Anatomy Of a Weightlifter: What are their Biggest Strengths?


We’ve taken six of the world’s
top athletes, to find out what it
takes to make a true Olympian. That’s it, come on! As we push
their bodies to the max. (ANATOMY OF A WEIGHTLIFTER) Weightlifting is
an incredibly transient sport, in other words, it only lasts for very short periods
of time, just seconds. But in those few seconds, weightlifters are lifting
enormous weights, often over twice
their own body mass. Dmytro Chumak
is one of the most popular sports stars in the Ukraine. His sixth-place finish
in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 in the 94kg class
and his silver medal in the European Championships
have marked him out as one of his sport’s
leading performers. Kilo for kilo, weightlifters
are some of the strongest athletes on the planet. And to raise a fully-loaded bar
above your head, weighing over twice your
own body mass, all in control, requires an unparalleled
level of commitment. There’s always fear,
even if an athlete says he’s not frightened,
it’s always there. But the best athletes
learn to use this fear, they learn to harness it
and use it to push themselves to achieve their best. Dmytro’s strength and power
have made him one of the most feared competitors
in world weightlifting and with the help of
Buckinghamshire New University and its elite-level
Human Performance Lab, we’re going to push
Dmytro to the limits of his physical
capabilities, exploring the anatomy of
a world-class weightlifter and just what it takes to make
it to the top of the sport. During weightlifting, the
weightlifter has to exert force through the entire body and so therefore we are looking
at very, very compact, very muscular, very strong and incredibly
powerful athletes. Lifters compete
within very strict categories and cannot be even one gram
over their competition weight. The Bod Pod will not only
confirm Dmytro’s total mass but also how it is divided
between lean muscle and fat. OK, Dmytro,
that’s that test finished, if you want to step out. OK, good stuff,
so it’s about 10%, 9.5%, which is very lean. You must be really happy? Yes, not bad,
I’m really happy. I mean, he is a very
solid individual, weighing in at 96 kilos. But the really intriguing
factor is that he’s got almost
87kg of lean tissue. And it’s that lean tissue, the muscle mass,
which is absolutely crucial for force production and performance
in weightlifting. (GRIP) The Hand Grip Dynamometer test
is a simple test, but it’s incredibly important
in measuring strength. Not only strength of the arm but also it gives us an
indication of whole body strength. In general, stronger
individuals have a stronger hand grip. The Handgrip Strength test
is often used in elite US sport to assess
the relative strength of athletes without
the risk of causing injury by using heavy weights. It focuses
on the muscles of the hand, forearm and upper arm but also recruits the muscles
in the back, shoulders and chest. We’re going to start with the hand grip dynamometer
up in the air. You’re going to squeeze
for about three seconds and during those three seconds,
you’re going to move your arm back down
to by your side, OK? In your own time! Squeeze! Squeeze!
Squeeze! Squeeze! As the grip test is used
so widely in elite-level sport, a high score for
Dmytro will allow us to see just how he measures up against other top-level
athletes. Go on, squeeze, squeeze,
squeeze! Squeeze, squeeze! Wow! Very nice! Olympic weightlifting consists
of two distinct types of lift, the “snatch”
and the “clean and jerk”. Key to both these dynamic
lifting movements is grip strength, to provide that initial
injection of power and impetus. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze!
Squeeze, squeeze! OK, and just one more,
so big effort for the last one. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze!
Squeeze, squeeze! Yes, brilliant,
best one yet. What that tells us is that
your combined force production is 134kg. – It’s a good result?
– It’s a brilliant result! So, you’re right up there
amongst…about as strong as you’re going to be. – I’m really happy.
– Yeah? Good stuff! The test results for Dmytro
are absolutely incredible. Enormous force production
from his hands, it really does demonstrate
one key aspect to Dmytro’s performance, and that is strength. (PEAK FORCE) The Isometric Thigh Pull test is actually becoming one
of the key measures of weightlifting performance. So it is measuring
force production in the legs, in the gluteals, in the core
and crucially, it’s measuring force production at
the trapezoids as he attempts to accelerate the bar. This really is
a critical measure for weightlifting performance. The Isometric Thigh Pull,
or Peak Force test, requires Dmytro to apply
a maximal lifting effort to a static bar, carrying nearly 400 kilos of weight while standing on a specially-calibrated
force plate. – OK, ready to go?
– Let’s do it. OK, if you want to step in
and in your own time, whenever you’re ready. Three, two, one, and pull,
pull, pull! Keep going! No test better demonstrates
the huge power Dmytro needs to be at the top of his sport. And relax, brilliant! Pull, pull, pull! Keep going!
Keep going! Keep going! That’s strong! For Olympic weightlifters,
four years of preparation comes down to just six
maximal efforts. Each of these performances
demand massive power and strength
and also an astonishing level
of control. In this sport, truly,
only the strongest survive. Real big effort this time,
yeah? To finish off with. Three, two, one,
pull, pull, pull and relax! Brilliant, good stuff! – How did that feel?
– I feel good. These results for Dmytro
are really outstanding. He’s able to generate
3,333 newtons of peak force at that critical point at
the start of the second pull. Now, that is a huge amount of
force to be able to produce and really does
demonstrate why Dmytro is one of the best
weightlifters in the world. To be the best in the world,
you have to have tenacity. You may have the talent
but not know how to use it or you may not have the talent
and lack the dedication. In order to become a champion,
you need total commitment and huge desire. (UP CLOSE) My role models,
those who I look up to, are the weightlifters
of the 1990s. The Ukrainians, Denis Gotfrid
and Timur Taymazov. They were
the athletes I grew up with, watching them
on TV as a 15-year-old boy, as they competed at the World
Championships and Olympic Games and they became my idols. When someone steps out onto
that platform, lifts the weight and becomes the champion,
I love the atmosphere and the energy of that moment. I feel Tokyo 2020 will be
the pinnacle of my career because every day I learn more
and every day in training I get stronger and stronger
and that can only help me when I finally get to Tokyo. (DYNO) The Isokinetic Dynamometer test is an important test for
Dmytro. Firstly, it assesses force
production in the quadriceps and the hamstrings, those crucial muscles for
weightlifting. Secondly, it actually examines the symmetry —
what a weightlifter can’t afford is to have
an imbalance in force production
between left and right leg. The upper body
may grab the attention during a maximal weightlifting effort,
but the real powerhouse is the legs. They create
the momentum which initialises the whole lift
as well as the stability which keeps the raised weight
in the perfect position. So, whenever you’re ready. OK, push, push, push, push! To measure the force
that Dmytro’s quadriceps and hamstrings can generate,
he’s performing a series of concentric
extensions and flexions. And relax, good stuff!
Three, two, one, let’s go! Push, push, push, push! Multiple efforts to produce
the maximum torque. Pull, pull, pull!
Big effort, last one and pull, pull, pull!! Good stuff! For weightlifters, leg strength has to be applied
as evenly as possible to ensure a successful lift. Stability relies
on excellent technique, but underpinning it all is
symmetry in the all-important lower body muscle groups. And let’s go!
Go, go, go, keep going, keep going, keep going,
go for it, go for it! Keep going, Dmytro,
this is brilliant. Three, two one! Push!
Keep going, push, push, push! Keep going, keep going,
keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going,
last one and relax. Good stuff, brilliant! Fantastic, that’s you done. Really strong results,
really strong quads, really strong hamstrings, the strongest we’ve ever seen
in this lab. Is that a surprise to you? It’s a surprise for me.
I think it’s not bad for me! The force that he can produce
is absolutely enormous. In terms of the quadriceps,
374 newtons in the right leg, 354 newtons in the left leg,
but critically, there is a wonderful symmetry
to that force production and that is crucial in a sport
like weightlifting where Dmytro needs to maintain balance
throughout the entire lift to optimise performance. (PEAK POWER) The Wingate test is a classic
test for anaerobic capacity. Now, for Dmytro, it’s going
to be extra difficult because what we find with
individuals with very high muscle mass, power athletes,
is that they produce huge amounts of blood lactate,
that fatiguing by-product, and the likelihood is we’re
going to see him in misery at the end of this test because of that huge muscle
mass that he possesses. With the typical lift taking
less than ten seconds, Olympic weightlifting is
all about anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. For Dmytro, the Wingate test will be the equivalent of a
VO2 Max for the aerobic specialist. This is going to be 30 seconds
of all-out maximum effort. – Are you ready for that?
– OK, I’m ready. It will measure not just
his peak power output but also how long he can
maintain this maximum level of anaerobic activity
before the power he produces begins to decline,
the fatigue index. This is the first time Dmytro
has taken on the Wingate test, probably the most
punishing measure for the anaerobic athlete that exists in the world
of sport science. Three, two, one, go! Go, go, go, keep going,
keep going, keep going, this is brilliant,
keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing! Brilliant stuff, Dmytro.
keep going, keep pushing. Big effort. Every second
counts in this test. Keep going as long as you can.
Push, push! Last five seconds.
Keep going. That’s brilliant. Go on, keep going. Two, one, and relax! And stop. OK, good man. Brilliant,
absolutely brilliant. OK. Let’s stop this. His peak power output
was over 1,000 watts at the beginning of the test. But as expected,
because he’s very muscular, he began to fatigue
throughout the test, but crucially,
he never gave up. That resilience is
the true mark of a champion and is why Dmytro is one of
the best weightlifters in the world. Dmytro has proved that to be
at the pinnacle of his sport, it requires physical excellence
in almost every area of the anatomy. Keep going! Keep going! Supreme strength in both
the upper and lower body, high muscle mass, massive anaerobic power and, above all else,
an ability to push the body to the very
limits of its capabilities. Dmytro is an incredibly strong,
immensely powerful athlete. He can generate huge forces
across his entire body and he can do that with
perfect symmetry. Dmytro really does define
the meaning of elite athlete. One of the key aspects of
weightlifting is that it all comes down to you. It’s not a team sport, it’s just you up
on the platform. Only you can lift the weights, only you are the maker
of your destiny. I love it.

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