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There has been a rise in the interest of athletic weightlifting as a participatory sport and a way to improve sport performance and recreational body building. Weightlifting as a sport is defined by competitor placings, which as scored based on the best of three snatch, clean and jerk attempts. The sum is the “total.” When training athletes for other sports using weightlifting, the National Strength and Conditioning Association advocates for these moves. However, over the past few years, more strength training programs have started to incorporate weightlifting moves as part of training for athletes competing in other sports. Weight lighting is also an official Olympic sport

Lifting weights has also become part of athletic programs at schools, starting with young children. In many schools, weightlifting is now an elective, available before and after school to interested students. Studies have shown that strength training helps kids control their weight, improve motor skills, normalize blood sugar and increase bone density. In addition lifting weights has been recommended for women after giving birth to start building up muscle mass and strength the may have lost during pregnancy.

Formal email
Subject: Athletic weight training
I have researched the topic of weight lifting as an athletic and Olympic sport. Weightlifting can be traced back to the 10th century B.C. when military recruits had to pass a strength test. Greek sculptures includes images of men lifting heavy stones, considered a sport. The first time the sport was include in the Olympics was 1896 and by the 1932 Olympics, five weight divisions had been created. More women are also now participating in competitive weightlifting.

I learned a lot about different approaches to weightlifting by reading the research and articles. Some people may associate weightlifting as something muscular men do in gyms but there is so much information out there about how everyone, even children and women who have recently given birth, can incorporate weights into strength training activities.

In addition, I knew nothing about weightlifting in general and was surprised to learn that it goes back thousands of years, when stones were used before weights were invented. I also did not know how prevalent it is in other sports and was even more interested in what midwifery resources had to say about it.

This was a good experience for me also to learn how to structure a writing assignment and organize information.

Article summary
The article, “The Scientific Rationale for Incorporating Olympic Weightlifting to Enhance Sports Performance,” produced by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, focuses on how Olympic weightlifting has been successfully incorporated in strength training for many sports and consists of local and national competitions. The lifts, as noted above are usually used for strength and conditioning to help athletes improve performance. There are variations of the snatch and clean and jerk that, because of the level of difficulty, adjusted to accommodate athletes who are not professional lifters.

What, then, is the science behind the benefits of weightlifting as an athletic sport? An overall component of training in any sport is exercise selection, which should be based on the Principle of Specificity also known as the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands). This Principle means the body is able to adapt to changing physical demands. If an athlete starts weightlifting as part of his ongoing training, lifting increasingly heavy weights, his body will adapt to a level of maximal strength.

The article concludes that there is “no conclusive research that demonstrates weightlifting improves athletic performance,” but there are studies that show how effective it is on improving jumping and sprinting. The author’s overall conclusion is that incorporating lifts into overall training is generally beneficial to increasing strength and endurance, as long as athletes have proper coaching and training.

The article also discussed the “ Universal Athletic Position,” which is a quarter squat with feet flat, hips placed behind the center of gravity with shoulders in front. The reason this position is important is that it is used and can be found in different sports. For example, when a baseball player is positioned on a base, prepared to run to the next base, he is taking the University Athletic Position. This is also referred to as a “ready position”– one that may be used by a linebacker. This position helps with balance and speed.

Explanation of Document Selection
Many of the documents I came across were in support of weight training for athletes. Some were written by coaches who used technical terms to describe the lifts, and these were directed toward professional weightlifters. Brian Sutton’s article was more about how weightlifting builds muscle, endurance and strength. Yet his conclusion was that there is no sound scientific proof that weightlifting improves performance. In other words, there is no conclusive proof that weight lifting, for example, makes someone a better swimmer, but its common sense that muscle strengthening builds endurance and swimmers need endurance.

The article by Bob Takano is written from a coach’s point of view. This may be seen as a weakness in researching the topic as Takano’s article is more applicable to weightlifting as a sport, versus using weightlifting to enhance the performance of athletes in other sports. The Wall Street Journal article focused on weight lifting specifically as a strength building activity for children and included all of the warnings about safety and adult oversight. The benefits of children starting to build and strengthen muscle before their bodies are fully developed have to be overseen by someone familiar with child physical development.

There are several different schools of thought and approaches to this topic. First, there are articles directed specifically to those interested in serious weightlifting not as a recreational sport, but rather an athletic endeavor. Secondly, the articles that discuss weightlifting as a complement to overall athletic training and strength building — even if you’re not a professional athlete. Lastly are the articles about new and different ways weightlifting can be part of daily life and its benefits including advice and information for midwives. The article by Michael Woods is about using weight lifting in midwifery. He stresses safety, proper postures and lightweight repetitions. He suggests that strength training helps when giving birth and is useful for getting back into shape afterwards.

Overall, I would say the most useful documents were those produced on the Rose Midwifery website the one by Bob Takano, as his article was a comprehensive overview of what weightlifting is and its crossover effect into other sports. Woods is an M.D. and he provided step-by-step instructions so that women don’t strain themselves or cause muscle injury as he stresses lightweights building up heavier weights with several rounds of repetition. I selected a variety of documents and articles to reflect the various viewpoints on this topic.

Also, I wanted to select a broad representation of experts and authors – some who specialized in weight lifting and some who saw it as a complement to other sports, athletic activities or just staying healthy and strong, whether it is children or adults. In addition, with the summer Olympics coming up, weightlifting will be in the international spotlight and more people may be interested in it because of all of the attention on the athletes.

  • Helliker, Kevin. “School, Homework, Pump Iron.” The Wall Street Journal. (Nov. 23, 2010)
  • Sheehan, Krista. “The History of Weightlifting,” Livestrong. (August 20, 2015).
  • Sutton, Brian. “The Scientific Rationale for Incorporating Olympic Weightlifting to Enhance Sports Performance.” National Academy of Sports Medicine. (Oct. 21, 2013).
  • Takano, Bob. “The Sport of Weightlifting Versus Weightlifting for Other Sports.” Breaking Muscle. (n.d.). weightlifting-versus-weightlifting-for-other-sports
  • Woods, Michael. “A Safety Check Up for Your Strength Training Routine.” Rose Midwifery. (2016).