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What influences Olympic weightlifting performance across ages

Summary of an article analysing age, weight and performance of athletes competing at the USA Weightlifting Federation youth, junior, and senior championships.

Who

5,802 records of youth, junior and senior athletes (2,793 famales and 3,009 males) aged between 6 and 30 years placing in the USA Weightlifting Federation National Championships (USA).

Design

Data analysis of 2014-2019 records.

Outcome measures

  • weightlifting results (total weight lifted)
  • body mass
  • age

Main results

  • There is no difference in median body mass between girls and boys before the age of 13. From the age 14 to age 21 males went from 58 to 76 kg (median body mass) and females went from 53 to 62 kg.
  • The haeviest athletes lift the most regardless of age. Body weight influences performance less in younger athletes. At the age of 10, there is only 2-4% difference in total weight lifted between lither and haevier body mass’ athletes. The difference grows with age and body mass increase.
  • Boys start to lift more than girls from the age of 12, and the gap increases with age.
  • Total weight lifted increases with age and body weight, but 30-year-olds in some weight classes lift less than 25-year-olds.
  • The 90th percentile peak performance for women comes around 25.9 years (95%CI: 24.7-27.3), and around 26.5 years (95%CI: 25.7-27.3) for man.
  • The 50th percentile peak performance for women comes around 27.6 years (95%CI: 26.8-28.4), and around 27.8 years (95%CI: 27.1-28.5) for man.

Take home message

For a clinician
As weightlifters get older, they gain body mass and increase total weight lifted. Girls and boys start to differ in body mass at the age of 13, and in the weight lifted from the age of 12. Also, the gap increases with age.
For a parent
As weightlifters get older, they gain body mass and increase total weight lifted. Girls and boys start to differ in body mass at the age of 13, and in the weight lifted from the age of 12.
For an athlete
As weightlifters get older, they gain body mass and increase total weight lifted. Girls and boys start to differ in body mass at the age of 13, and in the weight lifted from the age of 12.

Original article

Huebner M, Perperoglou A. Sex differences and impact of body mass on performance from childhood to senior athletes in Olympic weightlifting. Plos one. 2020 Sep 3;15(9):e0238369.

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