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An Interview With Former Trickster and Current Olympic Weightlifter, Clarence Kennedy

by 34 comments

On January 12, 2009, a fellow by the name of Clarence Kennedy posted a YouTube video that showcased some decent tricks and a rugged looking 90kg clean. But that rugged 90kg — in just two years — transformed into a swift and powerful 150kg. In three years? 182kg. And his tricks, even though he doesn’t practice them regularly, aren’t too shabby either.

Coming across someone with baffling athleticism, grace, speed, strength and coordination is rare. Since I had some ties with Clarence, I had to get him in here for an interview. Enjoy.

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Q: I was introduced to you through tricking and, originally had no idea you lifted weights. Can you give us a background of where you came from and how you got involved with Olympic Weightlifting? How long you’ve been doing it? 

A: I got into Olympic Weightlifting through tricking. I wanted to increase my vertical jump and heard that Weightlifters had good verticals and sprint times so I gave it a go. And, well, I loved it so I kept doing it. Eventually, I found myself pulling away from tricking to focus on it. I’ve been doing it for three years now.

Q: Tricking isn’t exactly the most mainstream of activities, how did you find it?

A: Through Parkour and Freerunning.

Q: What made you want to trick?

A: Both Parkour and Freerunning are limited by space and environment. Tricking can be done almost anywhere without special shoes (or without any shoes), gym memberships, and lessons. It’s 100% free. And no one is going to care about making money from it. Everyone just does it for fun. It’s nice being a part of a community with that mentality. Weightlifting, unfortunately, is different.

Q: You say that you’re an Olympic Weightlifter first and foremost, yet you’re still a skilled trickster. How do you walk the line between the two, as most tricksters have trouble doing this? 

A: I don’t. I only do Olympic Weightlifting now. It’s almost impossible to be great at two sports. I wasn’t progressing much when I did both.

Q: You’re strong. Very strong. Can you tell us how you train now?

A: I train at least once per day, every day. My main focus is back squatting. I find it the easiest exercise to do, and it increases my other lifts without even doing them. Usually I’ll do the classical lifts five times per week along with power variations, always shooting for a 1RM. This varies as I like to try different ways of training if I’m stagnant. But I almost always squat daily.

Q: Are you as crazy with your nutrition as you are training? Follow any special principles or do you just eat “normal?”

A: I eat a high protein diet with lots of different meat and fish. I drink at least two liters of milk every day. Lots of eggs too. And some supplements. I cheat sometimes but I never drink, smoke, party, or get involved with that stuff. So it’s not “normal,” but being normal is the biggest disease in the world.

Q: Do you think tricking has somehow helped your Olympic Weightlifting, or vice versa? I talk about how tricking, tumbling, and gymnastics develops spatial awareness. Does this help when you’re freefalling under the bar?

A: Tricking has definitely helped with Olympic Weightlifting in terms of flexibility and, yes, spatial awareness. Tricking taught me that you don’t learn anything without trying it hundreds of times. It’s the same with most things in life.

Q: Olympic Weightlifters cream over shoes. What are your favorites? And what do you think of the New Adipower’s and Romaleos’s in light of the upcoming Olympics?

A: Well, I’ve only worn two pairs in the Adistars and Ironwork. But in my opinion, Adidas makes the best shoes.

Q: Do you do all weight room work in your Weightlifting shoes? Deadlifts even?

A: All including deadlifts.

Q: Think Olympic Weightlifting has helped your vertical jump and overall athleticism?

A: Yes, but if I just practiced jumping I would be much better at it. This goes the same for most everything.

Q: Any favorite athlete in the Olympics? Favorite Olympic Weightlifter?

A: I would love to see how Lu Xiaojun does. He’s capable of breaking the snatch, jerk, and total world records on a good day. I’d say he’s my current favorite. Of all time though: Akakios Kakhiasvilis, Taner Sagir, and Liao Hui.

 

Thanks for your time Clarence. I look forward to catching up with you in the future. If you want to check out more of Clarence’s videos, visit his YouTube Channel.

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30 comments… add one

  • I like the article but that back squat form is terrible. Push the knees out!

    Reply
    • While I agree about the knees, Clarence knows what he’s doing.

      Reply
    • His knees look fine to me. It’s an Olympic squat, not a powerlifting squat.

      Reply
    • Knees out on descent is crucial, but knees in a bit on ascent isn’t a big deal. If you’ve ever seen videos of Kakiasvilis or Zhoung Ghouzheng squatting, you’ll see that they do the same thing.

      Reply
      • It’s a tactic some higher level athletes use. But I wouldn’t say it’s “not” a big deal. I wouldn’t want my athletes that aren’t trained — or non-Olympic Weightlifters — doing it.

        Reply
  • I admire this guy.Do you think that two liters of milk avery day have something in common with his incredible results.I know consistent and progressive training is the key,but food does matter too.

    Reply
  • How should I incorporate the milk in my IF regimen?

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  • Wow, those are incredible weights he is mastering in the vids. Amazing! How come he does not look that huge?? I thought that doing basic moves like olympic lifts, lot of calorie dense food, high protein etc. (like Dan Jon always preaches!) gives you an outstanding physique – but he looks kinda “normal” to me. Could it be the repetitions…? He is always shooting for the 1 RM, wonder what would happen if he would do high rep squats!!

    Reply
    • Tom, that’s largely a myth. The body adapts according to what stress is imposed upon it. So I don’t doubt Clarence’s back and legs are well muscled, but he doesn’t do much training outside of the lifts. But if you combine them with the other stuff — extra presses, rows, some arm work — it’s a recipe for good things.

      And yes, his low(er) reps don’t help him from a hypertrophy standpoint either. And I doubt 20 rep squats would help him either because his assistance work is low. You have to remember, on breathing squat routines upper body volume exceeds lower body volume. So it’s not the squats alone that promote growth. It’s training the entire body.

      Reply
      • Good point Anthony! So, if you want muscular legs, you absolutely have to do leg extensions, leg curls, leg press etc. in addition to heavy squats for hypertrophy!? I am wondering because if he would add the other stuff (presses, rows etc. which is mainly upper body work), would his legs really grow that much more or would he have to add extra work for legs (besides squats) as well in order to get hypertrophy?!

        Reply
        • No, not necessarily. But I doubt Clarence even does many rows or presses. In general the legs are much easier to hypertrophy because they can be loaded a hell of a lot more. And for most people, to get decent legs, it only takes but a handful of exercises because there aren’t many movements that the lower body can do. But since the arm is much more mobile it can be trained in many planes and has muscles to work in each plane. So it takes more exercises to usually see an increase in upper body size.

          I would be Clarence is rather well muscled. You just can’t tell through these videos. But if you check out the one of him tricking, you can tell he is a rather solid guy.

          Reply
        • Tom: squats and deadlifts and usually cleans are the only exercises I do that involve legs, I do them regularly and my legs have progressed more than my upper body.
          As Anthony said, there aren’t a lot of different things that legs can do, so usually the basic movements are enough.

          Reply
  • I wonder the same thing.Professional olympic weightlifters shoot 1RM too,but every one of them is muscular and ripped.

    Reply
    • Well the professionals have a few things going for them: genetics, training frequency (since it’s their job they train multiple times per day, and performance enhancing substances.

      But even with all of that, a lot of Olympic Weightlifters do “extra” work. Take Klokov for example. He does overhead presses, curls, bench presses, and other stuff that most people don’t associate with Olympic Weightlifting. And his physique shows for it.

      Reply
  • Great job, Anthony! I really enjoyed this interview and the accompanying videos. From your site, I’ve learned about the world of tricking, and I’m impressed as to the level of athleticism and coordination. Where is he from, by the way?

    Liao Hui is fave too. Same weight as me. =P

    Reply
  • I’m an older fart now, wishing I’d started (Olympic) lifting several years ago. That said, better late than never and now weightlifting, particularly squatting, is a passion of mine and Clarence is a wonderfully inspiring motivator… just by doing!

    Thanks for the interview, Anthony.

    Reply
  • clarence is not a world class weightlifter yet, but hes pretty damn closs. his lifts would’ve got him silver in his weightclass at the 2011 world youth championships – right behind Russia’s next best 85kg lifter Okulov. hope to see him get strong enough to compete in the olympics in the future.

    Reply
  • When Clarence started to do tricking and at the time he was tricking would he condition by lifting weights or just sticked to tricking every day?

    Reply
    • You trick to get better at tricking. I think Clarence was doing both, but he would tell you that tricking is the key to better tricking. Dunno about daily though.

      Reply
  • I’m going to do tricking 4 days a week and do full body strenght lifting for the other three days. Does this seem okay at first and mabye later stay on working out twice or something??

    Reply

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