A New Junior World Record: Karen Hesthammer Squats 185.5kg at 52kg Bodyweight

A new junior world record has entered the books in Malaga, Spain, where the European Powerlifting Federation’s Open, Sub-Junior, and Junior Powerlifting Championships are currently underway.

Karen Hesthammer, a 52kg junior athlete from Norway squatted an astonishing 185.5 kilograms (409 pounds), well over three times her bodyweight, in a single ply suit.

This very, very clean squat beat the previous junior world record by just half a kilogram,which was set by Venezuela’s Dominiquez Maria just six months ago at the IPF World Open Powerlifting Championships in Orlando. At last year’s meet, she managed 177.5kg in the same lift.

At 23 years old, this week’s meet was Hesthammer’s fourth junior European championship. Almost everything that’s been written about her has been in Norwegian so there’s a lot we don’t know about her, but she has an active Instagram that has chronicled some seriously impressive lifts.

A couple of weeks before the competition, she posted footage of her benching over twice her bodyweight equipped, with a 110kg on the bar (and a very arched back).

That was the third of a triple.

She’s also built some nice raw deadlift strength — her latest PR was 137.5kg (303.1lb) for two reps.

Her first powerlifting meet took place almost exactly five years ago, where she squatted 85kg at a bodyweight of 47.8kg, which she acknowledged on Instagram was “with probably the worst technique in the world.” She’s come a very long way.

It looks like Hesthammer didn’t manage to best her bench PR during this year’s championship — she benched 107.5kg (237lb) and deadlifted 170kg (374.8lb) for a total of 463kg (1,020.7lb), beating second place finisher Vasileva Margarita by over 50 kilograms.

Now the new junior open world record squat in the 52kg class is 185.5 kilograms. That’s a pretty far cry from the open world record squat for that weight class, which is 217.5 kilograms (480 pounds), set by Ecuador’s Ochoa Vargas Vilma in 2013.

But hey, if Hesthammer can keep smiling through such heavy squats, anything’s possible.

Featured image via European Powerlifting Federation on Facebook.
Nick English

Nick English

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 things.

After Shanghai, he went on to produce a radio documentary about bodybuilding in Australia before finishing his Master’s degrees in Journalism and International Relations and heading to New York City. Here, he’s been writing on health full time for more than five years for outlets like BarBend, Men's Health, VICE, and Popular Science.

No fan of writing in the third person, Nick’s passion for health stems from an interest in self improvement: How do we reach our potential?

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.

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