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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01121

Performance development from youth to senior and age of peak performance in Olympic weightlifting

  • 1Michigan State University, United States
  • 2University of Essex, United Kingdom

A total of 3,782 performance results for male and female weightlifters, ages 14 to 30 from 123 countries, from Youth, Junior, and Senior World Championships and Olympic Games 2013 to 2017 were used to estimate the age at peak performance in Olympic weightlifting and quantify performance development from adolescence to adulthood.

The age at peak performance was estimated for men and women globally and for different geographic regions. Overall male and female weightlifters achieve their peak performance in weightlifting at similar ages. The median peak age is 26.0 years (95% CI: 24.9, 27.1) for men and 25.0 years (95% CI: 23.9, 27.4) for women, at the 90th percentile of performances. It is a novel finding that the age at peak performance differs for male and female athletes from various geographic regions (Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Far East, North- and South America). For some regions men reach peak performance at a younger age than women, while this relationship is reversed for other regions A possible explanation could be that socio-economic factors influence the pool of available athletes and thus may underestimate the true peak age.

Unlike in track and field where the discipline might determine specific body types, weightlifters at all ages compete in body weight classes, enabling us to compare performance levels and annual rate of change for athletes of different body mass. We quantified increases in performance in Olympic weightlifting for male and female adolescents. Sex-specific differences arise during puberty, boys outperform girls, and there is a rapid increase in their performance levels before the further growth slows down. The largest annual rate of increase in the total weight lifted was achieved between 16 and 17 years of age for both sexes with lower body mass and between 21 and 22 years with higher body mass. Such new information may help to establish progression trajectories for young athletes.

Keywords: peak performance, sex differences, weightlifting, Performance development, Body mass, Countries, Youth, age

Received: 21 May 2019; Accepted: 13 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Huebner and Perperoglou. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Marianne Huebner, Michigan State University, East Lansing, United States,