Who is Anatoly Powerlifter (Vladimir Shmondenko)? The Incredible Rise of a Social Media Powerlifting Sensation

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Chances are you‘ve seen some of his videos floating around TikTok or YouTube lately – clips of a supposed janitor deadlifting massive amounts of weight and shocking gym-goers. His name? Anatoly Powerlifter. But who is the man behind the larger-than-life persona? In this in-depth article, we‘ll explore the background, training regimen, mindset, and meteoric rise to social media fame of Ukrainian powerlifter Vladimir Shmondenko – better known these days as Anatoly Powerlifter.

From Small-Town Ukraine to Global Internet Fame

Let‘s start at the beginning. Anatoly Powerlifter was born Vladimir Shmondenko on August 10th, 1999 in the small village of Krishtopovka, Ukraine. With a population of just a couple hundred people, the isolated town didn‘t even have a gym. But thanks to the internet, young Vladimir discovered a passion for powerlifting after being inspired by videos of hulking American bodybuilders. He dreamed of one day becoming a famous blogger himself.

With no proper equipment around, Shmondenko got creative. At just 14 years old, he constructed his own makeshift gym in his backyard using scrap parts like old Soviet tractor components, bricks, and lumber. He dubbed it the "Golds Gym Krishtopovka" – quite the ambitious name for a homemade powerlifting haven!

Vladimir dove headfirst into intense training, consuming 7 whole meals and thousands of calories each day to fuel his workouts. After moving to Kyiv for university in 2017, he kept up this rigorous fitness regimen while working a variety of jobs to stay afloat as a student. Powerlifting remained his passion.

Flash forward to today, and Shmondenko‘s teenage dream of internet fame has become reality. After adopting the persona of Anatoly Powerlifter and sharing gym prank videos on YouTube and TikTok, he has accumulated over 13 million followers and counting. His videos amass tens of millions of views each, shocking audiences with his freakish strength.

So how did Vladimir transform from a small-town fitness fanatic to one of the most popular social media athletes on the planet? Let‘s break down his powerlifting journey.

Grueling Training from Teenage Years

Most top-tier powerlifters develop their elite strength over many dedicated years of training. But Anatoly Powerlifter bucked this trend and built Herculean strength at an incredibly young age. He started rigorous powerlifting training around age 15, while most pros begin closer to 18-20 years old after already developing an athletic base.

At 15, Shmondenko was consuming 7 whole meals spread evenly every 2-3 hours throughout the day. His daily diet consisted primarily of high-protein foods like eggs and cottage cheese. He even brought Tupperware containers packed with oatmeal to school, much to the confusion of teachers and classmates who didn‘t understand his strict regimen.

In the mornings and afternoons, Vladimir worked manual farm labor jobs like managing cattle and gardening. But his evenings were devoted to intense powerlifting training at his homemade gym. He focused especially on the core compound lifts like back squats, bench press, and deadlifts.

This schedule continued 7 days a week, apart from rest days every 10-14 days. While fellow teens were hanging out after school, Vladimir was pushing his body to the limit lifting weights at a level far beyond his years. This insanely dedicated training routine of heavy daily lifting, proper nutrition, and rest allowed Shmondenko to develop elite powerlifting strength by his late teenage years.

Pushing His Body to the Next Level in Adulthood

After moving to Kyiv for university in 2017, Anatoly continued his intense training pace alongside his studies. At 18, he hit a monumental milestone for any powerlifter – a 300kg (660 lb) deadlift personal record. For perspective, this lift was over 4x his body weight at the time!

Shmondenko joined his first regional powerlifting competition in Ukraine the same year. Despite his lack of formal experience, he dominated the event and took first place. This only further fueled his passion for the sport.

Vladimir worked a variety of physically demanding jobs like construction and waiting tables between his classes and workouts. All while training 2-3 hours per day and filming YouTube videos about his progress along the way.

His diligence and superhuman drive paid off. By 2020 at age 21, Anatoly Powerlifter reached some eye-popping powerlifting numbers. According to his Instagram (@vladimirshmondenko), his stats included:

  • Deadlift: 290 kg (639 lbs)
  • Squat: 210 kg (462 lbs)
  • Bench Press: 180 kg (396 lbs)

For a natural lifter weighing only 75-80 kg (165-175 lbs), these lifts are world-class. To put it in perspective, his deadlift was over 4 times his body weight! Very few adult lifters achieve a triple body weight deadlift in their lifetime.

But Anatoly‘s lifts get even more mind-boggling. At a body weight of only 80 kg, he has lifted:

  • Raw deadlift: 290 kg (639 lbs)
  • Raw squat: 250 kg (551 lbs)
  • Raw bench: 180 kg (396 lbs)

These numbers are nearing elite pro powerlifting levels. For example, the legendary Ed Coan posted a 300 kg (661 lb) squat at a body weight of 82 kg. So Coan only lifted 9 more kg than Anatoly at a similar body weight!

Simply put, Anatoly‘s teenage training regimen allowed him to build strength on par with the world‘s top powerlifting professionals. His single-minded dedication to perfecting his technique and pushing his body‘s limits has clearly paid enormous dividends.

Nutrition and Supplements

They say abs are made in the kitchen, and the same goes for building elite powerlifting strength. Proper nutrition provides the raw materials and fuel for muscle protein synthesis. Without sufficient calories and macronutrients, your training gains will always be limited.

Unsurprisingly, Anatoly Powerlifter takes his diet very seriously to support his intense workout regimen and power goals. He eats 7 substantial meals spread evenly throughout each day. Each meal focuses on lean proteins, complex carbs, healthy fats, and micronutrients.

According to his YouTube channel, a sample daily meal plan for Anatoly may look like:

  • Meal 1: Oatmeal, eggs, nuts
  • Meal 2: Rice, chicken, vegetables
  • Meal 3: Cottage cheese, fruits
  • Meal 4: Potatoes, steak, greens
  • Meal 5: Protein shake, banana, peanut butter
  • Meal 6: Salmon, quinoa, asparagus
  • Meal 7: Greek yogurt, granola

He also takes supplements including protein powder, creatine monohydrate, pre-workout, multivitamins, and fish oil.

This careful nutritional strategy provides Anatoly‘s muscles with a steady stream of amino acids and nutrients to facilitate recovery and growth. Without this diet supporting his training, he could never lift the massive numbers that he does.

The Making of Anatoly Powerlifter

Let‘s switch gears and talk about the genesis of Shmondenko‘s alter ego Anatoly Powerlifter. Vladimir started his first YouTube channel under his real name in 2015. He focused mainly on documenting his powerlifting training at the time.

While he gained a modest following, his subscriber count remained under 200k until 2018. That year, Shmondenko‘s eating challenge videos started garnering over 100k views each, helping his channel grow.

But the real breakthrough came in 2020 when Vladimir had the clever idea to create gym prank videos under the fictional persona of Anatoly Powerlifter. Dressed up as an unassuming elderly man or janitor, he would casually approach muscular men lifting weights and ask to "try" lifting the same amount.

Then, to their shock, he would lift the exact weight (or often more!) with ease. Given Anatoly‘s shorter stature and average build compared to the bigger gym rats, these videos wereequal parts humorous and jaw-dropping.

In essence, he created the perfect viral video formula by combining surprising reveals, humor, and incredible displays of strength.

His first prank video in this style generated over 10 million YouTube views seemingly overnight. After creating more similar gym prank content in early 2021, Vladimir‘s Russian YouTube channel hit 1 million subscribers.

Sensing major potential, he expanded to TikTok under the handle @anatoly_pranks. Almost immediately, his following exploded as the short-form videos performed even better on TikTok‘s algorithm.

In April 2022, Shmondenko launched an English-language YouTube channel called @vladimirfitness to share his content with international viewers. Collaborations with influencers like bodybuilder Larry Wheels helped the new channel gain over 2 million subscribers rapidly.

Today, Anatoly Powerlifter has accumulated:

  • 2.2+ million YouTube subscribers
  • 9+ million TikTok followers
  • 800k Instagram followers

Vladimir‘s brilliant persona and video concepts catapulted him into social media stardom. He gave people an entirely novel form of entertainment that blends humor, shock value, and awe-inspiring displays of strength.

Mindset of a Champion

They say 90% of success is mental. So what mindset and motivations allow Anatoly to train at such a insanely high level?

In interviews, Vladimir discussed how he was laser-focused on becoming an influencer ever since discovering YouTube as a teen. While his peers partied, he spent every possible minute training his body and developing his personal brand.

He also highlighted the importance of ignoring naysayers and doubters. Many people close to him criticized Vladimir‘s strict training regimen and doubted his goal of becoming a famous YouTuber. But he persevered through sheer willpower.

Vladimir emphasizes the importance of careful planning and time management. Between school, jobs, filming, eating, and sleeping, every minute of his day is strategically mapped out to maximize productivity.

He‘s also a major proponent of watching training footage back and analyzing every aspect to continually refine technique. In his words, "Always film your workouts. Watch yourself lift,study the footage, and make constant tweaks."

This analytical, focused mindset is crucial for any athlete looking to maximize their potential. Anatoly‘s mental discipline matches his phenomenal physical abilities.

What‘s Next for Anatoly Powerlifter?

At just 23 years old, the sky is truly the limit for Anatoly Powerlifter. After conquering social media and shocking the world with his strength, what comes next?

For starters, he plans to continue creating viral gym prank videos and entertaining his millions of followers. Fans can expect lots more hilarious stunts and jaw-dropping lifts in the future.

He also mentioned wanting to collaborate with even more top athletes like Larry Wheels to combine comedy and extreme feats of strength. And he may just beginning tapping into brand sponsorships and partnerships, given his massive reach.

In terms of fitness, Vladimir plans to participate in pro powerlifting competitions very soon. His current lifts are already approaching elite status, and he likely has much more room to grow.

A 300kg squat and 350kg+ deadlift could be within reach in the coming years. And once Anatoly gains more technical experience, few lifters on the planet will match his pound-for-pound strength.

At the end of the day, Vladimir Shmondenko has achieved his lifelong dream of building an audience through the power of social media. And given his relentless drive to improve, Anatoly Powerlifter‘s best lifts and content likely still lie ahead of him. His millions of growing fans eagerly await whatever he accomplishes next.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.