T Nation

US Will Dominate World Weightlifting


Based on how many "certified USA " weightlifting coaches the US now has.....ahhh I can see Bob Hoffman smiling even now..

No man woman or child from 8 to 80 will escape their steely gaze...

The US is on the March again look out London..

sorry just a little frustrated how easy it is to get something that people should have to work for..


I take it you object to the expertise a person gains by taking a USAW sponsored sport performance course... LOL.

If the USAW is going to ever become serious about producing competitive athletes, they need to abolish money hole known as Colorado Springs. If weightlifting is ever going to become attractive to strength athletes, it needs to be an economically viable profession, currently it is not.


Excuse my ignorance, but what's wrong with Colorado Springs?


What's wrong with Colorado Springs? Same things that are wrong with the sport of weightlifting around this country. It's run by a bunch of self-centered fools who have no business in sports and no business running ANYTHING! U.S. coaches think that perfect form and going six for six means everything.

Meanwhile Europeans and Asians go 3 for 6, pop to big lifts and beat the Americans by 60kg. Pathetic. And it's not getting any better.


They are obsessed with perfect form? Which of our athletes has that? Is the 6 for 6 thing a cry about Melanie at this year's Olympics? I guess a career best snatch and total wasn't pushing hard enough in your mind? What about Chad's bombing out? That wasn't six-for-six. Kendrick bombed at world's a year or so back. Norik bombed at the trials and he was one of the favorites to go to the games. In fact, I can't think of that many 6 for 6 performances at big events.

Moreover, look at a lot of the guys who won the gold this year. A lot of them did a lot better than 3 for 6. These complaints are not -that- accurate.

Who is self-centered at the springs? Bob Morris? Paul Fleschler? Both are highly regarded among top athletes in the country as evidenced by the fact that when athletes get to vote for who they want as coaches at different events, these 2 get picked a lot.


How many of members of this years Olympic team trained at Colorado Springs year round?.... Chad Vaughn did, but he went back to his original coach, because his lifting was suffering immensely. One of our athletes went there a few years ago and she told us it was a horrible. In her words the environment does not build the ferocity necessary to be a champion.

Instead of wasting money on a facility which is not producing top level athletes, invest the money in individuals who are training their asses off at their home club, and let them become professional athletes. The current stipend situation only allows athletes to train as amateurs, and relative to the world we are performing as amateurs.


This could be an interesting discussion.

I for one would like to hear more ideas about the miserable performance of US weightlifting. It has been literally decades since the US fielded competitive teams.

I can understand why that was the case after the mid 1960s, but I would have thought there would have been at least a marginal improvement in US performance over the course of the last 15 years. The fall of Communism wrecked the sports programs of perennial weightlifting powers and opened up a lot of coaching and athletic talent to go elsewhere.

At the same time, olympic lifting in the US has undergone a minor renaissance, at least in terms of exposure and public knowledge. I don't know if that has translated into more clubs and more people actually doing the sport, but if nothing else a lot more people are at least talking about or have heard of the "olympic lifts."

So there is a potential audience out there now. Not a large audience, that's for sure, but a bigger one than in the past.

Yet the US federation seems to be doing absolutely nothing to develop the sport. At least it looks that way to me.


One thing I notice about weightlifting is that it does not seem to attract a lot of general ironheads. I mean guys who paid some dues in the gym growing some muscle before they sought out a strength sport. Think guys that lifted for football, wrestling, throwers, maybe even gymnastics (definitely a strength background if not much "weight" training per se). Indeed, when you watch a state WL meet, you really don't see any guys that look brutally strong. All the coaching in Colorado can't make up for the fact that not many strong men enter this sport in America.


You are a little off on some of your information and missing a big point or two. Carissa Gump trains there. She was an Olympian. Norik is definitely a highly competitive athlete, but he bombed trials. He is there. Casey Burgener was there - he was the alternate. Natalie Wolfolk was there - Olympian. Cheryl Hayworth was even there for a while and Shane Hammon was there for a large part of his competitive career. Yes, Casey and Natalie both left, but that's probably in large part because he is retiring.

Moreover, the program is free to us. We (USAW) don't pay for it! USOC completely covers it, and we wouldn't get that money from them if we didn't have it. So why in god's name would we cut the program?


As Dr Manhattan said, the 6 for 6 thing is a bogus argument. Check the results for the Worlds and Euros over the last 5 years, and look at what the eventual gold medalists did. Almost always 5/6 minimum. It's very rare that someone medals at that level by going 2/6. You'd be lucky to make the top 10 at that rate.


I've never really been around competitive oly lifters, but I've noticed a similar phenomena in the wannabe oly lifters in the gym. It seems like I see guys who are trying to snatch or clean and they can't deadlift, press, squat, row, chin, etc.

I don't know what the transfer is like on those lifts for the oly's but I do know that if your general body strength is pathetic you're not going to be able to snatch, clean or jerk for shit, no matter how good your technique is.


This is easily explained by the relative smaller amount of people involved in the sport compared to others and one of many reasons the sport isn't popular as other strength sports is the dedication required for it. Technique is so important that coaching is pretty much required to reach higher competitive levels.

It is much easier to self-coach and master powerlifting technique while training alone (for example) than weightlifting. Also consider what percentage of gyms have benches/squat racks compared to how many have platforms/bumper plates.

That should go without saying because weightlifting is not a sport about appearance or brute strength (not sure which you were referring to by saying 'look'). Just because someone has a strong squat and/or deadlift doesn't mean they'll necessarily they'll be successful at weightlifting.


There are two things here, the first is that oly wl, is in decline. Now that the eastern block machine has been disassembled and the people brought up by it retired and spread throughout the world. The 76 OG was won with a C & J of 255 (shoot me if I'm wrong) and the super WR has not been equalled since the late 80's.

The reduction in standard caused by better drug testing (although there has been an explosion in unrestrained GH use in sprinting) and the end of the soviets lead them to reinvent weight classes, just so that the public and media would see WRs again not stagnation.

America has stagnated in a sport that is stagnating.

Now regarding the quote above, weightlifting was not always fringe. Back in the 60's Louis Martin & Bill March won national & international bbing comps, Vern Weaver Mr A 1964 had a 370 C & J Ralph Kroger from So Cal had a 270 snatch plus other respectable lifts.

If you wanted to have creditablity in the weight room back in the 60s you had to have a decent Clean and a press meant something.

Powerlifting attracted many of weightlifting's possible devotees, but the lack of attraction of OL to the public has been a problem since the early 70's. Ken Patera a very good shotputter, was the best US lifter in 1971. WR shot holder Feurbach got of a plane from Europe, and got 2nd at the US nats, in 1973 just for fun, Bruce Whilhelm, went from a guy who could not medal at the US T & F nats in shot to the best US super.

Napier an ex discus thrower, who realised his height was against him was a US champ, and The best shot put jr in around 73-74 turned up and won the US jrs, doing power snatches and power cleans, beating the kids groomed by the US camps who never went anywhere.

Yep think OLs problems are cultural, but the buzz "olympic" and the eletism that the word conjures has definitely given it traction. Lots of interest, just hope you guys can turn it into something other than people posting U-Tube videos of their 150lb squat cleans.

Actually I would go as far as saying if you are not pulling hard correctly by 21, your chances of success are next to nothing, no matter what they do. It is a strength sport, not ballet.


I thought this was a pretty good reiteration of what I was thinking.

You seem pretty knowledgeable, can I send you a OL competition related question?


I'm interested to know why you feel this way, and how you define "success" in this context.


I was a good OL jr, but always wanted to be a thrower,

5 years ag0 I decided I would do masters throwing. Had not done a power snatch in 25 years but in around 2 months they were back. my catch is too high, stiff knees, my pull is too slow, but I have second pull, full extension, it came back.

Since then I have thrown and thrown and thrown, it is not only agonising to learn, but my technique comes and goes. It does not stick. I can't build it, then try something new and raise it. I must keep doing all my beginner drills which leaves little time to throw hard.

Why is that relevant. It is like riding a bike or learning to ski. When you are young it is easy, older you get the harder it is to learn compex movements. OL is the same. Training 14 year olds to squat snatch is easy.

Other part is something I picked up in throwing research. It has been found that our peak power development is fixed around 21. What ever we get is a function of what we have then. Throwing coaches push their ppl to lift hard by this age. My guess it has something to do with your CNS firing capacity.

Therefore not pulling hard by 21, means technique is not there to build on and neither is the power. I feel correct pulling technique is way nore inportant than bottom positions. They can be fixed, but if not pulling hard by 21 you will struggle.

Now this is my take from experience in many areas and lots of putting peices together. On a personal basis I will be happy for anyone to prove me wrong..


Having been involved in other national level sports before coming to weightlifting I found that the pervading attitude within 'the sport' was one of 'my athlete against your athlete', 'my program against your program', 'my style against yours'. All that it's amounted to thus far is a failure to compete. U.S. lifters no longer compete for medals. Our teams are happy to qualify and happy to post a total (I exept Ferris from this as he seems to be lifter who shows up - regardless of venue - to win, although he's attacked thoughout the U.S. weightlifting community for his 'form' as it's not what 'our coaches' would teach, even thought it's a form that worked for him up to and beyond the 200kg. plateau). The coaches you named are good coaches they deserve respect. Many of the old mob from the OTC are gone. I hope change is coming (along with better fiscal managemement and a modicum of business savy) with respect to results. I find little 'national unity' in weightlifting. I find many of the regional coaches to be petty and unqualified, convinced of their own superiority when I would not hire them as a data-entry clerk. It's a far cry from the culture in, say, Asia (which I've witnessed first hand).


Hmmm. Well, I guess I'm gonna have to bust my ass extra hard to make sure I'm "pulling hard" (and technically correct) before my next (22nd) birthday.


I think those are valid points. If Norik Vardanian walked up to me (I wouldn't know him if I saw him on the street) and told me he could rip a legit +400lb C&J and day of the week, I would probably be skeptical. Clearly, a mesomorphic physique is not the most relevant indicator of success.

That said, I think it speaks volumes for who the sport draws in America that you see alot of "endurance physiques" in the bush league of American weightlifting. I'm dumbing it down- but not by much.

While hypertrophy, strength, speed, and technique all exist on seperate planes, there is a positive correlation between looking strong and tossing big weights. Who's going to front squat more- a man with a thick strong legs and a thick strong core built by superior genetics, a history hard work in the gym and the mental toughness that this forges or some skinny kid that met a great coach a year ago. A guy with great technique may be able to clean 407 when his front squat 386.

But take a guy who can front squat 500 for a triple and give him the same technique coaching I'll bet he'll clean something more than 407. This isn't about well coached lifter vs. big, jacked slob. It's about well-coached, big, jacked slob vs. well-coach guy who should have gone out for table tennis instead. While weightlifting is technique intensive (as opposed to every other strength sport apparantly- according to some opinions), it is still about lifting weights. Powerful, muscular men tend to lift more weight all things being otherwise equal. If this were not true, anabolic doping would not be such an issue weightlifting.

When my father was a gym rat in the late 50s/early 60s, most iron heads did weightlifting lifts and a good many competed- from the least gifted to the hardest of the hardcore of genetic freaks. Powerlifting barely existed and bodybuilding was much more underground than it is today. Guess what, the US produced many of the great weightlifters of that era. Now that so many gym-hardened genetic phenoms are taking thier talents elsewhere, US weightlifing is in many ways becoming an also-ran to strongman, powerlifting, and even bodybuilding.


In theory this would be correct, but in reality technique and genetics (build, limb length, etc) play a much bigger role in weightlifting. This is one of the biggest factors that distinguishes weightlifting from other strength sports (and as I mentioned one possible reason why it might not be as popular). Several old Russian texts discuss studies done finding absolute strength not always being correlated with explosive strength needed for the lifts. In fact, Alexeev even made comments about this since some of his own teammates could outsquat him by 50 kg yet clean & jerked 30 kg less than him.

Regarding steroids, they're used as much for recovery from the intense volume and workload the athletes are doing as much as the muscle building/anabolic effects. That's why you see even smaller 56 and 62kg men get popped.