Age-associated Performance Decline and Sex Differences in Olympic Weightlifting

Marianne Huebner, David E. Meltzer, Aris Perperoglou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: The rate of decline in physical performance for women is thought to be faster than that for men at any age in the Masters age classes in weightlifting and other sports. We quantified the age-associated decline in Olympic weightlifting separately for women and men and investigated possible impact of perimenopausal years on the performance decline. METHODS: Results from Masters Weightlifting competitions from 1993 to 2018 were compiled from original score sheets and meet results made available by International Weightlifting Federation. Quantile curves were estimated for the age-related performance decline, and confidence intervals (CI) for the fractional performance with reference age 35 yr were calculated. Age-related decline curves were estimated for different periods to examine changes in performance levels. RESULTS: A total of 10,225 performance results for male and female weightlifters age 35 to 90 yr from 71 countries were included in the analysis. At age 40 yr compared with age 35 yr, the fractional performance is 0.947 (95% CI, 0.926-0.975), for men and 0.952 (95% CI. 0.898-0.986) for women while this is reduced to 0.723 (95% CI: 0.651-0.800) at age 60 yr for men and 0.604 (95% CI. 0.543-0.706) for women. Female performance levels before 2000 were worse; however, they have stabilized since 2013. CONCLUSIONS: The performances of women weightlifters have improved over the last 25 yr. Thus, previous publications do not reflect current physical capabilities of women. The age-associated performance decline for female weightlifters mirrors the decline for men except for an accelerated decline during a 10-yr period across the age range from late 40s to late 50s thus coinciding with a transition into menopause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2302-2308
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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