Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Why should I start weightlifting? What unique benefits does it offer that powerlifting does not? Powerlifting movements train athletes to develop high levels of peak force (maximal strength). Since powerlifting movements are not time-bound, athletes can use several seconds to reach their peak force output.
Force = mass x acceleration
Weightlifting movements rely on power output (explosive strength). Since these movements are quick, athletes do not have time to reach peak force. Therefore weightlifting movements teach athletes to develop high rates of force development, power output, and velocity.
Power = force x velocity OR work / time
Explosive athletic movements such as jumping, sprinting, and changing direction are strictly time-bound and take place within 50-250 milliseconds. For an athlete to reach their highest force (strength) output, it takes 300 milliseconds. Therefore, athletes must develop qualities other than maximal strength. These qualities include rate of force development, power output and velocity. Interestingly, weightlifters can often produce comparable or greater force outputs than powerlifters!
How can I get started with weightlifting?
The two weightlifting movements or ‘full lifts’ - Snatch and Clean & Jerk - are technical and demand strength, balance and coordination. A safer way to build up to these movements is to use weightlifting derivatives. A weightlifting derivative is any exercise that is a simplification of a full lift. Most derivatives isolate parts of a full lift and focus on either the pulling motion or the catching motion. I.e. clean pulls focus on pulling the barbell and can be further broken down into pulls from floor, pulls from knee, or mid-thigh pulls. Similarly, hang power cleans/snatches, power cleans/snatches and hang high pulls are examples of derivatives that isolate the catching motion. Each derivative has its own unique benefit as a standalone exercise, in addition to being a training tool for full lifts. The mid-thigh pull for example, closely mimics the vertical jump, which is used in almost every sport.
Do remember, it is always better to consult with a professional before starting a new training regime. A good coach will get you where you want to be - stronger, faster and safer!