Preparing for a National Weightlifting Championships: A Case Series

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INTRODUCTION: Monitoring an athlete’s psychological, physiological, and performance level is important when preparing for a major competition. No study to date has tracked a high-level weightlifter peaking for a major competition all the way up to the day of competition. Assessing performance at a competition is vital to ascertain if the athlete has reached a peaked and if peak performance will actually be expressed during the competition. PURPOSE: Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine when peak jumping performance was achieved and whether psychological or physiological variables explained any jump performance changes in a high-level female weightlifter preparing for a national competition. We hypothesized that jumping performance would peak on competition day corresponding with improved recovery and stress states and preserved muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) relative to baseline values. METHODS: A USA national-level female weightlifter (23.5y; 54.0±0.6kg; 155.4cm) participated in this investigation. Laboratory testing was carried out over a 7-month period as part of an ongoing long-term athlete monitoring program. At 11-weeks out, testing was administered twice a week for each week leading up to competition, at the competition, and returning from the competition. Each testing session evaluated body mass, recovery-stress inventories using the short recovery and stress scale (SRSS), and vastus lateralis CSA via ultrasonography followed by a standardized warm-up preceding unloaded squat jumps (SJ) performed on dual force plates sampling at 1kHz. Hopkin’s effects size (ES) classifications for each data point was used to determine the potential magnitude of change observed for each test relative to baseline values. The smallest worthwhile change was used to determine a meaningful change relative to baseline values. This typical error and smallest worthwhile change were used to quantify the probability (i.e., precision) of performance change that took place. Values greater or less than baseline values with precision >95% signified a very likely change for each testing session relative to the competition. RESULTS: Weightlifting performance goals were met for the national championship (snatch=67kg, clean and jerk=92kg, total=159kg). Jumping performance (precision=99%,ES=2.7) was almost certainly peaked on competition day with increased recovery (ES=0.7) and decreased stress scores (ES=0.5). However, the athlete possibly exhibited a small decrease in muscle CSA (precision=64.8%;ES=0.4) the week of competition that corresponded with very large changes in body mass (precision=99%;ES=2.8). CONCLUSIONS: The training program was effective in ensuring the athlete was peaked the day of competition based on jumping performance and recovery-stress scores despite small decreases in CSA. Thus, weightlifting coaches and sport scientists working with high-level athletes should monitor jumping performance and recovery-stress state to ensure athletes peak at an appropriate time. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: SRSS and SJ testing can be used as monitoring tools for high-level weightlifters preparing for important competitions.


Indianapolis, IN

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