Atlas Shrugged: The Glory of Weights
Imagine rippling muscles, an insane grunt, a neat snatch or a clean and jerk. Imagine the explosion the body goes through. The dynamics of human endurance, training, and spirit is at the forefront here. Welcome to the world of Weightlifting or more euphemistically “Olympic style weightlifting”.
Weightlifting as a Sport
Weightlifting has a venerable heritage. The ancient Greeks lifted weights way above their heads. The Romans followed the sport and over a larger period, weightlifting began to be considered as a serious measure of human strength. Unlike, other sports, which test human strength with some boundaries, weightlifting does away with it. It evaluates the ballistic limits of the human body and times the speed at which the entire process is completed.
The sport is divided into segments. While the Olympics committee has categorized the sport into a two-process event, namely Snatch and Clean and Jerk, there are quite a few other variations of weightlifting that are followed and practiced throughout the world.
Deadlifts, Cleans, and Squats are some of them and they are not just competitive sports but favored workouts for athletes, too. Weightlifting primarily deals with the mechanical strength of the muscle fibers. It improves the load-bearing capacity of the red muscle fibers and hence leads to greater muscle build. A weightlifter is a powerhouse of kinetic and mechanical energy, ready to explode in short bursts and yet remain calm on every occasion.
Benefits of Weightlifting
Well, the benefits are immense and proven.
There is simply no equivalent for the kind of fitness and athleticism that weightlifting brings into the life of an athlete. It is swimming without water. Every strand of muscle is bought into play here. The development of the core muscles and the increase in its efficiency means that Olympic weightlifters have some the highest vertical leaps among athletes.
Sprinters weightlift more often than earlier envisaged. That is because the sport helps fire muscle fiber anaerobically. These help runners gain that extra edge. Flexibility is another aspect that is most often overlooked and by lifting weight, the muscle fibers, which stretch and contract under pressure, remain in prime form for a long period.
One of the reasons is that because of the extreme fatigue that is created through extreme weight training, it gets to repair itself in short durations. It becomes supple and highly elastic. The advantage here is that it leads to greater mobility and lowers the risk of injuries.
Now every sport requires skill and weightlifting is no different. The amount of work that goes behind those flawless performances is a testament to the sacrifices and rigor each individual undergoes. Over a period of time, these acquired skills help in maintaining positivity and great health. Olympic weightlifting is a different ball game. It takes time to master the intricacies of it all. These are serious skills to match.
With extraordinary skills comes unmatchable control. The snatch and clean and jerk are some of the toughest routines in the world of sport.
The snatch requires the weightlifter to pick the barbell and lift it up above his or head in one continuous motion. The entire action needs to be fluid.
The clean and jerk is a two-piece symphony. First, the barbell is picked up until shoulder height and then lifted above the head. Control of this entire activity is paramount. Mind and body work in tandem. So, does body and soul.
Finally, the build. Weightlifting turns the human body into a mass of muscular excellence. With supreme cardiovascular conditions and a hypertrophic structure, the weightlifter does indeed exude awe.
This begets the question, is weightlifting safe?
It is as safe or not, like any other workout involving weights. The many accessories that accompany it can play a vital role in making it safer and a sport to love. Here is a list of accessories that has gone a long way in making this sport a level playing field and much revered and followed on.
Weightlifting shoes are not your normal ones with flat soles. In fact, these shoes come with a heel, which is usually 1 inch in height. This is to compensate tight calves, which many weightlifters tend to have. The elevation also helps in helping the shin to incline a bit forward so that the back can support the whole-body structure and maintain an upright posture. The control over the entire movement hence increases and the chances of any false jerks are eliminated. While selecting a shoe specifically for weightlifting, look for firmer grip and stability. The looks and the aesthetics can come later. In fact, they are not even a priority.
Nylon all the way. It provides the best grip. Lifting straps are essentially a noose around your thumb. The role of the strap is to hold the barbell in a firm grip and not let it slip. Stability is a key in weightlifting. An unstable posture will not only be detrimental towards a good score but can lead to injury too.
However, straps are an add-on. Most weightlifters use it as a last resort and it is not something that they exercise with regularly.
Now, this is a subject, which has often been debated. The efficacy of the belt in a sport where strong backs and legs are a given. More so, with knee wraps and squat suits, the belt becomes an unnecessary appendage. The counter-argument to this is that given the methodology of the sport, it becomes imperative for the spine and essentially the entire back to be provided with as much support as possible. A belt provides just that. A weightlifting belt is usually four inches wide and has the same width throughout, excepting in the front. It is also thick so that maximum hold is given to the waist and lower back. The weight lifted always has the tendency to push the wrong muscle down and the belt prevents just that.
This has been a new trend. The weightlifting gloves are useful to achieve a firmer grip and primarily to prevent sweat from ruining any chances. The chalk does a similar task. A weightlifting glove also provides stability to the wrist and the forearms in turn and helps keep the overall stability of the posture.
The world of weightlifting is a thoroughly competitive one and any slip can lead to an underperformance and heartbreak. With the correct training, motivation, and tools, one can achieve greater heights. Remember, the higher you aim the greater strength you earn and the same is true with weightlifting.