Prognosis of World Records and the Use of Performance Enhancers

Prognosis of World Records in Weightlifting and the Use of Performance Enhancers
Medevedyev, A.S., Medvedyev, A.A., Masalgin, N.A., Sarsania,S.K.
Teoriya I Praktika Fizicheskoi Kultury, 8:39 – 43:1994
Translated by Andrew Charniga, Jr.


Man’s limits in a number of sports, particularly weightlifting, are always of great interest. However, in – depth research in this area is lacking. This last paper devoted to this question was published in 1984. The authors attempted to predict world records in weightlifting for the period of 1984 – 1986, based on the highest results from the period 1947 – 1983.
In this instance we have devised a way to extrapolate the parameters (world records) through statistical methods. It should be noted that these methods enable us to determine the specifics of the changes of the parameters affected by outside factors, performance enhancers, for instance.
We utilized the world records in the snatch and the clean and jerk officially recorded from 1924 – 1990. Our results were verified utilizing other methods of statistical analysis.


Let’s look at the graphs depicted in figures 1 and 2. The world records in all weight classes for the snatch and the clean and jerk are shown. You can see from the graphs a growth at the beginning and middle stages and a subsequent deceleration, which is indicative of the approach to the limits.
Furthermore, it is obvious from the data in figures 1 and 2 that there is a qualitative difference in the improvement of results in practically all weight classes, beginning with the 70s. This is particularly obvious for the clean and jerk (figure 1). We took into consideration the interruption of competitions in weightlifting during the war years of 1939 – 1945.


In order to obtain reliable data it is necessary to have a large base of statistical data. We did not include the results from the 110, 100, 90 and 52 kg classes; introduced in 1969, 1977, 1950 and 1969, respectively.
Our suggested maximum possible results in the snatch and the clean and jerk, rounded to the nearest 2.5 kg increment, are presented in table 1.

Table 1. Possible upper limits in each weight class (Kg)

Wt. class Upper limit   Lower Limits  
  C&J Snatch C&J Snatch
+110  320  270  280  230
 82.5  270  227.5  237.5  195
 75  255  212.5  222.5  182.5
67.5 235 197.5 205 167.5
60 210 177.5 195 155
56 195 165 175 140

Based on Starodubtsev’s table, the upper and lower limits in the clean and jerk and the snatch, in all weight classes, corresponds to 275 and 228 points; and, 217 and 175 points respectively.

There was almost no change in the snatch and the clean and jerk records for the period 1967 – 1973. There was a general increase in the rate of improvement beginning with this period up to 1980; and, from 1980 on, an even faster rate.

This means, that in practically all weight classes and both exercises, there was some general influence, affecting the progress of world records, which was significantly different from that contributing to the improvement in world records from 1924 up to the 1967 – 1973 period. The influence became stronger from 1980 on. This affect can be observed in the figures 6 – 11, where the records in the snatch and the clean and jerk are presented, relative to the dates they were recorded.

We considered three fundamental reasons driving the dynamics of the improvement of world records.

/introduction of new training methods;

/significant changes in technique;

/use of performance enhancing substances.

Top – notch training methods give rise to improved results. However, it is common knowledge, that there has been no significantly new training methods introduced. The exception being, that with the exclusion of the press from competition, from 1973 on, twice – daily workouts became commonplace. A comparative analysis of the loadings parameters for the eight – week cycle (pre – competition and competition) of the elite group of the best lifters in the world from the 60s and 80s, showed that there was no statistically reliable increase in the volume in all criteria and parameters of the loading.

The total volume of loading in the 80s increased an average of only 40% (due to squats and pulls), while at the same time, the loading in the snatch and the clean jerk (which directly affect the results in these exercises) did not change. Therefore, this factor cannot fully explain the accelerated improvement in world records from the 1967 – 1973 period up to 1980 and the even greater improvement from 1980; the training in each of the weight classes has its own specifics including the type of exercise.

In figure 4, the data of the improvement in the clean and jerk is depicted. It is quite obvious, that whereas the greatest improvement was in the super – heavy weight class (this is natural because there is no restriction on the athlete’s bodyweight), there were distinctly two sharp jumps: from 1970 – 1977 and from 1981 – 1984. Furthermore, the figure also shows that rise in results diminishes with the decrease in weight class.

We researched the relative muscular strength of the world record holders in the clean and jerk (in weight classes 82.5; 75; 67.5; 60 and 56 kg); the average relative strength in 1964 was 2.43, whereas, it was 2.79, 2.92 and 2.94 in 1980, 1984 and 1988.

Well then, over a period of 24 years (1964 – 1988) relative strength increased 21%. Our analysis of the improvement of results in two other types of sports where there were some changes in the training methods, revealed that the maximum figures reached only 9%.

This cannot be explained by the “phenomenon” of a new lifting technique, because, modern notions of biomechanics of technique of the snatch and the clean and jerk were already established; by the beginning of the 1960s. Research at the beginning of the seventies of a system -structural approach to the analysis of the technique of these exercises enabled us to only determine more precisely the composition of the phases of these exercises.

Moreover, we were able to determine the structure of the snatch and the clean and jerk. A significant alteration in technical mastery with the introduction of more elastic bars and rubber discs was not observed.

The most probable explanation for the acceleration of the rise in world records was the introduction of means to stimulate the synthesis of protein, and., consequently, accelerate the rise in strength. Indeed, the use of the aforementioned means for a very short time, resulted in a significant increase in results in all weight classes and exercises (figures 4 – 5).

Performance enhancing substances have a greater effect on the clean and jerk in the heavier weight classes, which is quite obvious from figures 4 – 11.

Well then, our analysis enables us to come to the following conclusions:

/From the period 1967 – 1973 up to 1988 – 1989, there was a noticeable acceleration of the improvement of world records in all exercises and all weight classes.

/The use of performance enhancing substances is the most plausible explanation for this occurrence.

/This period of utilizing performance enhancers can be divided into two stages: from 1967 – 1973 up to 1980, where there was manifested an acceleration in the improvement of records; and, the second, roughly, from 1980 to 1988 – 1989, where there was even a greater acceleration in the improvement of world records.

Essentially, a distinction between these two stages can be drawn, for the most part, by the difference in the effect of these performance enhancers.

For example, in the first stage, weaker anabolic steroids were used: oral (Nerabol, Turinabol, Dianabol, Methandrostindione, Stromba) and intra – muscular (Durabolin, Deca – Durabolin, Winstrol, Stanozolal Retabolin, Nerabolin). In the second stage, hormaonal preparations were used (Testosterone, Testosterone – Propionate, Testogan), as well as somatotral hormones (STH), or as they are referred to – Growth Hormones and Protaglandids.

You can see a robust spurt in results at the beginning of each stage and then a slow down towards the end. This can be explained as the peculiarities of the body’s adaptation to these substances.

It is very noteworthy that the results of the best lifters in the world declined in all weight classes and exercises (see table 2) over the past two years (1990 – 91); evidently, because of the robust development of these performance enhancers and the systems for controlling their use.

Our conclusions were verified with the assistance of other mathematical methods – “applied differentiation”. With this method we analyzed the gradient improvement of world records by years. The results confirmed the decreased rate of improvement of world records during the aforementioned time periods.

Would today’s results take 15 – 20 years to approach without the aforementioned means? With statistical data of the world records established between 1967 – 1973, we obtained coefficients a and b for all types of exercises and weight classes.

We were able to construct graphs (figures 6 – 11) showing the prognosis of records in the various weight classes and exercises by the year 2010. It should be noted, that prognosis of the results for 1990 were in perfect harmony with those reached at the world events during the 1990 – 1991 period; where rigid doping control procedures were in effect. This reaffirms the correctness of our earlier conclusions.

Presented in tables 2&3 are the world records in all weight classes in effect in 1990 and the prognosis of the best results in 1990; which could be obtained without performance enhancers; as well as, the length of time needed to match existing records without performance enhancers.

It is obvious the use of performance enhancers outstrips the time required to achieve the predicted level of world records by 7 – 20 years. In order to obtain the best prognosis of results in the clean and jerk in 1992, you have to add 1.5 to 2.5 kg.

Table 2. The Clean and Jerk
Wt. Class A B 1990 1991 D E
110+ 266.0 245.0-253.0 257.5 247.5 255.0 >13-20
110 250.5 235.0-242.0¹ 250.0 235.0 240.0
100 242.5 227.0-236.0¹ 235.0 220.0 220.0
90 235.0 217.0-223.0² 220.0 210.0 217.5
82.5 225.0 209.0-214.5 205.0 202.5 205.0 >20
75 215.5 199.0-206.0 197.5 195.0 202.5 >15
67.5 200.5 184.0-189.0 185.0 185.0 185.0 >20
60 190.0 169.0-172.0 170.0 165.0 170.0 >25
56 171.0 160.0-166.0 145.0 150.0 155.0 >10-20
52 155.0 146.0-152.5³ 150.0 142.5 150.0
Table 3. The Snatch
Wt. Class A B 1990 1991 D E
110+ 216.0 196.0-202.0 210.0 200.0 195.0 >15-20
110 210.0 187.5-193.0¹ 195.0 185.0 200.0 —-
100 200.5 182.0-187.5¹ 185.0 185.0 192.5 —-
90 195.5 176.0-181.0² 182.5 180.0 180.0
82.5 183.0 167.0-172.0 172.5 172.5 172.5 >20
75 170.0 160.0-164.0 162.5 157.5 157.5 >10-20
67.5 160.0 149.0-153.0 155.0 155.0 157.5 >10
60 152.5 138.0-142.0 140.0 137.5 127.5 >20
56 134.5 128.0-131.0 120.0 125.0 130.0 >7-20
52 120.0 117.0-119.0³ 115.0 115.0 115.0

A- the world records in 1990;
B- calculated results without the use of performance enhancers in 1990;
C- 1990 and 1991 – results of the European Championships kg;
D- Results of the 1990 world championships, kg
E- anticipated time needed to surpass the existing records.
1 – obtained by calculating for the +110 kg class
2 – obtained by calculating for the 82.5 kg class
3 – obtained by calculating for the 56 kg class