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How old are the best athletes in weightlifting and powerlifting

Summary of an article analyzing the age of peak performance in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting using data up to 2017.

Who

4385 athletes taking part in international events up to year 2017 (World).

Weightlifting
World Championships and Olympic Games between 1998 and 2017
Powerlifting
World Championships (equipped) between 2003 and 2017

Design

Analysis of the results listed on the websites of the International Weightlifting Federation and International Powerlifting Federation.

Weight class changed and therefore some categories were merged and some were omitted.

Outcome measures/tests

  • weightlifting: snatch, clean & jerk
  • powerlifting (equipped): bench press, back squat, deadlift
  • medalist (top 3) vs non-medalists

Main results

Weightlifting: women

Lift: snatch
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
4882 (±6)24.7 (±3.4)
5388 (±67)25.8 (±3.0)
5896 (±5)25.6 (±3.3)
63103 (±8)27.2 (±2.8)
69108 (±11)24.3 (±4.7)
75111 (±11)26.7 (±3.1)
>75122 (±13)25.1 (±3.8)
mean (SD)
Lift: clean & jerk
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
48103 (±9)24.8 (±3.1)
53110 (±8)24.3 (±2.7)
58123 (±8)26.0 (±4.2)
63128 (±10)26.5 (±3.1)
69136 (±13)24.4 (±4.7)
75136 (±14)27.1 (±3.4)
>75154 (±16)25.7 (±3.8)
mean (SD)

Weightlifting: men

Lift: snatch
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
56122 (±9)25.9 (±3.6)
62133 (±9)27.2 (±4.1)
69146 (±9)26.4 (±2.6)
77159 (±7)26.2 (±3.1)
85166 (±10)26.5 (±3.2)
94173 (±6)25.1 (±2.7)
105185 (±8)25.7 (±2.5)
>105193 (±15)28.0 (±3.0)
mean (SD)
Lift: clean & jerk
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
56151 (±10)26.2 (±3.4)
62164 (±10)27.6 (±5.1)
69177 (±9)26.1 (±3.1)
77193 (±9)25.8 (±2.7)
85202 (±9)24.7 (±2.6)
94212 (±8)24.9 (±2.7)
105220 (±9)24.7 (±2.2)
>105232 (±15)28.4 (±3.5)
mean (SD)

Powerlifting (equipped): women

Lift: bench press
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
4798 (±19)35.5 (±8.0)
5299 (±17)35.4 (±7.3)
57114 (±19)35.5 (±5.8)
63154 (±19)34.8 (±5.2)
72160 (±16)35.7 (±8.4)
84168 (±20)40.2 (±6.3)
>84177 (±21)40.6 (±5.8)
mean (SD)
Lift: squat
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
47169 (±25)34.2 (±7.9)
52171 (±26)36.3 (±7.0)
57197 (±19)35.2 (±5.6)
63220 (±15)35.3 (±6.6)
72233 (±18)34.5 (±9.1)
84230 (±31)38.3 (±7.8)
>84263 (±38)37.9 (±7.3)
mean (SD)
Lift: deadlift
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
47162 (±18)35.4 (±7.8)
52168 (±15)36.5 (±7.1)
57189 (±8)36.9 (±6.2)
63211 (±21)32.7 (±5.2)
72222 (±16)33.7 (±8.3)
84202 (±22)35.0 (±8.5)
>84223 (±20)37.7 (±7.3)
mean (SD)

Powerlifting (equipped): men

Lift: bench press
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
59170 (±20)32.1 (±4.0)
66186 (±30)34.6 (±4.4)
74196 (±30)34.2 (±3.6)
83229 (±30)36.4 (±6.9)
93240 (±27)35.8 (±6.8)
105269 (±25)33.4 (±4.8)
120253 (±26)33.7 (±10.5)
>120306 (±43)34.1 (±7.5)
mean (SD)
Lift: squat
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
59260 (±18)30.7 (±5.4)
66281 (±27)34.9 (±7.0)
74295 (±40)33.9 (±3.6)
83331 (±25)33.7 (±7.6)
93339 (±31)36.2 (±6.1)
105376 (±25)33.8 (±5.1)
120382 (±34)34.6 (±10.0)
>120397 (±29)35.0 (±5.2)
mean (SD)
Lift: deadlift
Weight class [kg]Peak weight [kg]Peak age [years]
59243 (±19)32.1 (±4.2)
66277 (±26)33.5 (±6.6)
74288 (±21)33.8 (±4.2)
83307 (±21)32.8 (±5.8)
93316 (±24)35.0 (±6.6)
105342 (±25)31.0 (±5.2)
120355 (±31)36.1 (±10.1)
>120327 (±23)33.6 (±5.3)
mean (SD)

Results summary

  • The overall peak age was 26 (±3) years in weightlifting and 35 (±7) years in powerlifting.
  • Compering medalist with non-medalists, medalists were significantly younger in weightlifting, but not in powerlifting. Non-medalists in powerlifting improved more during the 5 years leading to peak performance.
  • Overall improvements within 5 years leading to peak performance were 9% in weightlifting and 12% in powerlifting. Women improved at a higher rate than men over these 5 years both in weightlifting and powerlifting.
  • Weight class changes were beneficial (athletes placed 1-3 placings higher for both weightlifting and powerlifting).

Take home message

For a clinician
The overall peak age was 26 (±3) years in weightlifting and 35 (±7) years in powerlifting. Please refer to the tables for data on specific lift, sex and weight class.
For a parent
Please refer to the tables above for data on specific lift, sex and weight class.
For an athlete
Please refer to the tables above to find data specific to your sex and weight class.

Original article

Solberg PA, Hopkins WG, Paulsen G, Haugen TA. Peak age and performance progression in world-class weightlifting and powerlifting athletes. International journal of sports physiology and performance. 2019 Jan 1;1(aop):1-24.

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