Om Yun-chol (56kg, North Korea) Attempts World Record Clean & Jerk at Summer Universiade

The 2017 Summer Universiade is in full swing, and that means some of the world’s top young weightlifters — including a packed American squad — are competing this week in Taipei, Taiwan. The event is a multi-sport competition for athletes enrolled in college or university to compete on the international stage.

Among them is 56kg weightlifter Om Yun-chol of North Korea, the 2012 Olympic Gold and 2016 Olympic Silver medalist in his weight class. Yun-Chol is one of the world’s premier clean & jerkers and currently holds the World Record in his weight class at 171kg, which he did at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships in Houston, Texas.

In fact, Yun-chol is one of only a handful of weightlifters in history to successfully clean & jerk three times their bodyweight in competition. (Check out the full list here.)

At the Universiade, Yun-chol once again attempted to eclipse that mark with the 172kg clean & jerk attempt (embedded below). He finished the snatch portion of the event with 129kg, good for a new Universiade record in that lift, and easily locked up gold overall with successful clean & jerks at 155 and 165kg. (Again, good for new Universiade records in the clean & jerk and total.)

Check out his heaviest snatch and clean & jerk attempt below (note: click on the arrow to the right to see the clean & jerk attempt in the Instagram embed).

A post shared by All Things Gym (@atginsta) on Aug 20, 2017 at 1:13am PDT


It’s a valiant attempt, and one of the heaviest cleans ever made on stage for anyone near Yun-chol’s bodyweight, but a successful jerk just wasn’t in the cards today. Yun-chol is still just 25 years old, so we’re fairly certain we’ll see him take another crack at his own clean & jerk world record in the future.

Featured image: @atginsta on Instagram

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Female Strength Standards: What Numbers Make an Elite Strongwoman?

When you spend the vast majority of your life training, writing about training, introducing others to training, and taking pretty pictures of said people training, it can be easy to forget that the entire world isn’t super into this whole strength and fitness thing. Some people frankly just don’t care and others just want to dabble, doing just enough to keep healthy and look a little better. And that’s cool, not everyone wants to be able to deadlift 300 plus kilos or do strict muscle-ups.

For those who do, however, there has never been a better time to be alive, as the information and equipment available to those who just want to do some incredible things with their bodies has never been more abundant. As you would expect this has led to a huge rise in the number of folks training rather than just exercising. It’s no longer unusual to walk into a commercial gym and see the squat racks actually being used for squats or elderly people lifting weights rather than sitting on an exercise bike and watching the news.

One of the biggest effects of this lowered barrier to entry has been the meteoric rise in women participating in strength sports. These are sports which only a few short years ago were almost entirely dominated by guys, though there have always been exceptions to that rule (just look up Becca Swanson). But for the most part female powerlifters seemed as rare as chicken teeth.

Thankfully things have changed for the better in the last couple of years, and nowadays women are as prevalent in most strength gyms as men. As an aside it would be nothing short of heretical to not commend CrossFit for its part in this growth; it turns out functional fitness is a great gateway to strength sports for both women and men.

As they say the rising tide lifts all ships, and this has certainly been the case with the standard of strength amongst female lifters. What at one period of time might of been considered impossible is now commonplace, a Donna Moore hitting a 149 kilo stone for two is a pretty good example. So just how strong do you need to be before you can call yourself a strong woman?

The Lifts


The deadlift for me is the test of total strength. A true max pull pushes every sinew and fibre in your body to it’s limits, from your feet to your hands. You can’t cheat a deadlift either (well not a strongwoman one at least); you either lift it or you don’t. Straps and the occasional hitch are all okay as long as you lock out and don’t rest on your knee caps.


The squat has probably done by more for the fitness revival amongst women than any other movement. Which is especially great as you can’t seriously talk about strength without mentioning the squat. Arguably, it’s the ultimate test of lower body strength, requiring glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, and even calves all to be working together for you to even have a chance of nailing a heavy squat.

My standards on this are again very straight forward: as long you go below parallel and stand back up without any help, you get the rep. If you squat high bar, low bar, in a suit or raw it doesn’t matter here.

Floor to Overhead

Pick it up and put it above your head it’s that simple. How you get it from A to B is your decision, whichever technique allows you to safely lift the most weight, snatch it, use a continental & and press, or anything else you can go heavy with. If you have a weakness somewhere taking a weight from the floor and getting overhead is a great way to show it.


The least glamorous lift on the list, but without a doubt one of the best tests of upper body strength out there. Each rep must start in a dead hang and finish with your chin above the bar. Use whatever grip or bar you find most comfortable.

The Standards

Almost Strong

It’s clear that you train and train well. You’re stronger than the average woman and suprise many with your strength. This level should be achievable within the first year of training.

*Please note these are female standards; if you’re a man and want to see how you stack up you can find the standards here.

Lift Weight Relative Strength
Deadlift 120 1.7 x Bodyweight
Squat 80 1.1 x Bodyweight
Floor to Overhead 50 0.7 x Bodyweight
Pull Ups 1 N/A


Compared to the average woman walking down the street you are a goddess capable of feats of strength that they struggle to even fathom. These numbers would hold you in good stead at intermediate level competitions.

Lift Weight Relative Strength
Deadlift 160 2.5 x Bodyweight
Squat 140 2 x Bodyweight
Floor to Overhead 70 1 x Bodyweight
Pull Ups 5 N/A

Darn Strong

You are an unstoppable phenom, stronger than the vast vast majority of the population both male and female. These numbers would get you a spot at most international competitions so if you aren’t currently competing, change that immediately.

Lift Weight Relative Strength
Deadlift 200 3 x Bodyweight
Squat 200 2.5 x Bodyweight
Floor to Overhead 100 1.2 x Bodyweight
Pull-Ups 10 N/A



Being male as I am, it only seemed logical that I should reach out to some of the strongest women I know and get their insight. I asked all three of them what would make someone damn strong and this is their response.

Donna Moore – World’s Strongest Woman

“For a heavyweight women
200kg plus dead
I’d say the same for squat there or there abouts
Bench 100/110
Overhead 90-100+
Pull ups I can do a lot of but others can’t probs because I’m not as heavy as them
I’d say that would be in the damn strong range”


Liefa Ingalls – Arnold Pro Champion

“Overhead/bench 100kg, squat 140kg, deadlift 200kg, 90kg Log or Axle”

A post shared by Liefia (@liefiasaurus) on Aug 14, 2017 at 7:58am PDT


Rhianon Lovelace – Powerlifting u63kg World Champion & Strongwoman

“On the World Scene a 3 x bw squat is impressive.
1.5 x bw+ bench is impressive
3x bw deadlift is impressive.
1.5x bw stone load is impressive.
1.5 x bw farmers is impressive.
3x bw yoke is impressive.

Obviously these numbers only work for lw women…. the hw obviously can’t go off bodyweight. for them anything over 100 log and 250 deadlift is special”


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.

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Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Review — Does Rhodiola Help?

Optimum Nutrition is a large sports nutrition company that’s best known for their whey protein powder, Gold Standard Whey. But they sell a huge variety of workout products and while we recently tried out their Amino Energy pre-workout, we wanted to see if their Gold Standard BCAA could possibly measure up to the standards set by their whey protein.

What’s really unusual about it is that it focuses not just on improving your workout, but on boosting your immunity so that you can “hit your next workout.” How?

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Nutrition and Ingredients

One serving contains 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates.

There are 5 grams of branch chain amino acids per serving in a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

There’s also 15 percent of the RDI of vitamin C and magnesium (as magnesium oxide), and about 100mg each of sodium and potassium (roughly 4 percent of the RDI of each).

The most unusual ingredients are rhodiola, an herb used in traditional Chinese and Scandinavian medicine, and Wellmune®, which is beta glucans from baker’s yeast. I’ll discuss their effects in the next section.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Nutrition

The other ingredients are just for flavoring (natural and artificial flavor, citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, sucralose), anti-caking (calcium silicate, silicon dioxide, soy lecithin), and red food dye number 40.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Benefits and Effectiveness

So is this the new Gold Standard for BCAAs?

Well, it looks like a pretty solid supplement. It has a solid 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs, which a few studies suggest may improve muscle protein synthesis, endurance, and focus during workouts.

It’s the extras that really grabbed my attention, though. Rhodiola is a really neat herb that is pretty strongly linked to a reduction in fatigue and increase in focus and stress resilience, even the kind of stress you get from work, not just workouts. Two hundred milligrams is a solid amount of rhodiola too, so the dosage isn’t deceptive. (However, I’d have liked to known if it’s one percent salidroside and three percent rosavins, which a lot of studies have shown is the most beneficial kind of rhodiola.)

The Wellmune is pretty interesting too. It delivers beta glucans, a type of polysaccharide (which is a type of carbohydrate) that a lot of studies have shown can improve mood and immunity. It’s got especially strong evidence as a way to improve respiratory problems and allergies, but some studies also suggest it can help with colds and flus and other common ailments.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Effectiveness

Now, 250mg of beta glucans is a decent amount, but it’s worth keeping in mind that a cup of oatmeal will deliver about 5 grams of beta glucans. It’s a little more complicated than just saying “get your beta glucans from oatmeal,” but it’s nonetheless worth remembering that the Wellmune is more of a “nice addition” than “critical supplement you need to purchase in an isolated form.”

When I first saw the Vitamin C, I thought it was probably unnecessary, but it turns out that taking Vitamin C during a workout may reduce lipid peroxidation, which refers to the cell damage that can occur during exercise. (The bad kind of cell damage, not the microtears that help you build muscle.)

Finally, Gold Standard BCAAs is remarkably high in electrolytes. Typically, if they’re included in a BCAA, you’ll probably get one percent or less of the RDI of sodium and potassium, but Gold Standard gives you closer to 4 percent — more potassium than you’ll find in several bottles of Gatorade.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Price

One tub provides 28 servings for $30, so $1.07 per serving. That comes out to 21 cents per gram of BCAA, which is almost twice the cost of many popular brands like MusclePharm and Scivation. But in my opinion the rhodiola could make up for the difference.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Taste

I was less impressed by the taste. It tastes like straight cherry flavored syrup, and it’s pretty intensely sour — I’d recommend mixing it with a good two cups of water.

The Takeaway

Gold Standard BCAA is an unusual product in that it’s intended to not just help your workout, but also has other ingredients so that you can stay strong for your next workout. It’s strange, but I do believe it’s effective at accomplishing that goal: more focus, endurance, and hydration for the workouts and better immunity so your recovery isn’t compromised.

There’s no caffeine, so while the rhodiola is good for attenuating fatigue (some prefer it to caffeine), it won’t amp you up as much as some pre-workouts. But I think that just makes it more versatile — you can probably take it any time, and although rhodiola might not be a good idea late at night, there’s a lot less discomfort from taking a lot of rhodiola than there is from too much caffeine.

There is soy and sucralose in this product if that’s a problem for you, but if it isn’t, this may be worth trying out.

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Dana Linn Bailey Is Switching to Powerlifting

Some pretty big news has surfaced in the space between powerlifting and bodybuilding: Dana Linn Bailey is switching to powerlifting.

As the winner of the 2011 NPC Junior Nationals Physique contest, the first physique contest in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, Bailey is the first women’s physique pro in the IFBB. She also won the first Ms. Physique Olympia in the Olympia contest in 2013, and many consider her a pioneer in the sport of bodybuilding and physique contests.

She’s a physique competitor, or at least, that’s what she’s always been known for. So it was with some shock that the powerlifting community learned she has signed up for an upcoming USAPL meet.

“Hi, I’m DLB,” she says in the video below. “And I’m a powerlifter now. Or at least trying.”

Bailey has signed up to compete in the USAPL and has her first meet in just four weeks. She doesn’t say which meet she’ll be competing in, but she does point out that she hopes to qualify for USAPL Nationals in six weeks. She adds that she could meet the minimum required total today, but she needs to do a lot of work on her form.

[Think there’s no crossover? Check out the surprising lessons CrossFitters can learn from bodybuilding.]

Bailey’s last appearance at the Olympia contest was in 2014, and the USAPL requires its athletes to have been drug free for at least three years before competing. Bailey acknowledges that she has no doubt she’ll be asked to test and seems certain she’ll pass.

A post shared by DayDay Knucks (@danalinnbailey) on Feb 28, 2017 at 1:32pm PST


At the end of the day, this could be a good thing for powerlifting. Bailey has a tremendous amount of reach on social media and we hope this will serve as a means to promote the sport of powerlifting — and maybe even entice a bodybuilder or two to give it a shot.

Featured image via DanaLinnBailey on YouTube.

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Kinesiology Taping for Posture

Strength athletes generally understand that kinesiology tape serves its main purpose in the gym and for recovery, but where else can kinesiology tape help? What about at the office and throughout your day? In comes taping for posture. As we spend more time at computers, driving, and looking at our phone, we continue to slouch and acquire kyphotic-esque posture (rounding of the upper back).

These postures can impact our health negatively in multiple ways, and this includes performance in the gym. To learn a simple one-step method to assist our posture, we reached out to Joe Gambino, PT, DPT, and CSCS at Perfect Stride Physical Therapy, New York City. Check out the easy posture taping method in the video and text description below.

Note: All motions shown are for informational purposes only. The information in this article and video is not meant to prevent or cure any disease or injury. It’s always a good idea to consult with a medical professional or trainer before attempting any new training methodology. If you experience any sharp pain while exercising, discontinue movements immediately.

How Can Tape Support Posture?

One of tape’s main roles is to send proprioceptive feedback to the brain. Basically, when we apply a light touch or tension with tape on the skin, then our brain picks up on signals to produce a desired effect. In this case, it’s to signal the brain to move away from slouching postures. Below are a few areas of the back the tape will be touching.

  • Rhomboids
  • Trapezius
  • Teres Minor/Major

As we slouch more, these muscles can becomes overly stretched and weak. In return, we begin to move and feel increasingly more comfortable in a less than optimal posture, aka slouched posture. This taping method will pull on these muscles as we slouch, so our brain is signaled to sit up right and retract the shoulder blades back.

1. One-Step Posture Strip

This taping method will require the assistance from a friend, and will be difficult to apply alone.

To begin, the athlete will need to either sit or stand with a tall correct posture. The shoulder blades should be slightly retracted, the head should be neutral, and the torso should remain tall/long.

Next, measure a piece of tape that spans from shoulder blade to shoulder blade, and round the edges. Tear the tape in the middle to create a band-aid effect and place the center adhesive between the shoulder blades. Create a 20-50% stretch on each side of the tape, and thoroughly rub the tape in.

Kinesiology Taping for Posture

Tips for Posture Taping with Kinesiology Tape

  1. Create Tension: A lighter 20-50% tension will work best with this taping method. If the tape is too tight, then it may lose it effectiveness at a faster rate.
  2. Proprioception: As an athlete begins to slouch, the tape will create a sense of tension, or pull on the shoulder blades, and subconsciously cue the athlete to sit up tall with correct posture.
  3. Hair and Taking It Off: If you’re excessively hairy in a specific area, then you’ll pull off little pieces at a time, and use your hand to gently repeatedly chop the tape off (in a karate chopping motion). You can also pinch the skin to release some of the tapes tension, while taking it off in a partitioned manner.
  4. Cut the Edges: The final tip was the cut the edges of the tape, so it’s rounded. This will prevent the corners from getting caught on edges of clothes and shoes.

Final Word

Slouching and poor posture can impact gym performance and quality of daily life. This simple taping method can be beneficial for anyone in need of a simple subconscious to to keep the shoulder blades retracted, and maintain an upright tall posture.

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CrossFit Games Athlete Jen Smith Shows You Can’t Trust All Before/After Photos

If you spent three or more seconds reading fitness content, you’ve seen a before-and-after picture of someone’s incredible body transformation (hat’s off to them!). And there’s also a pretty good chance that at some point you’ve seen an “incredible” body transformation that actually was a little too incredible.

Five-time Reebok CrossFit Games athlete Jennifer Smith seems to be familiar with this phenomenon, too. Smith, who was on the Games Demo Team this year, recently shared a post to Instagram of her shocking body transformation at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games in Wisconsin. The twist is that this incredible metamorphosis took place over 15 minutes.

A post shared by Jennifer Smith (@jensmith008) on Aug 15, 2017 at 12:55pm PDT


It’s just like she says in the caption,

Ahhh the power of lighting, body posture, and a good smile! 😐➡️😃💪#transformationtuesday #15minuteslater

Honestly, in an industry that’s driven by unbelievable transformations from blobs to bods and flabs to abs, one of our favorite things is when famously fit people point out how contrived and deceptive this marketing tactic can sometimes be.

If you yourself have lost a decent amount of body fat at some point in your life, you’re probably aware of how big a difference is made not just by lighting, tanning, and (if you’re a guy) shaving your chest, but also by standing at the right angle and flexing at just the right time — your definition literally changes from minute to minute. Folks will take dozens of photos to get the one that ticks all the boxes.


Then there’s the fact that your muscle size, definition, and vascularity has vast changes from day to day and week to week even if you’re being consistent with your calories and exercise. A ton of sodium can all but erase your abs, while a big, unhealthy meal that’s full of sugar can make your muscles swell, veins pop, and have you looking ready for a photo shoot.

What’s healthy doesn’t always make us look good, and what makes us look good isn’t always healthy. And most importantly, the way we look isn’t always a reflection of how healthy, fit, and strong we are. That’s something you feel, not necessarily something you show.

Featured image via @jensmith008 on Instagram.

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