For competitive Olympic lifters, world-record-caliber squatting is just another day on the job. This was certainly the case for Kazakh weightlifter Artyom Antropov who, on Jun. 21, 2022, posted an ultra-heavy 300-kilogram (661.3-pound) back squat double to social media.
Antropov’s display of leg strength not only helps validate his case as one of the better light-heavyweight Olympic lifters in the world, but his squat also contends with the best efforts of world-class squat specialists who make competitive powerlifting their primary directive.
A weightlifter like Antropov may not necessarily be able to sign up and win an international powerlifting competition, but they can definitely hang with career squatters.
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[Related: Weightlifter Mattie Rogers Squats All-Time Personal Record of 190KG]
To bust out this set of two in the back squat, Antropov wore a pair of weightlifting shoes, a lifting belt, and knee sleeves. Notably, he unracked his barbell from a squat stand that was then pulled off his platform, giving him ample free space to work.
Artyom Antropov’s Weightlifting Career
22-year-old Antropov has competed for Kazakhstan for the better part of a decade, beginning with the International Weightlifting Federation’s (IWF) Youth World Championships in 2016, where he placed seventh.
Artyom Antropov | Major Competition Results
- 2016 Youth World Championships: Gold
- 2017 Youth Asian Championships: Gold
- 2020 Junior Asian Championships: Gold
- 2019 Junior World Championships: Silver
- 2021 World Weightlifting Championships: 4th
Weightlifters Vs. Powerlifters in the Squat
It’s a bold claim, but one that is backed by mountains of evidence — Olympic lifters can trade blows with some of the best squatters powerlifting has to offer, all while training the back squat merely as an accessory to their sport.
Antropov competes primarily at 96 kilograms body weight, and his 300-kilogram double likely marks his one-rep max in the squat somewhere in the 320-kilogram range. It begs the question, then — just how does a weightlifter’s secondary training keep up with one of a powerlifter’s competitive movements?
Good Weightlifters Would Also Be Good Powerlifters
Your genetics decide a lion’s share of your athletic potential long before you ever pick up a barbell. As such, the style of training you practice in the weight room is a reflection of your genetic potential.
The back squat is merely an expression of strength, and thus it’s a safe bet that Antropov (or Novopismenny) would do quite well if either had gotten into a different strength sport than their chosen careers.
Weightlifters Squat All the Time
Even though they are judged on their prowess in the snatch and clean & jerk, Olympic lifters still make the back (and front) squat a huge portion of their overall training economy. You need strong legs to lift heavy weights, whether that be out of a rack or from the ground to overhead.
Weightlifters also accumulate large amounts of volume and skill work in their standard training. Every clean, snatch, or overhead squat requires that you stand up from deep hip and knee flexion, which translates over to their one-rep-max as well.
Powerlifters Are Specific
While gifted and hardworking athletes are poised to do well regardless of their physical activity of choice, the critical factor at the end of the day is specificity. Powerlifters like Novopismenny (and others) train week in, week out to make their squat as technically sound and powerful as they can.
Weightlifters on the other hand commonly perform their squats at the end of their regular workouts, often under an element of fatigue. As such, they don’t accumulate as much high-quality and dedicated practice at the movement pattern of the squat as a powerlifter would.
Leverage Is Everything
Powerlifters have a very discrete and clear goal — take a barbell from a standing position to the depth at which their hip crease is below their kneecap and back again. As such, the low bar position is the weapon of choice for any serious powerlifter.
The low bar squat technique may look visually similar to a high bar squat, but there are some key mechanical differences at play:
- Low bar squats reduce your range of motion (compared to most high bar squats).
- The low bar position balances the load of the barbell more evenly between your legs and back.
- Low bar technique helps you use your lower back musculature and hip extensors to drive the weight up.
All of this enables a powerlifter to lift a bit more weight than their weightlifting cousins.
Power Is Power
No matter which camp you fall into, it’s worth acknowledging and respecting the efforts that powerlifters and weightlifters alike put into their respective sports. It’s undeniably impressive that weightlifters like Antropov can casually squat IPF-podium-caliber weights as something of an “afterthought.”
However, it is equally remarkable the lengths that career powerlifters will go to make their squat as precise and powerful as possible. Specialization speaks for itself, since most if not all of the heaviest squats of all time are held by powerlifters.
Featured Image: artyom.antropov on Instagram