Age dependence of olympic weightlifting ability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest among Masters athletes in standards for comparing performances of competitors of different ages. The goal of this study was to develop one such age-comparison method by examining the age dependence of ability in Olympic-style weightlifting. Previous research on the deterioration of muscular strength and power with increasing age offers only limited guidance toward this goal; therefore, analysis of performance data was required. The variation of weightlifting ability as a function of age was examined by two different methods. First, cross-sectional data corresponding to two separate populations of Masters weightlifters were analyzed in detail. Then, a longitudinal study of 64 U.S. male Masters weightlifters was carried out, with performance data extending over an 18-yr period. The weightlifting performance versus age curves resulting from the two methods were very similar, reflecting ≈1.0-1.5%-yr-1 deterioration rates. These curves were characterized by common features regarding the rate of decline of muscular power with increasing age, in apparent agreement with published data regarding Masters sprinters and jumpers. We tentatively conclude that Olympic weightlifting ability in trained subjects undergoes a nonlinear decline with age, in which the second derivative of the performance versus age curve repeatedly changes sign.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1067
Number of pages15
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Anaerobic power
  • Masters athlete
  • Muscle
  • Strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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