushed it in world class powerlifting and bodybuilding at the same time. If you’ve heard of the Kroc Row – this is the guy behind them. A guy who trained both insanely hard and smart. Matt has written for many of the big websites and is now being featured in the new Strength Expert Secrets.
Matt is one of those guys who is shockingly strong and athletic at pretty much everything while at the same time being innovative and practical. Oh and by the way – he runs the strength gym for the WWE. He’s legit and no joke.
Max Shank is one of the few guys on this list with that total all around package of strength and athleticism. Insane bodyweight moves, great lifting and competitive in things like Highland games and Jiujitsu. Max is published through Dragon Door.
Melody is one of the coolest of the Mighty-Mights on this list. A world class kettlebell instructor and owner of Flawless Fitness and even though Melody has only recently come to powerlifiting, she is closing in on a triple bodyweight deadlift. Plus she does other awesome things like rescues animals and sings in a heavy metal cover band.
Michael Hartle is a Chiropractic doctor as well as a kettlebell instructor and world-class in strength. Like, 800lb squat world class in strength. He is a very smart, very professional man.
Mike Bruce, owner of Machine Shop gym in Somerset, KY, legitimately hands-down, no one else is even close, has the strongest neck of anyone else on the planet. Mike was one of the early No Holds Barred Combat athletes who has developed ridiculous endurance and strength combination. He then went on to get insanely strong including a 300lb seated neck raise for three reps, a 700lb deadlift, and 1500lb partial deadlift all at a 200lb bodyweight. One of the toughest people walking and truly good man.
Mike Mahler began as a bodyweight and kettlebell instructor and prolific writer who has gone deeply into natural hormone production and many aspects of strength, health and barbell lifting. Mike stays on the forefront of health so pay attention!
Former competitor in bodybuilding, fitness and powerlifting, she is the co-founder of Girls Gone Strong and an extraordinary trainer. Another strong woman who has dedicated her life to seeing woman have grace and compassion for themselves in fitness, nutrition and strength. Outstanding!
Nick and Callie Best are another of the power couples on our list. Nick is an insanely strong regular World’s Strongest Man competitor with a nearly 900lb Raw squat. Callie is a strong woman and supermom with intelligent training and great experience in this industry. A power couple of strength training wisdom.
They called Nick Nilsson the Mad Scientist of Muscle and this ain’t no joke. Nick is one of the most innovative guys in muscle building info today, who is constantly experimenting with brand new material and ways to put on muscle and strength into anybody. He has a penchant for heavy partials and heavy metabolic circuits and very large pizzas.
Nigel john is a former British commando and the founder of UnconventionalAthletes.com magazine. A killer publication that’s spotlighting an amazing variety of unconventional athletes worldwide. He’s deep into resisted bodyweight exercises doing absolutely ridiculous gymnastic moves and insane bodyweight circuits all while wearing extra resistance.
Odd Haugen is one of the strongest men walking the planet today. A phenomenal grip and pro strongman who just happens to be over 60 and apparently ageless. Celebrated his 60th birthday by lifting an Inch dumbbell 60 times. That’s impressive for anybody. Lead proponent of Mas wrestling in America so make sure you check him out.
Paul Daniels is another one of those ageless wonders who trains people in central California. Paul does some amazing body weight work and is basically game to try anything and prove that if you just keep moving you can crush aging.
Pavel Tsatsouline is the man who popularized the kettlebell in America. A former trainer for Soviet Spetsnaz Soviet Special Forces and one of the most popular strength authors of the last decade. By the way he had a nearly triple bodyweight deadlift and I personally watched him do a hand stand behind the neck tricep extension which is strong no matter what your size is.
Pete is a sponsored athlete with AnimalPac. Looking towards being the lightest lifter to pull a 900lb deadlift. At his most recent meet, the USPA Strong Box Pro/AM, he titled Best Lifter with a 1918 Raw total at a bodyweight of 239lbs. Hitting an 832 deadlift, 672 squat and 413 bench. He adds to all this, personal training to help others achieve their goals.
Peter Ragnar is one of the most amazing Renaissance men I’ve ever met. A septuagenarian (that means he’s over 70) who’s written over 30 books and at a body weight of less than 200 pounds has a 500 pound squat and an 800 pound partial deadlift. Its like you crossed the Dalai Lama with Jack LaLanne and an ancient Viking warrior.
Ray Toulany is one of the strongest podcast hosts in the world. A guy who really trains hard and brings to you one of the most popular strength info shows around and is passionate about strength. Ray was doing 600-pound bottom position Olympic squats and lifting 300 pound stones, so yeah, that’s for real.
If you don’t know who Rich Froning is you’ve probably been living under a rock. Rich is multiple-time Crossfit games world champion and dubbed the world’s fittest man. Rich is the guy who tackled any fitness challenge and also has real strength to go along with it. Tremendous work ethic too with a 500 pound squat and 600 pound deadlift!
Rich Williams is a true monster! Rich is the former Arnold strength festival Mighty Mitts champion! He literally has some of the strongest hands in the world not to mention is closing in on a 500 pound overhead press and 900 pound deadlift plus he’s so big he has his own gravitational pull! The truly dedicated trainer who is also a teacher and trains people out of South Carolina.
Rick Baird, a former D-1 in football and track and field at Utah State, was a member of the US Bobsled Team for four years and tied the team record of 160 kilo power clean. He has been killing it as a strength coach for the past 15 years running a bootcamp in Las Vegas, NV. He and his campees regularly compete in obstacle course and mud runs. Rick competed in the 36 hour Ulimate Suck endruance event, one of the top 10 most extreme in the US. He is also the strength coach for the football team of the high school he attended. A powerful man with a wealth of knowledge.
Rik Brown is known as the Mace Man and is the leading proponent of training with what’s known as a mace or gada. Rick trains out of Southern California and has seminars all over on unconventional training. If you don’t think mace training is hard you should try to swing Rik’s 7-foot custom mace! I watched Rik one arm clean a 100 pound club which is no joke.
Rob McDonald is the lead trainer for Jim Jones. If you don’t remember those are the cats who got the cast of the movie “300” in shape. Rob looks like one of those super ripped warriors except is about twice the size of everybody else and does some insane combo workouts of strength volume and conditioning. Plus he appears to love very huge cheeseburger which is a plus in my book!
Rob Orlando is one strong gentleman. He is also the Crossfit strongman coach. Pretty awesome to see a guy within three and four hundred pound stones and doing heavy yoke walks while also being super fit.
Rob Pilger is a boxing coach with an extremely successful gym in Columbus Ohio. He’s also the author of the Boxing blueprint. He trains many of the guys from Westside Barbell in boxing and several very successful fighters. He’s also closing in on a 500 pound bench press so yeah that’s ridiculous strong for a guy who’s a real boxer. Another big plus is he’s very smart and very real.
Rob Russell is an English Superman. A guy with a penchant for doing wild things for charity and being both super strong and super enduring at the same time. Like his last couple of charity challenges where he did multiple marathons combined with thousand rep kettlebell snatch workouts. They also have some of the craziest kettlebell pressing you’ll see and a very cool ebook that you can get that the proceeds go to help a children’s hospital. That’s an A plus!
Ronin Sianb is certainly one of the more interesting people on this list. He has an unusual set of skills in an unusual life. He coaches people on exactly that, how to fix your life problems and have a better life. He’s a tremendous authority on yoga and one of the strongest true yoga practitioners actually having lived and studied four years in India between travels and working in Africa. The former fighter who teaches heavily on chi gong and breathing and is closing in on a 500 pound squat and deadlift.
Ross Enamait is extremely popular because he’s extremely real and practical. A boxer and a boxing trainer with multiple top selling brilliant books. Ross is true old school combining boxing and endurance work with Barber stone and body weight training pure motivation. No bull all go!
Russell Jones has been performing classic old time strongmen feats for 25 years and is over 62 years old. And he is the 1st strongman mentored by Dennis Rogers. That’ll be enough to qualify him, but he’s an excellent coach, a therapist both physical and now life coaching and all around good guy. If you’re in the New Jersey area or looking for somebody to do a strongman show for your event, you should definitely see Russell.
Stephen Santangelo maybe one the most interesting people and fitness ever. He did his first internship for certification under Jack LaLanne and he has some of the smartest training on nutrition and scientific training anybody has. Plus there’s the fact that he’s done a double bodyweight good morning and is winning track and field and biathlon competitions and recently set 35 Records in the all-around weightlifting Association at over 60 years old. He also built some of the original models for Star Wars the first movie and many others, how cool is that?
Steve Carter is one of the original kettlebell trainers in America, branched off on his own and has been bringing his own style training to people all over the world. In fact Steve’s been constantly traveling and doing seminars for years now. He’s also a former full contact fighter and the only guy I’ve ever seen jump up on a three foot table out of a pistol squat. Pretty ridiculous.
Steve Maxwell is another constant world traveler putting on seminars all over the world, all the time, teaching kettlebells, mobility and basically how to move and be awesome no matter how old you are. Kettlebell expert and Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert is one of the original RKC trainers. Real grappling strong!
Steve Pulcinella is as old school and strong as they come! Former world Strongest Man competitor and pro Highland game athlete and owner of Iron Sport Gym in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Coached hundreds of athletes to being super strong and you might have seen him in popular memes giving a skeptical mean-mug face to those who did not squat!
Steve Shaw is a very prolific writer and a serious lifter. Most writers really aren’t that strong but Steve is a guy who has been close to eight hundred pounds from the deadlift. He also lost 100 pounds and is still strong and getting stronger. These days he’s rolling at Tiger fitness and produced a great strength training book you should all have, Massive Iron.
Steven Helmicki runs Primordial Training Systems out of the Buffalo New York area. A regular and super popular feature in Milo magazine and published in multiple places around the world he also runs a Facebook group called Primordial Men and Primordial Training. He has an extremely scientifically based power training system that really covers the gamut of strength speed endurance and will put mass on you like nobody’s business. A very strong cat with an 800lb squat.
Tim Henriques is a very smart powerlifter who publishes info on how to get it done the right way through his book All About Powerlifting. He has been the director of the National Personal Training Institute of VA/MD/DC for the past 15 years. He provides excellent info on technique muscle involvement and programming and the guy who actually put the time in under the bar with some great lifts and a collegiate All-American with numbers likes a 700 lb deadlift at 198 and a 1640 total.
Tracy is a strength and conditioning coach in Syracuse, NY. She won the Light Weight Women’s National Strongman Championship in 2012. She continues to inspire, compete and train others in seminars. An incredible source of strength and inspiration.
Travis mash is a monster out of Georgia who trains tons of athletes and has published his own material on his very unique training style at Mash Elite Performance. He’s also one of the only people to go elite in powerlifting and Olympic lifting at the same time. That is a rare rare feat ladies and gentlemen. Travis is a current world champion in powerlifting and has held the all-time pound-for-pound world record.
Valerie Pawlowski is a very cool lady who is a kettlebell dominant queen! With multiple national championships and world records under her belt she’s the real deal training herself and other people. It’s a different type of strength but if you think you are bad try picking up a kettlebell and smashing it for 10 minutes without putting it down like she’s done. It’s elite level combined strength and endurance.
Valery Federenko it’s one of the greatest kettlebell lifters in competition in history. He is the first representative of the sport style of kettlebell lifting in America. If some of you doubt that’s strong, think about this, the man one arm jerked a 160 pound kettlebell for 60 reps without putting it down. Oh by the way the same year he also casually ran a marathon just to prove you could do them both together.
Vince Anello is a legend in powerlifting. He was the first man in the 200 pounds to deadlift 800 pounds. That’s four times body weight. Only a few people have ever cracked that and he was doing it 30 years ago. Today he’s still ridiculously ripped and training people at his incredible gym, Anello BODY Fitness in Parma, OH. Make sure you check him out.
Will Dinwiddie has the nickname, “The Ultra Beast!” It’s really no joke Will is incredibly strong across a very diverse series of competitive styles like powerlifting strongman competition and professional arm wrestling. A knowledgeable and relentless trainer he owns Epic strength systems and is about to publish his first two books!
Wim Hoff might seem an unusual choice to some to add on the list of the world’s strongest coaches. He’s known as “The Iceman,” for his insane feats of cold endurance like running a marathon above the Arctic Circle and many more. What convinced me to put him on this list is the fact that that type of strength is completely unusual and trainable by using his system. Also a strong man friend of mine sent me a video of him doing a one finger bodyweight hang, so yeah, that’s also physically strong!