Weightlifting is a demanding sport that requires strength, speed, flexibility, balance, and coordination. The movements are technical and explosive. It is a power sport that requires perfect technical mastery, speed, and anticipation. In this article, I will share with you handy tips on how to start heavy weightlifting from an early age.
Tips How to Start Heavy Weightlifting When Young
Contrary to common misconceptions, weightlifting does not damage the back when performed with proper technique. If the movements are well executed, the back muscles are strengthened and toned.
The exercises have a particularly interesting effect on posture correction and mobility development, including hip extension, thoracic expansion, and hip mobility.
We have often heard that this could be detrimental to a teenager’s growth. This belief is false.
You can start weightlifting from 12 to 13 years old under close supervision by an experienced professional. There is no risk to a teenager’s growth. I have seen many determined youngsters turn into competitive weightlifters with a balanced physique thanks to proper technique and expert guidance.
(For example, on YouTube, you can see plenty of videos with very young Chinese weightlifters achieving fantastic results).
Activation of the gluteus maximus is essential for the successful execution of movements. This allows you to develop strong and aesthetically impressive glutes.
Weightlifting provides a surefire way to restore the mobility of the hips. Many people cannot squat parallel without bending the back. In such a case, the hips become stiff.
Many people spend hours sitting in front of the TV, their computer, in the office or in a car, which results in a relaxation of gluteus maximus (the most powerful muscles in the body) to the point of making them amnesic and atrophic.
To execute movements without injury, you need to have a good muscle base, coordination, and proprioception. The learning process is undertaken gradually.
Basic movements are divided into several small steps and exercises to ensure safety and effective movements.
During a competition, weightlifting is evaluated according to two movements: the snatch and clean-and-jerk. The athlete has three attempts to perform each move.
The sum of the best snatch test and the clean-jerk yields a result known as the Olympic total.
Contrary to popular belief, weightlifting is not just for men; about 33 percent of women practice it.
Top Tips for Young Weightlifters
Weightlifting helps develop an athlete’s ability to recruit as quickly as possible a maximum number of muscle fibers (speed of force production). This results in considerable speed and strength gains.
The latter allows an individual to lift heavier loads during workouts and thus boost performance.
Standing work is easy to learn since it eliminates the apprehension of passing under the bar. It allows young athletes to develop the power of hip extension effectively.
As a weightlifter, it allows you to work the speed of locking (bring the bar to the shoulders while keeping elbows high). You can proceed to relax the arm and wrist to stabilize the bar).
You should always focus on the pull movement without overly thinking about the next rep, which corresponds to the passage under the bar.
It is common for beginners in weightlifting to perform the standing snatch maneuver with the pelvis leaning forward, which compresses intervertebral discs.
Potentiation, on the other hand, is the result of maximum velocity and near maximal or supramaximal effort. The nervous system activates its connections with the muscles, which results in an increased recruiting capacity. This allows you to handle heavier workloads.
With regular practice, weightlifting movements will develop flexibility and improve posture. You participate in a booster session for upper body muscles each time you perform weightlifting movements during leg strengthening sessions and vice versa.
The movements are essential for many muscle groups that prove difficult to develop (or find time to develop) in bodybuilding:
These include calves, forearms (wrist muscles and wrist extensors), hamstrings, lumbar and all spinal muscles, such as para-vertebral muscles, rotator cuff muscles (mainly external rotators) and scapular girdle (posterior deltoids, rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius).
Below you will learn more about general weightlifting guidelines, including proper breathing techniques and Olympic weightlifting. Also, you will find detailed information on a wide variety of exercises that can boost your performance.
Keys to Weightlifting Success
Try to limit your workouts to 60 minutes. Training for more than one hour can lower blood testosterone levels and increase cortisol, especially when working hard without taking breaks between sets.
If you have recently increased workload, you may feel that your goals will change every other day. Choose a goal and ensure that you reach it within 12 weeks and then reevaluate.
The same goes for training programs. It is easy to get distracted by the effectiveness of a new training method, but this can compromise your ability to evaluate the efficacy of a particular training regime.
You can determine the suitability of your training program after three to four weeks. In the early days, you need to limit your choice of exercises.
Your training will be more effective if you reduce it to 4-5 moves per workout. Training sessions could be summarized as a primary lift involving two to three accessory movements and direct ab work.
Make an effort to conduct your research on the people who coach you or provide expert advice. Having a great physique does not mean that an individual is qualified to design personalized weightlifting training programs or perform coaching duties.
You learn to identify true professionals that add value to your workouts.
It is also necessary to avoid the one size fits all approach. Having a standard program should make life easier but unfortunately, it may not. You must discover your weaknesses despite having a coach.
Even the best coach in the world may not detect your shortcomings. You can always try a program you find on the Internet, but do not forget that just because a program works for your friend does not mean it will automatically be good for you.
Many junior weightlifters avoid important routines because they do not look cool on paper. This could involve a one-sided exercise, sledding exercise or weighted exercises. Whatever the level of experience, this kind of training requires significant effort.
If you do not spend the time and energy needed to gain strength and work your muscles, you risk suffering injuries. This ‘dirty job’ is unpleasant but it should be as important as any other exercise you perform.
Athletes never stop learning. There will always be people who know more than you regardless of your intelligence and culture. Find true experts in the field.
Analyze and understand their methods, read their books and try the recommended techniques for yourself. Successful weightlifters are always learning because they do not know everything.
Proper Breathing Techniques for Weightlifters
Whether you exercise regularly or just starting to get back in shape, learning to breathe during exercise can work wonders for your performance, strength, and speed of recovery.
For novice weightlifters, it is not always easy to know when to inhale and exhale during exercise. Thankfully, with a little practice, the right technique can quickly become a healthy habit.
The majority of junior weightlifters are not familiar with proper breathing techniques when lifting weights. These techniques are not something you learn at school, and even professional coaches sometimes forget to stop the bad habits.
Bad breathing habits can affect your performance or interest in exercise. Learning to breathe well during exercise will help you avoid dizziness, eliminate lactic acid from muscle tissue, remove carbon dioxide more effectively and increase tissue oxygenation.
This will result in decreased cramps, better performance, and faster muscle recovery.
A good breathing technique can also increase the level of nitric oxide in the blood, which promotes the relaxation of arteries and the maintenance of good circulation.
This technique creates an efficient distribution of oxygen and nutrients. The same applies to the optimal elimination of metabolic waste from the muscle tissues.
During an initial assessment, a weightlifting coach will examine both your functional movements and the way you breathe during exercise routines. A good trainer can easily notice if your breathing is superficial, jerky or concentrated in the upper abdomen.
This kind of inefficient breathing can seriously hinder your workout efforts and may even increase your risk of poor health in other ways.
As a rule of thumb, you should exhale on exertion and inhale at rest. Holding your breath during exercise can deprive the muscles of oxygen, reduce performance and increase the risk of cramps and pain. This rule, however, is controversial when it comes to weightlifting.
Chest breathing or abdominal breathing?
Upper chest breathing involves muscles of the neck and shoulders that are not designed for this purpose. This can result in increased tension in the shoulders and neck, weakening of the diaphragm, and poor blood circulation during exercise.
In contrast, breathing from the belly or abdomen helps to strengthen the diaphragm and provides deep breathing for better physical performance.
Learning to breathe from your abdomen also helps you to become aware of your shallow breathing. Shoulder sagging or poor posture and stress are the main causes of shallow breathing.
However, adopting a good posture and paying attention to your breathing can help you perform and manage stress better. Deeper and slower breathing helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can calm the fight or flight response.
No absolute rule says it is better to breathe through the nose or mouth. In general, there is less resistance if the breathing is done through the mouth. As such, it is often the best solution if you have trouble breathing through the nose.
However, breathing through the nose helps warm the air before it enters the lungs, which is great when you exercise in cold weather. Nasal breathing also allows you to filter out certain pathogens, allergens, and potential pollutants.
It prevents the mucous membranes of the mouth from drying out. Therefore, it reduces irritation of the airways and the risk of bronchospasm.
Boost performance with the Valsalva maneuver
If you have not heard of the Valsalva maneuver, you may not be breathing well when lifting heavy weights. The Valsalva maneuver involves taking a deep breath just before the deadlift and stop breathing during the most demanding part of the deadlift.
This technique increases the intra-abdominal pressure, thus strengthening the trunk and making it easier to lift heavier loads. Observe any professional weightlifter, and you should see them practice this breathing technique.
However, this goes against the general rule of breathing during exercise because the technique briefly increases blood pressure. For this reason, make an effort to validate beforehand any new type of exercise with a health practitioner.
The Valsalva maneuver is intended for use only for lifting heavy weights. For less demanding weightlifting, the usual rule applies: exhale during the deadlift and inhale during the least demanding part of the movement.
It is interesting to note that a Controlled Frequency Breathing (CFB) technique used by swimmers may have benefits for other types of exercises, including weightlifting.
The CFB consists of holding your breath for about seven to 10 movements before taking another breath. As part of a study, healthy young men who learned CFB for 12 workouts achieved an 11 percent improvement in peak expiratory pressure and six percent in stroke economy.
Maintaining good posture and a healthy weight can also help improve lung function. Whether you are already an athlete or have difficulty exercising, learning to breathe properly when you run or lift heavy weights can make physical activity easier, more enjoyable.
Olympic Weightlifting 101
Every muscle in your body can work optimally when you practice Olympic weightlifting. Professional athletes train and compete in two types of Olympic weightlifting: the clean and jerk (involves moving the bar up to your shoulders, then lift it) and the snatch (you move the barbell from the floor to head) in one movement.
Key benefits include speed, flexibility, coordination, strength and muscle gains. Olympic weightlifting can be difficult, but it creates a slimmer, sculpted and powerful body.
You will burn more calories, stimulate muscle growth and create more power. It is an ideal training technique if you want to be strong and healthy without having the stature of professional bodybuilders.
As with all technical sports and fitness exercises, Olympic weightlifting requires a lot of determination and practice. If you give up quickly, you will find this type of training difficult. If you are ready to work hard, you should follow basic guidelines.
With Olympic weightlifting, it is all about form. If your technique is wrong, you will hurt yourself. The fitness process begins long before you lift the dumbbell.
Focus on increasing your range of motion by first doing resistance exercises. This will increase the flexibility of your shoulders and hips, which is crucial for you to lift properly. From there, you can learn the hook grip and determine your blocking power.
It is tempting to overload if you are capable of holding the weight. However, as a beginner start with a weight-free barbell and add small plates as your fitness progresses. On the other hand, do not limit reps.
If you hear someone in the gym talking about maximum repetition; block your ears. You should aim for a larger amount of repetitions (about 10 to 15) with lower weights, increasing as you go.
As you progress through Olympic weightlifting, you will likely start with snatching and variations of this training. Try a quick pull, which is more accessible than a complete snatch.
Stand with the bar on the floor, and your hands placed wide enough. Lift the bar and pull it to your hips by moving it slightly upwards. Rest, take a quick break and repeat.
Benefits of Weightlifting
Weightlifting is one of the best ways to increase vertical jump capacity. In a 1999 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research, athletes performing weightlifting movements had a higher jump capacity than individuals performing basic force movements, such as squat or deadlift.
Force times distance equals speed. In other words, power is the ability to generate force quickly. Weightlifting exercises are particularly effective for this purpose. It comes as no surprise that weightlifting exercises have become popular in boot camps in the United States.
The routines are known to promote fat loss and muscle building. Studies conducted in Canada found that weightlifters lost an average of six percent body fat and gained four percent of lean muscle mass.
The gains were achieved after eight weeks of intensive training. As a bonus, individuals had on average eight percent lower resting pulse and had their systolic blood pressure reduced by four percent.
Weightlifting movements require static and dynamic flexibility. Also, many physical therapy programs include the snatch movement to assess the static and dynamic flexibility of individuals. More about weightlifting benefits you will find in this article.
Q: How to integrate weightlifting into a bodybuilding routine?
A: The first and probably the most cost-effective option for hypertrophy is to begin each session of bodybuilding with a typical weightlifting movement. This makes it easier to take full advantage of the post-exercise potentiation.
The second option is to dedicate a specific session to weightlifting, for the most part, or in totality. Several program examples apply to one or both of these two options. The full body approach is simple and effective, and it is especially suitable for beginners.
Q: At what stage should I start Olympic weightlifting?
A: You can start Olympic lifts at any stage after conditioning your body for the rigors of snatch, and clean and jerk. This forms part of key tips on how to start heavy weightlifting when young.
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