5 Things I’ve Learned About Competing in Olympic Weightlifting

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by TARYN HAGGERSTONE

I only started competing in weightlifting two years ago (i.e. not that long ago), and sometimes that makes me hesitant to write about it because I know I still have so much further to go. However, I’ve come a long way and learned a lot since I started, so I wanted to share some of what I’ve picked up over the past two years.

1. Know Your Weight & Whether You Need to Cut

Know Your Weight & Whether You Need to Cut

If you don’t need to cut or have only a small amount to lose, monitor your weight and eat healthily, but don’t stress out about it.
When I first started lifting, I remember someone telling me that if I really wanted to get good, I needed to care less about what I weighed and focus more on the weight of the bar; usually I try to do just that. However, if you have a competition coming up and need to be in a specific category, it is important to monitor your weight so you can cut weight gradually (if necessary) rather than resort to extreme measures at the last-minute (e.g. limiting almost all fluids the day before, exercising in a sweat suit/garbage bag, sauna, spitting in a cup…).

These things aren’t much fun and can negatively affect your performance, because all you’re really doing is losing water weight/becoming dehydrated.

If you don’t need to cut or have only a small amount to lose, monitor your weight and eat healthily, but don’t stress out about it.

2. Deload!!! (aka REST)

Leading up to a competition, it’s important to decrease training volume and in the final days just rest (easier said than done). I know a lot of people (myself included) dislike going too long without training because we get antsy and irritable and feel as though we’re “falling behind.” Frankly, we aren’t sure what to do our sudden abundance of free time, either.

But it is important to realize that our bodies need those extra rest days to fully recover/recharge – something that probably doesn’t happen often during regular training. Also, not training for a couple of days is a good way to make us “itch” to pick up a heavy barbell, which is exactly how we want to feel for a competition.

3. Have a Game Plan

Have a Game Plan

[W]hether or not we actually make the lift has much more to do with our mental preparation.
Before you even step foot in the warm-up room, you want to know (roughly) the following numbers:

  • what your openers will be
  • what you plan to lift on your 2nd & 3rd attempts
  • the total you’re trying for

You should have visualized yourself hitting these lifts over and over in your head. Though our strength & technique determine how much we are physically capable of lifting, whether or not we actually make the lift has much more to do with our mental preparation.

N.B. This “game plan” is not set in stone & you should be prepared to change/modify it if necessary (e.g. your warm-up didn’t go well, you dropped an opening lift, etc.).

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