Zydrunas Savickas has always been a big dude.
Aptly nicknamed “Big Z” throughout his career as a powerlifter and competitive strongman, the Lithuanian giant is the only powerlifter to have won every modern strongman competition. He’s won the World’s Strongest Man competition four different times (2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014), claimed victory eight times at the Arnold Strongman Classic (2003–08, plus 2014 and 2016), and won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006 at the IFSA Strongman Championships. He also holds the world record in the log lift, a classic strongman move that sort of works like a snatch except with a huge steel bar.
But while Savickas has long been one of the most successful strongmen in the sport, he hasn’t always been the most physique-minded competitor. Back in the 2000s, when he was racking up the strongman titles year after year, Savickas was always one of the, ahem, portliest strongmen around. To be fair, the belly never really prevented him from competing at a high level—here’s a video of him defeating the much leaner Mariusz Pudzianowski, of Poland, in the car deadlift en route to his first WSM win in 2009:
That’s all changed, though, because Savickas has seriously leaned out over the past few months. Want proof? Take a look at this side-by-side comparison, courtesy of his competitor and occasional training partner Thor Bjornsson, of two photos of Savickas: at left, in his prior strongman competition days, and at right, a shot of him from a few days ago:
Damn. “Insane” is right—and the fact that the plaudits are coming from Bjornsson, who frequently goes up against Savickas in competition and Guinness World Record refrigerator-carry attempts, makes it even more impressive.
Savickas’ recent transformation has also been impressively fast, judging by the photos on his Instagram feed. Take this Instagram shot of Savickas standing next to Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Arnold Classic Asia in late August, about seven weeks before Bjornsson’s side-by-side post.
For one thing, this shot gives you an idea how big Savickas is. He dwarfs the Terminator. But it also gives you an idea of how much weight Savickas has lost since then. His face is noticeably leaner—compare that pic with Arnold against this pic from about a month later:
And then track that to this shot from a few days ago:
So: How did he do it? Savickas hasn’t explained diet plan in the same detail as his buddy Bjornsson—who eats roughly 13 lbs of food every day—but we’re betting “Big Z” probably followed a similar training plan: Lots of lean protein, like fish, chicken, and steak, as well as clean carbs (like potatoes) and colorful vegges. The meal posts on his Instagram—here’s one, here’s another—suggest as much.
Savickas, 41, was more or less born for strongman competition. He started powerlifting competitively at 16, and became the first Lithuanian athlete ever to total 1,000kg across the deadlift, squat, and bench press.
Whether you’re a skinny dude who wants to get jacked like “Big Z,” an aspiring powerlifter, or a giant of a man who could afford to shave off a few excess pounds, we’ve got you covered. Check out our related coverage: