Power production by Olympic weightlifters

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

GARHAMMER, JOHN. Power production by Olympic weight-lifters. Med. Sci. Sports Exercise. Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 54–60, 1980. A new procedure was developed for calculating power production during Olympic lifting movements and comparisons were made with a method previously used. The power output of seven superior lifters was determined during selected phases of the snatch, clean, and jerk, from films taken at the 1975 U.S. National Championships. The values obtained depended on the following variables: vertical change in the bar's mechanical energy from the beginning of a force exertion phase until maximum vertical bar velocity was achieved; work done by the athlete in producing horizontal bar movement; and work done in raising the body's center of gravity. Results showed the expected increase in power with increased bodyweight for a given movement. Values for the jerk drive ranged from 2140 watts in the 56 kg class to 4786 watts for a 110 kg lifter. Heavier lifters exceeded published maximal estimates for human power output during brief exertions. More significant was the high degree of consistency in the rate of work done by any given lifter in movements which were very similar with respect to joint action, but competitively had very different objectives. The procedure should prove useful in detecting problems in lifting movements that result in power outputs which are low relative to those measured for biomechanically equivalent exertions.

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