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The Weightlifting Encyclopedia

A comprehensive resource for the training of weightlifters

At over 400,000 words and 549 pages, The Weightlifting Encyclopedia: A Guide to World Class Performance provides an extensive look at the sport of weightlifting, weightlifting technique, and weightlifting training. It was first published in 1988, so some of the content is outdated, but it provides a basic understanding of the sport and how to train for it.

 

The place to start with reviewing this book is with its sole writer, Arthur Drechsler. Drechsler has been involved in all areas of weightlifting at the highest levels. He was a junior (age 20 and under) world record holder and a USAW Hall of Fame member, a senior international coach of national champions and an Olympian, an administrator serving on the board of directors of USA Weightlifting, and an International Category Referee. In a 2003 interview for Times Ledger by Tien-Shun Lee, Drechsler said he never made a dime from coaching but did it for the love of the sport.

 

Although many coaches and weightlifters will use this book more as a reference, but for a general audience, a good place to start is with the Introduction. Here Drechsler destroys these seven myths of the sport: 

1. Bigger “muscles” are stronger muscles

2. Everyone who lifts weights is a “weightlifter”

3. Bodybuilders, football players, wrestlers, powerlifters, etc. are stronger than weightlifters

4. Weightlifting “stunts” your growth and has a very high injury rate

5. Drug usage is rampant in the sport of weightlifting

6. Weightlifting muscles make you “musclebound”

7. The athletes of any one country (e.g., the US) can’t beat athletes from another (e.g., Russia)

From here, the reader can select the chapters that interest them, although going in numeric order is a good idea. For example, it makes little sense for a newcomer to the sport to read Chapter 8: Performing in Competition before reading Chapter 1: The Technique of the /Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. With that background, here is what’s covered:

 

Chapter 1: The Technique of the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk

Chapter 2: Teaching and Learning Weightlifting Technique

Chapter 3: The Development of Strength, Power and Flexibility

Chapter 4: Selecting Weightlifting Equipment and Using it Safely and Effectively

Chapter 5: Assistance Exercises for the Snatch and the C&J

Chapter 6: Putting it together: Developing the Training Plan

Chapter 7: Building the Mind of a Weightlifting Champion

Chapter 8: Performing in Competition

Chapter 9: Special Training Considerations for Women, Masters and Young Athletes

Chapter 10: Nutrition and Weight Control

Chapter 11: Preventing and Dealing with Injuries and the Use of Restorative Methods

 

After these chapters, there is supplemental material you may find of interest, as follows:

 

Appendix 1: The Rules of Weightlifting

Appendix 2: A Short Course in Anatomy, Physiology, Mechanics and Biomechanics

Appendix 3: Training on the Snatch and Clean and Jerk

Appendix 4: Selecting and Athlete and Selecting a Coach

The “Incredible Hulk” is the strongest superhero, and the incredible Lasha Talakhadze of Georgia is the strongest weightlifter. At the 2020 Olympics, Lasha snatched 491 pounds and clean and jerked 584, both world records, to win his second gold medal. (Photo by Tim Scott, LiftingLife.com, taken at the 2019 World Weightlifting Championships)

Again, the book was published in 1988, so some material is outdated or simply wrong. For example, Drechsler does not list any academic credentials in nutrition, so it would be best to avoid his advice in this area where he promotes the Four Basic Food Groups (that includes bread and milk). Also, the success of the Chinese women weightlifters (who have dominated the sport since the International Weightlifting Federation recognized it in 1987) has given us insight into the most effective ways to train women and how they can take advantage of their anatomy to lift heavier weights.

 

If you’re looking for a complete book on the sport weightlifting, The Weightlifting Encyclopedia: A Guide to World Class Performance is hard to beat, despite being published over three decades ago. At the very least, it serves as a reference book that answers many of the most common questions about the sport.

 

Drechsler concludes with the following positive message: “If you want with all your heart to become a champion, let no one stand in your way. Dream of it, plan for it, train for it, live for it and become the champion you can be. Being the best that you can be and the glorious journey towards that achievement will bring rewards that are greater than any you may have ever imagined. Good luck and great success in weightlifting, the most glorious sport ever conceived by the mind of a man or woman!”

 

[You can purchase Artie Drechsler’s The Weightlifting Encyclopedia: A Guide to World Class Performance through Amazon.com.)

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