24 hours as an Olympic weightlifter

John Williamson, weightlifting expert, Chiropractor and member of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) shines a light on what 24 hours as an Olympic weightlifter is like.

With weightlifting events underway at the Tokyo Olympics, John Williamson discusses how Team GB’s weightlifting team might be preparing for their big day…

Before the event

“Ahead of their competition day, weightlifters will be focusing on perfecting their technique. After months of training, athletes are just hours away from the most important competition of the season and so many will be practising ‘de-loading’, whereby the athlete will lift lighter weights to help restore their muscles and perfect their form for the big competition. This also acts as a way of warming up before a competition as they are doing their normal routines but at a lower intensity.

“Many weightlifters will also be focusing on their trunk to help maintain strength and stability during competition. Hip flexibility is very important in the hours leading up to a competition, and weightlifters will do copious amounts of kettle bell swings to warm up their hips and ease their bodies into ‘competition mode’.

“Beside the general fitness training, getting a good night’s sleep is important for an athlete state of mind, as it’s the first step to allow their bodies to train at peak levels the following day. As you can imagine, many athletes deal with nerves and anxiety the night before their competition, and so they might use sleeping and mindfulness apps to help get the rest they need.”

During the event

“More often than not, weightlifting injuries are caused by poor technique. In the moments leading up to competition, weightlifters will often use video analysis software to memorise their technique and run through their movements virtually in their mind.

“Like with many other sports weightlifters rely heavily on their equipment so they will also be checking that their bars and platforms are safe and secure before undertaking any activity. Injuries caused by badly kept equipment are just as common as injuries caused by bad technique.”

After the event

“Weightlifting is a high impact sport which puts a high amount of stress on your body. So, immediately after a competition, recovery is paramount to prevent any lingering aches and pains.

“Similar to pre-competition, de-loading is very common post-competition. This gives weightlifters the opportunity to continue training but at a lower and more manageable level whilst their bodies recover.

“Many weightlifters will also start to increase their calorie consumption to help re-build their strength and recover quicker. It often takes three to four weeks before a weightlifter can transition back into their normal routine after recovery.”