Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Beginning Female Weightliftter, Part 1

By Marc Chasnov

As a result of attending the USAW Level 1 coaching course I instructed in August 2010, Paul Steinman (of the burgeoning South Brooklyn Weightlifting Club) developed a renewed interest in Olympic weightlifting. Part of that interest was contacting me to write an article for his blog. I asked him to determine the title and subject matter to be discussed. Paul suggested “The Beginning Female Weightlifter.” Thus this multi-part series was created. These articles will be written predominately for the beginning female weightlifter but can be used for any level of weightlifter, female or male.

There are many methods used to instruct a beginning female weightlifter. One of the best methods is to make sure that the beginning female performers have developed the necessary physical attributes for participation. Possessing these basics will allow them to maximize their potential and make their greatest improvement in the shortest time period. It will also minimize injuries and provide the basis for consistent gains and progress.

Although it is over, the memory of the 2010 Weightlifting World Championships remains fresh in our minds. Impressive as all the female world champions were, two particular winners stood out: Nurcan Taylan at 48 kg and Svetlana Podobedova at 75 kg (Fig. 1). They both won their respective weight categories by lifting record weights. Their technique was impeccable. Overall the most impressive factor to me was their body structure. Podobedova exudes power! If you want to exude power like the World Champions you have to start early in your career and focus on your structure by performing the correct exercises (to be covered and described in a future article).

Figure 1: Svetlana Podobedova

If one analyzes their body structure from all perspectives one will see a functionally harmonious physique. Their bodies appear to be balanced from
-right to left
-top to bottom
-front to back

Of course structural harmony is not the only parameter used to evaluate the beginning female weightlifter but it is significant. One must remember that in any discussion of athletic performance every physical and mental advantage counts. In my opinion, structural harmony offers an important edge.

Many coaches have a causality dilemma of structure versus function. Some coaches believe that female weightlifter should focus on either technique or function first. Other coaches think that structure and function can develop concomitantly. For beginning female weightlifters I am a proponent of structure before function. One caveat is the beginning female weightlifter who has previously developed structural harmony from training for another sport.

In order to understand structural harmony one must understand the fundamentals of structure and its respective nomenclature.

The anatomical position is a universally accepted reference posture used to describe the relationship of body parts to one another and to itself in space (Fig. 2). The position is standing erect, face forward, arms slightly away at the sides, palms forward, with the thumbs facing outward. The anatomical position is used as a model to discuss the basis of the anatomical planes of the body.

Figure 2: Woman in the Anatomical Position

The anatomical planes of motion are a theoretical construct where planes (imaginary lines) course through the body.
The anatomical position figure is theoretically divided into three distinct planes:
1.) The frontal or coronal plane which separates the body into the front and back; anterior to posterior; dorsal to ventral.
2.) The transverse plane which separates the body into top and bottom; upper and lower; superior and inferior.
3.) The midsagittal plane, also known as the median plane, which separates the body into right and left halves.

In this first installment of the series, we will be discussing the midsagittal plane which divides the body into right and left sides.

One of the features of the human body is that the body itself is bilaterally symmetrical. The midsagittal plane divides the body into symmetrical right and left sides (Fig. 3).

Figure 3: The Midsagittal Plane

If the bilateral symmetry construct is applied to the athletic performer, then the right and left halves of the body should be mirror images of each other. Therefore the right and left sides of the body should be equal in every subjective and objective measurement. The two sides should be equal proximally in the torso and distally in
-length of the limbs
-girth of the limbs
-range of motion of the limbs
-coordination of the limbs
-strength/power of the limbs

At the moment a beginning female weightlifter initiates training she should have already been evaluated and provided a treatment plan to develop the prerequisites for performance muscular symmetry. Performance muscular symmetry can be tested subjectively and objectively. These tests will be the subject of the next installment in this series…

Copyright © 2010 Marc Chasnov

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