The 2019 World’s Strongest Man may be preparing to return to competition.
2019 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) and 2022 Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) champion Martins Licis had taken time away from competing to focus on business and personal ventures as well as filming his “Strength Unknown” YouTube series.
However, it appears he hasn’t let those priorities affect his training and the former champion may be poised to return to strength sports in the near future. Licis posted an Instagram reel of himself deadlifting 365 kilograms (804 pounds) for three reps while training in Wreck It Gym in El Segundo, CA.
Licis was wearing knee sleeves and using lifting straps, but he didn’t have on a deadlift suit or even a weightlifting belt for added support. Using a “rolling start,” Licis dipped his hips low and rolled the bar away from his feet before pulling the bar in toward his legs and locking out the first rep with no trouble. After he returned the weight to the floor, he rolled it out and back in again for rep number two. He repeated that motion one more time for his final rep. The champion strongman made the third rep looked so easy, he possibly could’ve done another rep (or more) if he wanted to.
According to the caption of the post, this set meant more to Licis than a standard work set. It served as notice to a fellow WSM and ASC champion, Mitchell Hooper, that he may be on his way back to competing next year.
“I promised [2023 World’s Strongest Man Mitchell Hooper] that if I could start repping this weight, it would be a good sign for me competing again next year,” he wrote, adding a biceps and fist bump emoji. “So alright buddy, it looks like I’ll be back. Just gotta keep it slowly creepin’ up for the [Arnold] strongman classic and beyond. I’m excited!”
The 2024 Arnold Strongman Classic is set to take place on Mar. 1-2, 2024 in Columbus, OH. If Licis makes it to that contest, and if Hooper chooses to defend his title, then the two most recent ASC champions would be trading lifts in Columbus to potentially determine the 2024 champion.
There was already buzz for that contest because three-time ASC winner and 2018 WSM Hafthor Bjornsson had announced he would come back from a short-term retirement to attempt winning a fourth title in 2024. His first three titles came in 2018, 2019, and 2020. However, Bjornsson suffered a pec tear during a powerlifting meet in April 2023. His recovery and preparation status for the 2024 ASC is currently unknown. If Bjornsson was to compete alongside Licis and Hooper, then every champion from 2018 to 2023 would be on the roster for the contest. There was no ASC held in 2021.
As for Licis, he is already slated to return as the captain for Team USA in the 2023 World’s Strongest Nation (WSN) contest on Nov. 18, 2023. The UK team captain will once again be 2017 WSM Eddie Hall, whose team won the 2022 WSN. Licis has not competed in a strongman contest since the loss.
Featured Image: @martinslicis on Instagram