6 Questions With World Champion PowerLifter Jennifer Thompson


Jennifer please tell us a bit about you. Your background, how you got started with lifting weights and PowerLifting.

I grew up in a divorced family outside of Detroit, Michigan. My father was a long distance runner and he always encouraged me to run with him every morning. In high school, I was a fair runner. I had made it to the State Championships in Cross Country and Track. But it wasn’t something I really enjoyed to do. I loved the competition, team comradery and the grit, but not really the running.

I met my coach/husband when I was living in a rental house full of friends in college. He was very much into lifting weights He had learned how to lift in the Army and a crew of his friends came over every evening. They kept inviting me to come down to the basement gym and lift with them. After months of hearing them yelling and laughing I descended those steps and never looked back.

In 1994, my husband, Donovan and I were in Venice Beach, California for our honeymoon. It was there I saw my first powerlifting competition. There was a bench press competition on Muscle Beach. I spoke with some of the athletes after the competition and the rest is history.


You are one of the best lifters in the history of PowerLifting.
What are some of your best lifts.

Please share some of the competition moments and experiences you are most proud of?

My current best lifts are squat: 342 lbs, bench, 320 lbs and deadlift 457 lbs.

Some of my most memorable moments are:

In 2002, at the IPF Equipped Bench Press World Championships in Hungary, they made the women weigh in with male referees. So our athlete, Betina Altizer, barged in and weighed in the men then next day.

Winning my first IPF Equipped Bench Press World Championships in 2003 against the Japanese lifter on Pearl Harbor Day!

Hitting my first 300 lbs. Bench Press at The Arnold Classic in 2012. I had been after that number for years!

Winning the SBD Grand Prix in 2018 after hip reconstruction surgery. I wasn’t expected to come back so strong 🙂

Competing at the 2018 IPF Classic Bench Press Championships in Finland with my husband and oldest son competing as well!


How amazing must it feel to set a world record and become a World Champion?

As well how many world records have you set and how many championships have you won?

It is pretty amazing because it means you are the best in the WHOLE world. In the beginning, they didn’t come easy. I had worked years to get to the point where I could break a World Record or win a World Championships.

Currently I hold 68 World Records (open and master’s) and have 4 IPF Equipped Bench Press Titles, 2 IPF Classic Bench and 4 IPF Classic Powerlifting


You are known for your incredible bench press.
What are some things you do in training to get such amazing strength.

I think you are good at what you like. I have always liked bench because I saw the most improvement in this lift. Women generally are not born with strong upper. So when I started benching it was with dumbbells, then the bar, then I started adding weight and more weight. Every week I was able to see huge improvements.

For women, I think the accessories are important because we are not born with the strength men are in their upper bodies. I do a lot of shoulder, tricep and bicep work. I also work every aspect of the bench.
SlingShot, Pin Presses, Board Presses to work the top end of the bench press.
Uploads, Band Presses, T-shirt presses to work strength off the chest and speed of the lift.
I distribute these exercises over 16 days of training.


You are known for your bench, but your squat and deadlift have improved so much and I know from following your training how hard you have worked on these lifts.
What have you done in training to help improve these lifts?

Squats have always been a struggle for me. One reason I believe is because I am an active person and from that have suffered a broken ankle, ACL replacement and neck surgery. These injuries have always impacted this exercise in a negative way.

Recently, being healthy, I have used belt squats and reverse hypers to help improve my squat.

For deadlifts I like rack pulls and band deadlifts to improve this strength on top of my normal exercises.


If you had any advice for women that are just beginning lifting or thinking about PowerLifting what would you say to them?

Find your Circle. This is an incredible sport and can be an amazing journey. Finding people to do it with you is important. It will make it more enjoyable, motivational and help you make it part of your life. There are so many groups like this one, Women Who Lift Weights, where you can find the camaraderie you need.

There are also many seminars that can get you started in powerlifting the right way. I am part of Iron Sisters USA along with Kimberly Walford and Frances Manias. Our next women’s weekend is in partnership with Girls Who Powerlift (another great community) on March 23rd.

The women always leave our weekends with a great understanding of “good form” and important accessories along with life long friends and a sense of community. There are many other athletes that hold great seminars as well. There are endless resources available now a days, so it is a great time to start!


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