Inspired by my wife’s bronze medal victory (pictured right) at this weekends Weightlifting competition I want to make some clarifications about her sport. Weightlifting is seldom understood by the general public the average lay person has almost zero knowledge of the sport and what it is. Most people confuse Weightlifting with Powerlifting or even worst Body Building.

Weightlifting is an Olympic sport. The two exercises included in a Weightlifting competition are the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch. Both of these exercises have been shown through research and practical application to be excellent for the development of Power as it is applied to sport. Power is measured as speed times strength divided by time. {(Force X Distance)÷ Time} In other words how much force an athlete can apply within a time frame is power.

Both the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch are triple extension movements. Triple extension is any movement that requires hip, knee and ankle extension. In sport most movements of speed and power require triple extension.¹ This includes but is not limited to; starting off the line of scrimmage, jumping high, throwing something heavy, performing a Salto or Suplex, hitting someone and more.

Powerlifting is not an Olympic Sport. The three exercises included in a Powerlifing competition are; The Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press. The name “Powerlifting” is a misnomer as the competition is more a test of strength than it is power. The movement quality is very slow as an athlete battles to overcome the weight lifted during the Bench Press, Deadlift or Squat. The Squat and Deadlift from the sport of Powerlifting will develop strength and are a useful component to any strength and conditioning program. USA Weightlifting (the governing body for the sport of weightlifting) in the United States has identified the Squat and Deadlift as two of six basic (fundamental) weightlifting exercises that should be used in training.²

The sport of Weightlifting is more difficult and better applicable to sport than Powerlifting. To successfully complete a Clean and Jerk or a Snatch requires a greater summation of forces. Speed, strength, the proper application of leverage and technique must all be optimized. The motor complexity of the tasks in Weightlifting are more highly organized and difficult to learn than in Powerlifting. The Clean and Jerk and the Snatch are violent movements they are often feared and mislabeled as dangerous by those who don’t have experience in the sport and don’t know how to do the exercises correctly. Weightlifting is in fact one of the safest sports with the lowest numbers injuries per hours of participation.³

Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)
Sport Injuries (per 100 hours)
Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
Squash 0.10
US Football 0.10
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)


A strength and conditioning program designed to make an athlete stronger, faster, jump higher, hit harder, move quickly and increase power should contain lifts from the sport of weightlifting if it does not, it is not a good program.

Good Luck and Good Training,


¹Frounfelter Greg. Triple Extension:The Key to Athletic Power, Strength and Conditioning Journal, Vol. 8, Number 1: 14-15, 2009.
²USA Weightlifting Coach Accreditation Course. Sports Performance Coach Manual, USA Weightlifting, 2003.
³Hamill, B. Relative Safety of Weightlifting and Weight Training. Journal of Strength Conditioning. Res. 8(1):53-57, 1994.
For more information on the sport of weightlifting visit USA Weightlifting’s primary web site here;
For more information on the sport of Powerlifting visit USA Powerlifting’s primary web site here;