11 August 2008

How fit must you be for weightlifting?

How fit must you be to take part in wrestling? World-class weightlifters have to be strong and powerful, fast and flexible. A high level of fitness is required.

How fit must you be to take part in weightlifting? World-class weightlifters have to be strong and powerful, fast and flexible. A high level of fitness is required.

Typical build: There's no ideal shape or size for competitive weightlifters. There are seven classes for women, ranging from flyweight (105 pounds) to super heavyweight (more than 165.5 pounds). Men's weightlifting has eight classes, from bantamweight (123 pounds) to super heavyweight (unlimited weight).

Technique: When weightlifting, your technique is the 'means' through which your strength is expressed. Weightlifting technique has evolved over a period of many years. The evolution of these techniques are connected with improved biomechanical efficiency. They include four major changes: firstly, in the way the body is moved under the barbell, secondly the shift in emphasis away from using the muscles of the upper body to lift the barbell to those of the lower body, thirdly, the distribution of force and the overall coordination structure of the snatch and lastly, the clean and jerk.

Training programme: In addition to cardiovascular training, these athletes need a high level of muscular endurance and strength - something that can only be achieved through weight training. Muscle tissue also increases the metabolism and helps burn calories. Muscular fitness has two components: muscular strength and muscular endurance. Muscular strength is the greatest amount of force a muscle or muscle group can exert in a single effort. Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to do repeated contractions against a less-than-maximum resistance for a given time. Although muscular endurance and strength are separate fitness components, they are closely related. Progressively working against resistance will produce gains in both of these components.

When a muscle is overloaded, it adapts by becoming stronger. Each type of contraction has advantages and disadvantages, and each will result in strength gains if done properly.

Cardiovascular fitness: Cardiovascular fitness, while important for all athletes, is less important for weightlifters than strength and resistance training.

Resistance training and muscles: Building strength is the main aim of training for Olympic weightlifters. Weight training and resistance training aims to develop muscles in the upper body: biceps, forearms, mid-back and upper back. Weightlifters must strengthen all the major muscle groups and to develop muscle balance. Special emphasis must also be placed on hips and thighs.

Reaction time: In competitions, speed and power is emphasised, so reaction time is of paramount importance to weightlifters.

Endurance training: The training for weightlifting uses several techniques not found in many other sports training programmes.Training programmes for weightlifters generally follow a variation method.

Training is generally carried out in two stages, namely general preparation and competition. General preparation may contain a strength endurance phase and a basic strength phase, while competition emphasises power and speed and has a brief taper before an important meet.

Typical exercises would include various types of squats such as back and front squats weighted and un-weighted jumps,various types of presses, jerks, various types of pulling movements( which make up the majority of the different types of exercises used by most weightlifters), and mid-section and body stability exercises.

Nutrition: Today's athletes follow eating plans that are more scientific than ever before. Many professional athletes have their own nutritionists and certainly all the Olympic teams will have at least one.

Mental: " 'Mental preparation' is a term used by sport psychologists to describe the process found to be valuable for athletes in most sports. Because of the nature of weightlifting, being mentally prepared is, probably, more appropriate than most sports because of the nature of the event.

"Firstly, the competition is, essentially, a self centred task because the focus is on the athlete's performance in reference to his/her own standards as well as to the competition's outcomes. Secondly, the actual event is of such a short duration in terms of the actual lift that being mentally prepared before and during the lift will enhance performance," according to Barry Kerr, sports psychologist.

He also made the following observations with regards to mental preparation for weight lifters:

There are three stages of a competition in sport regarding mental preparation. These are the pre competition phase, the competition phase and the post competition phase

The pre competition phase should be concerned with using techniques to avert distractions, become settled and certainly to focus on the venue, the athlete's own mental state at the time and to avoid all other thoughts.

The competition phase implies having strategies in place to optimise the mental state of the athlete and to ensure that the focus is on making the best possible lift and not on winning. If an athlete does the best lift possible then the winning will take care of itself. Research shows clearly that focusing only on winning will detract from an optimal performance. This is one of the reasons why athletes may lift better in training than in competition.

The post competition phase is an individual one. Some athletes like to be on their own and consider their performances whilst others prefer to talk to their coach or other competitors. Most essentially, in this phase, focus of attention should only be on the positive aspects of the performance and how they can be improved.

Because a weightlifting competition is very structured the adoption of a "ritual" will aid the preparation phase. Consider the warm up room as the focus for pre competition strategies; the chalk tray, the mat, addressing the bar as key situational points where appropriate strategies can be employed. The actual lift, then, will be effected with the appropriate lead up to a point of total arousal.

Throughout the "ritual" the use of techniques such as relaxation and mental rehearsal (pre competition phase), self talk and affirmations with focus (at competition phase) will enhance performance. It must be stressed that such strategies are skills themselves that need to be learned and practised. These mental plans, or preparation, as being a part of training routines and not a "fast fix" at the time of competition. By learning and practising mental training skills, routinely, they become habituated and form a "normal" part of the competition "ritual" for an enhanced performance.

Drugs: Weightlifters may be tempted to use anabolic steroids, such as nandrolone, or the new designer steroid known as THG.


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