Powerlifter Karenjeet Kaur Bains Hopes to Help Lift Her Sport Globally

Karenjeet Kaur Bains is the first Sikh female powerlifter to represent Britain in the World and European championships and lifted gold as a junior at the Commonwealth Championships in 2019. Now, with a Guinness World Record under her belt, the 26-year-old is trying to take the sport mainstream, and is challenging lifters of all abilities to raise the bar with her online coaching. M&F caught up with the stereotype smasher to find out how she became one of powerlifting’s brightest stars, and how anyone can adopt 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 in the North of India, but having moved to England in their younger days the two met, got married, and raised a family; putting their all into making sure that Karenjeet and her brothers had the best opportunities possible. Her parents were proud as punch then, when Bains gained a scholarship and attended Durham University while already dominating the world of powerlifting. As a chartered accountant, Bains is crunching numbers in both the office and the weightroom. Karenjeet Kaur Bains smashes the stereotypes Having first started powerlifting at age 17, success came quick and was well earned. Bains is a multi-time British, and All England champion, and those victories were in part fueled by closed minded people that often underestimate the potential of a woman in the weight room. It’s a narrative that Bains is working hard to change, and has plenty of her own memories to draw from. Even as British champion, she recalls entering the gym with her dad, Kuldip, and being approached by an old man who dismissed her straight away, saying that there probably wouldn’t be a dumbbell small enough for her to lift. Kuldip, a former natural bodybuilder and powerlifter, came back with the perfect response, telling the unwanted negative voice that “there won’t be a weight big enough!” It was a definitive moment in her life, and reinforced the fact that no one should be allowed to place limitations on your progress because of incorrect perceptions. In truth, there are few men in the gym who can match Bains plate for plate. Eat that, old man! In school, Bains had already excelled in sports before getting serious about the gym. “I’ve always been very sporty,” she says. “First of all, I did athletics from, say, 5 years of age. My dad is my coach, and coaches me in bodybuilding and powerlifting but he coached me in athletics initially. I’ve got two older, twin brothers, they are 10 years older than me and they used to do (400m) hurdles at national level. When I used to see them doing that, I would learn from an early age what it meant to win.” Winning is about forging your own destiny Bains is eager to represent her community, and feels that there is not enough South Asian females entering powerlifting. She makes sure to keep her full name announced in interviews and in competitions because “Kaur” is often translated as “lioness,” and is a signifier of being a Sikh female. Through her success, the proud Sikh hopes to encourage more diverse minorities to enter the sport, and is keen to bring women to powerlifting, from all walks of life. Of course, powerlifting can be an expensive sport when you consider the coaching, gym memberships, and travel required to chase gold, but the Bains family learned to forge their own destiny by keeping things in-house. Her dad’s passion for sports and pumping iron didn’t just catch on with Karenjeet and her brothers, as even mom is also finding success with the hammer throw, discus, and shotput in the masters divisions. “I’ve got a gym at the bottom of the garden,” shares the lioness. “It’s very old school, with cast iron weights. My dad is an engineer, so he’s made a lot of the weights and everything by hand. There are all these gears, and parts, nothing fancy but I’m always encouraging people that all you need to succeed is grit and determination.” Undoubtedly, powerlifting is one of those sports that gives instant gratification. “I think most newbie lifters kind of get addicted to it,” says Bains. “Because once you lift something, it’s always ‘what more could I lift?’ but when I initially started lifting weights, I had very soft hands and I remember my hands getting ripped to shreds because they weren’t ready. I used to use surgical spirit to toughen up my hands. I think the bench press, deadlift, and the squat came quite 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

Powerlifter Karenjeet Kaur Bains Hopes to Help Lift Her Sport Globally

Karenjeet Kaur Bains is the first Sikh female powerlifter to represent Britain in the World and European championships and lifted gold as a junior at the Commonwealth Championships in 2019.

Now, with a Guinness World Record under her belt, the 26-year-old is trying to take the sport mainstream, and is challenging lifters of all abilities to raise the bar with her online coaching. M&F caught up with the stereotype smasher to find out how she became one of powerlifting’s brightest stars, and how anyone can adopt 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 in the North of India, but having moved to England in their younger days the two met, got married, and raised a family; putting their all into making sure that Karenjeet and her brothers had the best opportunities possible. Her parents were proud as punch then, when Bains gained a scholarship and attended Durham University while already dominating the world of powerlifting. As a chartered accountant, Bains is crunching numbers in both the office and the weightroom.

Karenjeet Kaur Bains smashes the stereotypes

Having first started powerlifting at age 17, success came quick and was well earned. Bains is a multi-time British, and All England champion, and those victories were in part fueled by closed minded people that often underestimate the potential of a woman in the weight room. It’s a narrative that Bains is working hard to change, and has plenty of her own memories to draw from.

Even as British champion, she recalls entering the gym with her dad, Kuldip, and being approached by an old man who dismissed her straight away, saying that there probably wouldn’t be a dumbbell small enough for her to lift. Kuldip, a former natural bodybuilder and powerlifter, came back with the perfect response, telling the unwanted negative voice that “there won’t be a weight big enough!” It was a definitive moment in her life, and reinforced the fact that no one should be allowed to place limitations on your progress because of incorrect perceptions. In truth, there are few men in the gym who can match Bains plate for plate. Eat that, old man!

In school, Bains had already excelled in sports before getting serious about the gym. “I’ve always been very sporty,” she says. “First of all, I did athletics from, say, 5 years of age. My dad is my coach, and coaches me in bodybuilding and powerlifting but he coached me in athletics initially. I’ve got two older, twin brothers, they are 10 years older than me and they used to do (400m) hurdles at national level. When I used to see them doing that, I would learn from an early age what it meant to win.”

Winning is about forging your own destiny

Bains is eager to represent her community, and feels that there is not enough South Asian females entering powerlifting. She makes sure to keep her full name announced in interviews and in competitions because “Kaur” is often translated as “lioness,” and is a signifier of being a Sikh female.

Through her success, the proud Sikh hopes to encourage more diverse minorities to enter the sport, and is keen to bring women to powerlifting, from all walks of life. Of course, powerlifting can be an expensive sport when you consider the coaching, gym memberships, and travel required to chase gold, but the Bains family learned to forge their own destiny by keeping things in-house. Her dad’s passion for sports and pumping iron didn’t just catch on with Karenjeet and her brothers, as even mom is also finding success with the hammer throw, discus, and shotput in the masters divisions.

“I’ve got a gym at the bottom of the garden,” shares the lioness. “It’s very old school, with cast iron weights. My dad is an engineer, so he’s made a lot of the weights and everything by hand. There are all these gears, and parts, nothing fancy but I’m always encouraging people that all you need to succeed is grit and determination.” Undoubtedly, powerlifting is one of those sports that gives instant gratification. “I think most newbie lifters kind of get addicted to it,” says Bains. “Because once you lift something, it’s always ‘what more could I lift?’ but when I initially started lifting weights, I had very soft hands and I remember my hands getting ripped to shreds because they weren’t ready. I used to use surgical spirit to toughen up my hands. I think the bench press, deadlift, and the squat came quite naturally to me and I’ve always had very strong legs from years of sprinting and everything else.”