A comparison of different training scenarios on rate of improvement

The purpose of this article is to illustrate how differences in the athlete’s commitment to training will effect their ultimate performance capability in the years ahead. In this illustration, let’s assume that a physically talented individual walked into your gym one year ago and began training in Olympic Weightlifting. Let’s also assume that this individual has enjoyed participating in some competitions during their first year, weighs around 70Kg and has achieved a creditable 180Kg Total. What is the future in store for this athlete?

There are of course many factors that will effect the rate of progress of an athlete, some of which the coach can influence, and some not. One critical factor is the athlete’s commitment to training, and this in turn will be dependent on their self-confidence and belief in their own abilities. This is a factor that the coach can influence through the quality of the athlete-coach relationship, by their efforts to educate the athlete in training methodology and by enabling the athlete to consider higher levels of training.

To this end, three different scenarios are presented for our talented 70Kg individual who has one year of training experience. Chart 1 below provides an indication of the rate of improvement and ultimate performance potential of the athlete, dependent on which level of commitment scenario they pursue. The characteristics of the three scenarios are described in Table 1 below.

improvement_scenarios

Chart 1: Rate of improvement dependency on training commitment

The difference between scenarios 1 and 3 is perhaps the difference between achieving national team status or remaining as an averagely good athlete by virtue of their natural talent. It is very conceivable that our 70Kg athlete, under the right conditions (scenario 3), could progress into the 85Kg category and achieve a 320 total in their 5th year. At this level, they would be a strong prospect, in many nations, to participate in World Championships and be a possible contender for Olympic Games selection. Furthermore, as Chart 1 indicates, the athlete’s improvement has not reached a plateau and further increases in performance are probably likely in years 6-10 of their career.

Table 1: Commitment to Training Scenarios
Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3
Commencing at 2 sessions per week rising to 3 sessions per week after 1 year, maintaining this level of commitment for next 3 years. Commencing at 2 sessions per week, rising to 3 sessions per week after 1 year and 4 sessions per week after 2 years Commencing at 3 sessions per week, rising to 4 sessions per week after 1 year, 5 sessions per week after 2 years, reaching 8 sessions per week (“double day” training) in their 5th year
Some attention to improvement of technique, relatively little effort to learn about training methodology. Significant attention to technique, developing good training habits, learning principles of training methodology Maximum attention to technical development, achieving a high level of organisation and discipline in training, immersion in the principles of high performance training methodology. To all intents and purposes, a “professional” approach to sport participation.
No particular goals for Weightlifting, enjoying the sport for fitness Setting goals to compete at National Championships. Setting goals for National Team selection to compete in World Championships, and Commonwealth and Olympic Games
No particular effort on increasing bodyweight, not employing specific measures for recovery from training Some attention to diet and increasing bodyweight, some effort to employ measures for recovery from training. Planning the bodyweight category that is optimal for the lifter, significant attention/effort to reaching and maintaining the required bodyweight. Including regular recovery measures as part of the training process.

If you are an Olympic Weightlifting coach and you have been coaching a few years, you are bound to come across just such individuals as in our illustration above. Your task as a coach is to find away to keep the athlete training, expand their perception of what is possible and help them achieve their potential. While there is always initial excitement about possibilities, there is soon a realization that the coach’s task is anything but simple. Your best efforts as a coach can be easily thwarted by many factors that constrain the athlete’s willingness to pursue training with increasing commitment. In such circumstances, the coach may well ask the question “why does the athlete not have the motivation to strive for important goals?”

It is probable that one chief reason why an individual will not strive for important goals is their lack of confidence in their own abilities. Although the athlete might state a desire to be a national team member, they do not really believe that they can rise to this level. The coach’s task is therefore to instill confidence that if the athlete pursues a proper process, it is probable that their efforts will be well rewarded. It helps if the coach has a good reputation and track record of success and has other athletes in their charge pursuing the same goal. But for the upcoming coach it is quite a hard proposition to achieve their first high status athlete, and sometimes some luck is involved. But in both cases, for the experienced and the upcoming coach, a great deal of time and effort has to be invested into gently “nudging” forwards the athlete’s self-confidence and belief in their own abilities.

Path to High Performance: Part 3

The first article, Path to High Performance: Part 1, provided a discussion about Technical Mastery and the paramount need for good quality coaching to avoid developing persistent errors of technique. This second article, Path to High Performance: Part 2,  discussed the magnitude of the training regimen required to achieve the superb physical adaptation of athletes who compete at the highest level. This third article discusses the LIMITATIONS OF THE TRAINING ENVIRONMENT, a challenge faced by athletes, and one that is very difficult to overcome.

The progress of any athlete is subject to the attributes of their training environment including coaching, facilities and equipment, level of competition, training culture and support services. No training environment is perfect and therefore there will always be some limitations that impact on the athlete’s progress.

There are no universally accepted benchmarks that enable coaches and athletes to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the training environment in which they operate. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, coaches and athletes will tend to view their own training environments positively and see no reason for change. Such a view presents no problem when the object of training is for fitness, fun, friendly competition and/or socialisation. However, if High Performance is the goal, then close attention has to be paid to ensuring that all attributes of the training environment are as good as they can be. Read More

Do you train hard?

It was my original attention to write a page on the principles and practise of how to undertake serious training for the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. I mean the sort of training that a person would need to do to compete at the very highest level i.e. the World Championships. My motivation to write such an article stems partly from meeting and wanting to help so many talented people in Weightlifting clubs and Crossfit boxes who, despite their love of lifting, seem to have doubts about their own abilities and what they could achieve. Furthermore, my motivation arises from wanting to see the standard of Olympic Weightlifting in Australia go forwards.

So instead of writing a laborious article on the principles of training for high performance, I have decided that what is first needed is a more "straight from the heart" appeal to members of the Weightlifting and Crossfit communities. If you have a real love for lifting heavy weights read on. Read More

Developing a new culture for weightlifting

There are presently 188 nation members of the International Weightlifting Federation spread across the entire globe from the tiny populations of Pacific Islands to the might of China, reputed to have a population of weightlifters in the hundreds of thousands. In some nations there are great legacies of state sponsored sporting systems that, for decades, have produced results in Weightlifting that we continue to marvel, while in other nations results are achieved through the largely unaided effort of individual coaches and athletes.

 Where does your nation stand in the global pecking order of weightlifting nations? Do you have grounds for hope that weightlifters in your nation are making headway on the international stage, or do you come from one of the many nations permitted just one male and one female participant at the Olympic Games? How can a weightlifting nation move from being among the inconsequential into to the big league? Is this possible and is it really worth the effort?

A new culture is needed for the sport of weightlifting

A new culture is needed for the sport of weightlifting

Achieving such a change in international status Read More

The Path to High Performance: Part 2

In Path to High Performance: Part 1, the article identified four challenges that an athlete in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting will face. These challenges are:

  • The pursuit of technical mastery
  • The magnitude of the training
  • Limitations of the training environment; and
  • Self-imposed performance limits

The article followed with a discussion about Technical Mastery and the paramount need for good quality coaching to avoid developing persistent errors of technique. This second article discusses the magnitude of the training regimen required to achieve the superb physical adaptation of athletes who compete at the highest level. Read More

The Path to High Performance: Part 1

If any athlete starting out in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting should aspire to reach a high performance level, they will face a succession of challenges through which their destiny will be determined. The beginner athlete will possess little prior knowledge that adequately prepares them for these challenges. They must seek knowledge from all sources including coaches and athletes in their immediate training environment, coaching staff in other places wherever possible, and all forms of literature and electronic resources. And yet there is a scarcity of literature that deals directly with the topic of High Performance in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting save a few good texts that have emanated from Eastern Europe in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This article seeks to assist by identifying four challenges that will surely present to any athlete who would tread the path to High Performance in Olympic Weightlifting. These challenges are:

5 Decisions for High Performance in Sport

Okay, so you love Weightlifting and you really want to be a part of a future Australian team to the Olympic or Commonwealth Games! If you have any chance of achieving such a goal, you will need to make some tough decisions.

Decision 1: Can you devote 30 hours a week to this goal?

Before everyone throws up their hands and says “What!”, consider the following. If you want to be a High Performance sports person, then your training is your job. You will need to train 8-10 sessions per week, each of which will take approximately 2 hours. As a more serious athlete, you will spend more time warming up and more time on flexibility. So 2 hours per session is not unreasonable. You will incur a significant amount of travelling in order to attend training. If you live close to the gym, you might be lucky to keep travelling down to around 4 hours per week. The remaining 6 hours a week will be a combination of many factors including visits to the physiotherapist, injury management, planning training, monitoring training, discussions with your coach, and travel to and waiting around at competitions. This does not even take into consideration that you may need extra sleep. Read More

Leo Isaac – Olympic Weightlifting Coach

Leo Isaac at the 1980 Commonwealth Championships

Leo Isaac at the 1980 Commonwealth Championships on the way to a new Commonwealth Record in the 67.5 Kg category

This website has been developed by Leo Isaac whose  career in Olympic Weightlifting spans 40 years as an athlete, coach, coach educator and administrator. He is an accredited Level 3 (National) coach and recently (2015) completed a Masters in Sport Coaching through the University of Queensland.

He is currently active as a Weightlifting coach in Hobart, Tasmania, and as a leading coach educator for the Australian Weightlifting Federation.

Academic

  • Masters in Sports Coaching, University of Queensland
  • BSc (Hons), Physical Education, Sports Science and Recreation Management,
    Loughborough University, England
  • Grad Dip Teaching, University of Queensland

Voluntary Roles Currently Held

  • Member of the High Performance Program Panel of Australian Weightlifting Federation
  • Director and Head Coach of the Weightlifting Academy of Tasmania
  • President of Weightlifting Tasmania Inc.
  • Coach Education Program presenter for the Australian Weightlifting Federation

Overseas Coaching Appointments

  • Head Coach, Australian Team, 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia
  • Head Coach, Australian Team, 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • Head Coach, Australian Team, 2017 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, Gold Coast, Australia
  • Head Coach, Australian Team, 2016 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, Penang, Malaysia
  • Head Coach, Australian Team, 2016 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, Suva, Fiji
  • Head Coach, Australian Team, 2015 Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships, Pune, India
  • Coach, Australian Team, 2014 Pacific Cup Weightlifting Tournament, New Caledonia
  • Head Coach, 1991 Junior World Championships, Wolmirstedt, Germany

Professional and Voluntary Roles Previously Held

  • Former National Coaching Director of Australian Weightlifting Federation
  • State Administrator of Queensland Weightlifting
  • NSW Coaching Development Officer

International Appearances

  • 1979 European Championships, Varna, Bulgaria, 9th place, 67.5Kg category
  • 1979 World Championships, Salonnica, Greece, 10th place 67.5Kg category
  • 1980 Commonwealth Championships, Cardiff, Wales, 1st place 67.5Kg category
  • 1980 European Championships, Belgrade, Serbia, 8th place 67.5Kg category
  • 1980 Olympic Games, Moscow, Russia, 14th place, 67.5Kg category
  • 1982 EEC Championships, Lommel, Belgium, 2nd place, 75Kg category
  • 1982 Commonwealth Games, Brisbane, Australia, 4th place, 75category
  • 1985 World Championships, Stockholm, Sweden, 9th place, 67.5Kg category