Olympic Weightlifting LTAD

The following LTAD stage descriptions for Olympic Weightlifting are based on international research linked to the Canadian LTAD model. In all of the Weightlifting LTAD stages, the first consideration is the athlete’s Training Age (TA), second is Developmental Age (DA), and third is Chronological Age (CA). In the spirit of continuous improvement, the Weightlifting LTAD Work Group of the CWFHC will continue to gather information and refine knowledge on the needs and demands for athlete training, competition and recovery at each of these stages.


1 - Physical Literacy
CA: M 0-10, F 0-9   TA: 0
Olympic Weightlifting is a late specialization sport, so we must depend on parents, other sports and physical education to prepare young children to be physically literate when reaching the age to begin our sport. Throughout the Physical Literacy stage, children should be learning fundamental movements and linking them together into play.

2 - Learn to Train
CA: M 10-13, F 9-12   TA: 1-2
Motor pathways in 9–13 year olds are very receptive to learning skills and technique. This is one of the most important stages of motor development. At this stage, children are developmentally ready to begin learning a range of sport-specific skills that will become increasingly refined at later LTAD stages. Children still participate in a variety of sports and physical activities.
  • Overall physical development
  • Begin to develop athlete motivation, dedication, commitment and discipline in training and competition
  • Focus on basic technique
  • 100 - 200 training hours per year
  • 4 - 6 competitions
3 - Train to Train
CA: M 13-17, F 12-16   TA: 3-5
This is a critical stage for young athletes as they must refine their technique to accommodate changes with puberty (i.e. growth spurt). Aspiring weightlifters should begin to specialize at this stage, as an increase in the volume of the competition lifts is required to achieve technical perfection. With the growth spurt, athletes will have a greater capacity for developing strength and endurance.
  • Overall physical development
  • Improve focus - emotional and mental preparedness
  • Achieve technique perfection
  • 200 - 400 hours per year
  • 6 - 8 competitions
4 - Train to Compete
CA: M 17-21, F 16-20   TA: 5-8
This is the most important phase of training for Junior Weightlifters who are aiming for high-performance competition. Athletes must develop their work capacity to sustain the high frequency of training required in this stage (daily, and possibly twice daily). More competitions should be added to the competition schedule, particularly national and international competitions, to develop the psychology to perform in pressure situations.
  • Harmonious development of the whole body with great emphasis being placed on areas which will ensure a high level of efficiency in Olympic Weightlifting
  • Develop psychological abilities to better prepare for stressful training and intense competitions
  • Perfect technique through continuous refinement of skills
  • 400 - 600 hours per year
  • 6 - 8 competitions
5 - Learn to Win
CA: M 21-25, F 20-25   TA: 8-12
At this advanced stage, the training and competition environments must be elite calibre. Athletes should be training around other elite weightlifters, and there should be regularly scheduled training camps and regular competition at major events. Specialized athlete support becomes essential to optimizing performance, including sport scientists, nutritionists, massage therapists, physiotherapists and others on an Integrated Support Team (IST).
  • Continue to maximize strength of the main muscle groups, speed in conjunction with strength, power endurance, and neuromuscular coordination
  • Perform in highly competitive situations under pressure
  • Continued refinement and stabilization of skills
  • 600 - 800 hours per year
  • 4 - 6 competitions
6 - Train to Win
CA: M 25+, F 25+   TA: 12+
All of the athlete’s physical, technical, tactical (including decision-making skills), mental, personal and lifestyle capacities are fully established with the focus of training shifting to maximizing performance. Athletes become ambassadors of the sport and role models for other weightlifting athletes.
  • Continue to maximize strength of the main muscle groups, speed in conjunction with strength, power endurance, and neuromuscular coordination
  • Mental and life skills should be at the highest level to be able to cope with all stresses in and out of competition and training
  • Refinement and mastery of technical skills through continuous work
  • 800 - 1000 hours per year
  • 3 - 5 competitions
7 - Lift for Life
Any age (after developing physical literacy)
Lift for Life includes participants of any age who enjoy Olympic Weightlifting in a non-competitive setting, or recreational lifters who enjoy competing for fun. It also includes athletes competing in Masters events at the Provincial, National or International level. It is key that weightlifting athletes have a positive experience in the sport, so they can transition to other roles after they leave the competitive stream (coach, official, volunteer, or sport leader).
  • Maintain physical abilities and skills while having fun
  • Lifelong enjoyment of Olympic Weightlifting
  • Move from high-performance competition to lifelong competitive sport through age group competition
  • 2 - 3 competitions