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Biomechanical Profiles of Olympic Weightlifters

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 St. Mary Medical Center, Long Beach, CA
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The heaviest successful snatch and clean and jerk for five Gold medalists in weight-lifting at the 1984 Olympic Games were analyzed from 16mm film. Bar trajectories all showed that as the barbell was lifted from the platform it moved toward the athlete during the first pull, then away from the athlete and finally toward him again as it began to descend during the catch phase. Bar velocity profiles showed that most lifters decelerated the barbell at the end of the first pull while reorienting their body position for the second pull. Calculated power outputs were large in magnitude and showed considerable similarities for selected phases of the lifts of a given athlete. Power output values for complete snatch and clean pulls typically ranged between 28 and 35 W/Kg of body mass. Higher values were found for subphases of the pulls and for the jerk thrusts. Previously published data on one of the Gold medalists permitted longitudinal comparisons of his lifting technique. High power output capacity was the most distinguishing characteristic of the athletes studied and is likely necessary for successful participation in weightlifting at the elite level.

Direct all correspondence to John Garhammer, Biomechanics Laboratory, St. Mary Medical Center, Long Beach, CA 90813.

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