2021 Kern US Open Preview — How and Who to Watch

Here is what you need to know about the powerlifting meet in San Diego, CA

Every strength sport has its major events that highlight the competitive season. Strongman has the World’s Strongest Man, Arnold Strongman Classic, and the World’s Ultimate Strongman. Bodybuilding has the Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic. Of course, Olympic weightlifting has, well, the Olympics.

Powerlifting has its big contests as well, and one of them is the Kern US Open. The fifth edition of that meet will take place on April 24-25, 2021, at the California Elite Training Center in San Diego, CA. Here is what and who you should know about for this big event.

How to Watch the 2021 Kern US Open

The Kern US Open has been available to watch live in the past, and 2021 is no different. Apeman Strong will be live streaming the meet on both days via the “Apeman Strong” YouTube channel. Every squat, bench press, and deadlift attempt will be shown in real-time.


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The men’s competition will be held on Saturday, April 24, 2021, at noon EST/9 a.m. PST. The women will headline Sunday, April 25, 2021, at the same time on their own stream. You can head to the YouTube channel ahead of time and set reminders.

The top three best lifters in both days of competition will leave with more than bragging rights. The top three men and women will each walk away with cash prizes:

First Place — $25,000 

Second Place — $10,000 

Third Place — $5,000

2021 Kern US Open — Athletes to Watch

As one of the most prestigious competitions around, the who’s who of the powerlifting world is sure to show. Here’s a list of top athletes who are primed to put up big numbers.

John Haack

Haack recently put up 264 kilograms (584 pounds) on the bench press in one of his last training sessions before the Kern Open. That was 11 pounds over his current world record, which he set at the Hybrid Showdown in February. The 90-kilogram lifter wants to put extra padding on his current world record total of 967.5 kilograms (2,133.9 pounds). Haack is very close to becoming the heaviest lifter to total over 11 times his body weight.

Nick Best

Yes, Nick Best as in the strongman and star of “Strongest Man in History.” Best will be competing as a powerlifter for the first time since 2018. He will compete in the 140-kilogram class. The 52-year-old recently took to Instagram to show off his gains. He squatted 369.6 kilograms (815 pounds) and put up 215.5 kilograms (475 pounds) on the bench press. At the 2018 Old Dogs World Cup, Best totaled 989 kilograms (2,182.5 pounds), so we know that number isn’t a stretch for the veteran.

Dan Bell

Any meet that Bell is involved in becomes appointment viewing for powerlifting fans. It will be hard for Bell to surpass his performance at the Hybrid Showdown III meet a few months ago. After all, the super heavyweight reclaimed the all-time raw with wraps world record and became the first man to total over 1,179 kilograms (2,600 pounds) in that division. He wasn’t on the athlete roster as of this writing, but Bell confirmed directly to BarBend that he is competing. If he gets the opportunity to add onto his 1,181.9-kilogram (2,606-pound) total record, he will go for it.


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Sara Schiff

All you need to know about Schiff is that she has a 272-kilogram 600-pound deadlift under her lifting belt. That puts her in elite company anywhere she goes. That feat was pulled (literally) off at the 2019 Sling Shot Record Breakers event. It was the world record until Jessica Springer pulled 285.7 kilograms (630 pounds) on April 11, 2021. Schiff has also squatted over 500 pounds and has benched over 300 pounds in her career. She will be in the superheavyweight lineup at this meet, and it’s possible she could try to reclaim the deadlift record.

Ashley Garcia

Garcia last competed in the USPA Pioneer Open in 2020. She won the 75-kilogram class with a total of 600-kilograms (1,455 pounds), 262.5-kilogram squat, 140-kilogram bench press, 262.5-kilogram deadlift. All three of her lifts were personal bests. According to Open Powerlifting, that is the second-highest total in her category. This is her first meet of 2021.

Nikki Merson

Merson is listed in both the 75 and 82 kilogram class on the Kern website, so it’s uncertain which category she will be in. What is certain is that she will be on a mission to get a 453 kilogram total. She was a deadlift away from making that a reality at the Women’s Power Weekend meet in Ohio. Unfortunately, she missed all three attempts at 183.7 kilograms (405 pounds), so she could not move up to have a shot at that total. She did complete a 154.2-kilogram (340-pound) and 108.8-kilogram (240-pound) bench press at that competition. Everything may fall in place for Merson in the Golden State.

BarBend will have a recap of the events taking place on both days once the weekend in San Diego concludes.

Featured Image: @dbell_74 on Instagram