Peak Age and Performance Progression in World-Class Weightlifting and Powerlifting Athletes

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To quantify age of peak performance and performance improvements in the years preceding peak age in elite weightlifting and powerlifting athletes using results from powerlifting World Championships in 2003–2017 and weightlifting World Championships and Olympic Games in 1998–2017. Methods: Individual performance trends were derived by fitting a quadratic curve separately to each athlete’s performance and age data. Effects were evaluated using magnitude-based inferences. Results: Peak age (mean [SD]) was 35 (7) y for powerlifters and 26 (3) y for weightlifters, a large most likely substantial difference of 9, ±1 y (mean, 90% confidence limit). Men showed possibly higher peak age than women in weightlifting (0.8, ±0.7 y; small) and a possibly lower peak age in powerlifting (1.3, ±1.8 y; trivial). Peak age of athletes who ever won a medal was very likely less than that of nonmedalists in weightlifting (1.3, ±0.6 y; small), while the difference in powerlifters was trivial but unclear. Five-year improvements prior to peak age were 12% (10%) for powerlifters and 9% (7%) for weightlifters, a small possibly substantial difference (2.9, ±2.1%). Women exhibited possibly greater improvements than men in powerlifting (2.7, ±3.8%; small) and very likely greater in weightlifting (3.5, ±1.6%; small). Medalists possibly improved less than nonmedalists among powerlifters (−1.7, ±2.3%; small), while the difference was likely trivial for weightlifters (2.3, ±1.8%). Conclusion: These novel insights on performance development will be useful for practitioners evaluating strategies for achieving success.

Solberg, Paulsen, and Haugen are with Norwegian Olympic Federation, Oslo, Norway. Hopkins is with the Inst for Health & Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Haugen (thomas.haugen@olympiatoppen.no) is corresponding author.
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