T Nation

Olympic Lifter's Longevity


So I talked to the head of campus rec here at my PT school about getting bumper plates and we got into the topic of squatting past parallel and behind the neck pressing etc... He proceeded to tell me that most olympic lifters can hardly move once they are older from the stress on their joints and such. I know that of course pyrros dimas won 3 straight golds and then a bronze over a span of 16 years. This was enough for me to merit them not being degenerative and that simply people and even the people I received my personal trainer certification from (NCSF) are too scared of difficult and technical lifts that require mobility.

So what is the longevity of olympic lifters? Not so much of how long they stay in the sport but how many have severe knee/shoulder/wrist complications later in life. If someone knows of some research or anything that'd be great


i have no research just personnel experience, my knees have never felt better since full ATG squats and my shoulders are much better.

Also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyNicZjQYX4&feature=channel_video_title


what about football? what about boxing?

some oly lifters do have problems later - but no more so than other sports.

but perhaps they think people shouldn't do serious sports at all?

lots of people engage in those sports at a lower level and don't have the problems later that the elites do. ditto for oly lifting.


Which oly lifters in particular is your PT rec director good friends with?


started oly lifting in June.
Age 52
absolutely love it!!


A. Behind the neck pressing is bad, but there are no issues with holding weight overhead
B. That PT's majority of clients have issues that could've been solved by squatting and putting weight overhead and not letting their hips and shoulders degenerate.

The problem is not the movements or the sport, rather the extreme's one way or another. Sure there can be some joint issues, but as my former coach who's 82 years old says "You think it's dangerous to get strong? Wait til you see what it's like to be weak!!"


There's a 65 year old guy in my weightlifting club that has been training for about 50 years and is still competing. Afaik he had a personal best of 110/140 when he was younger. I never heard him complaining about any pain or injuries and he can still squat ATG.


Training really hard for a long time (25yrs+) will f0ck you up in ANY SPORT.

The lifter has to realise when they are 35yrs+ with 15-20yrs of hard training they are not in their early 20's anyore and will have to adjust training accordingly.

It's just general wear and tear and loads. If you back off the loads as you get older you'll be in a better condition in your 60's.

Whoever burns brightest burns out the fastest.



There's a guy in my gym and from what I've pieced together from our conversations about him when he was younger he's at least 70. And he still walks to the gym several times a week and does the old school clean and press. He says he doesn't have the flexibility for the snatch and jerk anymore. But I've seen him clean and press 70kg on several occasions.

I don't think anyone can claim that olympic lifting is going to be the optimum exercise for feeling good when you are older. But if you are sensible you will be in better condition than 90% of people who don't do much exercise and don't care about their nutrition/alcohol intake and whatever else they put in their bodies


One of my coaches turned 80 last saturday, he did a 90kg squat (above parallel). How many 80 year olds do anything more than walk to the supermarket?

Theres longevity at the TOP of the sport and longevity in the sport itself.


My coach is 71, a couple of months ago he squatted 120kg for a few reps. He thought he could probably do 140 for a single. He weighs about 70 kg +/- a few.

He also competed well into his 50's and 60's


I know it's not exactly what you were looking for, but you brought up Dimas, so I figured I'd bring up Aslambek Ediev. The man won 3 medals at worlds from '05-'07, a bronze and two silvers (only losing to Rybakou and Lu Yong) and he was born in 1970. That makes him 37 at the time he won a silver medal in 2007. He looks OLD though.


Well in regards to the OH pressing from behind the neck I figure that you can throw in jerks from behind the neck into that category which from what I have seen, quite a bit of O-lifters do. Yeah I think that he has just gotten certifications from different places that have taught him against that. He did quote a guy to look up because it tore his body up but I can't remember his name. And also he isn't a PT he's the director of campus rec here at the medical school I attend


I think comparing careers in strength sports to a career in soccer, boxing or tennis is retarded.

In most sports, the stress that your body is exposed to is always pretty much the same and the forces are exerted by your own body. In weightlifting, the spine is constantly dared to challenge heavier and heavier weights which wears and shears the back and the knees.

In many sports there is the risk of acute injury but not the kind of deliberate exposure to accidents (falling over with a bar on your shoulders) and harmful stress that is present in strength sports.


I'm sick of all the people who try to say that there must be no risks or harm associated with lifting heavy. Especially when they put the injuries down to the incompetence of the recreational athletes, claiming that they did not work on their hamstrings, back, abs, rotator cuffs etc. enough and will forever move the goal post with those demands.

It seems similar to those people who hype that every normal person is built to do the splits if they train hard enough although all practical experience points to the falsity of the allegation.


This is not a discussion about strength sports and injury rates. This is a discussion about olympic weightlifting.


"Weightlifting training and competitions together are much safer than other sports such as football, basketball, soccer, etc (Stone, Muscle)."

Another very in depth report:


From the article in reference to knee injuries:
"The knee is one of the most injured joints in sports.9 One study indicated that the weightlifter is at high risk of patellofemoral osteoarthritis.4 The knee was the second most commonly injured site in our study. Although the knee is a common site of injury in other activities, the occurrence of severe or joint integrity injuries is not common in weightlifting. 1-3 The lower extremities move through a very controlled range of motion in weightlifting when compared with other activities such as football, basketball, or soccer. Also, cutting and turning, the common pathomechanics of many knee injuries, are not characteristic of weightlifting."

Basically the injuries associated with olympic weightlifting are over use injuries, not acute injuries, which just require rest to heal and don't compromise joint integrity.

I am in no way saying that olympic weightlifting is incredibly safe, and you won't get injured. I'm just arguing the statement that it is significantly worse than other sports


It should be noted also that those studies were done on elite weightlifters, training many times a week. The overuse injuries (that the studies showed were by far the most common in weightlifting) obviously happen a lot more with elite weightlifters than recreational lifters


The benefits derived from getting your body in shape to actually do a full Sn or CJ in the first place are enormous. Postural realigment, mobility, flexibilty, conditioning etc. etc.

For a recreational lifter to get strong enough and proficient enough to even possibly cause an overuse injury by OL is actually quite a feat.

Besides the 5 or 6 real lifters on this site most of us are condemned to be snatching 1xBW and cleaning 1.25xBW with a 1.5 x BW FS if we're lucky. Basically we couldn't get an overuse injury even if we tried - but we still have a blast trying!


I would tend to agree, although I think for different reasons.

Really? You talk about your spine being "constantly dared to challenge heavier weights" but that is a progressive process through which your body adapts to handling those loads. If we talk about football or boxing and (what I think) are the major injuries to come out of those sports, there is no such process. The body does not adapt to a full speed collision between a 225 pound running back and a 250 pound linebacker (both of whom can run 4.4 40s), or to a 300 pound lineman crashing into the side of your knee. It breaks. The brain does not adapt to concussions or getting knocked in the head, it gets progressively worse, so when linemen crash their helmets into each other on every play or a boxer walks into the ring to get punched in the face repeatedly, I'd argue that that stress is worse than what I put myself through every time I'm in the weight room (and you talk about deliberate exposure to accidents, I figure it's a helluva lot safer to throw myself under a weight when I can jump out of the way as opposed to walking into a ring to get punched in the face). The iron is cold, it is unforgiving, but it is still neutral, and if we're solely talking about safety I will take that anyday over an opposing human force who is actively trying to hurt me.


Anyone who says there is NO risk or harm associated with lifting heavy is an idiot. There's a reason people get hurt lifting weights all the time, however preventable it may be. I think there was a college football athlete in the states who suffered a career ending injury doing step-ups with 100 pounds. The difference is that the lifter (and/or their coach) is in control of these risks through their technique, their attitude, and their self-awareness.


The ONLY sport that has less injuries then weightlifting is SWIMMING.