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Injuries in Weightlifting vs. Powerlifting

It makes him not elite, compared to the highest levels of weightlifters.

Being binary to this degree is arguing in bad faith: please appreciate nuance.

And when did the discussion switch to America? I’ve been operating under the premise that we were discussing the sports in whole this entire time. Are we only discussing this as it relates to America?

And it brings up the age too. Older athletes get hurt me. Weightlifting is a young man’s sport.

But has since evolved yes. It seems we are having 2 different conversations.

Yep, I think I agree with your points given your caveats / definitions.

I would agree that if each sport had the same populations entering that weightlifting would select for more athleticism. I just don’t think the populations entering are equal (that was the point I was trying to make).

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Thanks! Goes to show that what “everybody knows” isn’t necessarily so.

These discussions are almost always interesting. I go back to that days when lifting weights was discouraged for many sports. It makes you slow and “muscle bound” don’t you know? It stunts your growth. Now, golfers lift.

When I competed, the weight sports stuck together, even trained at the same gyms. There weren’t as many gyms then. Work was real work, you didn’t sit all day. Hell, they used to have bodybuilding competitions at weightlifting meets, between the lightweights and heavyweights.

As things grew, you started to have the arguments regarding which was better, safer, a more effective way to improve athletic performance, etc. Pro football players used to train at my gym and I could outlift all of them, not just outlift them, but kick their ass. As I was watching an all pro DE squat, pathetically, while it surprised me, it occurred to me that I still wouldn’t want to line up across form him. He would either be around me before I blinked or run through me, before I blinked. I was a weightlifter, he was a football player. No comparison.

Research studies are always suspect. There is an agenda. I remember when USAWeightlifting tried to use them to prove the safety of weightlifting and the benefits for sports because it is “explosive”. I know a national champion weightlifter who trained at a facility which worked with football players training for the combine. On a whim, he did it. Standing broad jump over 12 feet (over the record for DBs at the time), 4.62 electronically timed 40, in weightlifting shoes, after heavy squats. Vertical, 41. They told him to go to the combine, he could “win” the combine! His response, “guys, just one problem, don’t know how to play football.”

Sure, weightlifting is more difficult than powerlifting and requires more skill. If you don’t think so, try to teach someone who has never lifted a weight how to deadlift. They’ll have the technique down in a day. Try that again, only with the snatch. Powerlifting is “easier”. The trick lifts vs the half lifts. So what, different sports. They both use barbells and require strength, that’s it.

Regarding injuries, are we talking about competition, or training, or both? After personally attending hundreds of weightlifting meets and dozens of powerlifting meets, this is what I saw:

Weightlifting- ruptured patellar/quad tendons, dislocated elbows (which seems to have increased with the advent of wider grip snatches and jerks, and maybe the move away from standard conditioning movements, like curls), dislocated shoulders, torn meniscus (almost always the foot slipped in the jerk), and fractured or dislocated wrists (usually catching the elbow on the knee in the clean).

As seen, usually the injury is due to a technical error, weight out of position, the ballistic nature of the lifts, or some type of fluke thing. Sometimes, not often, it is someone trying an unreasonable weight. Not often though, jumps in weightlifting are pretty small.

Powerlifting- ruptured pecs (much more common with the bench shirt), bicep ruptures and patellar/quad tendon ruptures. Sometimes, the positioning utilized to reduce bar travel is part of the problem.

In powerlifting, I don’t think technical errors enter into the equation as much. Often, it’s simply trying way too much, possibly due to the larger jumps powerlifters take.

I’m not sure it is fair to compare the two in this manner. However, if I had to pick the one that is safer, it would be powerlifting.

Actually, as far as injury rates go, especially of the catastrophic variety, I’d guess both powerlifting and weightlifting is pretty dang low. Most in both sports seem like overuse and while what gets overused may be a little different, I’d need some data before I believed that absolute rates are actually all that different. While weightlifting is lighter, it’s still higher force and has an impact component. Not to mention the skilled nature of the lifts in weightlifting would translate to far more extreme out of position lifts.

It’s also worth noting that weightlifting is a young mans game. No one is lifting at the top levels in weightlifting in their 40s, and what your going to end up comparing are injuries of 26 year old weightlifters lifting for 10-15 years vs a 45 year old power lifter whose been at it for 25+ years. That doesn’t exactly seem fair.

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Heck there is even a huge difference in coaching. Most people getting into powerlifting just go to the gym and start with maybe some forum reading and a youtube video or 2 to learn how to do it. Most weightlifters start the process with at least some form of coaching which should make all the pitfalls that lead to injury less likely.

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Thanks for sharing your experiences. It’s interesting that the injuries in each sport seem to have different causes, that is, technical or positional error in the snatch and clean and jerk v. just going too heavy in the powerlifts.

Just my opinion based on observation. I’ve seem several normal looking bench presses, lift is going fine, obviously heavy, but no reason the think they won’t finish. Then, rip, pec blows out.

In the snatch, you can sometimes see it happening. The bar is shifted, maybe one side is starting to drift back, time to let it go, but it’s a competition. You’re instinct is to fight for the lift, hang on, then pop, there goes the elbow. Sometimes, it happens so fast you need slow motion to determine what happened.

I’d have to agree with (@Pinkylifting?) who said there’s probably a lot that we don’t see concerning weight/Olympic lifting vs Powerlifting.

The other poster who put up a study, I think that’s also information to be heavily considered as well.

I can’t really say one sport produced steady amounts of injury over the other. I’ve seen gnarly injuries across them all really. There was even a Crossfitter who I think actually paralyzed himself (permanently?) from an accident as well.

If under specific circumstances where we were able to see pretty much anyone, from top tier, to somewhat top tier, to higher than average, average, everyday joes, and novices, across the board for any prolonged period of time, and monitor injuries, I would think there’d be a quite a lot and varied account of injuries from all sports mentioned. Heck, even sports not mentioned.

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