Powerlifting World Record Holder Kevin Oak Talks Weightlifting Goals

It’s always interesting watching elite level strength athletes try out different strength sports, especially when they’re at the top of their respective sport. As of recently, powerlifter Kevin Oak has been taking a couple swings at learning more weightlifting movements, and has been sharing his progress on his Instagram page.

In the past, Oak has shared a video here and there on social media of himself easily cleaning a lot of weight, then pressing it out for reps. And it’s always funny reading the comments on these videos that say things like, “That’s a reverse curl! That’s not a clean, etc!”, meanwhile it’s a casual 125kg/275 lbs that Oak handily lifted from the floor, then hit for multiple overhead reps. These videos always got us thinking, what could Oak do if he really focused on the weightlifting movements and dialed in his training?

After all, he routinely squats in the 800s and currently holds two all-time powerlifting world records. Luckily for us and Oak’s fans alike, he’s been taking his weightlifting training a bit more seriously this off-season. To learn more about Oak’s weightlifting aspirations and future goals we reached and asked him what’s to come.

BarBend: What sparked your newfound interest in weightlifting? 

Oak: I’ve always been interested. I’m a powerlifter though, and I know weightlifting isn’t my sport, so I never really put the energy into it. I came across a video of Klokov Power Weekend where they were doing muscle clean + strict presses and thought, “Okay, that I can do.”

In college, we used to do hang cleans and for a while after college I did hang cleans and push presses, although, I never really learned to clean properly. At CrossFit Solace last year, I bumped into Vasily Polovnikov who also competed in the event at Klokov Power Weekend, which further made me want to improve my numbers in that event. Back then, I got up to 143kg/315 lbs for the lift before my off-season came to an end.

Author’s Note: The video below highlights Oak’s 300 lb muscle clean + strict press. For those on mobile experiencing issues — check it out here!

BarBend: What are your next moves and plan of action for weightlifting now? 

Oak: I recently began training with Jesse Irizarry from JDI Barbell to learn how to clean properly, so it doesn’t hold me back. And I’m excited to learn and get as good at this as possible.

I know for me, a lot of people just think, “squat, bench, and deadlift,” but I like to be more well-rounded, especially in the off-season when it’s not as crucial that I just do the main big three lifts.

Author’s Note: The video below highlights Oak’s recent training with Irizarry. For those having trouble viewing the video on mobile — visit here!

BarBend: Being newer to weightlifting, what have you learned so far? 

Oak: So far, I’ve learned the muscle clean, which is what I’m mainly focused on. In the future maybe I’ll learn how to snatch.

BarBend: Thanks, Kevin! All the best in training this off-season — we’ll be keeping our eyes out for your progress. 

Featured image from @oakstrong Instagram page. 

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.