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J Athl Train. 1999 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 232–238.
PMCID: PMC1322916

Injury Rates and Profiles of Elite Competitive Weightlifters

Gregg Calhoon, MS, ATC and Andrew C. Fry, PhD, CSCS



To determine injury types, natures, anatomical locations, recommended amount of time missed, and injury rates during weightlifting training.

Design and Setting:

We collected and analyzed medical injury records of resident athletes and during numerous training camps to generate an injury profile.


Elite US male weightlifters who were injured during training at the United States Olympic Training Centers.


United States Olympic Training Center weightlifting injury reports from a 6-year period were analyzed. Data were expressed as percentages and were analyzed via x2 tests.


The back (primarily low back), knees, and shoulders accounted for the most significant number of injuries (64.8%). The types of injuries most prevalent in this study were strains and tendinitis (68.9%). Injuries of acute (59.6%) or chronic (30.4%) nature were significantly more common than recurrent injuries and complications. The recommended number of training days missed for most injuries was 1 day or fewer (90.5%). Injuries to the back primarily consisted of strains (74.6%). Most knee injuries were tendinitis (85.0%). The majority of shoulder injuries were classified as strains (54.6%). Rates of acute and recurring injuries were calculated to be 3.3 injuries/1000 hours of weightlifting exposure.


The injuries typical of elite weightlifters are primarily overuse injuries, not traumatic injuries compromising joint integrity. These injury pattems and rates are similar to those reported for other sports and activities.

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Selected References

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Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association