Strength (inside and out) against all odds is a constant theme that deserves a spotlight. Let us look at some of the strongest women in the world. We reached far back in our archives to compile this storied list and find out how these 11 tough-as-nails women (listed in no particular order) paved the way for the rest of us to be as strong as we were born to be. It is not uncommon for people to fall into categories at a younger age of whether they will be fast, great at endurance, strong or good at a certain sport, MUHDO is looking at characteristics, environmental factors and of course genetic variants that may lead some to be abnormally strong or have unbelievable endurance…I think we can safely say that these women have some gifted genetic variants mixed with hard work and effort.
1. Bev Francis
BORN: FEB. 15, 1955, GEELONG, AUSTRALIA
Accomplishments: Bev Francis started as a member of the Australian track and field team from 1977–1982, competing in shot put, discus, and javelin. She later went into the sport of powerlifting and was named World Powerlifting Champion from 1980–85. She has broken more than 40 world powerlifting records and retired undefeated. Most notably, she was the first woman to bench 300 pounds. Her PRs include: a 500-pound squat, 335-pound bench press, and 501-pound deadlift. Bev Francis Powerhouse Gym, on Long Island, NY, is an East Coast lifting mecca, serving as the base for countless title-winning fitness competitors.
2. Robin Coleman
BORN: MARCH 30, 1973, FRIENDSWOOD, TX
Accomplishments: Robin Coleman has a background in both figure and strong woman competitions. She also appeared on American Gladiators as “Hellga” in 2008. At a 2001 strong woman contest where the challenge was to squat a car as many times as possible, Coleman completed 15 unbelievable reps while many couldn’t lift it even once. The closest person to Coleman’s score was Jill Mills (No. 9 on this list) with eight reps.
3. Heini Koivuniemi
BORN: JUNE 6, 1973, FINLAND
Accomplishments: Heini Koivuniemi competed in the World’s Strongest Woman competition in the early 2000s. She fared well, snagging second place in 2001 and then third place in 2002 and 2003. Koivuniemi also holds the Guinness World Record for throwing a beer keg for height: lobbing a 27-pound beer keg over a bar set at 11 feet, 4 inches high.
4. Tatiana Kashirina
BORN: JAN. 24, 1991, NOGINSK, RUSSIA
Accomplishments: Tatiana Kashirina took the top spot in the 2014 World Weightlifting Championship and now holds five new world records. She has been able to complete a 341-pound snatch, which broke her own previous record from the 2012 London Olympics. Her highest weight for the clean and jerk was 425 pounds, surpassing Chinese weightlifter Lulu Zhou’s record of 423 pounds.
5. Iris Kyle
BORN: AUG. 22, 1974, BENTON HARBOR, MI
Accomplishments: Bodybuilder Iris Kyle has dominated the sport since her first overall Ms. Olympia win, in 2004. She held first place in that category from 2006 to 2014, which makes her the winningest Olympia champ of all time, beating out every other male and female competitor for that achievement.
6. Jan Todd
BORN: MAY 22, 1952, PENNSYLVANIA
Accomplishments: At Jan Todd’s first competition in 1975 she broke the Guinness World Record of a one-rep lift by a woman (which had been held for 49 years by France’s Jane De Vesley) when she managed a one-rep, two-handed deadlift of 394 pounds. In ’76, she was the first woman to exceed 400 pounds in any powerlift, with a deadlift of 412 pounds. She was also the first woman to total more than 1,200 pounds in the squat, bench, and deadlift.
7. Becca Swanson
BORN: NOV. 20, 1973, PAPILLION, NE
Accomplishments: Becca Swanson started competing in strongwomen competitions in 2002. She’s currently the only woman to squat more than 800 pounds, more than four times her body weight. Swanson’s best lifts are an 854.3-pound squat, 600.8-pound bench, and 683.4-pound deadlift.
8. Aneta Florczyk
BORN: FEB. 26, 1982, MALBORK, POLAND
Accomplishments: Aneta Florczyk started her career in powerlifting at age 16. In addition to earning the title of Europe’s Strongest Woman in 2004, she was also named World’s Champion and World’s Strongest Woman in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008. She’s won the competition more than any other woman in history, according to Guinness World Records. In addition to this world record, Florczyk also holds a Guinness Record for most people lifted and thrown in two minutes: 12 people.
9. Jill Mills
BORN: MARCH 2, 1972, NEBRASKA
Accomplishments: Jill Mills holds the titles of World Champion Powerlifter and World Champion Strongwoman. Her most notable accomplishments include placing first in World’s Strongest Woman contests in 2001 and 2002 and finishing third in 2005.
10. Abbye Stockton Stockton
BORN: AUG. 11, 1917, SANTA MONICA, CA
DIED: JUNE 26, 2006
Accomplishments: Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton performed in a hand-balancing act, in which, at 5’2″, 115 pounds, she held her husband over her head for extended periods of time. Also called the “Queen of Muscle Beach,” she wrote a column (“Barbelles”) in 1944 for Strength and Health that inspired other women to be fit despite common beliefs that weightlifting made women masculine.
11. Chen Wei-Ling
BORN: JAN. 4, 1982, TAINAN, TAIWAN
Accomplishments: Chen Wei-Ling can lift more than three times her body weight. She won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and also set the world record in the women’s squat and deadlift while competing in the 2009 World Games. The 101-pound weightlifter deadlifted 430 pounds and squatted 457 pounds, securing a first-place finish at the World Games.