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Kicking butt at the Olympic level: Q&A with Stephen Lambdin, Team USA Taekwondo

Posted on September 14 2017

At Physiclo, we can't resist pushing ourselves to reach higher and train harder. That's why we love it when Olympic athletes, representing our country, use our resistance pants to maximize their workouts and kick butt at the highest level. 

This week we had a chance to interview Team USA Olympian, Stephen Lambdin, who shares his journey as an athlete, his passion for Taekwondo, and his experience training with Physiclo:


Q: Hi Stephen, please tell us about yourself!
I'm Stephen Lambdin, 2016 US Olympic Team and current US National Team member in the sport of Taekwondo. I'm been doing Taekwondo for 24 years, and have been competing for team USA since 2002. I was born and raised in Colleyville, Tx, and I'm a California Lutheran University alumni, who currently resides in Fort Worth, Tx.
Q: What inspired you to learn Taekwondo?
I originally got started in Taekwondo on my 6th birthday, because I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. While I haven't become a ninja, or a turtle, yet, I'm proud to say that my sport has taken me to 40+ countries and all the way to the Olympic Games in Rio.
Q: Wow, from a kid watching TMNT to competing on the biggest stage in the world... when did you become a professional athlete?
2002 was the first time I made a national team. Up until this point I spent the first 6 years of my competitive career losing my first match every nationals. Then, the first year I was eligible to qualify, I managed to win 5 matches to make my first US team. Something had finally clicked, I guess. I've been on some form of Team USA ever since.
Q: Along the way, what were the biggest obstacles that you had to face?
The biggest thing I've had to overcome were the doubters. Ever since I was a little kid, I was always told that I wasn't good enough, I didn't have enough talent, and they even said I wasn't smart enough. I even had a national team coach tell me that "it would be a cold day in hell before I made it to the Olympics." Through a ton of faith in my relationship with Christ, and a tremendous amount of support from my family I was able to overcome the doubter through sheer force of will, and determination.
Q: So what was it like? How was your experience like competing at the Rio Olympics last year? 
It was everything I could hope for! While I didn't get the result I wanted, I loved every second of my trip to Rio. There's no feeling like wearing USA on your back and competing on the highest stage. It's one of the best experiences of my life!
Q: You just got back from a competition in Russia, how did that go?
I was in Russia for the first of the 2017 Grand Prix series. The GP series invites the top 32 in each weight category, and typically has 3  events that lead into the Grand Prix Final every year. I unfortunately had a Round of 16 loss at the buzzer to the eventual silver medalist. It was a good experience, because I've been trying to change up a large part of my game, and this proved that I'm definitely taking steps in the right direction.
Q: Taking a step back, I'd love to learn more about your day-to-day routine. What does a typical day for you look like?
My typical day starts at 4am. I'm a huge believer in being an early riser, and I'm out the door by 5am every day. I have a 45 minute commute that takes me to my 6am kicking session. Kicking sessions are usually a sharp hour and a half workout. I head home after this, and make breakfast. I try to keep my breakfast nice and lean, because I'm back in the gym by 10:30am. The second session is a lifting session. My strength coach focuses on a ton of single leg work, Olympic lifting, and this is where I get the majority of my conditioning in. From this point I head home again for lunch and a nice hour nap. After I'm refreshed from my nap, I go into my workout room at my house for a mobility and corrective workout. Most people don't realize it, but there's a ton of effort that goes into mobility work, and being able to kick both high and hard. From here, I typically meal prep for the next day and I'm back in bed around 8pm every night. 
Q: How does training for Taekwondo compare to other sports/martial arts? How do you  like to train personally?
The interesting thing about sport-taekwondo is the amount of performance training that goes into it. True, I have a kicking session every day. These are designed to work on an extremely specific goal. I go into the gym with 3 to 4 specific objectives, and when those are met I'm out the door. It's all about working on what scores best. The bulk of my training is actually put in during lifting sessions. This is where strength and speed are developed that directly effect my Taekwondo capabilities. It doesn't matter if your kicks are pretty or ugly, what matters is how fast you are. 
Q: It's been a while since you started wearing Physiclo resistance shorts to give your workouts an added boost. What has your experience been with them?
Its been great! It can be difficult to find a way to get more out of your workouts each time, and these definitely provide that chance. As a kicking athlete these pants force all those little muscles that might not get worked on regularly to get a great burn. Its rare to find something as simple as clothing to make your workout harder. Its an easy way to work harder AND smarter, and that's why I've become such a fan of them.
Q: What kind of workouts do you find the Physiclo shorts to be most beneficial for?
I wear them all training, but where I feel them the most is during sparring. They make it harder to move, and difficult to keep up with my partners. I know that not only am I getting a better workout than they are, but I also have to fight smarter than usual. Then I take them off when I fight in competition, and I'm blazing fast!
Q: What do you feel are the biggest benefits of wearing the Physiclo resistance shorts, and how has that impacted your training?
It would be easy to point out all the great physical benefits of these shorts- the increased cardio output, the extra physical demand, etc. What I love most is how they help train mental toughness. It makes training harder, and you have to fight to get through it. They add mental adversity to training that I know none of my competitors are getting. Like I said before, wearing these in training makes a huge difference come game day.
Q: In the time that you've had them, have you noticed any measurable improvements?
My output in the fight has gone up. I can kick more, harder, and longer. I've been able to overwhelm opponents simply because I can kick a ton more now. It is the kind of gain you'd see in 6 months of regular work, all in a fraction of the time.
Q: Have you used any training tool or equipment in the past that's similar to Physiclo? For example, using ankle weights to add resistance to kicks, or using resistance bands... how do they compare to Physiclo?
At the elite level you're constantly looking for a leg up on the competition. I'm tried things that have made similar claims, ankle weights/resistance bands/weight vests, before, but they all have huge limitations. Resistance bands keep me strapped to an anchor, weights are hard on my joints, and weight vests have always given me back issues. The cool part of these pants is the fact that you can do 100% of your workout, unrestricted by those other limitations. It's all of the other products advantages, and none of the problems.
Q: Awesome. Lastly, can you tell us an interesting fact about Taekwondo, for those of us who aren't familiar with the sport?
Taekwondo actually uses an electronic chest-protector and helmet to score points. A simple way to understand it is I wear instep pads that have sensors, and when my feet make contact with the chest or head, and its a hard enough hit, the system registers the point. The 2012 Olympics were the first to use it, and technology just keeps making the game faster and faster.
Did you enjoy this Q&A? Please share or comment below and let us know what you think!
And don't forget to like and follow Stephen on social media here:


  • Aira: December 27, 2022

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  • Frank from Physiclo: October 20, 2017

    Thanks Philip! :)

  • Philip Ramirez: September 14, 2017

    Can’t wait to try physiclo, only wished they had em in my day. Hey Mr Lambdin if you weren’t into TKD what sport would you have picked?

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