Friday Interview: Dr. Lars Berglund Discusses Weightlifting and Powerlifting

Friday Interview: Dr. Lars Berglund Discusses Weightlifting and Powerlifting

Dr. GJohn Mullen Biomechanics, Blog, Dr. John Mullen, Injuries, Latest&Greatest, Training 2 Comments

Below is an interview on the principle differences and movements between weightlifters and powerlifters.  Whats included and demand in each sport.  Here is the latest article to Lars Berglund’s “Injuries Among Weightlifters and Powerlifters: A Systematic Review”  his latest studies and complete research work sites can be found here.

1. First off, what is the difference between weightlifters and powerlifters?

The principal differences between each sport lie in the type of movements performed and consequently, the physical demand of each sport. In weightlifting, the lifter competes in two events: the snatch and the clean and jerk. Both events require lifting the barbell overhead. In power-lifting, the lifter competes in three events: the squat, the bench press and the dead-lift. In general, weightlifting is more taxing on knees, shoulders, elbows and low back. While power-lifting is more taxing on the low back, hips, shoulder, and knees. The weightlifting events demand more mobility and strength, whereas the power-lifting events have lower demands on mobility and power while testing optimal strength at low velocities.

2. What Injuries are Most Common for Weightlifters? How about Power-lifters? Is Powerlifting Safe for Swimmers?

The lower back, knees, shoulders, and wrists injuries were the most common for weightlifters. In power-lifting, the low back, shoulder, knee, chest, and elbow regions were the most commonly injured. In both sports, acute injuries seem more common than overuse injuries; however, many injuries seem to give symptoms that last over four weeks. Since all studies in this area are questionnaire studies, where the participants self-report their previous and current injuries, there is little to no way of determining the details regarding injury types/diagnosis in both sports.

3. Does Experience Level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) Seem to have an Effect on Injury Risk?

In our review, there were no studies which showed any strong risk factors for injuries.

4. Does this apply to athletes in other sports who supplement their workout with weightlifting?

This result is, we believe, fungible to all athletes, who use these movements in their day to day training regimen.

5. What can athletes do to minimize their risk to such injuries?

Evidence-based preventative strategies for eliminating the risk of injury does not exist; however, from practical experience, it is important to manage training loads and to use proper technique in all lifts. What seems crucial, is adequate movement control of the limbo-pelvic, hip, scapula and shoulder areas, in order to prevent overloading any one region of the body.

6. What further research needs to be done on the topic of lifting injuries and answering the question: “is powerlifting safe for swimmers?”

The research just isn’t there for a definitive answer… We need to conduct more studies in this field, especially in determining training loads, classification of injuries, the recommended technique in each event, preventative strategies for injuries, just to name a few areas!


Lars Berglund is a reg. physical therapist, doctor in physical therapy and has experience as a competitive power-lifter for more than 15 years. His main research focus lies in neuromusculoskeletal disorders in sports and especially within weightlifting and powerlifting.

Comments 2

  1. Still want to know the difference between weightlifting and powerlifting and which is helpful for swimmers and other athletes.

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