IAWA Age Adjustment Changed

by Al Myers

The long standing debate on whether the age adjustment should be changed was resolved this month at the World Council Meeting held in conjunction with the IAWA World Championships. This discussion started last year at the World Meeting, which was held in England, by Wilf Chapman of Australia. Wilf felt that the older lifters were not being compensated adequately by the age adjustment. After discussion, the membership felt that this needed to be looked into further before any changes would be made.

Steve Gardner and Graham Saxton of England, and myself of the United States, conducted separate studies on the age adjustment. Both of our studies supported that the age correction formula that has been used is very inadequate for lifters over the age of 65. These studies were presented to the membership at the Meeting this year, and finally, this issue has been resolved! The USAWA and the IAWA(UK) have always used different age correction formulas, but the IAWA has previously used the USAWA formula, which gives 1 percent per year starting at the age of 40. The IAWA(UK) gives 1 percent per year starting at age 36 and then 2 percent per year starting at age 66.

What was agreed upon by the membership was a compromise of these two correction systems. Now for IAWA competitions, a lifter receives 1 percent per year starting at the age of 40, and at the age of 66 receives 2 percent.

Now my opinion..

I truly believe that for our organization to grow we must always tilt the formula to allow a strong young lifter to beat a strong older lifter. Best lifters should be decided by the weight lifted and not by a formula. However, the previous system didn’t even allow the older lifter (over the age of 65) to even be in consideration. Contrary to what those on the “other side” of this argument (not wanting to see any changes) might say – this small change will not let older lifters easily beat young lifters!! Just look at the studies and the numbers and you will see what I am saying. Giving a 70 year old lifter 36 percent adjustment is still not much compared to what they really should be getting if we want complete equality (the studies showed that 90 percent correction is needed for a 70 year old). By the way, these studies were done using data from the USAWA and IAWA Record Lists which provided over 20 years of data collection!! I base my opinion on numbers and statistics and not “gut feelings”.

I was also glad to see the age correction adjustment still starting at the age of 40. This seems logical to me – as it is the time a lifter enters the Masters division and becomes eligible for Masters age group records. Now I hope that the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) will come together on this and both adopt the IAWA system for age correction. Unification on this would be a good thing for the IAWA.

Is The IAWA Age Adjustment Fair??

by Al Myers

A topic that will be discussed at this year’s World Meeting at the World Championship will be the age adjustment. This was brought up last year and an IAWA committee was formed to investigate it and present a recommendation to the meeting this year.  The membership will be called on to vote on this, whether to make a change or keep things as they are.

This subject is very interesting to me as I hear arguments from both sides. Young lifters think the older lifters get too much adjustment, while the older lifters don’t feel like they get enough.  Formulas are always hard to develop and make completely fair as there are so many variables to consider.

I did a study of my own on three lifts.  I want to emphasize THIS IS NOT THE IAWA STUDY. It is merely a study which I did to satisfy my own curiosity on this subject. I think it is important that I have this information in hand in order to make an informative vote. I just collected some numbers and did a few calculations.  I am not doing this to try to “sway votes” one way or the other.  I just wanted to see what “the numbers” really show in regard to decreased lifting performance with age.

Study of the Age Adjustment


Objective:  To collect information from age group USAWA records, make USAWA and IAWA(UK) age corrections for comparison, and determine what correction for age group records are needed in order for the age group records to be the same as the overall records.

Design: I collected information from age group USAWA records in three lifts – Bench Press Feet in Air, Hack Lift, and the Zercher Lift. I picked these three lifts for these reasons: they  evaluate all areas of overall strength -pressing, pulling and squatting, and the data base for these records was full in regard to records in all weight classes and age divisions. I calculated an average of all weight class records within an age group so bodyweight adjustments would not be a factor in this study.  I utilized this formula to determine what correction is needed in order to adjust to the average of the Overall Record.

Correction Needed = (Overall Record – Age group Record) / Age Group Record


Assumptions: I used the USAWA and IAWA(UK) age correction for the top age of each division despite the record may have been set a younger age within the division. The record list does not provide that data.

Results:
All Records listed in pounds.

Bench Press Feet in Air


Age Group
Overall Record
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Correction Needed
Overall 353 353 353 0%
40-44 280 294 305 26.1%
45-49 268 295 306 31.7%
50-54 246 283 293 43.5%
55-59 228 274 274 54.8%
60-64 209 261 270 68.9%
65-69 194 252 268 82.0%
70-74 167 225 247 111.4%
75-79 141 197 223 150.4%
80-84 116 168 195 204.3%

Hack Lift


Age Group
Overall Record
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Correction Needed
Overall 538 538 538 0%
40-44 465 488 507 15.7%
45-49 401 441 457 34.2%
50-54 382 439 455 40.8%
55-59 330 396 409 63.0%
60-64 320 400 413 68.1%
65-69 321 417 443 67.6%
70-74 304 410 450 77.0%
75-79 242 339 382 122.3%
80-84 168 244 282 220.2%

Zercher Lift


Age Group
Overall Record
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Correction Needed
Overall 452 452 452 0%
40-44 372 391 405 21.5%
45-49 352 387 401 28.4%
50-54 339 390 403 33.3%
55-59 331 397 410 36.6%
60-64 296 370 382 52.7%
65-69 280 364 386 61.4%
70-74 246 332 364 83.7%
75-79 204 286 322 121.6%
80-84 180 261 302 151.1%



Summary:

Age Group
USAWA Correction
IAWA(UK) Correction
Data Range
Data Average
Overall 0% 0% 0% 0%
40-44 5% 9% 15.7% – 26.1% 21.1%
45-49 10% 14% 28.4% – 34.2%
31.4%
50-54 15% 19% 33.3% – 43.5%
39.2%
55-59 20% 24% 36.6% – 63.0%
51.5%
60-64 25% 29% 52.7% – 68.9%
63.2%
65-69 30% 38% 61.4% – 82.0%
70.3%
70-74
35% 48% 77.0% – 111.4%
90.7%
75-79 40% 58% 121.6% – 150.4%
131.4%
80-84 45% 68% 151.1% – 220.2%
191.8%

As you can clearly see, the USAWA and the IAWA(UK) age corrections do not keep up with the performance decrease with increased age for these three lifts that where selected from the USAWA Record List.  No calculations were done to determine the statistical significance of this study.

Discussion of the Age Adjustment

by Al Myers

At the recent USAWA National Meeting, a topic was brought up that created a lot of discussion. It was not brought up by anyone as a motion, only as a point of discussion. No official action was taken and no vote was taken by the membership. It involved the IAWA study into the age allowance, or as what the USAWA refers to – the age adjustment. Last year at the IAWA Meeting, this topic was brought up and a committee was formed to investigate it. The committee has done a study of three lifts and the decrease in performance of these three lifts with age. The summary of this can be viewed here – Study of Age Percentage Allowance. As of now, IAWA uses the same age adjustment percentages as the USAWA which is one percent per year starting at 40 years of age.

IAWA(UK) uses a somewhat different age correction where a lifter gains one percent per year starting at 36 years of age, until the age of 66 years where it increase to 2 percent. This 2 percent is only for the years of age over 66, not all the years. So you can see, the IAWA(UK) system favors older lifters slightly more than the USAWA system.

The big question is – What is fair? The majority amongst those present at the USAWA Meeting involved in the discussion felt that the current system is fine as it is – but that only applies to the USAWA. What is decided at the IAWA Meeting may be completely different as lifters from other countries will be involved in the discussion, and the vote on it if there is one.

Bill Clark made these comments in the last Strength Journal stating his viewpoint on this, “As a 77 year old, I get 38 percent and can come close to winning if I have a good day. I don’t expect to beat anyone simply by raising the percentage. For all purposes, we weren’t meant to beat up on a strong 30 year old by a formula. I’m very happy with my 38 percent and often feel guilty taking it. There’s no way I deserve 54 percent at age 77. Next thing, I’ll be taking steroids to enhance my 54 percent. Come on, get serious.”

If anyone wants their viewpoints on this stated, please send them to me and I will make them known. I will also try to obtain the graphs of this study so you can evaluate them yourself.