During a casual live stream of a run-of-the-mill training session at California Strength, the 105kg weightlifter and former GRID athlete Wes Kitts pulled off one of the heaviest jerks we’ve seen from an American: 237 kilograms, or 522.5 pounds.
As California Strength helpfully noted in the comments, the American Record in the clean & jerk for Kitts’ weight class is 220kg, the World Record is 246kg, and the Olympic Record is 237kg, which was made by Ruslan Nurudinov at Rio last year. Yes, it’s quite a bit easier to jerk the weight if you don’t have to clean it first, but we’re still impressed with Kitts’ lift.
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@weskitts22 ties Donny Shankles Gym Record, Jerking 237kg / 521lbs 😱. – JOIN the same program as Wes & the team , click the link in the bio🔝 – Thank you @sorinex for the kick ass jerk blocks. So much better than anything else we've tried it's silly. These things are bullet proof and more importantly kitts proof. #american105 #calstrength #thebarbellwod #caffeineandkilos #cytostrengh #fitaid
We know the jerk is kind of a strange exercise on its own; it’s not a competition lift, and Kitts also performed it from the back rack, a starting position many lifters can actually jerk more from as compared to the front rack. Since it’s not a competition lift, we don’t know how close it is to the American record, but we do know that Kitts isn’t the first man to jerk that much at California Strength — check out the 237kg lift we saw Donnie Shankle perform at the gym in 2011.
But the jerk is arguably the most difficult portion of the clean & jerk, and while this doesn’t necessarily mean that Kitts could clean that much weight, we know he can power clean at least 201kg — the man is definitely lifting at the elite level.
No one-trick pony, he currently holds the American Record in the snatch, which he set with a 174kg (383.6lb) lift during the 2016 USAW American Open in December of 2016.
Last month, he also managed to smoke a 215kg (474lb) clean & jerk in training, which is 5kg away from the current American Record.
The same week, he pulled off a colossal power clean of 201kg (443lb), the heaviest we’ve seen from an American in recent memory.
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201kg (443#) Power Clean on #maxoutfriday for a huge PR. The last time I pushed this movement was for our gym record when I hit 191kg. When Dave told me to get my mind around this on Wednesday I was pretty sure I couldn't do it. He later told me he was also pretty sure I couldn't do it haha! We honestly don't have a great idea of where I'm at or what I can do. We just know the training is working and I've gotten much stronger. We will continue accumulating work for now. Every time I achieve at a little bit higher level I get more and more excited about what's to come. The only thing that really matters to me right now is what I do in training and MY progress. I don't see other weightlifters or records. I only focus on my progress and potential. I have my goals and my team. That's all I need! @cal_strength #american105
Remember, the 26-year-old has only been a dedicated Olympic weightlifter since 2014 — he played football while he was in college and later became a functional fitness athlete in the National GRID League.
Given his track record, we’re pretty certain that 2017 is the year he breaks the American record in the clean & jerk.
Featured image via @cal_strength on Instagram.
Thanks to BarBend weightlifting correspondent Mike Graber for his help with this article