How I Got Here: Charles Okpoko, 66kg Powerlifter

Editor’s note: This article is part one of a three part series that will share insight into Charles Okpoko’s lifting career. The series will cover Okpoko’s athletic beginnings, his developing and changing mindset, along with what he’s learned under the bar.

Have you noticed that most of the top athletes in the world have some background in many different sports? Take Odell Beckham Jr. for example. He’s not only great at football, but he’s also great at other sports like soccer and basketball, to list a few. These athletes didn’t grow up participating in just one specific sport. They did a little or a lot of everything.

This enabled them to develop fundamental and complex motor skills that many people fail to develop. In other words, they had a better foundation from which to build upon. When put together and properly applied to a specific sport, they are more equipped to perform better than those that bring less to the table. The same concept applies to powerlifting.

Image of Okpoko playing football in high school. 

I know this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, but many people decide to try powerlifting with little to no background in resistance training because it’s cool and you know everyone seems to be doing it.

[Want to learn more about this young accomplished powerlifter? Check out our interview with Okpoko from this spring.]

And hey, I’m all for that! I want the sport to grow as much as possible. However, the first thing new lifters do is hop on a powerlifting strength and peaking cycle, which primarily focuses on developing the three main lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift.


They don’t realize that they skipped a very important step in this entire process. They failed to develop a strong foundation from which to build upon. Many people look at me and say,

“Man he’s accomplished so much in so little time. It’s only been 3.5 years and he already has multiple national and world championship titles and records under his belt.”

Well, that isn’t necessarily true. Yes, my powerlifting career is relatively new; but, my resistance training career began at the young age of 11, maybe 12, years old when I began playing football. I started building my foundation six or seven years before I was even introduced to the sport of powerlifting by my two close friends, Evan Moreno and Michael Davis.

[Watch Okpoko squat 317.5kg (700 lbs) at 2017 USAPL Collegiate Nationals.] 

In that span of time playing football, I pushed my body to its limits in every way possible. I worked on endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power for all muscle groups needed to excel on the field, not just the three main lifts. Additionally, there was a great deal of variability in my training to address weaknesses and imbalances in my body. This enabled me to develop both a balanced and well rounded physique, which not only separates me from the average lifter, but made me the ideal candidate for powerlifting. In other words, my body is better equipped to lift heavy weight. I had the edge from the start.

A post shared by Charles Okpoko (@charlesokpoko) on Jul 27, 2017 at 12:12am PDT


I feel like this is an important step that many people fail to recognize, and then sit and wonder why they’re not lifting as much as they’d like to. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t want to increase the squat, bench, and deadlift exclusively. For example, my bench and squat were an important part of my resistance training growing up before becoming a world ranked powerlifter.

However, don’t sleep on the benefits that come from developing all areas of the body, especially as a new lifter. An increase in strength in one part of the body will carry over to an increase in all three lifts. And remember, most athletes began their start elsewhere, like myself.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image from @charlesokpoko Instagram page. 

The post How I Got Here: Charles Okpoko, 66kg Powerlifter appeared first on BarBend.

Kuo Hsing-Chun (58kg) Clean & Jerks a New World Record at Summer Universiade

Taiwanese athlete Kuo Hsing-Chun has just broken the world record in the clean & jerk for the 58 kilogram weight class at the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei with an enormous lift of 142 kilograms (310.8 pounds). Take a look at the historic clean & jerk below, captured from the Universiade’s Facebook live stream.

A post shared by All Things Gym (@atginsta) on Aug 21, 2017 at 6:06am PDT


This was her third attempt, after making an opener of 133 kilograms (293.2 pounds) and a second attempt of 136 kilograms (299.8 pounds).

Kuo’s record beat out the previous record by one kilogram, which was set by China’s Qiu Hongmei all the way back in 2007 during the Asian Weightlifting Championships.

Right before her clean & jerk, Kuo pulled off a snatch of 107 kilograms (236 pounds), which gave her a total of 249 kilograms (549 pounds). She hit three for three on her snatches: 102kg, 105kg, and 107kg, and if we’re being honest, her final snatch looked insanely easy. (Note that we said it looked easy — it obviously took her a lot of training to get here.)

A post shared by All Things Gym (@atginsta) on Aug 21, 2017 at 5:16am PDT


The current -58kg world record in the snatch is 112 kilograms (247 pounds), set by Boyanka Kostova of Azerbaijan at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships. Kostova also set the world record for the total that day with 252 kilograms (555.5 pounds).

Kuo’s total today was just three kilograms shy of the record total, and it earned her the gold medal in her weight class. She also won bronze at last year’s Rio Olympics and took home gold medals at three events in 2013: the Asian Championships, the Universiade, and the World Championships in Wroclaw.


Dedicated fans can watch the stream of the entire event below, courtesy of the Taipei 2017 Universiade’s Facebook page.

The silver medal was awarded to Thailand’s Sukanya Srisurat, who totaled 221 kilograms (487.2 pounds). Srisurat won gold at the Rio Olympics last year with a much higher total of 240 kilograms (529.1 pounds) — she made an Olympic record snatch with 110 kilograms (242.5 pounds), while her snatch today topped out at 100 kilograms (220.5 pounds). Bronze went to North Korea’s Kim Chung Sim with a total of 217 kilograms (478.4 pounds).

Featured image via @atginsta on Instagram.

The post Kuo Hsing-Chun (58kg) Clean & Jerks a New World Record at Summer Universiade appeared first on BarBend.

Bryce Krawcyzk Deadlifts 388kg In Training (0.5kg Over the Current IPF Record)

Canadian powerlifter and BarBend contributor Bryce Krawcyzk continues to crush big weight in his equipped training. Krawcyzk is currently training to compete at the IPF Open World Championships being held November 13-18th.

Pulling a weight that edges out the current IPF Open Equipped 105kg deadlift world record wasn’t the original plan for Krawcyzk’s deadlift day, as he stated in his video’s description, “Today’s equipped deadlifts were flying… 375@7, 381@8, so I decided to get greedy and take a stab at beating the current @theipf world record of 387.5. I managed to lock out 388! Pretty damn happy with that today.”

Check out the fairly smooth 388kg (853 lb) unofficial world record deadlift below.


This deadlifts tops the current Open 105kg equipped record by .5kg. And Worlds is still a couple months away, so we have high hopes that this .5kg will turn into a larger increment when Krawcyzk takes the stage.

The current 105kg equipped deadlift record of 387.5kg is held by Anibal Coimbra, which he set in 2012 at the IPF World Powerlifting Championships. His record has stood for five years, and it wasn’t made without excitement and a little controversy.

As shared in the Reddit thread highlighting the 388kg deadlift, the current record holder Coimbra made this lift to upset Russian powerlifter Konstantin Lebedko and claim first.

Image courtesy

Lebedko made his final 352.5kg deadlift, which put him ahead of Coimbra by 32.5kg. For his last attempt, Coimbra called for a 32.5kg increase. This would earn him a world record and a win by bodyweight (.35 kg).

A 32.5kg jump is absolutely insane. And the controversy of this lift involves Coimbra’s right foot and knees at lockout. His right foot slightly turns out during the pull, and his knees may appear to be soft from the forward view — but a front angle on a deadlift is rarely the best look. Regardless, the judges and jury both kept this lift as a good lift, including after an appeal, and Coimbra claimed first in an exciting finish.

Now the question remains, can Krawcyzk top this five year old record? He has plenty of time to continue pushing his limits.

Feature image screenshot from @calgarybarbell Instagram page. 

The post Bryce Krawcyzk Deadlifts 388kg In Training (0.5kg Over the Current IPF Record) appeared first on BarBend.

6 Indoor Rowing Workouts That Won’t Bore You To Death

Walk into any standard gym, and you’ll see a line of treadmills and ellipticals, all occupied, while the rowing machines remain almost completely empty, which is ridiculous because rowing is an incredible workout, often burning more than 8 calories per minute. Meanwhile, rowing is the latest rage for fitness studios, and CrossFit® boxes are continuing to implement the erg into WOD’s as they have since 2010 when functional fitness hit the mainstream.

Problem is, when you bring the high-style workouts of boutique-y rowing studios and the high-intensity workouts of CrossFit to big box gym, they can lose their fun. Because let’s face it, rowing can get boring at worst and monotonous at best. That’s why we put together a list of 6 erg exercises that won’t bore you to death.


Tabata Sprints

How To Do It:

  1. For the first 20 seconds use just your legs. Isolate your lower body and keep your arms locked out, lean in and lean out so that you are using just your legs for twenty seconds on.
  2. Rest for 10 seconds.  
  3. The second 20 seconds of work is a full body sprint. That means you need to row as fast as you can while keeping good form.
  4. Rest for 10 seconds.
  5. Third 20 second of work is just your arms: Lean in, lean back pull. Just like you would row except you are not using your legs at all.
  6. Rest for 10 seconds
  7. Second 20 seconds is a full body sprint. That means you need to row as fast as you can while keeping good form.
  8. Rest for 10 seconds
  9. Repeat steps 1-8 anywhere from 2-3 times for maximum burn.

Why It Works: “This is a really good lead into a rowing circuit, rowing class, or any HIIT-style workout. It’s also a great way to increase comfort on the rower because it really forces athletes to focus on their form,” says ICE NYC HIIT coach, Margie Welch.


Pilates Reformer

How To Do It:

  1. Put your feet on the seat halfway down the rowing base, hands on the ground 6 inches away from the end of the rower so that you are facing away from the screen in a plank form.
  2. Keeping your back and legs straight, drag your toes toward your hands until you end up in a pike position (“triangle”) with the seat at the end of the rower.
  3. Slowly and with control, drag your feet back until your legs are straight
  4. Aim for 3 rounds of 10-20 reps for an abs and shoulders workout.

Why It Works: “This pilates-inspired circuit is great for either an abdominal and shoulder finisher or warm up,” says Welch. This little circuit is a great way to break up time on the rower, she adds.

A post shared by MovementVault (@movementvault) on Aug 14, 2017 at 1:59pm PDT



How To Do It:

  1. Row 1 minute. Rest 1 minute
  2. Row 2 minutes. Rest 2 minutes.
  3. Row 3 minutes. Rest 3 minutes.
  4. Row 4 minutes. Rest 4 minutes.
  5. Row 3 minutes. Rest 3 minutes.
  6. Row 2 minutes. Rest 2 minutes.
  7. Row 1 minute.  

Why It Works: This workout proves that built-in rest doesn’t signify easy. With built in rest this pyramid will test your rowing consistency. But with 16 minutes of work, it’s also no joke and will give your endurance a run for its money, jokes Welch.

Death By Calories

How To Do It:

  1. Start the clock.
  2. Row 1 calorie.
  3. Every minute on the minute row one additional calorie. So minute two, row 2 calories. Minute three, row 3 calories. And so on and so forth.
  4. Continue rowing an additional calorie each minute until you cannot complete the number of reps needed before the minutes run out.

Why It Works:  “‘Death by_____’ WODs are a sneaky little guys,” says CJ Maldonado ICE NYC CrossFit and CrossFit Foundations Coach. “They start very innocent and before you know it you are running out of time and trying to play catch up.”  

It is an EMOM (Every Minute On the Minute) that has you start with 1 rep and add an additional rep at the start of each minute until you cannot complete the amount of reps needed before the minute runs out. So while you can you can break the row into as many sets as you need, the workout is over when you can’t complete the number of calories in the minute. If you DO complete the amount of reps before the minute is up, the remaining time is your rest. Athletes who do not have experience on the rower should row 1 calorie the first minute, athletes with moderate rowing experience should start the first minute with 5 calories, and athletes who are well-conditioned should challenge themselves to start with 10 calories per minute.

A post shared by Elizabeth Adams (@lizadams21) on Aug 7, 2017 at 3:58pm PDT


6 Minutes Of Work

How It Works:

  1. Strap into the rower, dial up the resistance to an 8 or 10.
  2. When you’re ready, begin sprint for 10 seconds. When the 10 seconds are up, row a relaxed pace for 10 seconds.
  3. Continue going 10 seconds on 10 seconds off for 6 full minutes.

Why It Works: This workout requires athletes to work on transitioning speed quickly, which can help them develop a stronger first-pull explains, Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Movement Vault. Plus, the constant speed changes will keep your focus on the screen and you from getting bored during this short but high-intensity workout, he says.


How It Works:

  1. Find a partner and two rowing machines.
  2. Race for distance or for calorie.
    1. Row 100 meters, 3 times. Whoever finishes fastest 2 times, wins.
    2. Row 20 calories, 3 times. Whoever finishes fastest 2 times, wins.
    3. Row 1000 meters. Whoever finishes first, wins.

Why It Works: Not only are partner workouts a great way to beat WOD-boredom, they are also a great way to force you to push yourself when you’re just not feeling it, says Wickham. “Make sure not to let the competitive element compromise your form” he adds.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image: @anniethorisdottir on Instagram/Reebok

The post 6 Indoor Rowing Workouts That Won’t Bore You To Death appeared first on BarBend.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat – Exercise Guide and Benefits

Kettlebells are one of the most versatile, movement-based, and all-encompassing pieces of equipment one can have on hand to increase strength, power, fitness, muscle mass, and movement integrity. Goblet squats are a foundational squat movement for all level lifters and athletes, which is why we have chosen to discuss the kettlebell goblet squat and all it has to offer. 


How to Do Kettlebell Goblet Squats

Kettlebell goblet squats are a similar movement to dumbbell variations, with a slight difference in the placement and grip demands due to the odd weight displacement and shape of the bell. Below is a video demonstration on how to properly perform kettlebell goblet squats.

Muscles Worked – Kettlebell Goblet Squat

The kettlebell goblet squat offers all level lifters a way to increase strength, muscular hypertrophy, endurance, and even add complexity to metabolic workouts. Below is a list of the most common muscles used when performing kettlebell goblet squats:

  • Quadriceps
  • Gluteals
  • Upper Back
  • Core Muscles
  • Arms
  • Shoulders

Benefits of the Goblet Squat

Below are three unique benefits of the kettlebell goblet squat that can have a positive impact of movement, strength, and overall athletic ability for nearly every athlete.

Foundational Kettlebell Movement

Kettlebells are an amazing tool for nearly every athlete. They allow for the development of sound movement patterning, hypertrophy, strength, and power. When learning how to first work with kettlebells, the goblet squat can be used to pattern a smooth, stable squat. Over time, this movement can be transitioned to kettlebell front rack squats and/or added into kettlebell complexes with other movements such as swings (Russian and American), presses, and windmills, and more!

A post shared by vegan workout (@vegan_workout) on Aug 12, 2017 at 4:51am PDT


Upper Back Strength in the Squat

Back strength can often be overlooked when determining why an athlete fails during sticking points in a squat (front or back) and/or allows their hips to shoot up and back sending their torsos forward in a heavy squat. The kettlebell goblet squat can work to (1) increase leg strength, specifically the quadriceps and glutes, while also establishing (2) vertical torso positioning, (3) increased lower back and thoracic extension abilities, and (4) work the proper movement mechanics of a high bar back squat. Many athletes and lifters of all levels can improve squat strength and performance by adding these movements into hypertrophy/assistance blocks and/or warm-up series.


Educating the Proper Squatting Mechanics and Tension Development

With many beginner trainees, educating the squatting movement can be a challenging process, especially if they have been desk ridden for some time. While other squatting movements may also work, I have found kettlebell goblet squats (as opposed to dumbbell or med ball goblet squats) to have a great impact on overall development of upper back strength, core utilization, and awareness during a squat. Unlike dumbbells, kettlebells do not not allow for a lifter to grip the edges of a dumbbell (as the bell is often round, smooth, and even sweaty). This forces a lifter, especially as the bell gets heavier, the brace, and stay as vertical as possible. It is important to note that while kettlebell goblet squats can be done with the handle held upwards, I often find it best to turn the bell so that handle is down and have my athletes hold the actually bell to increase upper body strength and loading.

A post shared by Natasha Holland (@natrat007) on Aug 7, 2017 at 8:13pm PDT


More Goblet Squats and Kettlebells!

Take a look at some of our goblet squat articles, as well as these great kettlebell training secrets!

Featured Image: @edytarosahaftaniuk on Instagram

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Inner Armour BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded Review — Is More Really Better?

Inner Armour is a Connecticut-based brand that targets their supplements toward athletes, particularly football players and bodybuilders. They’ve got a significant amount of mass gainers, fat burners, nitro peakers, and other supplements but we decided to order their branch chain amino acid supplement, which is called “BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded.”

The bottle claims it supports “rapid muscle growth” and “post-workout recovery” and their site adds that it delays post-workout muscle soreness, improve athletic performance, muscular endurance, lifting capacity, and help athletes “achieve and maintain a lean, cut physique.”


Inner Armour BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded Nutrition and Ingredients

This product contains zero calories. One serving weighs 13 grams and delivers 7.2 grams of branch chain amino acids: 6.2 grams of leucine and 500 milligrams each of isoleucine and valine.

The only other active ingredient is 2.5 grams of glutamine. Then there’s just the ingredients used for flavoring: the artificial sweeteners sucralose and acesulfame potassium, citric acid, and natural & artificial blue raspberry flavor.

Inner Armour BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded Beneits and Effectiveness

There aren’t many ingredients to talk about here; it’s a very basic product. It has the three main branch chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which have been linked to improved muscle retention, endurance, and focus during a workout.

Inner Armour BCAA PEAK Ingredients

What’s most unusual about this product is that it’s much higher in leucine than other BCAA supplements, which typically stick to a 2 or 3:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Inner Armour Peak BCAA has a 12:1:1 ratio.

The reasoning given is that leucine is the amino acid that’s most responsible for muscle protein synthesis, so it stands to reason that a BCAA supplement that’s very high in leucine would be better at stimulating muscle growth. That sounds good in theory, but studies have found that for whatever reason, muscle protein synthesis is higher when study participants stuck to a more conventional BCAA ratio than a very high leucine blend.

The only other ingredient is the glutamine. A lot of people see glutamine as a muscle building amino acid, but supplementation doesn’t appear to be that useful with otherwise healthy adults. It’s already the most abundant amino acid in the body and went supplemented, it looks like most of it winds up stored in the gut.

Inner Armour BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded Price

You can pick up 30 servings for $45, which comes to $1.50 per serving or 21 cents per gram of BCAA.

Inner Armour BCAA PEAK Price

If there were a lot of vitamins, citrulline, beta alanine, agmatine, or any other extras, BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded wouldn’t appear that expensive. But for what you get with this one, I think it’s a bit on the pricer side.

Inner Armour BCAA Peak Leucine Loaded Taste

I tried the Blue Raspberry flavor, which was a little unusual. It tasted a lot like a blue raspberry-flavored candy (which is typically just raspberry and a little vanilla), but it wasn’t as sweet as I was expected. To be honest, it tasted a little chalky, and it stuck to the inside of my mouth a bit more than usual.

The Takeaway

I was not blown away by Inner Armour’s BCAA. It’s on the pricier side, has a lot of leucine (which research is still somewhat inconclusive on as far as how much you really need in a supplement like this), and doesn’t bring much else else to the table that you might want in an intra-workout supplement.

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ON Whey Protein vs Dymatize-ISO 100 – Difference in Blends?

Optimum Nutrition and Dymatize are pretty well-known in the supplement game and they both have a good reputation with third party testing sites. Consumers trust them, so we decided to take a look at their most popular whey protein powders: Gold Standard and ISO 100.

The big difference is that Gold Standard is a blend of three kinds of whey whereas ISO 100 is primarily a hydrolyzed whey. But there are a few other interesting things to note.


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

Both of these products have 120 calories per scoop, but the macros and micros are a little different. Gold Standard has 24 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fat, and it’s got 10 percent of your recommended daily intake of cholesterol.

[Check out our full review of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard!]

Dymatize ISO 100

On the other hand, ISO 100 has 25 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and 0.5 grams of fat — more protein, fewer carbs and fat. It’s also higher in iron (4 percent of the RDI versus 2) and calcium (10 percent of the RDI versus 8).

[Take a look at our full review of Dymatize ISO 100!]

ISO 100 is a little saltier with 160 milligrams of sodium versus Gold Standard’s 130 milligrams, but it has more protein per calorie and more minerals, to boot.

Winner: Dymatize ISO 100

ON Whey Protein vs Dymatize ISO 100 Comparison


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

The biggest difference to note here is that Gold Standard is a blend of three types of whey: isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate (or hydrolyzed whey) in that order.

The rest of the ingredients are soy lecithin (for mixability), natural and artificial flavors, acesulfame potassium, and the digestive enzymes Aminogen and Lactase, which can reduce digestive issues like flatulence that can arise from consuming lactose.

Dymatize ISO 100

ISO 100’s first ingredient is hydrolyzed whey and then whey isolate. Hydrolyzed whey starts out as whey isolate and is then run through enzymes that break it down into a form closer to its base amino acids. Ultimately, you get a whey that digests more quickly than isolate or concentrate.

The other ingredients are pretty similar: both products contain soy lecithin and natural and artificial flavor. The differences are that instead of acesulfame potassium, ISO 100 uses sucralose as a sweetener. Sucralose is also called Splenda, and while neither is perfect, acesulfame potassium is a little more controversial in that it may affect one’s insulin response over time.

ISO 100 also doesn’t have any digestive enzymes, but it doesn’t have any lactose or gum, so it’s probably not very likely to cause digestive upset.

It’s a little tricky to pick between the two, but ISO 100 is my favorite because of their choice of artificial sweetener.

Winner: Dymatize ISO 100

ON Whey Protein vs Dymatize ISO 100 Ingredients


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

If you buy a standard two-pound tub, it’s $30 for 29 servings. That’s $1.03 per serving, or 4.31 cents per gram of protein.

Dymatize ISO 100

The tubs are smaller when you purchase from Dymatize: it’s $30 for 1.6 pounds, or 24 servings. That comes to $1.25 per serving or 5 cents per gram of protein.

Winner: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard


Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard

We’re comparing Double Rich Chocolate to ISO 100’s Gourmet Chocolate, and the two are pretty similar. Double Rich Chocolate, despite the name, is relatively bland, less like dark chocolate and more like a milk chocolate. It goes great with milk but with water, it’s not enjoyable at all.

Dymatize ISO 100

ISO 100, on the other hand, is a little bit sweeter. With milk, it tastes less like chocolate milk and more like a chocolate milkshake, sweet and creamy. But here’s the clincher: ISO 100 tastes great with water, a feat that’s very, very hard to pull off. That fact alone made it the winner to my tastebuds.

Winner: Dymatize ISO 100

Dymatize ISO-100

Overall Winner: Dymatize ISO 100

Optimum Nutrition is cheaper and it’s a fantastic product, but Dymatize ISO 100 has more protein per calorie, more protein per serving, and it tastes better to me.

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