The author has followed the career of one of the most recognizable figures in Korean bodybuilding: Kang Kyung Won.
Kang Kyung Won is one of the most recognizable figures in Korean bodybuilding. This veteran Asian bodybuilder has been winning competitions for nearly 25 years, and his career shows no signs of slowing down. Kang is 172 centimeters tall and weighs 89 kilograms during competition and 95 kilograms off-season. (In the U.S. system, that’s about 5’8” and about 196 pounds during competition and 209 off-season.) In addition to his status as a legend bodybuilder, Kang is also pursuing his doctorate in Sports Medicine at the University of Incheon, making him the “brains and brawn” of the Korean bodybuilding scene.
Personal Life and Background in Bodybuilding
Kang Kyung Won was born on September 24, 1973, in Seoul. He attended Seoul North Technical High School (서울북공업고등학교) and earned his BA at the University of Incheon. He is currently working toward his doctorate in Sports Medicine at the University of Incheon.
Kang Kyung Won began his athletic career in the sport of Taekwondo, which he practiced as a child from the 5th to 9th grades, eventually earning a third degree black belt. He started bodybuilding in 1989, at the age of 16, when a friend invited him to work out together at a health club in Seoul. According to Kang, he weighed just 57 kilograms (126 pounds!) when he started weight training. He became serious about bodybuilding after watching a high school classmate compete in Korea’s Spring Bodybuilding Championship—it made him think more about bodybuilding and realize it was something he could do, too. His first bodybuilding contest was as a high school sophomore in 1990, when he won first place in the under 65 kilogram class, student division, at the Mr. Seoul competition.
In addition to his title as the 1999 Mr. Korea, Kang Kyung Won is also famous for his incredible streak of victories in the men’s bodybuilding competition at the annual National Spring Sports Festival. He placed first in the 80-85 kilogram weight class for 12 consecutive years from 1999-2010. He lost in 2011 to Lee Jin Ho(이진호), when Kang competed for the first time in the contest’s 85-90 kilogram weight division. Kang resumed his winning streak in 2012, however. In that year, he won first place in the National Spring Sports Festival’s 80-85 kilogram weight class, and again in 2013 in the Festival’s 85-90 kilogram weight class. Even after nearly 25 years, Kang Kyung Won’s bodybuilding career shows no signs of slowing down. Looking toward the future, Kang says he plans to compete in the 2014 Asian Games, so we’ll be seeing even more of this legendary bodybuilder in the years to come.
Kang Kyung Won's Favorite Workout Routines
With over two decades of experience lifting weights, Kang has had plenty of time to find the workout routines that work best for him. Here are a couple of his favorite routines.
For his chest workout, Kang does 10 sets for his first exercise, which is always the bench press or incline bench press. He does 5 sets for all the other chest exercises. He always does 15 reps for the first set of each exercise, then increases the weight so he can do only 8-10 reps for each remaining set.
- Bench press / Incline bench press
- Incline dumbbell press
- Cable crossover
- Barbell pullover
He sometimes adds variety to this routine. For example, during competition season, he’ll do dips followed by dumbbell flyes and pushups in order to add an extra stimulus to his muscles.
Kang starts his leg routine with high reps on the leg extension machine to get his blood pumping. Here’s his routine.
- Leg extension
- Barbell squat
- Leg press
- Hack squat (machine)
- Barbell lunge
- Stiff-legged dumbbell deadlift
- Lying leg curl
- Standing calf raise
Kang starts his back routine with his favorite back exercises, the pull-up and barbell row, which he says are the most basic and important back exercises. He also likes the Romanian deadlift because he thinks that it does a better job concentrating the back muscles than the conventional deadlift, which works the entire body. He advises that the pull-up and Romanian deadlift are the best exercises for increasing overall back size, while the barbell row is most effective for increasing thickness. Here’s Kang’s back routine.
- Barbell row
- T-bar row
- One-arm dumbbell row
- Back extension
- Romanian deadlift
Notable Bodybuilding Awards
• 94th National Sports Festival, first place (under 90 kg class)
• 93rd National Sports Festival, first place (under 85 kg class)
• 2012 The 46th AFBF (IFBB) Asian Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship, fourth place (under 90 kg class)
• 92nd National Sports Festival, second place (under 90 kg class)
• 2011 The 45th AFBF (IFBB) Asian Bodybuilding and Fitness Championship, third place (under 90 kg class)
• 91st National Sports Festival, first place (under 90 kg class)
• 90th National Sports Festival, first place (under 90 kg class)
• 80th-89th National Sports Festival, first place (under 85 kg class)
• 2006 Doha Asian Games, Men’s Bodybuilding, bronze medal (under 85 kg class)
• 2005 Asia Men’s Bodybuilding Championships, second place (under 85 kg class)
• 2002 Busan Asian Games, Men’s Bodybuilding, gold medal (under 85 kg class)
• 1999 Mr. Korea, first place (under 85 kg class) and overall winner
• Mr. Incheon, first place
• Mr. University, first place
Check out these other Korean bodybuilders
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- Bodybuilder Kang Kyung won Talks About His Back Workout, Interview with Monsterzym
- 2013 (date posted) Interview with Kang Kyung Won
- 2011 Interview with Kang Kyung Won
MoonByTheSea (author) on January 19, 2014:
Good idea--I just updated with some information about his training routine.
didatheman on January 07, 2014:
Good one! Maybe you should start a hub about his training too.
Bandly Molundim from Malaysia on January 02, 2014:
He's got nice body, i dream of body like that...make you feel confident...;)