The sport of powerlifting is one that requires an incredible amount of diligence, patience, finesse, and — of course — strength. The five athletes on our list possess these qualities in spades. They have the numbers and world records to prove it.
The best powerlifting athletes of the year shattered records, competed in multiple strength sports, and defied age itself. Tamara Walcott shredded both powerlifting and strongwoman deadlifting records. She was joined by fellow multi-sport athlete Hunter Henderson, who crushed records on the powerlifting platform and took home the first-place victory in her first strongman competition.
The other athletes on this list may have “only” competed in one sport. They still set new standards for lifting across the board. Between Jessica Buettner, John Haack, and David Ricks — who’s raising the bar in his 60s — records across all big three risks weren’t safe. And our honorable mention Sherine Marcelle showed that you don’t have to lift in competition to impress.
The Best Powerlifters of 2022
- Tamara Walcott
- Jessica Buettner
- David Ricks
- Hunter Henderson
- John Haack
- Honorable Mention: Sherine Marcelle
Tamara Walcott entered 2022 as a master deadlifter and left 2022 as a deadlifter extraordinaire. The +90-kilo lifter entered the year already established as the women’s all-time raw deadlift world record holder. She will be leaving 2022 having surpassed her own previous record in training and in competition.
On July 22, Walcott posted a video to her Instagram wherein she deadlifted 299.4 kilograms (660 pounds) raw, eclipsing her previous world record by a whopping 24 pounds. Less than a week later, the deadlift champ officially broke her previous world record, pulling 290 kilograms (639.4 pounds) in the World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WRPF) American Pro.
She set a new record on the Elephant Bar, a 10-foot monstrosity that only was opened to women in competition in 2020. Walcott pulled 641 pounds, eclipsing the previous record of 621 pounds, set in 2020 by strongwoman great Andrea Thompson.
Gravity and Jessica Buettner officially filed for divorce in 2022. In late April 2022, Buettner hung out with four-time Mr. Olympia winner Jay Cutler, squatting more than the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) — 220 kilograms (485 pounds) raw.
Later in the year, the Canadian traveled to the IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Sun City, South Africa, where she bade adieu to two official IPF world records. There, Buettner set the new IPF raw squat and IPF raw deadlift world records in the 82.5-kilogram weight class with her squat of 218.5 kilograms (481.7 pounds) and deadlift of 261.5 kilograms (576.5 pounds).
Buettner didn’t sleep on her bench press game, though. In May, she benched 107.5 kilograms (237 pounds) raw, setting herself a new Canadian national record and an unofficial IPF Open Classic world record.
Powerlifting legend David Ricks seemed to defy two very significant things throughout 2022 — world records and age. In February, the then-62-year-old cranked out a 325-kilogram (716.5-pound) raw squat double in training. The lift was 3.5 times his competition bodyweight, which has been 93 kilograms since 2011.
Throughout the rest of the year, “Superman” continued demonstrating the mastery he developed over a 40-year powerlifting career. In June, Ricks took the platform at the IPF World Classic Championships, where he set three different raw IPF world records, competing at 93 kilograms in the Masters 3 division.
There, he squatted 305 kilograms (672.4 pounds), benched 202.5 kilograms (446.4 pounds), and totaled 772.5 kilograms (1,703.1 pounds). These were all IPF world records. (Rick would go on to officially up his bench press record to 205.5 kilograms in October.)
Soon after his victory at the IPF World Classic Championships, Ricks squatted 238 kilograms (525 pounds) for eight reps in training. After his 63rd birthday, Ricks continued to bring his A game, deadlifting 285 kilograms (628 pounds) raw for five reps in training. Each rep was only six pounds short of his IPF raw deadlift world record.
Hunter Henderson spent 2022 proving that she can do pretty much anything the strength sports world has to offer. And she doesn’t just do it — she shows up to win. In 2021, Henderson earned pro card in women’s bodybuilding and took home second place in her pro debut at the 2021 Tampa Pro. While she didn’t compete in bodybuilding in 2022, she still made her presence felt as an elite-level, multi-sport athlete.
The powerlifter-bodybuilding-strongwoman played around with Atlas stones and won her first-ever strongman contest in November. But we’re here to talk about powerlifting — and Henderson is not slacking.
She kicked off 2022 by shattering the 82.5-kilogram weight class’s all-time raw squat world record, hefting 250 kilograms (551.2 pounds) to destroy the previous record by a solid 11 pounds.
In early May, Henderson rolled into Las Vegas, NV to compete in the FQ Classic. The meet was sanctioned by the World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WPRF). She again competed in the 82.5-kilogram class, leaving with a solid performance in all lifts. She cracked the all-time world record in the back squat (raw with wraps) when she hoisted 305 kilograms (670 pounds).
World records didn’t know what hit them in 2022 — well, unless that someone’s name was John Haack. The lifter spent 2022 crushing records in both the 90-kilo and 100-kilo weight classes — some of which had previously been his own.
According to Open Powerlifting, Haack pressed 267.5 kilograms (589.7 pounds) at the 2022 WRPF American Pro in the 90-kilogram weight class, a world record. Less than two months later, at the 2022 USPA Raw Pro in September, Haack surpassed the previous all-time world record in the 100-kilogram class raw bench press with a 272.5-kilogram (600.7-pound) lift. This meant that Haack secured himself a world record in two different weight classes within two months of each other.
(He also became the first man at 100 kilograms to bench press 600 pounds raw.)
But the man isn’t all about benching. At the same meet in July, Haack broke the 90-kilogram deadlift world record, pulling 410 kilograms (903.9 pounds). His two massive records came together to earn him the 90-kilogram world record Total as well. Haack moved a total of 1022.5 kilograms (2,254.2 pounds).
Lifts performed in training don’t qualify for official world records, but that doesn’t make them any less jaw-dropping. And when Sherine Marcelle steps up to the lifting platform, you always have to prepare to be amazed. She gets an honorable mention for consistently blowing up Instagram with her training sessions throughout the year.
The 90-kilogram lifter squatted three plates (315 pounds) for 20 — count them, 20 — reps in February. But that wasn’t all she had to offer this year. In late August, Marcelle crushed a lifetime personal record (PR) by squatting 257.6 kilograms (568 pounds) raw for a double in training.
What’s Next in Strength Sports?
Powerlifters weren’t the only strength athletes who had an incredible 2022. Across the strength sports world, 2022 saw records shattered and reigning champions overturned. While some legends performed massive feats of strength, others extended their era of complete dominance. With athletes of such a high caliber tossing around weight plates across the strength sports world, you can bet 2023 will see even more players rise to the top of the platform and into the record books.
Featured Image: @djessicabuettner / Instagram