Photos courtesy of Karen Sardina. Karen Sardina broke powerlifting world records at the Europa Expo in Orlando in April.

“Don’t let your age define you. Don’t let somebody tell you that you can’t do something,” said Karen Sardina. The 55-year-old is defying odds by breaking powerlifting world records.

The Valrico resident broke world records for her age and weight class in her most recent Europa competition for squat, bench press, deadlift and all-around. She trains at Fitness for $10 in Brandon, where the people that she trains with encouraged her to start lifting and competing.

Sardina started powerlifting five years ago for fun and to relieve stress as well as to better herself. She started competing about three years ago. She trains five days a week, for an hour and a half to two hours each day and she competes a couple times a year. In just her second competition she set national records. This all culminated in Sardino breaking world records during the Europa Expo in Orlando in April.

“It feels good,” she said, “Obviously, I do it for me. I wasn’t even thinking about breaking records, I was thinking more about beating myself. I’m in competition to compete with myself.”

According to the International Powerlifting League website, powerlifting differs from weightlifting in the type of lifts it features. While weightlifting is made up of two lifts—the snatch and the clean-and-jerk, powerlifting comprises three lifts—the squat, bench press and deadlift.

“Athletes are categorized by sex, age and bodyweight. Each competitor is allowed three attempts at each lift, the best lift in each discipline being added to their total. The lifter with the highest total is the winner. In cases where two or more lifters achieve the same total, the person with the lightest bodyweight wins,” the IPL website explains.

Sardina also works for Bulk Nation foods, which does a lot of events and charity work such as the Heart Walk. They also sponsor powerlifting competitions. They are a title sponsor of the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) of Florida.

Sardina now plans on competing in her next contest in December at the Senior Games. In her training before the competition, she will focus more on powerlifting and functional movement rather than her usual routine, which includes training similar to CrossFit.

“I like to compete. It’s just a matter of staying young and in good shape and staying healthy. I don’t feel like I’m 55,” she said.