Haven’t you wondered how people get into some of the smaller Olympic sports? Take handball, for instance. It’s not necessarily a sport we learn in grade school gym class. Or badminton, which I did learn in high school (and loved), but didn’t know how to pursue any further because it wasn’t that popular of a sport.
Weightlifting’s also in that boat. If you’ve ever lifted weights at a gym for any amount of time, you know how great it feels when your muscles get stronger and make you feel more powerful. If you’re a competitive type, getting into the sport of weightlifting might be a great hobby for you. But how do you do that?
You’re in luck. Tomorrow, USA Weightlifting’s sponsoring Try Weightlifting Day. Over 200 clubs around the country will open their doors and have programming to introduce the sport and give you a hands-on feel for it.
I had an email conversation with Kevin Farley, Director of Membership, Communications & Digital Marketing at USA Weightlifting to get some more details about what you can expect from the event. Gyms involved may use USA Weightlifting Coaching Department’s one-hour coaching program that teaches the sport’s basic technical execution without having to lift actual weight. The secret? PVC pipe. “With no weights–there is no risk of injury,” says Farley.
If you’re interested in finding an event near you, check out USA Weightlifting’s site, which has a map showing all participating clubs. Contact a club near you to find out the exact time of their event. Farley recommended wearing hard-soled shoes and comfortable gym clothing like a t-shirt and gym shorts that you can easily move around in.
What can you expect if you get bitten by the weightlifting bug–or rather, if you want to become a weightlifter, what are we really talking about in terms of the bottom line?
A great aspect of weightlifting is that you don’t have to own your own barbell and set of weights. You do need a place to lift, however. Farley recommends finding a good USA Weightlifting-affiliated club so you have access to good equipment and people who understand the sport. Gym expenses vary depending on the location and the coach’s experience, but Farley says they can run $60-120/month for the gym membership and access to a coach and training program. Look for a USA Weightlifting certified coach–they’ve gone through rigorous training in proper coaching methods and have a lot of good tools to develop personalized training programs and goals.
Other items you’ll be investing in are proper weightlifting shoes, which have a raised heel. These will set you back $100-200 a pair. You may also have to buy knee sleeves, lifting straps and finger tape. If you compete, you’ll don a singlet, which like any athletic apparel, can also range in price. A quick Amazon search shows you can get some in the $25-40 range, but if you want more quality ones from a place focused on powerlifting, you’re likely talking $75-125 or so
In terms of time, Farley says that the average weightlifting training session is 1-3 hours. Non-elite athletes train once a day, 2-3 days a week. Elite athletes usually train 1-2 times a day, 5-6 days a week. You generally have a training cycle that’s 8-12 weeks long, and you hit your max at the end of a cycle. Farley says that the end of a cycle usually coincides with a competition, if you’re going to be a competitive weightlifter.
Let’s put that all together. Looking at year one, here’s an estimate of your investment:
Additional gear: $50-100
Total: $895-1865 (or, if you like to round up, probably $1000-2000)
Time (non-elite athletes):
low-end: 104-156 hours
mid-range: 208-312 hours
high-range: 312-468 hours
One of the great things though is that getting to the Olympics is definitely not the goal of every athlete involved with the sport, and Farley says that many competitive weightlifters are hobbyists. “There is so much flexibility in the sport because athletes determine their own schedule, and set their own price depending on how serious they want to get,” says Farley.
If you’ve dreamed of being a powerful athlete, the sport of weightlifting is one that can transform pretty much anyone into realizing that dream. Check it out tomorrow–or at the very least, use the site to find a USA Weightlifting-affiliated gym close to you and see how you can try out the sport. If you take part, let us know how it went!