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0112-1642/12/00(»O76'5/S49.96/0 Adis © 2012 Springer International Publishing AG. All rights reserved.
Unique Aspects of Competitive Weightlifting
Performance, Training and Physiology
Adam Storey and Heather K. Smith
Department of Sport and Exercise Science, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Abstract 1. Introduction 2. Literature Reviewed 3. Weightlifting Performance 3.1 The Snatch 3.2 The Clean and Jerk 4. Training 4.1 Exercises 4.2 Annual Training Structure 4.3 Application and Variation in Training Load 4.4 Metaboiic Cost of Weightiifting and Nutritional Practices 4.5 Influence of Body Weight Changes on Performance 5. Anthropométrie Characteristics of Weightiifters 6. Physiological Responses and Adaptations to Weightlifting 6.1 Skeietai Muscle Structure and Function 6.1.1 Fibre Type Composition 6.1.2 Neuromuscuiar Function 6.1.3 Sex- and Age-Reiated Differences in Neuromuscular Function 6.2 Bone Mineral Density 6.3 Cardiovascular Structure and Function 6.4 Endocrine 6.4.1 Testosterone 6.4.2 Testosterone ; Cortisol Ratio 6.4.3 Grovi^h Hormone 7. Recommendations and Conclusions 769 770 771 771 771 771 774 774 774 775 776 777 777 777 778 778 778 779 780 780 781 781 781 782 782
weightlifting is a dynamic strength and power sport in which two, multijoint, whole-body lifts are performed in competition; the snatch and clean and jerk. During the performance of these lifts, weightiifters have achieved some of the highest absolute and relative peak power outputs reported in the literature. The training structure of competitive weightiifters is characterized by the frequent use of high-intensity resistance exercise movements. Varied coaching and training philosophies currently exist around the world and further research is required to substantiate the best type of training programme for male and female weightiifters of various age groups. As competitive
Storey & Smith
weightlifting is contested over eight male and seven female body weight categories, the anthropométrie characteristics of the athletes widely ranges. The body compositions of weightlifters are similar to that of athletes of comparable body mass in other strength and power sports. However, the shorter height and limb lengths of weightlifters provide mechanical advantages when lifting heavy loads by reducing the mechanical torque and the vertical distance that the barbell must be displaced. Furthermore, the shorter body dimensions coincide with a greater mean skeletal muscle cross-sectional area that is advantageous to weightlifting performance. Weightlifting training induces a high metabohc cost. Although dietary records demonstrate that weightlifters typically meet their required daily energy intake, weightlifters have been shown to over consume protein and fat at the expense of adequate carbohydrate. The resulting macronutrient imbalance may not yield optimal performance gains. Cross-sectional data suggest that weightlifting training induces type IIX to IIA fibre-type transformation. Furthermore, weightlifters exhibit hypertrophy of type II fibres that is advantageous to weightlifting performance and maximal force production. As such, the isometric peak force and contractile rate of force development of weightlifters is -15-20% and -13-16% greater, respectively, than in other strength and power athletes. In addition, weightlifting training has been shown to reduce the typical sexrelated difference in the expression of neuromuscular strength and power. However, this apparent sex-related difference appears to be augmented with increasing adult age demonstrating that women undergo a greater age-related decline in muscle shortening velocity and peak power when compared with men, Weightlifting training and competition has been shown to induce significant structural and functional adaptations of the cardiovascular system. The collective evidence shows that these adaptations are physiological as opposed to pathological. Finally, the acute exercise-induced testosterone, Cortisol and growth hormone responses of weightlifters have similarities to that of following conventional strength and hypertrophy protocols involving large muscle mass exercises. The routine assessment of the basal testosterone : Cortisol ratio may be beneficial when attempting to quantify the adaptive responses to weightlifting training. As competitive weightlifting is becoming increasingly popular around the world, further research addressing the physiological responses and adaptations of female weightlifters and younger (i.e, <17 years of age) and older (i.e. >35 years of age) weightlifters of both sexes is required.
1. Introduction Weightlifting has been a longstanding part of the modern Olympic Games and has wide and growing intemational participation. During the performance of the two competitive lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk (C&J), weightlifters are required to generate extremely high peak forces and contractile rates of force development and, consequently, high peak power outputs and contractile impulses,!'"'']
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This review details the unique performance and training requirements of competitive weightlifters with particular emphasis on the movement demands, training intensities and commonly adopted nutritional practices of these athletes. Further attention is directed towards descriptions of the physiological responses and adaptations of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and endocrine systems to weightlifting training and competition, Finally, as weightHfting is becoming increasingly
Sports Med 2012; 42 (9)
and (ii) the terms 'weightlifter' and 'weightlifting' had to be in context with the sport of competitive weightlifting as opposed to general weight/resistance training. <69kg. 2012.5 Sports Med 2012. Weigtitlifting Performance The snatch and C&J are complex whole-body movements encompassing a series of high-intensity muscular contractions.65m/sec and 2.28m/sec. barbell velocities may exceed 3. The athlete's placing within their respective body weight class is determined by their competition total. power snatch).t'l Since 1998. Athletes must weigh-in during a 1-hour window that begins 2 hours before the start of their competition session.2 The Clean and Jerk The C&J is a two-part lift that enables heavier loads (-18-20% greater) to be lifted than during the snatch. to raise the barbell off the platform to a position just below knee level. SPORTDiscus™ and Google Scholar databases. 2. <77kg. Each athlete is entitled to three snatch attempts in competition.88 m/sec to 1. <63kg. The lifter then 'catches' the barbell in a straight-arm overhead position whilst fiexing at the knee and hip into a full squat position. 42 (9) . <69kg. (i) refereed articles published in Enghsh language journals and books from the 1970s until February. weightlifters achieve power outputs unmatched by any other athletes. Ail rights reserved.e. the vertical velocity of the barbell during the second pull can range between 1. The clean requires the barbell to be raised from the floor (using a shoulder width grip) to the front of the shoulders in one continuous movement.Competitive Weightlifting Performance. 3.t^' The snatch includes six phases (figure 1). the vertical velocity of the barbell can range from 0.1 The Snatch The snatch requires the weighted barbell to be lifted from the floor (using a wide grip) to an overhead position in one continuous movement. <105kg and>105kg. 'clean and jerk'. A transition period (also referred to as the 'double-knee bend') follows whereby the knees are re-bent and are moved under the barbell whilst the lifter's trunk is moved to a near vertical position. and younger and older individuals.[^"'"^ The 'double-knee bend' allows the lifter to take advantage of a stretchshortening cycle during the subsequent second pulÚ^^^ The second pull requires the lifter to maximally accelerate the barbell by simultaneously shrugging the shoulders and extending the hips.00m/sec. which is the sum of their highest recorded snatch and C&J.!"''^"'^1 the lifter begins to 'pull' their body underneath the barbell. during submaximal attempts and clean-related movements (i. The duration of effort from the start of the first pull until the competition referees signal a successful lift is -3-5 seconds. During these lifts. power clean). <62kg. The mechanical principles behind the first three phases (first pull. Key search terms of'Olympic weighthfting'. 'muscular strength' and 'muscular power' were used. we highlight potential areas for future research that will enable the development of safe and effective training guidelines for these populations.e.73m/sec. and women <48kg. <85kg. 3. Literature Reviewed The search for scientific literature relevant to this review was conducted using the US National Library of Medicine (PubMed). During the performance of near maximal to maximal full snatch attempts. Further literature was obtained from electronic 'related articles' searches and by manually screening the reference lists of included studies. <94kg. 'snatch'. this phase is referred to as the turnover.'''''^l As the barbell rises in the vertical plane to -62-78% of the lifter's height. During the second pull of near maximal to maximal attempt cleans. Training and Physiology 771 popular with females. barbell velocities may exceed 2. knees and ankles. the recognized body weight classes are: men <56kg. <75 kg and >75 kg. 3. <58kg. 'weightlifter/s'.f^''*l However. The first pull is initiated when the lifter extends their knees Adis ©2012 Springer Internatfonal Pubtishing AG. The inclusion criteria for all articles were. <53kg.['*'''"'*l During submaximal attempts and snatch-related movements (i. There are six phases of the clean (figure 2). transition/doubleknee bend and second pull) are the same as those of the snatch. The lifter then 'recovers' out of the full squat to a standing position whilst maintaining the barbell overhead.
(d) turnover.P'l the lifter initiates the 'turnover' phase. the lifter is in the 'supported split under the bar' phase. The duration of effort from the start of the first pull to the signal of a successful lift is -8—12 seconds.^^^ Reported power outputs during maximal attempt jerk drives range from 2140 watts (W) for a lifter in men's under 56 kg class to 4786 W for a lifter in the men's 105 kg+ class. (f) recovery. The jerk also has six phases (figure 2): (i) start. At the lowest point of the dip. The lifter then begins to dip down by flexing at the knee and hip. (b) transition to the start of the second puii. the lifter makes the transition to the jerk drive where they are required to accelerate the barbell in the vertical plane. with the barbell held across the shoulders. As the barbell rises in the vertical plane to -55-65% of the lifter's height. (iv) unsupported spht under the bar. SportsiVied2012. The hfter must then recover and is required to stand motionless with their feet parallel to one another. The six phases of the snatch: (a) first pull. Once the lifter's feet are in contact with the ground and the barbell is held overhead with fully extended arms. and (vi) recovery. Aii rights reserved. (c) compietion of the second puil. The lifter then 'recovers' from the full squat position to prepare for the jerk. (v) supported split under the bar. During the start phase. Adis © 2012 Springer internationai Pubiishing AG. Each athlete is entitled to three C&J attempts in competition. (e) catch. (ii) dip. the athlete may be exposed to a downward force equivalent to 17 times their body mass. the barbell is vertically driven off the shoulders and the lifter's feet leave the ground.^'^ At the completion of the jerk drive. 1 .42C9) . During this transition period. This phase represents the 'unsupported split under the bar'.772 Storey & Smith Fig. The lifter then 'catches' the barbell on their shoulders and descends into a full squat position. the lifter and the barbell must become motionless. (iii) jerk drive.
(k) supported split under fhe bar. (c) completion of the second pull. (g) start position for the jerk. (I) recovery from fhe jerk. Training and Physiology 773 Fig. 2.Competitive Weightliftirig Performance. Adis © 2012 Springer infernafionai Pubiishing AG. SporfsMed2012. (d) turnover. (f) recovery from the clean. (h) jerk dip. Aii righfs reserved. (j) unsupported spiif under fhe bar. (b) transition to the start of the second pull. (i) jerk drive.42(9) . The twelve phases of the clean and jerk: (a) first puil. (e) catch.
'^'''*^' Approximately 10% of the total training time is devoted to warm-up exercises. This cyclic pattern of 'overload' and Sports Med 2012. The collective differences in the competitive demands and the required physiological adaptations of other various athletes may account for these discrepancies.1 Exercises The two competitive lifts form the basis of the training programmes for junior and senior weightiifters. the English language coaching literature and empirical evidence suggests that numerous and varied practices exist amongst internationally competi ti ve weightiifters . particularly in the frequency and volume of high-intensity loads. Due to the success of many Adis © 2012 Springer international Publishing AG. Complementary exercises that have movement patterns similar to the competitive lifts (e. Training There is limited evidence comparing the performance and physiological responses arising from different weightlifting training programmes. a number of the world's training programmes are variations of the generalized training models established by these nations.3v-40] and tests of agility (-0.44] In contrast. 42 (9) . despite commonalities in the mode of exercise and other acute variables. The training follows a repeated pattern of 2-3 weeks of increased loading followed by 1 week of reduced loading.774 Storey & Smith 4. by comparison with the training programmes of the former Soviet Union. from that of other power athletes (refer section 4. The complementary exercises are also incorporated into the training programmes of other power athletes'^*'^^'-"' as follows: (i) kinematic similarities exist between the propulsive phases in both weightlifting and jumping movements.P^ However.93) and sprinting (r=-0.'^^ Although international-level weightiifters would typically perform 20 000-25 000 multijoint exercise repetitions per year. in particular the former Soviet Union and Bulgaria.52 to -0. A wide variety of exercises at varying intensities and volumes were incorporated into these programmes with the belief that this would prevent athletes reaching a state of overtraining due to 'movement pattern monotony'. competitive weightiifters have been subjected to random drug testing''*^' that can include both urine and blood assays. and 450 and 460 failed supramaximal attempts each year in training. the Bulgarian training approach is characterized by frequent. only 15-35% of those repetitions were competition lifts performed at 80-90% of their one-repetition maximum (lRM) with an additional 4-7% being performed at >90% of lRM.2 Annual Training Structure Broad descriptions of variations in weightlifting training variables have been offered in the literature. and a transition phase (generalized conditioning at the end of a training cycle). Western coaches were required to make modifications to these training methods presumably due to the higher prevalence of anabolic steroid use amongst Eastern Bloc teams. fluctuations in training volume are applied.'^^"^^' and (ii) significant relationships exist between weightlifting ability and power output during jumping (r = 0.'^^"^''! However. The training programmes from the former Soviet Union were based upon the classic 'periodization' model'^^ consisting of a preparatory phase (generalized and specific conditioning). hang/power snatch. snatch and clean pulls. 3% to supplementary exercises and 2% to other sports and cross-training activities.'"'•'*^''*^' since the 1970s.'^ ' '^^"^^^ 4.'^'' There is very little variation in training intensity. back extensions and abdominal work) that target synergistic muscle groups are also used.76)t".3). 4. hang/power clean.P''^^"^*'^^-'*'^ More specific details are rarely outlined. 40% to complementary strength exercises.'2'-25. front and back squats) and supplementary exercises (e. Furthermore. due to the technically and physically demanding nature of the snatch and C&J.59 to 0. Ali rights reserved.g.g. overhead presses. 45% to competition lifts. It has been reported that Bulgarian lifters performed between 1400 and 4000 maximal attempts. near-maximal to maximal-intensity loading'^'••^^'^"'**1 and is more closely aligned with the demands of competition. modified versions are often employed by other athletes for the enhancement of muscular power. Eastern European teams. the training programmes of weightiifters differ.41). competition phase (specific training mimicking the demands of competition). However.'"! However.
masters' weightlifters (>35 years of age) exhibit significant declines in training ability and weightlifting performance. as the majority of the exercises that are performed by weightlifters are the competitive lifts and similar muitijoint movements. For example. As such.3% improvement in back squat) and high (6. . the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) propose (i) a training frequency of 4—6 sessions per week.'^'"*^1 considerable controversy still surrounds the use of weightlifting exercises in younger populations (i. it has recently been demonstrated that performing additional high-intensity training sessions within the same day does not lead to significantly greater performance improvements in young weightlifters. international-level senior weightlifters (20-35 years of age) demonstrate a greater ability to tolerate and adapt to higher volumes of high-intensity loading. Over a 10-week training period in competitive junior (17-20 years of age) weightlifters.'^^"*^' which is in accordance with the well documented impaired adaptive responses to resistance exercise with increasing adult age.'^'*''*''^ Although the competitive performances of weightlifters continue to improve. the incorporation of eccentric-only exercises).5% improvement in back squat) when compared with low (3.f^^"^^ In contrast to these findings. the frequency of HIRE performed by weightlifters exceeds evidence-based recommendations for improving muscular strength and power in advanced trained adults. and (iii) the efficacy of variations in training techniques (e.3 Application and Variation in Training Load International-level weightlifters perform two or more high-intensity resistance exercise (HIRE) [>80% lRM] sessions per day.'^^'^'i Previous evidence has also shown that repeated HIRE bouts of the same muscle group/s result in the persistent suppression of key anabolic mediators.'^'' In senior weightlifters. is more injurious to children or adolescents when compared with other sports. 6 or 7 days per week. Training and Physiology 775 'recovery' is believed to contribute to subsequent long-term improvements in performance. of the same major muscle groups. hypertrophy and maximal neural activation of the trained musculature. we propose that an inverted U-shaped relationship exists between competitive age and the volume of high-intensity loading that leads to enhanced weightlifting performance (figure 3). under proper supervision. dividing a given training volume across two sessions that are performed on the same day produces significantly greater increases in muscular strength. definitive biological and/or training age appropriate weightlifting training guidelines have yet to be established.t^*! In comparison.f^-'--*-^^' However. 11 C&J. Thus. prolonged infiammatory signalling and decrements in muscular performance.e. <17 years of age).5% improvement in C&J and 9. (ii) the infiuence of exercise volume and intensity on physiological and performance variables in female and youth weightlifters. 11 back squat and 9 front squat sessions. moderate volumes of high-intensity (>90-100% lRM) loading produced significantly greater strength gains (10.P'-^^'^*] An extreme example of this high-frequency of training was demonstrated by the Greek weightlifting team during preparations for the 1996 Olympic Games. absolute peak power output (PP) Sports Med 2012. as evident by increases in national and world records.0% improvement in C&J and 5. The training age of a weightlifter greatly inñuences their ability to positively adapt to the frequent use of HIRE.[^'"^'l On the basis of these findings. weightlifters demonstrate both acute and long-term improvements in competitive lifting performance in response to their frequent HIRE training Although little evidence exists to suggest that weighthfting training. a large number of muscle contractions are performed by the same major muscle groups within each training session. further research needs to be directed towards several aspects of weightlifting programme design.Competitive Weightlifting Performance.9% improvement in back squat performance only) volumes of similarly high-intensity loading.t-^^' Furthermore. Across a 6-day training week.g. These aspects include (i) effective coaching strategies for novice weightlifters. and (ii) training different muscle groups during subsequent strength and power sessions to allow for adequate recovery. During ballistic activities such as bench throws or jump squats. the Greek team performed 13 snatch. 4. 42 (9) Adis © 2012 Springer internationai Publishing AG.^'**'''^] However. Aii rights reserved.
t^'''''*'^"-^^' For example.''^'^^ which is high when compared with the recommended 1.['^•^''•^^•^^•^^•^°' However.[i8-20. contractile impulse and thus a greater PP when compared with maximal competition iifts. As the training and competition demands of weighthfters differ to those of other strength and power athletes.2-1. more recent research suggests that the load required to elicit PP during jump squats may even be as low as body mass only.'^'l This value is comparable with the metabolic cost incurred by high-volume circuit-style resistance exercise.P^'9'*''°°l As a result. weightlifters derive approximately 40-44% of their daily energy intake from dietary fat. Proposed relationship between the volume of high-intensity (90-100% of one-repetition maximum) loading that ieads to enhanced weightlifting performance and competitive age.P^''^-'^'''l In regards to macronutrient consumption.['*l As expected.Pi. at present there is a paucity of research examining the efficacy of power training with high. masters: >35 years of age.87] During the snatch and/or C&J. 4. the lighter relative training loads used for the power snatch.''^^ Furthermore. 42 (9) . Junior: 17 to <20 years of age. these reports suggest that the dietary habits of male weightlifters may not yield the desired training gains and/or health benefits due to the emphasis placed on protein consumption (with high fat) at the expense of adequate carbohydrate ingestion. weightHfters will frequently train for the competitive lifts at intensities >70% of lRM.t''''^'''J Therefore.2g/kg/day. the protein intake of male weightlifters has been reported to range between 1.95-97] are comparable with those of other strength and power athletes. PP has been shown to occur with loads of 70-80% of I R M " 9-30.9-6.P3. has been shown to occur between training loads of 30-50% of lRM. further research is required to (i) document the current dietary habits of competitive weightlifters. penditures incurred by the athletes. For example. the prescription of relatively low-intensity (i. it is reported that weightlifters consume a greater number of daily servings of protein-rich sources when compared with other athletes.e. Sports Med 2012.7 g/kg/day for resistance training athletes.88] demonstrating that the high-intensity training of weightlifters results in improved PP under highload conditions.'""'^ Combined. Att rtgtits reserved. and (ii) identify the optimal macronutrient balance for weighthfting performance.versus low-load weighthfting exercises in trained strength and power athletes.776 Storey & Smith High Volume of high-intensity loading Moderate Lovi/ Fig.1 g/kg/dayP^-'^''°^l are insufficient according to the current recommended levels of 7-8 g/kg/day for athletic individuals. wrestlers. 0-60% lRM) resistance exercise (inclusive of complementary weightlifting exercises) is often recommended to improve muscular power and dynamic athletic performance.95. 3.i02] ^^ich is also well above the acceptable range for health and athletic performance of 20-35%.96.5kJ/min was recorded in male weightlifters during a 1 week preparatory phase of training characterized by a moderate.25-28] Athletes who are required to generate high PP against heavy external loads (e.^ ^^^ consistent with the values recommended for 'hard training' male athletes (14 700-23 100kJ/day). the training stimulus alone produced a weekly energy expenditure of 16456kJ.36. power clean and various pulling movements result in a greater maximum barbell vertical velocity.g. senior: >20 to <35 years of age. the reported carbohydrate intakes in weighthfters of 2.to highintensity lifts.I^^-"] However.to high-volume of moderate.6g/kg/day and 3.4 Metabolic Cost of Weightlifting and Nutritionai Practices The metabolic demands of weightlifting training are refiected in the relatively high energy exAdis © 2012 Springer International Publishing AG. bobsledders and rugby union/league players) are likely to benefit from high-load weightlifdng training.['°3-'O'*' This is a possible consequence of their greater intake of protein-rich animal products. Therefore.'^'l The reported mean daily energy intakes of male weighthfters range between 13 212 kJ and 19 307kJ. the corresponding relative daily energy intakes values of 134-244 kJ/kg/dayP3. a mean caloric expenditure of 39.['3-97] ^^i^. Conversely.86.'^°'^^'^^''°'l Furthermore.86.
e. 42 (9) . which is advantageous to weightlifting performance. Mild hypohydration techniques may then be implemented 24 hours prior to competition weigh-in.''•''*] 6. a minor reduction in body mass (e.''22.3).''°^""°' less evidence exists regarding the effects of hypohydration on muscular strength and power. minor dietary modifications should be introduced in the weeks leading up to competition to achieve a body mass of <2% above that desired/required for competition.''°''^^''^^l However.'""' To 'make weight' and to avoid the loss of lean muscle mass.1.. For weightlifters opting to train at a body mass >3% above their competition weight.['°^' Whilst the detrimental effects of hypohydration on endurance performance are well documented.5 Influence of Body Weight Changes on Performance Athletes participating in weight-restricted events will often train at a body mass that is 5-10% above their required competition weight class.''^^''^^' Thus.''"1 However.^^' In the week leading up to competition. lifters (i. muscular endurance and PP have demonstrated a decrease'"'""^' or no change'"^""'^ in these variables.i25] These compositional characteristics are comparable to weight restricted wrestlers and athletes competing in the sprinting and jumping events of athletics. over a 2 hour period as done in competition) have effectively restored performance variables.120-125] Light. shot put and hammer throwing athletes.e. powerlifters. the limited data suggest that the body fat percentages of female weightiifters may be double that of male weightiifters of a similar body mass. and (ii) the amount of muscular work required to lift a given load is decreased via a reduction in the vertical distance that the barbell must be displaced. rapid rehydration interventions over a short period of time (i. to middle-weight male weightAdis © 2012 Springer internationai Pubiishing AG.e.125. followed by effective rehydration strategies afterwards. This is achieved via passive methods including self-limited fiuid intake."0-'22-i23. Evaluations of the effects of short-term hypohydration on maximal force production.Competitive Weightlifting Performance. weightiifters in the heavy to unlimited weight classes (i. <94 kg to >105kg) tend to be more endomorphic mesos''^^' with corresponding body fat percentages °''^'-'^^ These individuals possess similar body compositions to heavyweight wrestlers.e.g. Physioiogicai Responses and Adaptations to Weightiifting The complexity. the shorter body dimensions coincide with a greater mean skeletal muscle cross-sectional area. a loss of 1-2 kg) might be achieved by restricting fluid intake and consuming a low residue diet.''°^-' '•*' It is thus tenable that severe hypohydration would impair weightlifting performance. an athlete's ability to overcome the detrimental effects of dehydration is severely affected when hypohydrationinduced reductions in body mass reach 3-4%. intensity and brevity of weightlifting impose great challenges when attempting Sports ivied 2012.136] ^uch anthropométrie characteristics provide two mechanical advantages when lifting maximal loads: (i) the mechanical torque that is required to lift a given load is less due to shorter lengths of the resistance lever arms. Anthropométrie Charaoteristios of Weightiifters The anthropométrie characteristics of male weightiifters have been documented extensivejy [10.''^'l Furthermore. larger biacromial breadths and are shorter in height. Where mild hypohydration (i. weightiifters have proportionally shorter arm span and tibial lengths.''"•'•^^'''^^l Conversely.i33-i40] In comparison to other strength and power athletes of a similar body mass and composition. the resulting differences in lean body mass becomes a major contributing factor to the divergent neuromuscular responses seen between male and female and elite versus nonelite weightiifters (refer section 6.''2O''22. <56 kg to <85 kg) are somatotyped as predominately ectomorphic or mesomorphic''2^*' with body fat percentages of 5-10%. 5. it is common for weightiifters to rapidly reduce total body water content prior to competition weigh in. discus. <2% reduction in body mass) techniques have attenuated neuromuscular performance. Training and Physiology 4. Aii rights reserved. elite male and female weightiifters exhibit a lower body fat percentage when compared with lower level competitors of a similar total body mass. acute heat exposure and/or the use of (banned) diuretic agents."°''2''"'3'l Although the anthropométrie data on female weightiifters is less comprehensive.
the isometric PF and been reported in untrained adults. have been reported in male weightlifters.2 and 4.''*''''^^-'^'*! The force-velocity properties of a muscle are in Improvements in both PF and contractile RFD part determined by the relative proportions of have been reported in male and female weightfast-twitch (type IIA and IIX. evidence from cross-sectional studies suggests that values as high as 5442 W and 6981 W.to long-term periods as IIB) and slow-twitch (type I) muscle fibres. SporfsMed2012.''^*''^^! production as type II fibres possess a greater ca. PF is reached in the vicinity of 300-400msec.''-^-'*-^! For example. HIRE studies in non-weightlifters indicates that there may also be a concomitant IIX to IIA fibretype transformation. 6. formerly identified lifters following moderate. swimmers.''*''^-''*-'^^! Thus. which involve a planned reduction in training volume.'''*^-''*'*-'''^-''**! Evidence from longitudinal male and female weightlifters range from 53 W/kg Adis © 2012 Springer infernafionai Pubiishing AG.94) and the literature. As such there is limited data on the acute neuromuscular.I'*"-'*''-'^'! However.'^"*-"*'! of training. during the type IIA percent fibre area (r = 0.P^-**'''-^^-''*^! These findings demonstrate Strength and power athletes.'^-^! lifters results in hypertrophy of type IIA fi.1 Skeletal Muscle Structure and Function the early phase of muscle contraction is of great 6.3) effecfibres in the vastus lateralis ranging from 53% to tively increases muscular strength and power con65%. a restoration of type IIX content has been shown to occur in other athletes (i. investigations into the physiological responses and adaptations of masters' weightlifters do provide some insight into the long-term benefits of weightlifting training. weightlifters have demonstrated some of addition.''*^-'^^ As a result. when compared siderably larger in weightlifters.that the frequent high-intensity training used by lifters. Aii righfs reserved. the existence of a tapering-induced reshift in the fibre-type composition of competitive weightlifters has yet to be quantified. throwers and jumpers).''*'*''**! During isometric conditions. Furthermore.'''*'*-"*'-'^^! the peak RFD of male weightlifters is -15-20% and cross-sectional areas of type II fibres are con.181] relative myosin heavy chain IIA isoform content have been shown to be greater in weightlifters when During the performance of the snatch and compared with recreationally active adults. weightlifting performance is strongly cor.2 Neuromuscular Function Maximal voluntary isometric peak force (PF) and PP are strongly related to weightlifting performance.ively.e.83).["*3! Thus. Furthermore.i"*^-""*-"*'-"**! Such with other strength and power athletes (i.42(9) .'''*'-'^'"'^^! neural activation of motor units''**''*''*"-'*'! and/ Both the proportion of type IIA fibres and the or a selective recruitment of fast-twitch motor [180. weightlifters achieve PF. respectthe frequent high-intensity training of weight. including weight.''^'^*! Conversely. few studies have examined the adaptations of the neuromuscular and endocrine systems that arise from moderate (weeks-months) to long-term (months-years) periods of weightlifting-specific training.1.-13-16% greater. sprinters.the highest absolute and relative PP reported in related to type IIA percent content (r=0.1. the maximal contractile rate of force development (RFD) in 6. runners and cyclists) during pre-competition tapers.'''*^! In C&J. cardiovascular and endocrine responses that occur (especially in female weightlifters) during weightlifting training and competition. it is onerous and/or inappropriate to apply similar exercise protocols in non-weightlifters due to the technically demanding nature of the specific movements.778 Storey & Smith to obtain valid and meaningful physiological data from competitive weightlifters. during dynamic weightlifting movements.Furthermore. PP and maximum barbell velocities in <260msec.This improved muscular function may arise due pacity to generate power per unit cross-sectional to an enhanced voluntary and/or refiex-induced area when compared with type I fibres. exhibit mean percentages of fast-twitch weightlifters (refer to sections 4. However.''^^"'*^' However.e.l^''-''*^"''**! Although similar percentages have currently. respectively.1 Fibre Type Composition importance to these athletes. the corresponding relative PP for bres. second pull of maximal snatch and C&J attempts. football a structural difference is advantageous to force players.
'^^^ These findings highlight the important contribution that the lower body makes to power development in weightiifters.and Age-Related Differences in Neuromuscuiar Function To compare performances across the different body weight classes.''•^' In addition.5 77. Sinclair scores.2 80.Competitive Weightlifting Performance.711.'*^' demonstrated that. respectively [139.6 79. 2011. reported sex-related differences in absolute neuromuscular strength and power range from 31% to 48% and 17% to 46%.''^^' The lifter's actual competition total is multiplied by the appropriate Sinclair coefficient. during upper body only exercise.6 80. a number of studies have investigated the influence of increasing age on competitive weightlifting performance and neuromuscular function. they may be explained by the specificity of training. it is evident that although long-term weightlifting training minimizes the sexrelated difference in neuromuscular function. Thus.e.4 128 158 286 79.and age-related differences in the under 69 kg world records' Category Youth Lift Snatch C&J Total Junior Snatch C&J Total Senior Snatch C&J Total a C&J = clean and jerl<. Furthermore.8 82.0 + 2.e. have been reported''*-^' with relative PP ranging from -4-12 W/kg.5 77.''^''''^^-'^'-'^^' However. as handball players are required to perform repeated highintensity upper body movements (i. the upper body musculature of a weightlifter plays a relatively lesser role. Adis © 2012 Springer International Publishing AG.3 Sex. there is a consistent sex-related difference of 15-20% (table I). throwing) in competition. on average. are used. All rights reserved. Sex. based upon current world record totals and adjusted each Olympic year. The resulting score is a projec- tion of the total the lifter would theoretically achieve if they were in the super heavy-weight class with the same lifting ability.4 357 Current world records as of November.''-''*-'^^''^^' However.2 ±1. many tend to yield either an overestimation or underestimation for certain body weights.2 79.]. Training and Physiology 779 to 56 W/kg and 38 W/kg to 40 W/kg. no differences in absolute or relative PP were shown to exist between weightiifters and handball players. factors such as the distribution and total amount of lean body mass in male and female weightiifters will ultimately influence the expression of strength and power across all age and weight categories.5] ^g ^ comparison. untrained Table I. respectively.4 84. In untrained and/or recreationally trained males and females. in comparison to the legs. during exercise tests that incorporate the lower body (i.189-192] However. during the snatch and 6.'*^"**-"^-"'^' Pearson et al.[4. masters' weightiifters (aged 40-87 years) were able to generate 32% more isometric knee extensor force and lower body explosive power when compared with age-matched. Male 142 172 310 158 190 346 165 197 Female 117 145 262 123 157 275 Percentage of the male record obtaihed by a female 82. absolute PP of 415 W and 1274 W. when comparing the current under 69 kg (the only common body weight class between sexes) world record lifts for youth.'^^'^^' Conversely.'*^'^'^J As competitive weightlifting is becoming increasingly popular in masters' athletes. during maximal bench press and deadlift exercises performed by male strength athletes. Various other allometric scaling formulae have been derived. healthy. Sports Med 2012.3 84. 42 (9) . clean pulls and various jumps) the reported PP of male weightiifters is -13-36% greater when compared with other power athletes. junior and senior male and female weightiifters. respectively.9 Mean±SD(%) 83.
body surface area and/or lean body mass.^^'l Thus.'"^"^' A significant reduction in type II fibre size and content is associated with increasing agel"**"^""' and is likely to contribute to the annual decline of -1-1. Ail rights reserved.pos) However.'^^' Therefore. 4. chemical indicators of bone formation are elevated by up to 35% in actively competitive weightlifters when compared with age-matched.2 Bone iVIineral Density The skeletal structures of weightlifters undergo significant adaptations in response to the large compressive and shear forces that are encountered during training and competition. it was concluded that only the ability to perform complex and explosive power-type exercises declines at a greater rate in women.1*^1 the rate of decline in competitive performance is markedly greater in women across all weight classes.'^^1 These findings are in accordance with previous investigations.36. Sports Med 2012. R^ = coefficient of determination. healthy adults. former weightlifters aged between 50 and 64 years have been shown to exhibit a significantly greater bone mass when compared with age-matched controls. it appears that longterm weightlifting training and competition has the potential to attenuate the age-related decline in motor unit size. greater site-specific increases in trabecular and cortical bone densities have been reported in the vertebrae (13-42%). it is evident that weightlifters must maintain an adequate level of physical activity past the age of 65 in order to attenuate age-related dechnes in bone mass. in most instances. tibia (9-12%) and radius (10%) of competitive weightlifters when compared with untrained and recreationally trained adults.'^22. The sex-related differences as a funcfion of age (years) between male and female world record tofals in the under 69 kg category.780 Storey & Smith adults.'^^' Furthermore.I*^-''^! According to Anton et al. number and/or function that becomes apparent after the age of 60 years. M = masters. no such sex-related difference with increasing age has been reported during the expression of maximal strength in competitive powerlifting. which have demonstrated that women undergo 60-| greater age-related declines in muscle shortening velocity and PP than men.^^o'-^o^] 6. 42 (9) .5% in PP and competitive performance that has been reported in masters' weightlifters. the increased LV mass exhibited by weightlifters is proportional to their total body mass. Adis © 2012 Springer internationai Pubiishing AG. Interestingly. thereby indicating a = 0. agematched adults.t^^' These previous findings are confirmed when comparing the current under 69 kg male and female world records across all age categories (figure 4). It is likely that neural factors contributed to this enhanced functionality in older weightlifters as no significant differences in lean lower-limb volume existed between groups.3 Cardiovascuiar Structure and Function High-intensity resistance exercise increases peripheral vascular resistance.203] gj^.'^°''^ Furthermore. no differences in bone mass existed between groups.['2'-2'3-227] go^ig investigations have reported that the absolute LV mass (g) of weightlifters may be -13-30% larger than that of age-matched healthy and/or sedentary control subjects. which is likely due to a decreased neural drive and a combination of muscle fibre loss and atrophy.^"^'^''1 The increase in myocardial wall thickness arises due to the parallel addition of new myofibrils and is a compensatory attempt to reduce LV wall stress and systolic pressure. femoral neck/trochanter (12-24%).P"''2'^'222-22^-229] However. World record totals as of November. the maximal motor unit discharge rates in the rectus femoris of masters' weightlifters have been shown to be -20% greater than in untrained.P"'^'^' A number of studies have examined the ventricular morphology and function in competitive weightlifters.90 10- Age category (years) Fig.'^°^"-^°'l Following -30 years of retirement from weighthfting. . 6. 2011. thereby stimulating concentric left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy.'"^' Therefore. between the ages of 65-79 years.
cortisol and growth hormone.'^**"^"*^ The available data pertaining to the testosterone response to competition and competition-hke settings is limited to salivary measures.22i.2 Testosterone : Cortisol Ratio The basal testosterone : cortisol (T : C) ratio is often used to represent the physiological strain Sports Med 2012. strength and power.'^"' Conversely. other studies have shown no significant differences in absolute or relative measures of cardiac morphology between weighthfters and healthy adults.228.23i] As expected. low-volume.'^^*! Xhis is in accordance with previous investigations that have demonstrated no significant changes in total testosterone following highintensity.226-228.'22''l However.'2i4. Here we include where substantial data have been obtained. it appears that competition settings fail to meet the exercise volume threshold that is required to induce a significant testosterone response in weightlifters. and diastolic blood pressure between 71 mmHg and 93 mmHg.'''^'! Short-term (8 weeks) weighthfting-style training in active adults has been shown to increase both absolute and relative VO2max by ~6-7%. Training and Physiology 781 physiological as opposed to a pathological adaptation. systolic blood pressure between 115 mmHg and 153 mmHg.4nmol/L to 27. volume and intensity. Passelergue et al.'^'*^' reported no significant changes in sahvary total testosterone.1 Testosterone Testosterone is a potent androgenic-anabolic hormone that is considered to be a major promoter of muscular hypertrophy.P'9.230. 6. Alt rights reserved.7 mol/L).229] -j-j^g•^^^f importance as LV hypertrophy is categorized as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular morbid events.4. 42 (9) .'^'5.1-34. the training age of an individual also affects the exercise-induced testosterone response.226] j ^ e lack of difference in these results may be explained by (i) the experimental groups being more evenly matched for body dimensions. healthy untrained men (12.243] shortterm exercise-induced increases in total serum testosterone of-17-30% have been reported in male weightlifters in response to acute weightlifting training sessions of moderate to high intensity and volume.'^"*'! Combined.^^"*! 6.'^'^' In hght of these findings.'2'5'2'^l (ii) differences in the training history of the control subjects (e.224.'2'«'242.'^^^' and (iii) possible sex-related differences in cardiac hypertrophy as only one study has examined cardiac morphology in female weighthfters. the consensus of opinion is that weighthfting does not induce a true concentric enlargement of the left ventricle as seen in pathological conditions.g.Competitive Weightlifting Performance. resistance exercise protocols. sedentary/untrained vs recreationally trained). respectively.4 Endocrine Evidence of endocrine responses and adaptations in weightlifters and/or related to weightlifting performance are predominately limited to anabolic Adis © 2012 Springer International Pubttshtng AG.'235'2361 The reported basal serum total testosterone concentrations in male weightlifters range from ~14.'''''^^'2'*'l In addition to the influence of exercise type.7mL/kg/min. reported values for mean heart rates range between 60 beats per minute (bpm) and 81bpm.222.'232] With regards to resting haemodynamics.'^'^^'^'^^'^''''^^"! 6. The cardiorespiratory function of competitive male weightlifters.'^^--^'*^' During official and simulated weightlifting competitions.4. From this limited data. the responses of testosterone.221. as determined by maximal oxygen consumption (VOjmsjd^ has been reported to range between 42.0 and 50. Elite junior weighthfters with >2 years training experience exhibit significantly greater exercise-induced increases in serum testosterone when compared with those with <2 years training experience."^0-'^«-237-24i] which is within the normal range for young. annual evaluations over the course of 3 years of specific weightlifting training in competitive weightlifters revealed significant reductions in both absolute and relative VOsmax of -4% and 11%. and catabolic hormones for the large part in young male weightlifters.233] -pj^ese data classify weightlifters as being 'normal' or stage 1 hypertensive as per the ACSM guidehnes."2i-226-228. these mean values are similar to those of other athletes involved in short-duration highintensity/power activities.222.23t.2'8. these results demonstrate that weighthfting training ehcits a response similar to that reported for conventional strength and hypertrophy protocols involving large muscle mass exercises.7nmol/L. moderately long rest period duration.
Although the use of weightlifting exercises are becoming increasingly popular across a number of sports.'^^' Furthermore.24i. a greater decrease in the salivary T : C ratio.[i32. which in turn increases cortisol secretion.5-13-fold increases in GH have been reported in male weightiifters in response to their high-intensity.'-^^'' it is possible that this mechanism may account for the higher cortisol levels and the superior lifting performances that were reported during an official competition. bodybuilders and powerlifters) when compared with recreationally trained and untrained adults. Particular focus needs to be directed towards understanding the acute responses and long-term adaptations of female weightiifters.'^^^^ demonstrated that a 54% increase in weightlifting training volume over 2 weeks resulted in a 60% reduction in the basal T : C ratio. volume and type of exercise performed (i. these confficting results may be explained by (i) the differences in the training experience of participants that has been shown to affect the magnitude of GH release. the frequency of HIRE performed by weightiifters is unmatched by other athletes and exceeds the current ACSM recommendations for strength and power training. hypertrophy training).e. high-volume and short rest period resistance exercise protocols (i.'^''^'^^^'^*^ and (ii) differences in the absolute and relative intensity. when compared with a simulated competition. Aii rights reserved. similar basal GH concentrations have been reported Adis © 2012 Springer internatiohai Pubiishihg AG.''^^' Conversely. a 37. Recommendations and Conciusions The high-intensity.e. during extended training periods (i.245.'^''^'^^"^*^] In contrast to these latter findings.'^'*^'^^''^^^] Conversely. as the majority of existing research has solely been conducted in male athletes. high-power training. low repetitions and long rest periods.'2^'"253] as it generally exhibits an inverse relationship with exercise volume.'^^] However. across a 5-week training period in elite female weightlifters.''^2.'^^' In stressful situations. weightlifting training for >1 year and prior exposure to increased training volumes appears to attenuate this relationship. isolation vs multijoint exercise) in each i 7.262] g^g.4. 42 (9) . Of particular interest is that the rapid force and power generating ability of weightiifters exceeds that of other strength and power athletes. competitors with higher pre-competition salivary cortisol levels also exhibited superior lifting performances.254] and other strength athletes (i. Wu et al. example. However. the T : C ratio is greatly inffuenced by pre-competition anxiety and may decrease prior to any form of strenuous physical activity.P^'] In accordance with this contention.3 Growth Hormone in male and female weightlifters''33. Sports ivied 2012. thus.P^°' As a positive association exists between increased catecholamine levels and force production.257] ji^yg^ ^j^g routine assessment of the basal T : C ratio may provide an effective way in which to measure acute and chronic adaptive responses to weightlifting training. experienced weightiifters have demonstrated a positive association between an increased basal T : C ratio and maximal voluntary isometric PF and pp. salivary cortisol levels have been shown to increase by 230% from basal values.'242.5% in basal T . explosive nature of weightlifting training and competition results in a number of structural and functional adaptations of the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. it is imperative that further research is conducted in these populations to ensure the development of safe and effective training programmes. \2—lA weeks) of varying intensity and volume.26i. C ratios.255.238.'^^' 6.l^^^] A pre-competition anticipatory rise in circulating catecholamines'^^°-^^'] may stimulate the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone. only minor increases in GH have been reported following conventional strength and power protocols that use high loads.254-256] p^j.e. nificant exercise-induced increases in GH occur similarly in men and women in response to moderate-intensity. an official weightlifting competition has been shown to produce a higher salivary cortisol response and.244.i76.P"*^! Furthermore.e. 4.''^^'^'*''^^' However. As younger and older individuals of both sexes are being drawn to the sport of weightlifting.782 Storey & Smith imposed by a training programme. In competition settings. Conventional resistance exercise does not appear to affect basal concentrations of growth hormone (GH).0% reduction in training volume elicited a mean increase of 72.
A simplified approach to program design for elite Junior weightlifters. Garhammer J. Vaughan CL. Ebben W. Pierce KC. Int J Sport Biomech 1985. Changes in bar path kinematics and kinetics through use of summary feedback in power snatch training. Optimal loading for peak power output during the hang power clean in professional rugby players. The pull in Olympic weightlifting. Comparative 3-dimensional kinematic analysis of the snatch technique in elite male and female Greek weightlifters. Garhammer J. Garhammer J. Aggelousis N.42(9) . McCauUey G. J Strength Cond Res 2006. 20 (4): 843-50 13. 39 (2): 340-9 20. Cuesta A. Cooper J. Mavromatis G. Hoover D. Developing maximal neuromuscular power. No ftinding was received for this review. J Strength Cond Res 2005. Armstrong LE. J Strength Cond Res 2010. Strength Cond J 2006. Garhammer J. editor. 24 (6). et al. Dugan CA. 15 (1). 1: 122-30 4. Zernicke RF. Stone MH. et al. performance prediction. Bevan H. Poletaev P. 16-8 29. 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