Monday, January 20, 2014

Weight Class Rant

Last weekend I did my first honest to God strongman training session at Jon Andersen's Facility in Novato, CA. I had so much fun and can't wait to go back and watch my progress. I rarely get into a new hobby without intentions to eventually compete or perform, so naturally I've already started looking at competition events and weight classes:

On the National Association for Strongman website:

"We also provide Light and heavyweight classes for:
• Masters (40+) in the Lightweight (up to 231) and Heavyweight (232 and above) divisions only. There is also a 50+ and 60+ category added at nationals.
• Teenage (up to 200 – LW) 201 and above (HW)
• Women LW, MW, and HW. (LW- 140 and below, MW- 141 – 165 HW- 165and above)"

Dammit. Another strength sport that sees women over 165 lbs as capital-h Heavy. This is some bullshit.

Let's take a quick comparison of women's weight classes in various sports:

StrongmanWeightliftingPowerliftingAmateur BoxingJudoWrestling
Up to 14048 kg44 kg48 kg48 kg48 kg
141 to 16553 kg48 kg51 kg52 kg53 kg
Over 16558 kg52 kg54 kg57 kg58 kg
63 kg56 kg57 kg63 kg63 kg
69 kg60 kg60 kg70 kg69 kg
75 kg67.5 kg64 kg78 kg75 kg
over 75 kg75 kg69 kgover 78 kg
82.5 kg75 kg
90 kg81 kg
over 90 kgover 81 kg

There seems to be a lot of consistency in the lighter weight classes, but where things start to get all "what the fuckery" is when it tops out. 70 kg (165 lbs) seems to universally be seen as on the heavier end of things. Fine. But then you have powerlifting with three more classes over 75 kg. And boxing, a far more cardio intensive sport than powerlifting or weightlifting, has an 81 kg division. 

So weightlifting used to have an 82.5 kg weight class for women, but it was nixed (along with the 110 kg for men) to stream line international events. What was the discussion like in that room? 

"Let's get rid of the top end weight class. Bitches be dieting, anyway!" 

Or as my friend, Stevo, put it "there's no way an athletic woman could weigh over 165 lbs, right?" *bro five*

The world population is getting taller, its more common than not for daughters to be taller than their mothers. You see this in all industrialized countries, as shipping food from Venezuela to Japan becomes common, nutrition and the changing culture around it allows for taller people.

Then there is this body weight distribution I found:

I can't find what year this research was taken. What I'm seeing here is that for all age groups, when you make the super heavy cut off at 165 lbs, your basically lumping 1/3 of the population together and dividing the other 2/3 of the population into 6 different categories.

Here is one that just shows the weight distributions for the most commonly represented ages seen at national and international weightlifting events:

It's easy to see that at younger ages, the weight distribution skews a little more towards the lighter side. But it's still not an even split of the population to make the cut off at 165 lbs.

I tried to find some data on the international body weight distribution, but all I could find were charts of BMI, which doesn't help me as I think BMI is bullshit and we don't weigh in based on our BMI.

I'd say that it's obvious their standards were pulled out of their ass and unfounded scientifically. I don't care about some fabled mathamagician that came up with some formula that no one else could wrap their head around to create the weight classes. Either we're a world of dunces and no one gets math, or we're a world of dunces and got duped.

I'm betting on the latter.


1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I'll add that as an amateur (or professional) female boxer you are very unlikely to have a promoter put you on a card if you are over 145# (barring special circumstances like you are Muhammad Ali's daughter or you got gold at the Olympics). Hence while the heavier weight classes exist, you are generally pushed to get to the lower ones so that you can actually have fights.