The Northern Michigan University Olympic Training Site weightlifting program was established in 2003. The program has produced champions at both the national and international levels.
Vance Newgard is the head coach of the program.
Newgard tailors athletes' training programs to cycle their bodies to peak at the time of competition. Athletes work on their technique in an Olympic-style weightlifting facility in Northern Michigan University's Superior Dome.
Olympic weightlifting is more than a simple contest of strength.
Lifters need to ally technique and concentration to their basic power in order to have any hope of coming out on top.
There are two types of lifts in the Olympic program; the snatch and the clean and jerk.
In the snatch, the more difficult discipline, the bar must be lifted from the floor with a wide grip and over the lifter's head in one complete motion.
The legs may be bent or split when lifting the bar but must come together to ensure the lift is declared valid.
In the clean and jerk, which requires a narrow grip, the lifter pulls the bar to his/her shoulders in one movement, drops into a squat, and then stands up straight.
The next part of the lift involves jerking the bar to arms-length above the head and splitting the legs to achieve the lift. Once the arms are locked and the bar is steady the lifters bring their feet back together to ensure the lift is declared legal.
Lifters are given three lifts in each discipline and once they reach the platform they have one minute to complete the lift. With each effort, weights must be increased by 2.5 kilograms.
The heaviest successful lift in each category contributes towards the total score, so if an athlete lifts 90 kilograms in the snatch and 130 kilograms in the clean and jerk their overall score is 220 kilograms.
If two lifters finish the competition with the same total, then the one with the lower body weight is declared the winner.
The weight of an athlete's first lift determines their place in the starting order. If they chose to go for a light weight the will go earlier in the order.
Three referees judge weightlifting where a majority verdict is accepted as official.
The referees will signal a good lift by flashing a white light, and an illegal attempt by flashing a red light, although a jury has the authority to overturn their decision.
Female weightlifters compete in one of seven divisions determined by their body weight, male weightlifters compete in one of eight weight categories. In each weight class, competitors compete in both the snatch and the clean and jerk. Awards are generally given for the heaviest weight lifted in the snatch, clean and jerk, and the two lifts combined.
Weightlifting can be an awe-inspiring spectator sport, as competitors expend massive psychological and physical effort to lift weights over twice their own body weight.