Mass moves mass. On Mar. 11, 2023, weightlifter Artyom Antropov posted a training video to social media. In it, the 23-year-old Olympic lifter back squatted a mind-boggling 322 kilograms, or 708.4 pounds. Antropov, a multi-international medalist for Kazakhstan, may just be among the best squatters in the world.
Not only was the lift a tremendous achievement in its own right (322 kilograms is more than thrice his competition body weight of 102 kilograms), it also made a statement. Some of the most prominent light-heavyweight weightlifters in the world have spent the past few years battling it out across social media to see who has the strongest legs in the game, and Antropov is clearly eager to enter the ring.
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If you’re new to the world of weightlifting, you should know that Olympic lifters differ from powerlifters in many ways. The back squat is not a tested event at weightlifting meets, but almost all weightlifters use it as a cornerstone element of their accessory training. (Only the snatch and clean & jerk are tested at weightlifting meets.)
Antropov performed his bar-bending squat while wearing weightlifting shoes to improve his posture and knee sleeves to cushion and support his knees under load.
Antropov’s Lift In Context
Antropov performed a world-class squat with relative ease, but his lift becomes even more impressive in context. Here’s how Antropov’s strength stacks up to his peers.
Compared to Powerlifters
Weightlifters like Antropov may squat heavy on a (very) regular basis, but they typically can’t hold a candle to powerlifters who make the squat a major part of both regular training and competition performance. The current International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Record squat in the 105-kilogram division stands at 360 kilograms (793.6 pounds), held by Anatolii Novopismennyi of Ukraine.
Antropov may be 100 or so pounds away from a World Record in powerlifting at a comparable body weight, but powerlifters perform their back squats with a low-bar technique. This generally enables the athlete to lift more weight due to better leverage and a shorter range of motion than the high-bar position employed by Olympic lifters.
Further, at the 2022 IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships, the bronze-medal squat in the 105-kilogram class stood at 325 kilos. Antropov may not have a powerlifting record in his grasp, but his strength would place him well within striking distance of a medal at many prestigious powerlifting meets.
Compared to Other Weightlifters
Here’s where things get interesting. Many of the best weightlifters in the world across the 96- and 102-kilogram categories, including Antropov himself, have been engaged in a long-running social media squat-off for several years. Athletes like 2019 World Champion Tian Tao, 2020 Olympics silver medalist Keydomar Valenilla-Sanchez, and 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup runner-up Toshiki Yamamoto seem determined to one-up each other in squat strength — literally:
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Tao, who has committed to cutting weight and competing at 89 kilograms ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, has squatted 320 kilograms several times. Valenilla-Sanchez and Yamamoto have both thrown their hats into the ring with 321-kilogram lifts. The 322 kilograms Antropov lifted is a very specific number to load onto a barbell for an “accessory” like the back squat. In context, it appears to be an effort by Antropov to pull ahead of the pack.
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Note that many of these athletes haven’t formally declared their intent to surpass each other in strength. That said, there’s certainly a friendly rivalry on display between some of the best weightlifters in the world.
Who Is Artyom Antropov?
At just 23 years of age, Antropov is already a veteran competitor in the sport of weightlifting, having debuted in the IWF back in 2016 with a seventh-place finish at the Youth World Championships. Since then, he’s gone on to bag several regional victories at the Junior and Senior levels.
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
Note: These rankings refer to Antropov’s result in the Total, which combines the athlete’s best snatch with their best clean & jerk.
Antropov is known to fans of weightlifting for his tremendous strength and prowess in the clean & jerk specifically. At the 2022 IWF World Weightlifting Championships in the 102-kilogram class, Antropov placed 15th in the snatch portion but won the gold medal in the clean & jerk by lifting 222 kilograms overhead.
The squat may be an accessory exercise to the Olympic lifter, but Antropov is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he and his peers have the leg strength to contend with the best squatters alive. Triple-bodyweight squats are rare, to begin with. For middle and heavyweight athletes, they’re exceedingly uncommon.
To bang out a 700-pound-plus squat during, presumably, a standard training session (and with impressive bar speed to boot) speaks to Antropov’s potential as possibly one of the most competent non-powerlifting squatters in the world.
Featured Image: @antropov_kz on Instagram