There are no published data on the reliability of competitive strength performance, even though it has a pronounced effect on athletes' medal prospects and the ability of coaches and athletes to identify factors that affect competitive performance. The purpose of this investigation was to analyze the reliability of elite olympic weightlifters over a series of international weightlifting meets. We obtained official results of international competitions over an 18-month period from 1999 until the 2000 Olympic Games at the International Weightlifting Federation website. The measure of reliability was the typical within-athlete variation, derived as the coefficient of variation (CV) by 2-way analysis of variance of log-transformed weights lifted for the snatch, clean and jerk, and total. The results of this analysis were (a) within-athlete variations were as follows: snatch, 2.7% (95% likely range, 2.4-3.2%); clean and jerk, 2.3% (1.7-3.6%); total weight lifted, 2.5% (2.2-2.9%); (b) men and women: the variation was higher for the women compared with the men in both snatch (ratio of CV, 1.4) and clean and jerk (ratio of CV, 1.5), and for the total weight lifted (ratio of CV, 1.3); and (c) the top 5 athletes were almost always more reliable than the bottom-half athletes. Recent work has shown that the smallest worthwhile performance is about half the within-athlete variation, so coaches and sport scientists should focus on enhancements of as little as 1.2% in total weight lifted for elite olympic weightlifters.
(C) 2004 National Strength and Conditioning Association