Take Away Points
  • Almost 50% of all 3rd attempts were missed (Squat 46%, Bench Press 53%, Deadlift 55%)
  • The average jump between a lifter’s 1st attempt and highest successful attempt was 6%, while the 1st Place lifters was 9%
  • Lifters made 6.66 attempts on average out of 9
  • 1st Place winners made 8.46 attempts on average out of 9
  • 15% of lifters missed all 3rd attempts
  • 36% of lifters missed at least two 3rd attempts
  • Of those of missed their opening squat (16% of all lifters), 6% went on to miss at least one more attempt.
  • Only 10% of lifters went 9 for 9
  • The composition of a lifters total evolves as their bodyweight moves up or down
  • More lifters choose to deadlift with a conventional stance versus sumo (53% vs 47%)
  • 12 out of the 15 lifters who placed 1st in the deadlift used a sumo stance (men and women)
Competition Analysis:  2016 IPF Open Classic World Championships

The purpose of this article is to analyze the results of the 2016 IPF Open Classic World Championships. The data set is inclusive of results dating back to when the IPF sanctioned the first Classic competition in 2012 through to 2016. The following topics will be discussed along with a detailed analysis of each.

  • Competition statistics
  • Missed attempt analysis
  • Attempt selection analysis
  • Men’s Results
  • Women’s Results
  • Total Composition Analysis
  • Wilks and Bodyweight Analysis
  • Deadlift Analysis

The 2016 Championships have been one of the most exciting competitions to watch – mostly due to the number of competitors battling for a position on the podium on their final deadlift. For the majority of the World Champions in this competition, it was a game of making successful attempts and building a total, while not risking attempts by trying to hit personal bests as we have seen in the past or at lower levels of competition. With powerlifting becoming more and more competitive internationally this strategy for winning will be critical as competitors will not be able to afford risking kilos on their total due to missed attempts.

Competition Statistics

This year was a typical year for bomb outs with 5% of lifters bombing out overall; this is in line with the 5-year average of 4%. Before I get into anymore numbers on this I will define a “good-lift” and “no-lift” ratio. A good-lift Ratio is the number of successful attempts a lifter has achieved divided by the total number of attempts, which in a 3-lift competition is 9. For example, if a lifter achieved 8/9 successful lifts they would have 89% good-lift ratio (8 divided by 9). The no-lift ratio is essentially the same thing but is based on the number of unsuccessful attempts a lifter has overall. The analysis shows an interesting gap in successful attempts between the 1st place lifters and the average. The 1st Place lifters made 90% of all their attempts, which was 15% higher than the average lifter at 75%. What this means is that on average, the 1st Place lifters made 1.31 more successful attempts than everyone else. This was even more significant in the Men’s classes with the 1st Place lifters making 1.82 more successful attempts than the average lifter. If we look at the next graph below which is a 5-year trend analysis of successful attempts at each IPF Classic World Championships, we can see that in 2016 especially for the Men, the 1st Place lifters made more attempts on average than any other year. The average lifters successful attempt ratio has been static overtime.

Missed Attempts

After analyzing the missed attempts in more detail it becomes clear to us that making key attempts is critical to winning a competition. Before we look into these details I thought it would be beneficial to plot the number of successful attempts that competitors are making as an entire population.

From the above we can see that the majority (71%) of the population achieved between 6-8 successful attempts out of 9. Only 10% of lifters went 9 for 9 on successful attempts meaning that 90% of lifters missed at least one attempt. In the following chart we can take this one step further and analyze which attempts were missed most. We can see that the results are as one would expect, with most of the missed attempts being mostly third attempts and even more on third attempt deadlifts. Looking at this graph we can see that almost 50% of all third attempts were missed – note that these were not necessarily all from the same lifter. Missing attempts can be detrimental to a competitor’s total and can cost someone their spot on the podium. We can only assume at this point that the cause for such a high failure rate on third attempts is due to competitors jostling for a medal position (overall or individual lift), attempting to set a new record, or taking the ‘going for broke’ attitude and attempting an unplanned weight in order to jump into a spot on the podium. This is even more evident on the third attempt deadlifts as 9% more deadlifts were failed than third attempt squats.

Key takeaways: (out of 197 lifter population)

  • Missed all third attempts: 15%
  • Missed at least 2 third attempts: 36%
  • Missed 1st attempt + at least 1 more: 6%

When comparing the above stats to other major competitions the only one that is strikingly off is the number of competitors who had missed their opening attempt and went on to miss at least one more attempt. In this Championship only 6% of lifters did this, meaning that 94% of lifters were able to rebound from missing their opening attempt and have successful attempts throughout the remainder of the competition. In other major events this statistic has been as high as 93% of lifters went on to miss at least one more attempt after missing their opener. Therefore, starting off on the wrong foot at this particular championship did not pose any major damage to a lifters total. Perhaps lifters are getting better at overcoming such obstacles and able to stay calm and collected and use the pressure to their advantage. One other assumption we can make is that when a lifter misses their opening attempt they may decide that today is an ‘off day’ and take more of a conservative approach when choosing the remainder of their attempts.

Attempt Selection

In this next section, we will analyze the attempt selections made by both men and woman for all weight classes and break the analysis into 1st place winners versus the average. The Y-axis represents the increase as a % that is made from a lifters opening attempts to their highest successful attempt. The solid bars represent the attempt increases made by the 1st place winners, and the solid lines represent the average of all lifters. For example, if a lifter selected an opening attempt in the squat of 100kg, and finished with a successful attempt of 115kg on their third, the % increase from their opener would be 15% ((115-100)/100)

Starting with the men’s analysis, we can see that for almost every weight class the 1st place lifters made larger increases in their attempts from their openers than the average lifters. This likely means the opposite of what you are probably thinking – they are not just making larger jumps in their attempts to lift the highest amount of weight, they are simply choosing lighter opening attempts than most people, based on what they expect to finish with as a third attempt. This is to ensure they make their opener successful and make more successful attempts in order to build their total. Another reason that 1st Place lifters are likely opening more conservatively is that they may be using this approach in order to conserve energy for their subsequent attempts, knowing that their first attempt is only a failsafe attempt. We can also assume that for the average lifters, the reason their % increase in their opening attempt is lower than the 1st Place winners is because they either open too heavy or failed on their 2nd or 3rd attempts for either technical reasons or making an unrealistic increase in their attempt.

The women’s side of this analysis is not as clear. This is likely because the women’s 1st place lifters also managed to make less successful attempts than the men. If you recall from above, the women who placed 1st managed to make 84% successful attempts (or 7.5/9); the average female lifter made 76% successful attempts (or 6.8/9), therefore the winners made less than 1 more successful attempt on average than the average lifer. This is why we are seeing less of a gap between % increase in attempt selection for the women.

The Men’s Category

Looking at the above graph it is clear to us that classic lifting is continuing to be more and more competitive each year. The above graph shows us the progression of each total that was required to win each of the Men’s Division weight classes in the last 5-years. The +/- change indicated in the graph/table is the change from that 2012 winning total to the 2016 winning total. Almost every weight class has seen an increase with some as high as 15%. Not surprisingly, we have also witnessed 6/8 men’s weight class winners set new world records in the total while claiming their title this year. As the trends are showing a steady incline each year in totals required to win. We can only expect this to continue in the years to come.

Legend:

  • Avg: The average successful total for each 1st place winner at the IPF Open Classis World Championships between the years 2012-2016.
  • Max: The heaviest total performed by a 1st place winner at the IPF Open Classis World Championships between the years 2012-2016.
  • 2016: This was the successful total of the 1st place winner from the IPF Open Classis World Championships.

Below displays a graph of all the men’s 1st place results along with the average and max results from 2012-2016; which are referenced in the tables above. The blue dotted line represents the current World Record (as of July 9, 2016). You will notice that there is no spread between the blue dotted line and the yellow line – this illustrates that the 2016 1st Place totals match the current world record total in the majority of the weight classes.

The next graph illustrates the totals of the 1st place winners from 2016 with a stacked graph splitting out what lifts make up the composition of their total. What we can see from this graph is not only linear increase in totals as we move up through each weight class, but the changes in the % splits of squat, bench press and deadlift as an athlete moves from a light-weight to the heavy-weight category. On the 2016 results, the bench press stays relatively the same in each weight class being around 25% of a lifters total. In the lighter weight classes, the deadlift makes up almost 6% more of a lifters total than of a heavy-weight. The squat on the other hand does the opposite, making up more of a heavy-weight total than a light-weight.

Interestingly, when we prepared this same analysis on a major equipped championship, the squat was among the three lifts that remained as a static % of the lifter’s total. The deadlift showed a similar composition change throughout the weight classes, but the bench press was more of the composition of a lifters total in the heavier weight classes and less in the lighter weight classes.

When we compare these light-weight and heavy-weight averages for 2016 to the 5-year bench mark we can see that the light-weight classes remained relatively in line with the benchmarks (+/- 2%). However, the heavy-weight classes showed a much higher % of their total composition being from the squat (+5%) and less from the bench (-2%) and deadlift (-3%). We know that the heavy-weight classes are certainly not benching or deadlifting any less than they have in previous years, they have just been able to increase their squat at a higher percentage.

Note: the average used in the next table is the median average which finds the middle point between the high and low end of the weight classes.

The Women’s Category

The above graph illustrates for us the progression of each total that was required to be crowned a World Champion in each weight class in the women’s division over the last 5-years. Similar to the men’s division, the women showed similar trends in the majority of the weight classes, and show no sign of slowing down. The change indicated in the graph/table is the change from that 2012 winning total to the 2016 winning total. Almost every weight class has seen an increase with some as high as 25%.

Legend:

  • Avg: The average successful total for each 1st place winner at the IPF Open Classis World Championships between the years 2012-2016.
  • Max: The heaviest total performed by a 1st place winner at the IPF Open Classis World Championships between the years 2012-2016.
  • 2016: This was the successful total of the 1st place winner from the IPF Open Classis World Championships.

Below displays a graph of all the women’s 1st place results along with the average and max results from 2012-2016; which are referenced in the tables above. The blue dotted line represents the current World Record (as of July 9, 2016). You will notice that there is a very small if no spread at all between the blue dotted line and the yellow line – this illustrates that the 2016 1st Place totals are very close or match the current world record total in the majority of the weight classes.

The next graph illustrates the totals of the 1st place winners from 2016 with a stacked graph splitting out what lifts make up the composition of their total. What we can see from this graph is not only linear increase in totals as we move up through each weight class, but the changes in the % splits of squat, bench press and deadlift as an athlete moves from a light-weight to heavy-weight category. The changes in the composition of a female lifter’s total are very similar to what we saw in the men’s category. The bench press stays relatively the same in each weight class being around 22% of a lifters total – Note that this is about 3% lower than the men’s average composition. In the lighter-weight classes, the deadlift makes up almost 6% more of a lifters total than of a heavy-weight, following the same pattern as the men. The squat on the other hand does the opposite, making up more of a heavy weights total than of a light-weight.

When we compare these light-weight and heavy-weight averages for 2016 to the 5-year bench mark we can see that the light-weight classes remained relatively in line with the benchmarks (+/- 2%). However, the heavy-weight classes showed a much higher % of their total composition being from the squat (+3%) and less from the bench (-2%) and deadlift (-1%).

Note: the average used in the next table is the median average which finds the middle point between the high and low end of the weight classes. We will look at the 5-year trend using the entire population of lifters (not only winners) and the mean average in the section ‘Overall Total Composition’.

Overall Total Composition

Based on the above table and chart we can see that there is very little change in the composition of the lifters total (men and women) over the last 5-years. The population for this data included all lifters, not only the lifters who placed 1st, which we have analyzed above. The results are very consistent when looking at the mean average across all weight classes. When we break this overall population into two groups being light-weight and heavy-weight by taking the two lightest weight classes and the two heaviest for each gender division we can see similar composition changes for both men and women.

What we can conclude is the following:

  • The squat for both men and women on average has a positive correlation, meaning that as your body-weight increases you can relatively squat more as a % of your total.
  • The bench press is contributing less to the female lifters total composition than the men, while utilizing their deadlift more to build a total.
  • The bench press follows a similar positive correlation as the squat for the men, however is it less severe. As a lifter’s bodyweight increases the bench press becomes relatively more as a % of your total. On the other hand, the women’s bench press contribution is static throughout each weight class.
  • The deadlift follows a negative correlation pattern, meaning that as your body-weight increases you can relatively deadlift less as a % of your total.
Wilks: Comparison by Weight Class and Gender

The Wilks formula allows us to compare lifters across all weight classes and genders. The men and women have different formulas and coefficients that are specific for every bodyweight allowing us to calculate and assign a score to every lifter’s results and compare them on a similar scale. The graph below represents the highest Wilks score achieved this year at the 2016 IPF Open Classic World Championships by weight class and gender. The top Wilks score by a female was achieved in the 63kg class with a Wilks score of 527.29. The top Wilks score achieved by a male was in 59kg class with a Wilks score of 584.74.

What we are going to illustrate in the next analysis is a stacked graph of the times bodyweight (xbodyweight) for each of the highest Wilks scorers for all weight classes at the 2016 IPF Open Classic World Championships. We included the Wilks score on the secondary Z-axis (white line) to show the relationships between xbodyweight achievement and a Wilks score in order to see how they differ as a lifters xbodyweight ratio changes.

In the above graph we can easily see the decreasing linear pattern from the 59 to 120+ class in xbodyweight total. As a lifters bodyweight increases the xbodyweight multiplier decreases. This may seem fairly obvious because as a result of being heavier in bodyweight, you will need to lift more total weight to have a higher xbodyweight multiplier. What we find interesting is to see how the Wilks score bares almost no connection to what the lifter has been able to achieve as a xbodyweight total. Yes, in the Men’s category the lifter who scored the highest Wilks score was also the person who achieved the highest multiplier in the xbodyweight total – but a close second place Wilks was scored by the person with the lowest xbodyweight multiplier. On the Women’s side the lifter who scored highest on Wilks did not have the highest xbodyweight multiplier total. There are two questions to be answered in this analysis: Does the Wilks score favor any particular weight class? And, is it a fair representation between men and women since they do have different Wilks coefficient’s?

Deadlift Analysis

Have you ever seen anything like it? A perfectly linear correlation on what deadlift stances a lifter chooses to use depending on their weight class. The height of the bar on the horizontal axis represents the % of the total amount of lifters in that particular weight class that used a conventional versus sumo stance. The blue data represents sumo stance and the orange data represents conventional stance. There are two simple statistical statements that can be made based on these findings:

• Conventional deadlift stance has a positive correlation with bodyweight. This means that as a lifters bodyweight increases, starting from the lowest weight class, more % of lifters will choose to perform conventional deadlifts.

• Sumo deadlift stance has a negative correlation with bodyweight. This means that as a lifters bodyweight increases, starting from the lowest weight class, less % of lifters will choose to perform sumo deadlifts.

Does it mean that when the majority of lifters in a particular weight class are deadlifting with a certain stance that it is the optimal stance? Let’s look at the stance that each 1st place deadlift winner used in each weight class to see how they match up.

The first thing we notice in these findings is that the majority of lifters who placed 1st in the deadlift used a sumo stance. The two heavy weights on the men’s side did in fact use conventional stance which lines up with our original graphs. The 93kg & 105kg class 1st Place lifters in the deadlift did however use a sumo stance, but when we look at the % of the lifters in those classes and what stance they used, although more used a conventional stance in these classes there was still 30-40% using a sumo stance.

The 1st place lifters in the deadlift for the Women’s division almost always used a sumo stance. One reason for this might be due to the female bony structure of the pelvis. Women have a larger and broader pelvis with acetabula that are wider apart and face more medially, perhaps making it more of an efficient position to deadlift.

Some of the factors that come to mind when determining optimal stance would be the following:

  • Anatomical variations
  • Soft tissue flexibility
  • Bodyweight distribution

You would think that because the best deadlifters in the world are using a sumo deadlift stance that it would dominate the statistics of how many lifters choose this stance – but in this particular competition there were still more lifters using a conventional stance than sumo.

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