No, it wouldn’t count in a competition. And no, that doesn’t make it any less cool. On Nov. 15, 2022, two South Korean weightlifters (73KG Bak Joo-Hyo and 67KG Lee Sangyeon) posted an extraordinary feat of strength to social media — a two-man, 280-kilogram (617.2-pound) clean & jerk

As far as bizarre, unorthodox, and impressive weight room stunts go, this lift might take the cake. It certainly merits a look, so check it out for yourself:

[Related: Team USA Announces Roster for 2022 World Weightlifting Championships]

Sangyeon, who lifted shirtless, opted for less assistive equipment than his partner, who donned knee sleeves and possibly a lifting belt under his shirt. Both athletes opted for wrist wraps; a wise decision given the tremendous amount of weight they held overhead. 

How They Did It

Tandem, or two-person, lifting requires a healthy combination of coordination and trust to pull off. Tandem deadlifts are sporadically performed as a novelty achievement, but a two-athlete clean & jerk is another beast entirely. 

For starters, both athletes need to be of comparable stature. If one lifter is significantly taller than the other, or has notably shorter (or longer) arms or legs, the load can easily feel lopsided and rapidly become dangerous for both participants. Luckily, Sangyeon and Joo-Hyo compete in adjacent weight categories and stand at roughly the same height. 

Once those requisites are met, it’s all about timing and synchronization. One athlete extending their legs before the other or dropping down too quickly to receive the barbell in the front rack position could quickly send the whole thing into chaos.

As both athletes are members of the South Korean national weightlifting team, they likely take a similar approach to their weightlifting technique which may have aided their performance. 

How It Stacks Up

Two hundred eighty kilograms is one heck of a deadlift — nevermind to send overhead, no matter how many people participate in moving the barbell. However, this tandem clean & jerk also helps contextualize some of the biggest lifts in the sport of weightlifting.

The 73-kilogram World Record in the clean & jerk stands at 198 kilograms (436.5 pounds), held by Chinese athlete Shi Zhiyong. It’s possible that two World Record-caliber athletes could lift double that working in tandem, but the coordination required likely limits the load to some degree. 

However, this 280-kilogram lift is only 13 kilos over the all-time heaviest competition clean & jerk ever: 267 kilograms (588.6 pounds), held by Georgian super-heavyweight athlete Lasha Talakhadze. Talakhadze has also jerked 270 kilograms in training (by himself). 

Interestingly, while 280 kilograms is an enormous tandem clean & jerk by any metric, it’s not the absolute heaviest weight ever hoisted overhead. In 2011, German weightlifters Matthias Steiner and Almir Velagić partnered to lift an unbelievable 333.3 kilograms (734.8 pounds) together (above). 

Both Steiner and Velagić were super-heavyweight weightlifters; in terms of relative strength, Sangyeon and Joo-Hyo may have a more impressive achievement due to their much lighter body weights.

Doing the Impossible

Olympic lifting is a rigid sport. Its athletes partake in only two disciplines (the snatch and clean & jerk), which tends to make preparation and training mundane from time to time. However, professional weightlifters also possess an extraordinary combination of acrobatic skill, mobility, and raw strength. 

All of these are on display (and then some) in a two-person, 280-kilogram clean & jerk. While it may not count in a competition, it’s certainly a sight to behold. 

Featured Image: @lee_sang___ on Instagram



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