In week one of our article series we talked about the importance of building strength before cutting weight. We proposed that developing a base is essential to an athlete’s health and longevity in the sport. Understanding your weight class is likewise, essential. Too often we see, particularly with females, that people pick up weightlifting and become fixated on a class. This can be for a multitude of reasons: aesthetic goals, a starting weight, or qualifying totals to name only a few. Ultimately what happens is people become so stuck into a class that it becomes part of one’s identity. You get to know the players, your competition, your friends. You get fixated on it being “your” class. But here’s the rub: your weight class isn’t “yours” for life. Just like anything, there are seasons for weightlifting and that’s one of the best things about our sport: the opportunity to try new things.
Often we misinterpret changes in weight class as a failure (again, this is particularly true with women where increases are often seen in a negative light). This couldn’t be further from the truth. Change is literally our indicator of progress. Coming into a sport like weightlifting most people will be looking to increase their lean mass, and thus will increase their scale weight. Some may be looking to decrease their body fat, but even this may or may not equate to a change on the scales. Regardless of your goals, movement is natural, expected, and in most cases, desired.
In no case is this truer than with our junior and youth lifters. Growth, in height, bone density, and lean mass is tremendous during this period, especially when doing any sort of resistance training, and athletes should freely move through weight classes to allow their body to make the most of this period of development. Holding a young lifter in an inappropriate weight class hurts their chances of long-term success and stifles their potential: short term gain for long-term pain.
There are numerous height to weight ratios and calculators out there which will attempt to slot you into a category based on any number of criteria (one of the better ones is Cal Strength’s, which takes into consideration relative strength and body composition as opposed to just height and weight: https://www.californiastrength.com/weight-class-quiz), however they are no match for an experienced coach with the patience to help guide their lifters on a long-term journey. So go ahead and check them out, play around, but most importantly, keep an open mind. The right weight class for you is the one where you are progressing. Where you can stay healthy & relatively free from injury. Where you are well fed, well fuelled, and see continual improvement in both technique and your numbers. Where your mood is good and your motivation to train is high. Where you do not have to run a deficit year-round. And remember, it’s ok to compete in different weight classes at different times – not every competition has the same goals.
Weight classes routinely change and totals are re-evaluated. Hopefully, you grow – both as an athlete and person – and as a result where you started may not be where you end up in a year’s time. That’s ok. Your weight class doesn’t define you, but the grin on your face at the end of a tough training block when you’ve blown your previous total out of the water just might.
If you’ve been fighting to stay in a class or move into another (up or down) but feel like you’re spinning your wheels, ask yourself these three very important questions: Is my training progressing? Am I enjoying my training? And Is my health being prioritized (digestion, energy, sleep, mood and injury). If the answer to any one of those questions is no then it might be time to start thinking about short versus long-term goals and what the best road is to achieving them is.
Think you’re ready to make a change but don’t know how? Questions about how to approach your personal nutrition or long-term plan? Check out marriedtomymacros.com and connect with a coach today!