As the CrossFit movement continues to take over town after town and city after city, it is forgivable to think that there was nothing before it. Like some children can no longer remember a time before the internet and many adults a time before TV, there will come a time when many say they don’t remember a time before CrossFit. The movement has taken a corner of the fitness market that makes its followers act as if they were in a cult. While it is strange to see it also makes sense. The things they yearn for and the dreams they chase have held man’s interest for a long time. If you are the best at CrossFit you could argue that you are the fittest person in the world. For years men and women have competed to be the best, CrossFit simply provides a medium for everyone to compete.
CrossFit takes a workout of the day or WOD and asks people to complete it as fast as they can or to complete as much as they can in a given time. This creates a level of competition that even the most basic athlete can comprehend and compete. No matter what level of ability you are at you can then compete in a CrossFit style competition that has grades that cater to everyone. If you are good enough perhaps you will end up at the CrossFit games where the best of the best compete for the title of the fittest person in the world. This fascination seems new but really it has just changed form.
If you go back as far as the bible you can see that the idea of knowing who the strongest was has always mattered. In the bible, Samson was famed for his strength and was both a hero and a villain because of it. In Homer’s Illiad and Oddysey there were stories of entire wars being settled with just two strong men battling it out for supremacy. Achilles being the most famous warrior of them all (let’s not talk about his weak heel).
In more modern times the title of the strongest man has gone to whoever can lift the heaviest weight. This feat has been tested using a deadlift and some incredible records have been set. The Guinness book of world records suggests that the strongest man in the world is Eddie Hall. In 2017 he successfully performed a 500kg deadlift becoming the only man to ever lift half a ton. You may also choose Brian Shaw as your strongest man due to his consistency as he has won the title on four separate occasions.
However, there is one man that is not mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records that may also have a claim to the title. That man is Louis Cyr. Cyr was born in the late 1800s and his career really blossomed at the beginning of the 1900s. Records suggest that it was then that he recorded some of his most amazing feats.
On one occasion he is said to have held a platform on his shoulders with 18 men standing on top of it. The records show that this weight totaled 1967kg. While he didn’t perform a squat or deadlift with this weight it is still an incredible amount to simply stand therewith. He is known for lifting a weight with only his finger that was over 240kgs!
While CrossFit currently holds the attention of many who are trying to improve their fitness its real success is capturing the need for every individual to compete and to prove their strength. While we don’t know for sure if Louis Cyr was the strongest man that ever lived, one thing is for sure, he would have thoroughly enjoyed a CrossFit WOD.