The Olympic Lifts

July 6th, 2014

Olympic-Body-CompOlympic weightlifting is a sport in which an athlete attempts to achieve a maximum-weight lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates. The sport tests the human ballistic limits, also known as explosive strength. The lifts are executed quickly and with a high range of motion. There are two categories in which Olympic weightlifters compete – the snatch and the clean and jerk. Each athlete is allowed three lifts and the best attempt from each of the two categories is added together to form the final score. It’s important to differentiate between Olympic lifting and powerlifting, with the latter being popular predominantly in North America and involving exercises such as bench press, deadlights and squats.

The Snatch

For the snatch, the lifter needs to propel the barbell from the floor to an overhead position in a single movement. It is one of the most explosive movements in all of sports. However, the snatch is more about finesse and technique than power. When performed at competitions, the weight used for the snatch is heavy enough to force the athlete to receive the bar on top in a squatting position. When they secure that position, they perform an overhead squat to complete the lift. The current world record for a snatch is held by Behdad Salimi from Iran, who lifted 214 kg (471.8 lb) in the World Weightlifting Championship in 2011. However, the heaviest snatch ever was performed by Antonio Krastev from Bulgaria, who lifted 216 kg in 1987. Unfortunately, his lift is not considered as a World Record as the weight classes were reshuffled after 1992.

Clean and Jerk

Clean and jerk is a lift that, as the name suggests, involves two movements – the clean and the jerk. The clean consists of the athlete moving the barbell from the floor to a racked position on his deltoids. The jerk involves lifting the barbell above the head until the arms are locked out and the bar is steady. The current World Record in this category is held by Hossein Rezazadeh from Iran, who clean and jerked 263.5 kg (580.9lbs). Once again, the history knows of a heavier lift – Russian Leonid Taranenko lifted 266.00 kg (586.4 lb) but his record is not recognized by the International Weightlifting Federation. The women’s world record in clean and jerk was set just last year by Tatiana Kashirina from Russia, who lifted 190 kg in the World Weightlifting Championship.

The Body Types in Weightlifting

July 6th, 2014

If you want to exceed in weightlifting, you need to be aware of your body’s capabilities. This includes
knowing what your body structure is, which will determine how you should train and lift. In the 1940s,
the American psychologist William Herbert Sheldon determined three somatotypes – endomorphic,
ectomorphic and mesomoprhic.

A person that has an endomorphic body type will accumulate more fat and have little muscle definition.
Their limbs will generally be shorter and their shoulder and hip width – greater. Endomorphic individuals
will have to work harder to lose weight and achieve a good physique. If you fall in this category, your
training regimen should involve lots of cardio as well as heavy weightlifting. Try to limit your
carbohydrates intake and instead increase the protein and fiber you consume.
Ectomorphic bodies have long and thin muscles/limbs and store little fat. They also have trouble
building muscle. To strengthen their body and increase their lifts, ectomorphic individuals should focus
on doing compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and bench press. To gain weight, ectos need
to consume a lot of calories, preferably in the form of protein and carbohydrates. About 2 grams of
protein per kilogram of bodyweight a day should be sufficient to fuel those long muscles and spur

Mesomorphs have a distinct advantage compared to the other two types. They have large bones,
moderate fat levels and are predisposed to building muscle. Even without working out, mesomorphs
usually look athletic and the moment they start hitting the gym they experience significant gains. These
individuals can eat any healthy food and their body will respond well to it. If you are mesomorphic, a
basic guideline is to consume 40 percent of your daily calories through complex carbs, 30 percent from
lean protein and 30 percent from healthy fats. In terms of training, you should exercise in the 8 to 12
repetitions rage and have 30 seconds to 1 minute rest between sets. Mesomorph’s greatest flaw is that
because they look good anyway, they don’t train as hard and fail to reach their full potential.
These are the three body types but the truth is that rarely do we see pure ecto-, endo- or mesomorphs.
Most of the time, your body will be somewhere in between two of the types or even a mixture of the
three. By finding your body type you can adjust your training and eating regimen accordingly and truly
break your own barriers.

Food for Strength

July 6th, 2014

No matter how toned and genetically gifted your body is, if you are not fueling it with the right nutrition, you won’t be able to lift the heavy weights. Your body is like a car – if you load it up with junk, it would run like junk. However, if you want to break those sturdy max reps you’ve been sitting on for months, you need to put some jet fuel in that machine. Here are a few helpful tips on what you must consume to break the records.



Consuming plenty of protein (about 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight) is essential not only if you want to build muscle (protein’s primary purpose) but also to help your muscles recover. Great sources of protein include eggs, poultry, beef, fish and dairy products. There are also plenty of nutritional supplements that can help bring up your protein intake.



Carbohydrates are stored in the muscle as glycogen. When lifting, the first nutritional resource your body taps into is the creatine phosphate. When this runs out, the glycogen from the carbs kicks in to fuel your remaining reps. This means you need plenty of carbs to have enough power for the big lifts. To obtain your daily portion it’s best to eat slow-digesting carbs such as wholewheat bread, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice.



Fat always comes with negative connotation – it’s the thing behind which our muscles are hiding and thus it’s often undesirable. However, scientists have found that high intake of certain fats can lead to higher testosterone levels, the key hormone for weightlifters. Healthy fats are also important for joint recovery. You can consume healthy monounsaturated fats by eating mixed nuts, avocados, peanut butter and olive oil. The omega-3 fats come from fatty fish such as salmon or white tuna, as well as walnuts and flaxseed oil. About 30 percent of your calories intake needs to be from fat and 10 percent of those should come from saturated fat.

Calories Intake


You need to estimate the calories intake at which you would maintain your current weight. There are plenty of calculators around the web that let you put in your height, weight, age and activity levels to determine your calorie maintenance level. E.g. for a 6.2 male weighing 190 lbs, the calories at which he won’t be gaining or losing weight are about 3200. Once you find your own personal level, try to get your daily calories intake above it. If you are below that level your body is in starvation mode and you won’t be making any progress in terms of muscle building or strength gaining.

Famous Weightlifters: Hossein Rezazadeh

July 6th, 2014

hossein_rezazadeh_2004Hossein Rezazadeh is an iconic Iranian weightlifter with two Olympic gold medals, four World Championships and two Asian Championships. He is also the holder of the World Record for the heaviest clean and jerk at 263.5kg and is considered as one of the greatest weightlifters of all time.

Rezazadeh was born on May 12, 1978 in Ardabil, the capital of Ardabil province in Iranian Azerbaijan. He was the third of seven children and at the age of fifteen his physical education teacher encouraged him to start weightlifting. Weighing 156 kg (343 lbs), Rezazadeh achieved his first international success at the 1999 World Championship, where he won a bronze medal. ‘The Iranian Hercules’, as he’s often referred to, shocked the world in the 2000 Summer Olympics when he ended the decades-old streak of Russia to claim the gold. He set the world record for the clean and jerk at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and had a combined score of 472.5kg, 17.5 kg more than Viktors Scerbatihs, who took the silver. In 2002 he was given a badge of courage from the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. When Turkey approached him with a lucrative offer to switch sides and lift for them, he refused, saying that he loved his country and was proud to represent it. In 2006 a stadium was built and named after him in his hometown of Ardabil. The building is one of the most advanced and modern indoor arenas in Iran.

Rezazadeh ended his professional weightlifting career in 2008, after he was advised by his physician not to take part in the 2008 Olympics because of his hand injury and high blood pressure. He then became the Prime Counselor for the Iranian Weightlifting Federation and the coach for his country’s weightlifting team. An year later four members of the Iranian team were caught with positive steroid tests. One member of the team, Saeid Alihosseini, accused Rezazadeh of steroids use in 2006. The legendary weightlifter has declined to have taken steroids and has vowed to fight doping in the sport.

Here is a sample workout Rezazadeh used to follow in his competitive days:

Morning Workout

Power Snatch

70kg x 3 single reps

120kg x 3 single reps

170kg x 3 single reps

Power Clean and Jerks

1 rep with 120kg, 170kg and 220kg

Front Squat

220kg x 2 reps

270kg x 2 reps

300kg or 320kg x 1 rep

Afternoon Workout


1 rep with 70kg, 120kg, 170kg and 200kg

Clean and Jerk

1 rep with 120kg, 170kg, 220kg and 250/260kg

Back Squats

1 rep with 270kg, 320kg and 370kg