Olympic lifters are renowned for their tremendous leg strength. On Aug. 31, 2022, Taiwanese weightlifter and three-time Olympian Kuo Hsing-Chun lived up to that reputation (and then some) when she back squatted 175 kilograms (385.8 pounds) for three reps in the gym.
The footage, which Hsing-Chun posted to her personal Instagram account, showcases the abundance of raw strength you’d expect from a high-level weightlifter. Hsing-Chun competes at 59 kilograms, or 130 pounds, which brings her three-rep set in at just shy of triple bodyweight:
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The 59-kilogram Women’s gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympic Games relied on not one, but three spotters to help her perform the feat, one standing behind and two others on either side of her barbell — though it didn’t appear that she really needed the help.
Hsing-Chun also chose some pretty non-standard loading parameters. Her barbell can be seen packed to the brim with two blue 20-kilogram discs, three green 10-kilo discs, and two additional white 5-kilogram change plates of varying sizes.
If she squatted on a women’s 15-kilogram weightlifting bar (likely, given how much whip Hsing-Chun had to fight against when she unracked it), the total weight would amount to 175 kilograms.
How It Stacks Up
Squatting almost 400 pounds for multiple reps is remarkable at any level. When you consider the context in which Hsing-Chun hit the lift, her strength becomes all the more impressive.
The back squat is a key facet of a weightlifter’s accessory training, but it isn’t the primary focus of their sport (weightlifters are tested in two movements, the snatch and clean & jerk). As such, they often dedicate less time in the gym to refining their squatting capabilities specifically than a powerlifter would.
Weightlifters & Powerlifters
According to their website, the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Record in the Women’s 57-kilogram Open Classic division stands at 183 kilograms, or 403.4 pounds, held by British athlete Bobbie Butters.
If you plugged Hsing-Chun’s squat triple into a 1-rep-max calculator, you’d get a conservative projected max around 185 to 190 kilograms. Hsing-Chun competes at 59 kilograms, right around the same bodyweight as Butters.
However, Hsing-Chun performed her squat during a standard training session, while Butters lifted her World Record in a sanctioned competition. This means:
- Hsing-Chun’s weight was likely a bit higher than 59 kilograms, which may afford her some extra strength.
- Butters likely went through an aggressive peaking cycle for her competition designed specifically to help bolster her squat strength.
There are likely other factors at play that muddy the waters between the two lifts, but these things do speak to how tremendously strong Hsing-Chun is in the squat rack.
Who Is Kuo Hsing-Chun?
At 28 years of age, Hsing-Chun is far and away the most active and dominant weightlifter competing for Chinese Taipei on the international stage. Per the International Weightlifting Federation‘s (IWF) athlete registry, Hsing-Chun has partaken in IWF weightlifting meets for over a decade, beginning as far back as 2010.
Since then, she’s racked up a slew of gold medals across the Women’s 58 (now defunct) and 59-kilogram classes at some of the sport’s most prestigious competitions:
- Asian Weightlifting Championships: 5 | 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020
- World Weightlifting Championships: 5 | 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021
- Olympic Games: 1 | 2020
Further, Hsing-Chun also currently possesses every single World and Olympic Record in the 59-kilogram category. Her best competition lifts, per the IWF, are 110 kilograms (242.5 pounds) in the snatch and 142 kilos (313.0 pounds) in the clean & jerk.
If she’d hit them together, those two lifts (totaling 252 kilograms) would’ve won 59-kilogram Hsing-Chun a gold medal in the 59, 64, 71, 76, 81, and 87-kilogram weight classes at the 2021 IWF World Weightlifting Championships.
It isn’t known exactly when Hsing-Chun will turn up next internationally (her last competition was at IWF Worlds in late 2021), but if she decides to seek a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, there’s a good chance she’ll take the stage soon.
The 2022 IWF World Weightlifting Championships in Bogotá, Colombia, run from December 5 to 16, and are the first major stepping stone for Paris hopefuls. Based on her ludicrous leg strength, Hsing-Chun seems to be preparing for another string of wins at the biggest competitions in weightlifting.
Featured Image: kuohsingchun_official on Instagram