To say that Ian Wilson is one of the best up-and-coming Weightlifters in the U.S. is an understatement: He recently became the youngest American to ever clean and jerk 200kg. At 19 years old and weighing in at roughly 100kg, Wilson is a great lifter to watch, not only due to his speed under the bar, but also his approach to the bar. Jace, Fletcher and I had a few questions for Ian after his recent record-setting meet:
(LBEB) Your approach to the bar is very unique, there is not a whole lot of setup time, just grip and rip. What goes through your head as you walk up to the bar?
(Wilson) Before then lift, I just visualize an explosive second pull. When I feel ready to pull, I pull.
(LBEB) How do you feel that your height and limb length changes the lifts for you, compared to the height of average Weightlifters?
(Wilson) Being tall is definitely not an advantage in lifting, but I can’t change my height. There have been plenty of slender/lean champions, so it’s clear you don’t need to be as wide as you are tall. My only anatomical advantage over most lifters is my hand size which allows me to hook on three fingers.
(LBEB) Was there ever a time growing up you were tempted to pursue other sports?
(Wilson) Not really. I used to be into cycling and basketball, but I haven’t done them since I was 13 or so.
(LBEB) From your personal experience, how is weightlifting perceived/treated in other countries?
(Wilson) As with any sport, its popularity depends on how well the country’s team is doing. Successful athletes make sports popular. I’d say our biggest problem in the US is no weightlifters have reached the level necessary to make weightlifting well known. Hopefully this will change in the next few years. There are a handful of lifters with the ability to be world class and clean.
(LBEB) Is there anything in your training that makes it unique among other weightlifters?
(Wilson) I don’t think so. About 60-70% of my training is spent doing snatches and clean and jerks. The other 30-40% is comprised of squats (mostly front) and pulls. I’ve spoken with athletes and coaches from many countries and the top teams all focus on snatches and clean and jerks despite baseless internet rumors presented as fact.
(LBEB) Do you think you could achieved as much success in weightlifting if you hadn’t started at such a young age?
(Wilson) I started at 12/13 which is a good age. It helps in the younger age groups to be experienced, but I don’t think it makes a huge difference in the long run. Lu Xiaojun supposedly started in his mid-teens contrary to the belief that the Chinese are good because they start younger than our athletes.
(LBEB) Is the quick pull off the ground (as opposed to a slower and more controlled pull off the floor) a personal choice, or do you think there is a mechanical advantage?The goal of the pull is to get the bar as high as possible with the greatest upward velocity, so it makes sense to pull fast. If you were trying to get your car to 100mph in a given period of time, you wouldn’t do the first part slowly, you’d floor it. But do what feels right for you. People lift world records pulling fast and slow from the ground.
(LBEB) What is the most common mistake you see American lifters commit, be it technical, dietary, programming, or whatever else?
(Wilson) I think Americans are too focused on technique and need to stick with what works for them. For training, I don’t believe Americans do the lifts nor do they train heavy enough. The most important thing when it comes to diet is to eat well enough that you stay lean. Having body fat for example means you could be down a weight class probably lifting the same weights which means you’ll be a lot more competitive. The final problem I see is lifters don’t even know what standards they have to achieve to be elite. Get big numbers in your head and work towards your goals.
(LBEB) How do you balance your school life with lifting?
(Wilson) I train after classes in the evening usually. The biggest problem with school is I can’t always go to competitions due to exams.
Follow more exploits of Ian Wilson on his Youtube Channel and make sure to show him your support.