A New World Record: Jennifer Thompson Benches 142.5kg at 63kg

It’s not like Jennifer Thompson wasn’t already going to go down in history as one of the best bench pressers of all time, but this weekend she broke new ground with a titanic 142.5-kilogram (314.1-pound) bench press at the 2017 Arnold Classic, which was a new IPF World Record in the 63kg category. On the day of the lift, she weighed 134 pounds (60.8 kilograms).

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If you’re thinking to yourself, “Didn’t she just break an IPF World Record in the bench?” then you’d be right. At the Reykjavik International Games in January, Thompson weighed in at 63.15 kilograms, so she wound up competing in the -72 kilogram class. And she still broke a world record, lifting 144 kilograms (317.5 pounds), or 2.3 times her bodyweight. Juggernaut Strength later named that single bench press as the number one greatest feat of strength of all time.

And even that wasn’t her personal record for 2017. Earlier that same month, Thompson lifted 147.4 kilograms (325 pounds) at Liberty University. It’s an understatement that she has had an incredible year, made all the more impressive that she’s 43 years old.

BarBend caught up with Thompson after she made her new IPF World Record at the Arnold this weekend, and as is pretty common for athletes of her caliber, she wasn’t that happy with her result.

“I’m sad I missed my 319 pounds,” she said. “But I got World’s next month to get it!”

When we asked her if she was planning to change anything about her training to help her crush yet another record, she answered, “I’ll drop back a little on my singles and work my way back up. I’m pretty sure I missed it because I didn’t set up well. I should have sat back up and reset myself but I was worried about time. Rookie mistake!”

As for advice for other female powerlifters who want to know what it takes to break their own records (or even some of hers), she told us, “I think it takes time, dedication and patience. I learned a long time ago to just be happy breaking PRs a little at a time. I think I took about four jabs at 300 in competition before I actually got it. So frustrating! Then I went back and hit 294, 296, 298 and then hit 300. So just try and chip away at me and you might get there some day!”

Featured image via @theipf on Instagram.


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Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. His first articles about health were on a cholera outbreak in rural Kenya while he was reporting for a French humanitarian organization. His next writing job was covering the nightlife scene in Shanghai. He’s written on a lot of different kinds of things, but his passion for health ultimately led him to cover it full time.Shanghai was where he managed to publish his first health related article (it was on managing diarrhea), he then went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before he finished his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and headed to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.Nick’s interest in health kind of comes from an existential angle: how are we meant to live? How do we reach our potential? Does the body influence the mind? (Believe it or not, his politics Master’s focused on religion.)Questions like these took him through a lot of different areas of health and fitness like gymnastics, vegetarianism, kettlebell training, fasting, CrossFit, Paleo, and so on, until he realized (or decided) that strength training fit best with the ideas of continuous, measurable self improvement.At BarBend his writing focuses a little more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.