These famous female lifters have shaped the course of history for women by proving weightlifting is not just for the boys. These fabulously jacked ladies forged an inspirational route for strong women while lifting their way to the top.
Throughout history, women have lifted weights and smashed records of men’s heavy lifting, but the IWF didn’t agree to control Women’s Weightlifting until 1983. Since 1997, when the World’s Strongest Woman competition was established, weightlifting women have been gaining attention from all around the world. Take a moment to check out these extraordinarily strong women throughout history.
Here Are The Top 10 Strongest Women Throughout History:
1. Judy Glenney
Glenney was lifting when it first became competitive for women in America. She participated in the first official American National Women’s Meet in 1981 held in Waterloo, Iowa and overseen by USA Weightlifting. She is the winner of 11 gold medals in national championships for weightlifting. Her best lifts: clean and jerk at 215 pounds and snatch at 182 pounds. In 1989, she authored the book So You Think You Want To Be A Female Weightlifter, as well as a series of articles throughout the mid-1980s on olympic lifting techniques for women.
2. Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton
Stockton was born in 1917 and became a pioneer of women’s weightlifting in the 1940s. She toured the Los Angeles area, performing a hand-balancing act. The 115-pound woman, standing at 5’2, would lift her husband right above her head in adjoining handstands for extended periods of time. Her nickname, “The Queen of Muscle Beach.” In 1944, she wrote a monthly column for Strength and Health called “Barbelles,” where she would give women advice on strength training and lifting. She encouraged ladies to be fit in an era where muscular women were considered “too masculine.”
3. Aneta Florczyk
Polish female athlete and famous Strongwoman, Aneta Florczyk began powerlifting at the age of 16. After winning multiple Polish Championships, she won the European Championship in 2000. She broke the 500-kilogram powerlifting record as a Polish athlete and has only been training on Strongmen and Strongwoman equipment since 2002. And just two years later, in 2004, she won the World’s Strongest Woman in Zambia. Shortly after, winning the same title in Ireland. This chick has won the World’s Strongest Woman competition more than any other woman in history!
4. Chen Wei Ling
101-pound Ling can lift over four times her body weight and set the world record for squat and deadlift in the 2009 Olympic Games. The year prior, she had won a bronze medal in Beijing. The Taiwanese lifter deadlifted 430 pounds and squatted a whopping 457 pounds, thereby breaking the world record. Holy Crap!
5. Jan Todd
Wife of Dr. Terry Todd, America’s First Champion Powerlifter, Jan Todd began powerlifting after their marriage in 1973. She broke the Guinness World Record of 394 pounds in a two-hand deadlift in 1975, which was a 49-year record. She became the first woman to lift over 400 pounds ever in 1976 by lifting deadlifting 412 pounds. The record streak went on, as she also became the first woman to lift a combined 1,200 in three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. She was once named the strongest woman in the world by Sports Illustrated and other magazines. In 2009, she was the first female to be inducted into the International Powerlifting Hall of Fame.
6. Brittany Diamond
At just 23, Diamond has shown immense potential in lifting. She can already lift over half of her body weight with a 315-pound deadlift and also lifts cars for fun. Woah! She started training after her college graduation in May 2014 and has only been training Strongwoman style since July. She qualified for the Arnold Strongman Classic, where she faced the strongest middleweight women in the world and came in 7th. That’s a pretty impressive start for a newcomer.
7. Robin Coleman A.K.A “Hellga”
Coleman, known for her acting in Days of Our Lives, has a background in figure competitions, professional Strongwoman, rowing, female bodybuilding, and MMA. She also competed in the inaugural World’s Strongest Woman in Zambia, Africa in 2001, placing third. In the competition, she lifted as many cars as possible in a squat position. Standing at 6’1 and 210 pounds, she’s known for her role as “Hellga” in NBC’s American Gladiators revival, and she
8. Becca Swanson
Swanson began competing in Strongwoman competitions in 2002 when they first arose in popularity. She’s the only woman to squat more than 800 pounds, her best squat at 854.3 and best bench at 683.4. Back in 2006, Swanson, standing 5’10, was 197 pounds, squatting four times her body weight.
9. Jill Mills
Her name is familiar throughout the bodybuilding community. She holds the title of both World Champion Powerlifter and World Champion Strongwoman. She won both 2001 and 2002 Strongwoman competitions and finished third in 2005. Her career in lifting spanned over 20 years, as she started working toward physical perfection at a young age, running on her family’s farm. Unfortunately, bodybuilding had eventually taken a toll on her 5’4 frame. She’s faced surgery, injury, and retirement. However, she continues to inspire other women with her incredible talent and diligence. Her mantra:
Perseverance. No matter how hard I get knocked down, I get up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I remind myself to always be moving forward in life.
10. Kristin Rhodes
Winner of the 2012 World’s Strongwoman competition, Rhodes has also previously won the America’s Strongest Woman competition five times before winning the worldwide competition in 2012. She was the first American to win the World’s Strongwoman competition since Jill Mills, 10 years before. Her interest in Strongwoman competitions sparked when her husband began competing in the Strongman events back in 2006. They both competed for the first time that year.
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