Hunter Henderson Wins Women’s Bodybuilding Pro Card at NPC USA Championship

The pro powerlifter is now a pro bodybuilder.

It’s not unusual for athletes to compete in both bodybuilding and powerlifting. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman, and Johnnie Jackson have all done it. On the women’s side of the sports, Bev Francis and Marianna Gasparyan have dominated both the stage and the platform. The latest athlete to add her name as a two-sport professional is Hunter Henderson.

On July 31, 2021, Henderson won the National Physique Committee’s (NPC) USA Championship in Women’s Bodybuilding. Henderson competed in the heavyweight division at the contest in Phoenix, AZ, where she faced three other competitors. The judges gave her the unanimous decision for first place. Here are the final placings.

  1. Hunter Henderson
  2. Kaitlyn Vera
  3. Jessica Renaud
  4. Leslie Wirsing


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Henderson then went on to face the other division winners and was also awarded the overall championship. Henderson’s career as an amateur is now over, and she is officially an IFBB Pro League competitor. Henderson had yet to make any official statement on social media, but her coach Matt Jansen shared a celebratory post on Instagram.

According to Alina Popa of Wings of Strength, Henderson isn’t waiting long to begin her pro career. Popa wrote on Instagram that Henderson will compete in the Tampa Pro, scheduled to take place August 6-7, 2021 in Tampa, FL.

“I am very grateful for the experience and to have shared the stage with so many beautiful women at USAs,” Henderson wrote to BarBend. “I celebrated my win but got right back to work as I will be making my pro debut at the Tampa Pro.”

If she were to win in Tampa, she would qualify for the 2021 Ms. Olympia, taking place in Orlando, FL on the weekend of October 7-10. She would then face other contenders as well as current champion Andrea Shaw.

This has actually happened before. In 2017, Derek Lunsford won the USA as a light-heavyweight, took the overall title, and then competed in the Tampa Pro in the 212 division and won it. He went on to place fifth at that year’s Olympia, which was won by James “Flex” Lewis.

A Successful 2021

Powerlifting fans will recognize that this isn’t the only achievement of late for the now two-strength sport athlete. In April. Henderson competed in the 2021 Kern US Open, where she claimed two all-time world records in the women’s 75-kilogram category. Her 295 kilogram squat and total of 702.5 kilograms cemented her place in the history books and gave her the victory in that division. This was the summary of her day.

  • Squat — 295 kilograms (650 pounds), new ATWR
  • Bench Press — 147.5 kilograms (325 pounds)
  • Deadlift — 260 kilograms (573 pounds)
  • Total — 702.5 kilograms (1,548 pounds), new ATWR

This was only Henderson’s second bodybuilding show. Prior to this contest, she competed in the 2021 NPC Duel of Champions event in Omaha, NE unopposed. Henderson officially announced her intention to compete in bodybuilding in May 2021, shortly after her domination at the Kern Open. 

“Bodybuilding has changed my life for the better and it’s just the beginning,” Henderson says. “This sport has taught me so much about effort, hard work, and mental fortitude. I have learned a considerable amount about myself. I am so grateful. I have fallen in love with the world of Bodybuilding and I look forward to many more fantastic experiences.” 

Featured Image: Photo by Will Wittman