The Dependence Between the Weightlifter's Absolute and Relative Strength on Weight Class

V.V. Kanyevsky, 2003

Do not reproduce or republish in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. © 2004

Associate Professor, Chief Research Assistant of the Laboratory of Fundamental Problems in the Theory of Physical and Technical Training, The Russian State University of Physical Culture of Sport and Tourism

Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.

Numerous specialists in the area physical culture and sport have studied the fact that weightlifters in the lighter weight classes have significantly larger results in the snatch and the clean and jerk relative to bodyweight than athletes in the heavier weight classes.

The notion of relative strength was introduced into the theory and practice of sport because weightlifters in heavy weight classes lift bigger weights, the so another concept with regards to absolute strength was introduced.

Weightlifting textbooks and other scientific-methodical literature have tables were calculations have been made to determine the relative strength of weightlifters in the various weight classes and express this in relative units.

As far back as 1968, O.A. Sukhanov conducted the simplest and most in-depth theoretical research of the interconnection between muscular strength and the athlete's bodyweight. He proposed a formula which took into account the expenditure of muscular force in opposition to the pull of gravity relative to the athlete's bodyweight.

Mathematical tables of athletes' bodyweights and their results by weight classes enabled one to obtain equivalent indices expressed in relative units.

All of the data obtained from calculations take into account only the amount of weight lifted. However, it is quite obvious that weightlifters expend effort during the lifting of the barbell in moving their own bodyweight and overcoming gravity.

The amount of force the lifter produces in lifting the barbell and his body depends on maximum speed with which the exercise is executed. It is common knowledge that athletes can execute a significantly large volume of work during training by lifting large weights at a relatively low velocity; in squats and pulls for instance.

Furthermore, biomechanical analysis of the snatch and the clean and jerk shows that not all of the links of the body shift with maximum speed equal to the speed of moving barbell during the lift. From another standpoint is the obvious that the main source of strength for executing the sport exercises is the amount of muscle mass. One can obtain a more precise criterion of the realization of the weightlifter's speed strength preparedness if one factors together the amount of force and power displayed per kilogram of the lifter's muscle mass.

Therefore, we can suggest this formula for calculating the specific power achieved in lifting a barbell with the application of simple laws of dynamics.

ω = (Pwt.+ØPb)Vbv o.e.
  • Pwt. - weight of the barbell, kg
  • Pb - the lifter's bodyweight, kg
  • Ø- the coefficient of calculated weight of the body parts shifting with the maximum speed of the barbell
  • Vbv - maximum barbell velocity, m
  • §- coefficient of the calculated weight of the weightlifter's muscle mass.

Conflicting data with regards to the morphological composition of the sportsman's body has appeared in the scientific methodical literature. This is due to the fact that is difficult to precisely determine a person's body composition with the variety of methods employed to determine it.

T.A. Yenilin in 1967 obtained the most reliable data of the morphology of the weightlifter's body. The weightlifters in the lighter weight categories have the highest content of muscle mass (up to 48%), whereas, the lifters in the heavier weight classes had the least amount of muscle mass (up to 44%).

There is no data available on the morphological composition of the female weightlifter's body in textbooks and the scientific methodical literature. However, according to the morphological research at the Moscow University the muscle mass of the female body is 36%.

Apparently this is one of the reasons female athletes have lower results in strength and speed strength types of sports in comparison with men.

Presented in tables one and two are the results of an analysis of the record results in weightlifting for men and women. The highest results in the snatch and the clean and jerk are depicted in these tables prior to the change in the weight classes.

If one compares the results of the men in the snatch with respect to specific power ω, the highest coefficient was in the 82.5 kg class prior to 1992; where ω = 9.66 r.u. (relative units). Even N. Suleymanoglu's 152.5 kg snatch in the 60 kg class was only ω = 9.19 r.u. and Y. Zakharevitch's 210 kg snatch was ω = 9.44 r.u. in the 110 kg class.

Table 1.
Specific Power Coefficient ω of the record results in the snatch and the Clean and Jerk for Men

# Wt. Class Snatch ω C&J ω
1 52 121 8.89 155.5 9.58
2 56 138.5 9.16 171 9.55
3 60 152.5 9.19 190 9.66
4 62 152.5 8.93 182.5 9.20
5 67.5 160 9.23 202.5 9.72
6 69 165 9.31 196.5 9.47
7 75 170.5 9.38 215.5 9.71
8 77 173 9.29 210 9.31
9 82.5 183 9.66 225 9.64
10 85 182.5 9.34 218 9.02
11 90 195.5 9.51 235 9.68
12 94 188 8.87 232.5 9.37
13 100 200.5 9.41 242.5 9.68
14 105 198.5 9.16 250.5 9.63
15 110 210 9.44 266 9.37
16 110+ 216 8.96 263 9.34
17 H. Reza Zadeh 212.5 9.21 260 7.84
18 A. Chemerkin 202.5 7.62

Table 2
Coefficient of Specific Power ω of the Record Results in the Snatch and the Clean and jerk for Women

# Wt. class Snatch ω C&J ω
1 48 92.5 9.05 115.5 9.35
2 53 102.5 9.14 127.5 9.48
3 58 106 9.03 133 9.46
4 63 112.5 9.15 136 9.33
5 69 115.5 8.96 148 9.63
6 75 118 9.04 152.5 9.56
7 75+ 135 8.52 167.5 9.02
8 A. Khomitch 132.5 8.47 155 8.67
9 A.Wrobel 132.5 7.70 162.5 8.04

The smallest indicators were ω = 8.96 ru. for a result of 216 kg in the heavy weight class; and a ω = 8.89 for a result of 121 kg in the 52 kg weight class.

We can conclude from this data that the athletes in the second heavy weight and the 52 kg classes and some of the others, have not been able to achieve higher results than the existing world records. Of particular note is a result of 202.5 kg by A. Chermerkin, ω = 7.78. This is the lowest indicator, which is indicative that he is still far from exhausting is potential, provided he trains more seriously.

On other hand, the 212.5 kg result in the snatch of the 2000 Olympic champion H. Reza Zadeh, ω = 9.2; shows that he has more effectively realized his speed strength potential.

The coefficient of specific power ω is similar in the clean and jerk to the snatch. The 75 the kilogram weight class had the highest coefficient of specific power ω = 9.7, with a clean and jerk result of 215.5 kg; and the 67.5 kg weight class where ω =9.72, with a clean and jerk result of 202.5 kg. The 90 and 100 it kilogram weight classes also had high coefficients of specific power ω = 9.68.

The record results of the women weightlifters were not very high because women's weightlifting began only in 1986. They are significantly fewer women weightlifters in the world than men, therefore, their records are still far from the physiological limits of their speed strength potential. The specific power ω indices are higher in those weight classes where there are more women lifters, there are more participants in the competitions and accordingly the competitiveness is a higher level.

The specific power ω of the record results in the snatch was slightly lower than in the clean and jerk.

The highest relative result in the snatch was the 112.5 kg of the 63 kg class, ω = 9.15 ru; the lowest was A. Wrobel with a snatch of 132.5 kg, ω= 7.7 ru. The highest record result in the clean and jerk was the 148 kg of the 69 kg class, ω = 9.63; and the lowest result was the clean and jerk of 162.5 kg of A. Wrobel, ω= 8.04 ru.

The reason for the relatively lower results in the snatch and the clean and jerk of the women lifters of the +75 kg class is due to the fact that they have a higher strength potential at a higher bodyweight, depending on the amount of muscle mass. However, these athletes do not fully realize their speed strength potential because the women of +75 kg class train significantly less than those in the other weight classes and compete less frequently; which in turn, reduces the competitiveness of this class, with respect to the results in the snatch and the clean and jerk. You see, high results are connected first and foremost with the struggle two achieve a medal.

Like the men, the most talented women are the ones who set the impressive records, because they are genetically gifted; which one does not see very often on the international stage.

Naim Suleymanoglu made phenomenal results in the 1988 Seoul Olympics with a snatch of 152.5 kg and a clean and jerk of 190 kg. However, at the present time several lifters have come close to his results in the snatch, V. Leonidis (Greece), N. Peshalov (Croatia), L. Sabinis (Greece) and Shi Zhi Ong.

On the other hand no one has approached the results of Y. Zakharevitch and A. Zlatev at the present time.

Previously the heavyweights were considered to have low relative strength; which was determined by dividing the biathlon total by the lifter's bodyweight. Their relative strength was about 3, based on this method; whereas, the 60 kg lifters had a relative strength of about 6.

However, calculations of the coefficient of power ω reveals that this coefficient is also high for the heavyweight record holders. The Olympic champion of Sydney, H. Reza Zadeh snatched 212.5 kg at a bodyweight of 147.5 kg which is a ω= 9.21; and he has clean and jerked 263 kg which is a ω= 9.34.

A comparison of the ω indicator between the heavyweights and the lighter lifters showed that the records are distinguished by no more than 4.5%; which is indicative of the approximate uniformity of their relative strength. The heavyweights are taller (190 cm and more) and therefore have to lift the barbell with a greater final velocity and to a greater height in order to successfully complete the exercises. Furthermore, the heavyweight has to raise his heavier bodyweight along with the barbell.

One can conclude from this that the near - limit results of the heavyweights at the world record level are comparable to those of the weightlifters in the light weight classes.

Presented in table 3 (men) and 4 (women) are the projected record snatch and clean and jerk results based on a ω= 9.8 relative units, which are possible within the physiological limitations of the human organism.

These results can occur in the future. However, for these results to take place in each weight class for men as well as women, all of the necessary prerequisites must be present especially for the genetically gifted athletes: bio - mechanically efficient technique of the snatch and the clean and jerk, the highest psychological and moral - volitional preparedness, the optimum combination of height and bodyweight as well as all of the necessary composite of social - living conditions for training.

Table 3
Prognosis of Snatch and Clean and Jerk
Results for Men based on a ω= 9.8 r.u.

# Wt. Class Snatch, kg Clean & Jerk, kg
1 56 149.5 176
2 62 163 193
3 69 175 205
4 77 184 222.5
5 85 191.5 230
6 94 204.5 245
7 105 215 250
8 110 220 257.5
9 120 225 262.5
10 130 230 270
11 140 232.5 277.5
12 150 235 282.5
13 160 237.5 290
14 170 240 295
15 180 242.5 297.5

Table 4
Prognosis of Snatch and Clean and Jerk
Results for women based on a ω= 9.8 r.u.

# Wt. Class Snatch, kg Clean and Jerk, kg
1 48 102.5 122.5
2 53 110 132.5
3 58 117.5 140
4 63 122.5 147.5
5 69 127.5 160
6 75 132.5 170
7 85 140 177.5
8 95 150 185
9 105 160 190
10 115 170 195
11 125 180 200
12 135 187.5 210

It is also necessary that these athletes train and compete under intensely competitive conditions.

The aforementioned crucial factors can be present when weightlifting has been widely accepted and extensively developed in a country with the social and economical prerequisites to develop this type of sport. The country's weightlifting federation needs to develop a network of sport institutes, schools and clubs and to select the best youths in the country who want to do weightlifting and from here to select the most gifted weightlifters.

In conclusion, we need to once again point out that the method of assessing the snatch and the clean and jerk by means of the speed - strength potential coefficient of power ω involves the greatest number of quantitative parameters connected with the achievement of maximum results in the snatch and the clean and jerk.

These parameters include: the athlete's bodyweight and percentage of muscle mass, maximum speed of the barbell and indirectly the height of the weightlifter, a bio - mechanically substantiated accounting of the speed of the body's links with an ultimate speed equal to that of the moving barbell, which overcomes the force of gravity.

This method permits a better understanding of the biomechanics of lifting a barbell with respect to influence of gravity; to determine the limits in the snatch and the clean and jerk in each weight class; to determine the efficiency of each weightlifter according to his/her coefficient, expressed in the form of their individual coefficient of speed - strength qualities ω; to plan training more precisely; and, possibly to assess more precisely the prospective potential of each weightlifter.