Hafþór Björnsson, better known as the Mountain that Rides on HBO’s Game of Thrones, isn’t just one of the strongest people on TV. He’s one of the strongest people in the world. How did this lean and mean Icelander become the most fearsome knight in all of Westeros? It hasn’t always been pretty.
Bjornsson was always a big person, but before he was the freakishly huge “mad dog of the Lannisters,” he was more tall than he was wide. Instead of weightlifting, he put his talents to use as a professional basketball player in Iceland’s first division.
As a younger man, Bjornsson says his weight hovered around the 230 pound range — which is nothing compared to the near-400 pounds he eventually achieved. He said in an interview with GQ,
“I was always taller than everybody else. I’ve been training all my life, but probably didn’t grow muscle-y until I quit doing basketball.”
His naturally large frame gave him a big advantage on the basketball court, but he also was dedicated to working out and getting better. Speaking to Men’s Health, he said, “I was a bit crazy and trained a lot, probably three times a day. Before school, then afterwards, plus I was lifting at night.”
His intense work ethic paid off on the court, but his basketball days were plagued by a recurring ankle injury which ultimately dashed his hoop dreams.
After basketball, Björnsson wasn’t sure what to do with himself. Already accustomed to a heavy training regimen, Björnsson decided to stay the course and keep working out. But instead of going hard in the paint, he went to work in the weight room, focusing his energy on simply improving his body. Keep watching the video to learn how The Mountain got ripped for Game of Thrones!
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Wanna be a baller | 0:16
Putting up weight | 1:22
He is what he eats | 2:00
He mixes up his workouts | 2:59
He used steroids | 4:05