Continuous Improvement in the Training of the Athlete

The task for the athlete and the coach is to work together to continually improve the training process of the athlete over many years. It is highly probable that when this continuous improvement process comes to a halt, the athlete will no longer improve.

From day 1 in the training process, the athlete learns how to train to develop good technique and athletic ability so as to improve results. Initially the learning is fast but as the months and years go by, the rate of learning slows as a result of fewer opportunities to learn something new, or perhaps incorrect assumptions that all the knowledge needed has been learned. To make further improvement then, the athlete and coach must work harder to find solutions to the perfection of the training problem. Continue reading

Training the Jerk

It has long been my view that the critical factor for developing a confident and reliably successful Jerk is that the athlete must attempt to mimic the conditions of a maximal Jerk all the way through their warm up to the moment when a maximal Jerk is actually achieved. This requires the athlete to have conceptual knowledge of what actually happens during a maximal jerk, and how a maximal jerk can be achieved if it is to be achieved at all.Receiving position for the jerk

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The causes of burnout in athletes

I have formed a view, as a result of a lengthy career in Olympic Weightlifting, that the most difficult tasks of the coach are neither the instruction of Weightlifting technique,  nor the teaching of athletes how to train effectively. Though these activities are time consuming and require considerable learning to perform, there is yet another level of coaching that far exceeds in complexity. The hardest task is keeping athletes highly motivated over many years despite all that life throws at them. This article will examine the causes of burnout in athletes and what the coach and supporters of the athlete can reasonably do to mitigate the risks. Continue reading

Rehabilitation and Recovery of Weightlifting Injuries

This article attempts to address one of the most serious errors that athletes frequently make in their training –  a failure in regard to rehabilitation and recovery of Weightlifting injuries that result from overloading.

Overloading is considered to be an essential aspect of training for performance improvement and for this reason we tend to talk about Progressive Overload Theory in coaching courses. It is not that overloading is something to be avoided but it is inevitable that the motivated athlete will at some time push too hard, too often, and will fail to adequately recover between sessions. The result is often the occurrence of worrisome pain, soreness and/or stiffness focused in a particular part of the body. An easy example in Weightlifting would be the situation where an athlete pushes hard on squats over several weeks only to succumb to patella tendon soreness in either one or both knees. Continue reading

Training Intensity Percentages as Used in Weightlifting

In Weightlifting, it is a common practice to use percentages (of best lifts) as a means to set the desired intensity of the athlete’s training in any given day. Intensity is measure of how hard or how difficult the training is. The following table provides an example of how words like “heavy” or “light” can be quantified by using training intensity percentages:

Table of training intensity in Weightlifting

The  percentages in the left column are worked from the athlete’s personal best lift. Thus, if following the percent bands in Figure 1 above, for an athlete who has a best Snatch of 100Kg, the very heavy range begins at 93Kg, the heavy range is 88-92Kg, and so on. The actual boundaries between each of these percent bands are arbitrary. By this I mean that other coaches will likely have different ideas as to where these boundaries lie. As always in the sport of Weightlifting, there is great delight among experienced coaches in finding some aspect of training methodology to debate, and certainly the above training intensity percentages will suffice in this regard! Continue reading

Training frequency in Weightlifting: When to add another training session?

I was recently asked “what are the advantages and disadvantages/risks of adding an additional training session per week”. I am sure that readers will attest that this is a common question in some form or another.

In any club that caters for differing levels of experience and ability, it is likely that there are athletes training as little as 2 days a week and as much as as 6 days per week, and some even 9-11 sessions per week. At every level of experience, it is probable that athletes will ask the question ‘should I be doing more?’

The simple answer is of course that it depends on the ‘circumstances of the individual athlete’ but an answer of this nature does not really help. What’s really needed is a number of criteria that the athlete and the coach can consider to determine whether circumstances permit an additional training day.

Here are some suggested criteria for increasing training frequency: Continue reading

Teaching Weightlifting Skill: 10 Objectives

In the view of the author, the following 10 objectives are critically important in teaching weightlifting skill to beginners. The initial learning of the beginner in their first 10-20 training sessions will have a very significant impact on their long-term technical competency, confidence  and ability to perform under pressure.

Coaches should teach the beginner athlete to:

Objective #1: Lockout and stabilise the bar above the head

Athletes have differing levels of ability to achieve ideal receiving positions due to flexibility limitations. However, it should always be a coaching objective to teach the athlete, from the very first moment of learning, to be able to hold bars motionless above the head and remain in balance. Successful achievement of this objective has long-term implications for the confidence and safety of the athlete in performing limit or near limit weights.

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Weight Loss and Making Weight in Weightlifting

It is inevitable in any sport such as Weightlifting that separates competitors into bodyweight categories that the participant will be faced with the proposition of manipulating their normal bodyweight up or down for a competitive advantage. More often, the proposition involves the athlete in weight loss and ‘making weight’ to compete in a lighter category than their normal bodyweight would allow. The weight loss will in some measure require the athlete to alter their normal diet over a period of days/weeks and/or implement various dehydration strategies during the last 24 hours before the weigh-in. Ideally, the athlete is able to reduce to the required bodyweight by obtaining, and observing in a disciplined manner, qualified nutritional advice so as to minimise detriment to performance. However, apart from the difficulty in obtaining qualified advice, efforts to reduce bodyweight do not easily achieve success for a variety of reasons. These reasons include a lack of support or understanding in the athlete’s home or work environment, insufficient athlete knowledge or motivation, dealing with emotional consequences of everyday life, the need for socialisation and difficulty measuring bodyweight accurately and timely. Moreover, attempts by an athlete to change their body mass meet with the body’s own regulatory mechanisms that alter metabolism to resist bodyweight loss (O’Connor and Caterson, 2010).

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Energy expenditure and energy efficiency

Daily Energy Expenditure

The daily energy expenditure of an individual has 3 components:

  1. The energy required to maintain the body at rest: referred to as resting metabolic rate or RMR.
  2. The energy required for all activity: referred to as the thermic effect of activity or TEA
  3. The energy required by food consumption: referred to as the thermic effect caused by food consumption or TEF.
A pie chart of the 3 components of daily energy expenditure

RMR is the energy cost of maintaining all body systems including temperature regulation while the individual is at complete rest. Excluded from RMR is any biological work done by the body in regard to recent food intake or recovery from recent physical activity (27).

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