Playing with Your Attempts at an Olympic Lifting Meet

In my last post on competition attempts, I mostly gave outlines on how to choose your attempts. With weightlifting, you can make it a lot more complicated. Since the weight on the bar continues to go up, and you have three "declarations" per attempt, there are way to work things to your advantage and against others.

Declarations and attempts

With all of the following techniques, realize that you have three "declarations" per lift. For your opening lifts, your first declaration was given at weigh ins for both the clean and jerk and snatch. So now you have two chances to up the weight, two "declarations" of changes.

For your second and third attempts, there is an automatic one kilo increase assumed (if the lift was successful). This does not count as a declaration. So you and your coach have three chances to up the weight from there.

When your name is called, and the one minute (or two minute if you're following yourself) timer has started, you must make all declarations before the 30 seconds remaining buzzer sounds. Once that buzzer sounds, the weight on the bar, and the lifter who is supposed to take it, is locked in.

These are the basics, now the chess game can be played.

Finding more time to warm up

Giving a conservative opening weight during weigh ins isn't just about seeing how your body feels and being coy about your abilities. It also gives you some wiggle room to manipulate how much warm up time you get.

If you find that you need more time than you previously thought (damn bladder), your coach can use the increases to buy you a couple of minutes. Not only will you be jumping over some people, but your coach declares a weight no one else is taking, the time of loading the bar, plus the 30 seconds before the buzzer, can be time well spent.

Finding more time to recover between attempts

Typically, once you take your first attempt on the platform, you're not doing anymore warm-up backstage. You can manipulate your next declarations to expand the recovery time you have. If you don't like much, you'll probably want to go ahead and declare your next attempt. But if you want to eek out a couple of minutes, making jumps that aren't already on the cards will give you the time it takes to load the bar and call your name, plus the seconds before the buzzer.

Know that if they call your name, and you bump up to a weight that no one else is going to take, they simply pause the clock to change the weight. These seconds can certainly make you feel more recovered, but don't jump over someone's next attempt in hopes of getting more time.

Decreasing someone else's recovery time

This one only works if you and another person are taking consecutive attempts. When someone follows themself, they get a two minute clock. When you follow someone else, you get a one minute clock. If someone takes a lift, you're up next, followed by their next or last attempt, as soon as you have the clock started on you, your coach jumps your attempt over the other person. This means that officially, they only get a one minute clock to take their next attempt.

FYI: this is kind of a dick move, don't do it at a local meet. But if you're at Nationals and it's coming down to kilos and body weight to get on the podium, these moves are fair game. Which leads me to…

Winning by kilos vs Winning by body weight

Generally you win by lifting the most weight. But if there is a tie, the person with the lighter body weight wins. So when it comes down to final clean and jerk attempts, you need to know if you can win with one less kilo on the bar or not based on how you weigh respective to your opponent. At local meets, the body weights are written on cards and usually are displayed. At national meets, there is usually a large display with name, attempts made and missed along side body weight.

Forcing someone else's hand

Things can also turn into something of a poker game as it come down to the last 2-3 lifters in a session. Again, this is more of a national meet move, part of the "don't be a dick at the local meet"that I'd like to encourage.

Usually the top lifters have top lifts around the same place. So you bluff. Each person has three declarations to up their final clean and jerk in hopes of taking home first place. When it's down to the one kilo wire, you'll often see person A declare something high, person B higher, person A higher yet. This can go until all declarations are used or one lifter decides to call the bluff and take their own lift. You also see this a lot when one person could win by body weight.

Play this game with a little more caution, it's just as likely to come back and bite your ass as it is to bite them.

But I want to win my local meet, waaahhhhh!! 

Look, I'm not saying you CAN'T use these techniques at a local meet, but I am saying you shouldn't. Local meets are for practice, learning your strengths and weaknesses, putting it on the line, making yourself a better athlete, and perhaps accumulating medals to increase confidence. They are not a place to make enemies.

If or when you make it to a national meet, you're going to want as many friendly people around you as you can have, they are nerve wracking experiences. Don't burn bridges at home and expect people to cheer on "their local buddy" at the national meets.

In fact, and you certainly see this at meets in my local chapter, some of the above techniques are used to help out fellow lifters who are trying to qualify for various things. "Hey so-and-so, do you need more time before your next attempt? Cool, I'll do a couple jumps to give you some recovery space."

Main thing, of course, is to have fun and do your personal best. Ideally, make some friends along the way, the weightlifting world is full of interesting people.