The BarBend 20

The past year's leaders and game changers in the world of strength sports

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Who Are The BarBend 20?

From the outside looking in, strength sports appear to be a lonely pursuit. 

Those who train and compete, however, know that this isn’t true.

Competitive and casual lifters alike are united by a common theme — progress. Day-one beginners to elite lifters can appreciate the work it takes to add five pounds to a PR. Hey, even Brian Shaw started with an empty barbell. 

But progress can be measured in more than just pounds, and that’s what this list represents. On it, you’ll find 20 seriously strong individuals — in spirit, mind, and body. They are leaders, thinkers, and innovators in the world of strength who are striving for meaningful change.

Together these powerful people have broken down barriers of inclusivity, altered our tools and methods, and have expanded the scope of strength sports. Gripping and ripping a heavy deadlift is a one-person job, but let this list serve as a reminder that we are all stronger together.

What It Takes to Be Strong

Success in strength sports is measured by weight on the bar, reps completed, and distance covered. Whether you strive to swing a kettlebell for hundred up reps, heave a barbell loaded with hundreds of pounds, or simply cover more distance on your treadmill than ever before — progress is progress. And while we love sets of heavy deadlifts and muscle gain as much as the next person, we also believe in celebrating progress beyond the platform.

The folks on this list have raised the bar — both literally and figuratively. On it, you’ll find para powerlifters pursuing a Ph.D., a strongwoman who sheds light on the harassment women in strength sports face, and a CEO fighting for inclusion. 

This list includes athletes and individuals from powerlifting, weightlifting, CrossFit, strongman, and bodybuilding. The people on The BarBend 20 are strong and accomplished in their given field — which is one of the criteria for making the cut — but they also have contributed something beyond being seriously strong

It’s important to celebrate those who inspire us to be our best selves. After all, that is — at its core — what strength sports are about. However, we also think it’s important to pay tribute to those doing their best to change the game for others.