Karenjeet Kaur Bains is the first Sikh powerlifter to represent Britain at World and European Championships, winning gold at the 2019 Commonwealth Championships as a junior.
w, with a Guinness World Record under her belt, the 26-year-old is trying to break into the sports mainstream, challenging strength athletes of all levels to raise the bar with her online coaching. M&F caught up with the stereotype breaker to find out how she became one of the brightest stars in powerlifting and how anyone can apply the basic principles of the squat, bench press and deadlift to strengthen their mind, body and character.
Bains was born in Warwick, England. Her parents were originally from the Punjab of northern India, but after moving to England at a young age, the two met, married and started a family. do whatever it takes to give Karenjeet and her brothers the best possible chance. Her parents were proud at the time when Bains received a scholarship and attended Durham University while already dominating the powerlifting world. As a chartered accountant, Bains crunches numbers both in the office and in the weight room.
Karenjeet Kaur Bains shatters the stereotypes
After starting powerlifting at the age of 17, success came quickly and was well deserved. Bains is a multiple British and All-England champion and those victories have been fueled in part by narrow-minded people who often underestimate a woman's potential in the weight room. It's a narrative Bains works hard to change and from which she draws many memories of her own.
She recalls going to the gym with her father, Kuldip, even as a British champion, and was approached by an old man who immediately dismissed her, saying that there was probably not a bar small enough to lift her. Kuldip, a former natural bodybuilder and powerlifter, came back with the perfect answer, telling the unwanted negative voice that "there will never be a big enough weight!" It was a pivotal moment in her life and reinforced the fact that no one should be allowed to limit your progress based on misperceptions. In truth, there are few men in the gym who can match Bain's plate after plate. Eat that old man!
At school, Bains had already excelled in sports before getting serious about the gym. "I've always been very athletic," she says. “First I did athletics, say from the age of 5. My dad is my trainer and trains me in bodybuilding and powerlifting, but he initially trained me in track and field. I have two older twin brothers, they are 10 years older than me and they used to run (400m) hurdles at national level. When I used to watch them do it, I learned from a young age what it means to win.”
Winning is about forging your own destiny
Eager to represent her community, Bains feels there aren't enough South Asian women getting into powerlifting. She ensures that her full name is given in interviews and at competitions as 'Kaur' is often translated as 'lioness' and is a sign that she is a Sikh woman.
Through her success, the proud Sikh hopes to encourage more diverse minorities to get into the sport and strives to get women from all walks of life into powerlifting. Of course, powerlifting can be an expensive sport considering the coaching, gym membership, and travel required to hunt for gold, but the Bains family has learned to forge their own destiny by keeping things around the house keeps. Her father's passion for the sport and iron pumping has not only resonated with Karenjeet and her brothers, but Mama is also successful in the hammer throw, discus and shot put in the Masters classes.
"I have a gym at the end of the garden," the lioness shares. "It's very old-fashioned, with cast-iron weights. My dad is an engineer so he did a lot of weights and everything by hand. There's all these gears and parts, nothing special, but I always encourage people that all you need to succeed is guts and determination.” Powerlifting is undoubtedly one of those sports that brings instant gratification. "I think most new lifters get hooked on it in some way," says Bains. "Because once you've lifted something, it's always like, 'What else can I lift?' But when I first started lifting weights, my hands were very soft and I remember my hands being torn to shreds because they weren't ready. I used to use surgical alcohol to toughen my hands. I think the bench press, deadlift and squat just came naturally to me, and I've always had very strong legs from years of sprinting and everything else."
@karenjeet_bains 175kg DEADLIFT (385lbs) from the All England Powerlifting Championships 🥵🤯 Let ME help take your strength to the next level...Coaching link in bio 🔗❤️ #deadliftpr #deadliftface #powerliftingchicks #pushyourselftothelimit ♬ Legends Are Made – Sam Tinnesz
Karenjeet Kaur Bains breaks world records and glass ceilings
In June, Bains became the English bench press champion in the under 69 kg (152 lb) class by lifting 95 kg (210 lbs). Her personal (raw) bests are 97.5 kg (215 pounds) on the bench press, 175 kg (385 pounds) on the deadlift, and 150 kg (330 pounds) on the squat. And as her powerlifting career rides the crest of a wave, the champion hopes to use that momentum to break into the sport's mainstream. This inspirational woman, who is currently giving us TV deals, was recently inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records after squatting her own bodyweight of 67 kg (147 pounds) for an incredible 42 reps in just 60 seconds.
Powerlifting has given Bains a chance to see the world. She has competed in countries like England, Canada, Sweden and Lithuania but is now hoping to use her online fitness coaching to reach a global audience from the comfort of her home or gym.
Bains finds that constantly challenging yourself builds confidence, and she recognizes that the strength of the mind is just as important as the strength of the body. From her motivational speeches and panel appearances to her one-on-one coaching and regular check-ins with clients on her app, Bains is able to lead by example and notes that she needs to push that forward
Limits of their mental and physical abilities like everyone else. "So I do the traditional deadlift," says Bains. “I don't do sumo so there's a lot of range of motion for me and I have pretty long legs compared to my torso and I don't have super long arms but as soon as I know I've got the bar off the ground, even just 'so', I know I have it because I'm a damn good grinder. I'm very stubborn, and I'm like, 'I'm not letting go!'”
Bains says she makes a point of emphasizing "strong" over "thin," noting that her message isn't just for wannabe powerlifters. She curates custom workout programs for her growing list of clients, all at different stages of their fitness journey. Bains is also able to review videos sent to her to provide instructions on how to improve the technique, or to chat with customers in real time via instant messaging through her online platform.
Courtesy of Karnejeet Kaur Bains
Karenjeet Kaur Bain's Record-Breaking Lower Body Workout
Here's an exclusive workout shared by Karenjeet Kaur Bains for M&F readers for building leg strength in support of powerlifting. You don't have to be a master weightlifter to try it, just work with whatever weight you're comfortable with!
And if you want to sign up for Karenjeet's online coaching, M&F readers get a discount. Go to Karenjeetbains.com, enter your fitness goal and then paste the phrase "Muscle & Fitness" into the text box. Complete the steps and Bains will activate a 25% discount on your first month. Let's go to work!
Squats and accessory workouts
Muscles worked: Glutes, quads, hamstrings
squatting: Aim for the heaviest weight you can reach and make sure you're delivering clean reps.
- Warm up with an empty bar, then add a light weight for 8 reps.
- Perform 5 work sets of 5 repetitions,
- Rest 3 minutes between each set.
Bulgarian squat: Focus on your stability and squat down as far as your mobility allows.
- 3 work sets of 6-8 reps.
- Rest 3 minutes between each set.
Leg extension: Concentrate on the contraction at the top of the extension and focus on the quads.
- 3 work sets of 6-8 repetitions.
- Rest two minutes between each set.
Straight Leg Dumbbell Deadlift: For superior technique, squeeze your glutes as you come up and feel the burn in your hamstrings.
- 3 work sets of 10-12 repetitions.
- Rest 2 minutes between each set.
Walking lunge with dumbbell: Use this exercise as a finisher, so complete as many reps as you can to finish strong!
- 2 work sets of 20 (or more) reps.