16 Gruesome Weightlifting Injuries You Can't Unsee

Serious weightlifters are equal parts impressive and terrifying. The amounts these people can lift are simply superhuman, and it can leave you wondering how they're not horribly injured by it. Unfortunately, of course, sometimes they are. As you can imagine, the injuries are some of the most gruesome around. Some of the worst weightlifter injuries involve broken bones, dislocations, and of course lots and lots of screaming. These shocking accidents can sometimes even result in the deaths of weightlifters themselves, so be warned that what you're about to see is graphic and downright horrifying.

To be clear, these lifting accidents are not the norm. With good spotters, proper form, and smart training, weight lifting can be very safe. That being said, when things do manage to go wrong, the results can be deadly.

So, if you think football injuries and hockey injuries are bad, take a deep breath. These are some of the worst weightlifting injuries (or injuries generally) that you're ever going to witness.

Photo: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License

  • Janos Baranyai Dislocates His Elbow During The Olympics

    Janos Baranyai Dislocates His Elbow During The Olympics
    Video: YouTube

    In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai was going for a lift of 148 kg when disaster struck. His elbow dislocated (quite graphically), and the weight came down against his back as he cried out in extreme pain. Luckily, after years of rehab (no surgery required!), Janos was able to get back into the game. He even got a tattoo of the Olympic rings and "Beijing 2008" across his elbow as a grim reminder of the incident. That's commitment. 

  • Craig Bongelli Drops The Ball

    Craig Bongelli Drops The Ball
    Video: YouTube

    In a 2012 Oktoberfest strongman competition, weightlifter Craig Bongelli was tasked with lifting several 360 lb stone balls up onto pedestals. While that may not seem quite as dangerous as other forms of weightlifting, here you can see what happens when it goes horribly wrong. Craig's knees abruptly buckle, and the stone comes crashing down on his chest, knocking him flat. While the damage could have been life-ending, Craig was lucky to suffer only minor injuries from the boulder. He was even able to recover fairly quickly. 

  • Rio Watches As Andranik Karapetyan Destroys His Arm

    Rio Watches As Andranik Karapetyan Destroys His Arm
    Video: YouTube

    Watching this video is hard, and it was even harder for those watching the 2016 Rio Olympics live. In the footage, Armenian weight lifter Andranik Karapetyan steps up to a 195 kg weight, pulls it up, and bends his arm in ways no arm should ever bend. He was rushed to the hospital and after a thorough examination, it was determined that the arm was dislocated, luckily not fractured. He is still recovering from this injury.

  • Franco Columbu Fails At Carrying Fridges

    Franco Columbu Fails At Carrying Fridges
    Video: YouTube

    If you think that strong man competitions are weird now, you obviously missed them in the 1970s. In this video, we see Franco Columbu (one of the strongest men in the world at the time) competing in a fridge race. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

    But only a few seconds in, we see a misstep, and then Franco crumbles to the ground. He was in surprisingly good spirits, even right after the injury, and was correct in assessing the injury as a dislocation rather than a break. With hard work he was able to recover from the injury, and went on to earn the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

  • Kevin Ogar Is Paralyzed By A Falling Weight

    Kevin Ogar Is Paralyzed By A Falling Weight
    Video: YouTube

    This video is very hard to watch on an emotional level, because it shows someone receiving very serious permanent damage. In 2014, CrossFit athlete Kevin Ogar is competing in the OC Throwdown, and he lifts a 210 lb weight over his head. He cannot hold it and moves to drop it, but the weight lands on his spine on the way down. You see his body go rigid as he falls to the ground. In that moment, Kevin Ogar became a paraplegic.

    Today he is still working on rehabilitation, and is learning to walk again. Keep fighting, Kevin!

  • Jaehyouk Sa Dislocates His Arm During The Olympics

    Jaehyouk Sa Dislocates His Arm During The Olympics
    Video: YouTube

    In yet another Olympic injury, Jaehyouk Sa was competing in London in 2012. The South Korean weightlifter steps up to the 162 kg weight, lifts it, and his arm gives out under the pressure. The pain on his face is palpable as he falls to the ground. The elbow was dislocated, but Sa pledged to keep working on his sport, and keep lifting. Even a dislocated elbow shown over and over on international television won't keep him down.