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Top 10 most important (and why?) research articles in Olympic weightlifting of 2021 (+ 2 bonus articles)

What a year it was… Here is the Evidence Strong’s list of the most important research from 2021 with the whys. Of course this list in not exhaustive, many more great studies were published. I may add to ths list later. Also, feel free to send your recommendations my way.

Without farther ado… If you had no time to read this year - here is your ‘catch up’ list. Enjoy!

1 What do Olympic weightlifters think about their body and weight class?

This is one of only two studies published on the topic of body image in Olympic weightlifters ever. The second one is Training cues and craziness culture in Georgian Olympic weightlifting published in 2016. Such an important topic, influencing not only performance but also health, wellness and longevity.

Without understanding how athletes think about their bodies, it is hard to prevent any potential issues arising from manipulating body weight for competition and performance.

Original paper

Nelson M, Jette S. Down with the Thickness?: Male Olympic Weightlifters’ Negotiations of Weight Class, Strength, & Body Composition. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 2021 Sep 8:1-6.

2 Hook grip is better, but why?

This article is actually two research studies summarised together. I have put is as a second one becouse hook grip is quick to implement. You can start today and immediately improve your lifting, especially if it is a heavy session.

Origial papers:

Oranchuk DJ, Drinkwater EJ, Lindsay RS, Helms ER, Harbour ET, Storey AG. Improvement of kinetic, kinematic, and qualitative performance variables of the power clean with the hook grip. International journal of sports physiology and performance. 2019 Mar 1;14(3):378-84.

Oranchuk DJ, Harbour ET, Lindsay RS, Storey AG, Drinkwater EJ. Improved power clean performance with the hook-grip is not due to altered force-time or horizontal bar-path characteristics. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2021 Oct 3:1-0.

3 How do plyometric exercises influence balance in Olympic weightlifting?

Another from a ‘quick-fix’ articles. Excelent balance improves Olympic weightlifting performance. Implement this effective protocol as a part of your warm-up and improve your balance immediately.

Original paper

Werfelli H, Hammami R, Selmi MA, Selmi W, Gabrilo G, Clark CC, Duncan M, Sekulic D, Granacher U, Rebai H. Acute Effects of Different Plyometric and Strength Exercises on Balance Performance in Youth Weightlifters. Frontiers in Physiology. 2021:1475.

4 Acute myocarditis risk in weightlifting

This one is super important for anyone who cares about weightlifter’s health. Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) is rare, but when is develops, it can have serious consequences. Weightlifters may be at a higher risk for developing complications.

Original paper

Bouchau R, Cariou E, Deney A, Belaid S, Itier R, Blanchard V, Fournier P, Duparc A, Galinier M, Carrié D, Lairez O. Sports participation and myocarditis: Influence of sport types on disease severity. IJC Heart & Vasculature. 2021 Dec 1;37:100895.

5 Does mental fatigue influences how hard the session feels in Olympic weightlifting?

Understanding mental fatigue is important for long-term performance and injury prevention. This article is highlighting the difference between weightlifters and for example basketball players - not all athletes are the same. And not all sports exert the same mental fatigue.

Original paper

Coyne JO, Coutts AJ, Newton RU, Haff GG. The Influence of Mental Fatigue on Sessional Ratings of Perceived Exertion in Elite Open and Closed Skill Sports Athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2021 Apr 1;35(4):963-9.

6 How Olympic weigthlifters develop from the age of 9 to the age of 17

Great study showing how athletes (both girls and boys) develop in weightlifting. Understanding the expected development is important to gauge expectations. As a bonus, researcher ofer some numbers on how the countermovement jump can be used to measure progress in Sinclair total.

Original paper

Mizuguchi S, Cunanan AJ, Suarez DG, Cedar WE, South MA, Gahreman D, Hornsby WG, Stone MH. Performance Comparisons of Youth Weightlifters as a Function of Age Group and Sex. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology. 2021 Sep;6(3):57.

7 Doping in Olympic weightlifting

There is no running away from the topic of doping in weightlifting in 2021. This study offers a scientific analysis of sanctions between 2008 and 2019, including results of sample re-testing from 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.

Original paper

Kolliari-Turner A, Oliver B, Lima G, Mills JP, Wang G, Pitsiladis Y, Guppy FM. Doping practices in international weightlifting: analysis of sanctioned athletes/support personnel from 2008 to 2019 and retesting of samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Sports Medicine-Open. 2021 Dec;7(1):1-0.

8 How did pandemic affect Olympic weightlifters?

Pandemic affected everyone, but this study offers insides into how pandemic specifically influences weightlifters.

Original paper

Huebner M, Ma W, Rieger T. Weightlifting during the COVID-19 Pandemic—A Transnational Study Regarding Motivation, Barriers, and Coping of Master Athletes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021 Jan;18(17):9343.

9 Medical care at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ weightlifting venue

If you are an athlete, parent, coach or event organizer, you will want to know what medical care is required at the event. What should you prepare for, and what to pack with you to the competition.

Original paper

Ashikaga K, Yoneyama K, Hirayama K, Suzuki T, Muroi R, Inoue R, Ishibashi Y, Nakase J, Takeda H, Fujiya H. Medical care provision at the venue of the weightlifting event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Sport Sciences for Health. 2021 Nov 19:1-6.

10 Tokyo 2020 weightlifting medalists’ characteristics

Olympics is the highest level competition in Olympic weightlifting. This study goes through the characteristics of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ medalists. If you want to compare how you or your athletes compare, have a read.

Original paper

Oleshko VG, Yang T, Torokhtiy OP, Putsoff SO. Competitive Activity of Weightlifters at the XXXII Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo: Results and Prospects. Health, sport, rehabilitation. 2021 Dec 25;7(4):69-83.

Bonus 1 Fat loss for resistance-trained athletes. What is effective?

A ‘must-read’ for anyone learning about reducing body weight.

Original paper

Ruiz-Castellano C, Espinar S, Contreras C, Mata F, Aragon AA, Martínez-Sanz JM. Achieving an Optimal Fat Loss Phase in Resistance-Trained Athletes: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2021 Sep;13(9):3255.

Bonus 2 How does calorie deficit influence muscle growth and strength?

This one is also useful for learning about reducing body weight and how it influences muscle growth and strength.

Original paper

Murphy C, Koehler K. Energy Deficiency Impairs Resistance Training Gains in Lean Mass but not Strength: A Meta‐Analysis and Meta‐Regression. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2021 Oct 8.

Take home message

For a clinician & coach
Read all of them. Evidence Strong summaries count :). Send me a message with your favorite one, or ask me any questions.
For a parent
Read number 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Also Bonus 1 and 2.
For an athlete
Read 2, 3, 5, 6 and 10. And bonus 1 or 2.

You might also want to read Evidence Strong’s 2021 originals

Which weightlifting shoe won the most medals at the Tokyo Olympics?

At what age are we the strongest? Surprising truth

What happens during 10 years of Olympic weightlifting? (in women)

How oral contraceptives influence strength performance and health

Top 10 most important (and why) research articles in Olympic weightlifting of 2021 - infographic

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