How To Become a Weightlifting Coach

by USA Weightlifting

Competitive weightlifting is a sport that has been around for nearly 200 years—although contests using strength have been around for nearly all of human history—and has become increasingly popular in recent decades. In fact, weightlifting is the second most common sport or physical activity in the United States, as 8.9% of Americans participate in it.

When we think of competitive weightlifting, there are a few main things that come to mind: the Olympics, large bodies, strong muscles, bars, weights, and heavy lifts. However, there’s much more that goes into the sport than that.

Since competitive weightlifters are so incredibly powerful, it can sometimes feel like they do everything themselves, including training for competitions and performing at the events the day of. But just like most other sports, those that are serious about getting better and being competitive rely on a coach to help them reach their goals.

Just like other coaches, weightlifting coaches have the difficult task of preparing their athletes physically, mentally, and emotionally. In order for a weightlifting coach to be at their best, they must also put in the work so they can best serve their athletes. That involves going through their own training and education. In this article, we’ll explain how to become a weightlifting coach.

A Guide to Becoming a Weightlifting Coach

The best way to ensure you are giving your athletes everything they need to succeed is by going through coaching education and training. However, this isn’t only recommended for competitive weightlifting coaches, but also for strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, functional fitness coaches, sport performance coaches, and anyone else interested in improving weightlifting technique.

At USA Weightlifting (USAW), we are the national governing body for the sport of weightlifting in the United States. Because of that, we are the most trusted resource for weightlifting knowledge and education. For over 30 years, we have been educating coaches about weightlifting, optimizing lifting technique, implementing proven programming systems, and building champions.

There are other weightlifting coaching programs and certifications that are available, but USA Weightlifting is the original provider of weightlifting coaching certification in the USA. As part of Team USA, we are accredited by the United States Olympic Committee and our courses allow coaches to advance to the highest levels of coaching in the sport. For the rest of this article, we will be focusing on the weightlifting coaching programs that we offer, including the various levels of coaching and the requirements needed to progress through them.

USA Weightlifting Level 1

The first step in becoming a weightlifting coach through USAW is to become a USAW member. Being a member is the only prerequisite needed to begin Coaching courses. After becoming a member, the next step is to get our weightlifting coach certification through our first course—USA Weightlifting Level 1. Here’s what the course entails:

  • A two-day course in which participants will gain practical information from top-level coaches about weightlifting technique, assessing movement, motor learning, biomechanics, effective coaching, and programming training 

  • Covering scientifically based concepts to optimize training and skill learning

  • Hands-on teaching and application of the complete technical progressions of the snatch, clean and jerk, and assistance lifts 

  • Learning highly effective coaching tips and cues from our veteran weightlifting coaches, who will help you safely and effectively implement Olympic lifting movements in training weightlifters, clients, and athletes of all ages and abilities  

  • A balance of hands-on learning, in-depth discussions of technical progressions, and science-based programming information. Gain access to proven training plans to get your athletes or clients started with Olympic lifting, and enjoy the support of USAW to help you further your knowledge about training and coaching athletes

After completing USA Weightlifting Level 1, you will become USA Weightlifting Level 1 Certified, which carries with it these benefits:

  • Industry recognition as a weightlifting coach from the sole governing body on weightlifting in the USA 

  • Increased desirability as a potential hire when you seek employment in coaching and training

  • Access to USAW coaching materials to support your growth as a coach 

  • Exclusive discounts for products and services with USAW partners and sponsors

  • Ability to purchase affordable and comprehensive liability insurance

  • Exclusive discounts for select USAW events and USAW apparel

  • Membership with USA Weightlifting, enabling you to enjoy all the benefits of competition and camaraderie in the sport 

USA Weightlifting Level 2

Following USA Weightlifting Level 1, there is USA Weightlifting Level 2. This course builds upon what coaches have learned in USA Weightlifting Level 1, and Level 1 Certification is required to move on to Level 2. USA Weightlifting Level 2 involves:

  • Another two-day course that delves deeper into topics covered in the Level 1 course

  • Learning about essentials, such as competition preparation, effective communication, and dozens of great exercises for weightlifters 

  • Expert USAW coaches covering advanced strength and power development principles, scientifically based program design, national competition preparation, and coaching strategies, as well as long-term development of weightlifters 

  • Discussion of how to approach programming through examples of training systems and real-world plans for the development of weightlifters and other athletes.

The benefits of completing the Level 2 course for coaches include:

  • Industry recognition as an advanced weightlifting coach from the sole governing authority on weightlifting in the USA

  • High level of credibility as a weightlifting coach conveyed to potential employers and athletes

  • Access to affordable and comprehensive liability insurance

  • Exclusive discounts for products and services with USAW partners and sponsors

After completing USA Weightlifting Level 2, certified coaches have the opportunity to become a National Coach, and then an International Coach, and a Senior International Coach beyond that.

Becoming a National Coach, an International Coach, and a Senior International Coach

When a coach has become USA Weightlifting Level 1 and Level 2 Certified by completing the courses, they can then work toward becoming a National Coach, an International Coach, and a Senior International Coach. Advancing between these different levels of coaching is based on a point system that uses different requirements that coaches must meet. You can see the various ways to receive points here.

Some of the things that all National, International, and Senior International Coaches must complete are:

  • Receive a passing score on the Advanced Sports Performance Coach Course Test

  • Pass a background check 

  • Complete the Coach Application 

  • Active, continued USAW membership and certification at the current level

No matter how serious you are about becoming a weightlifting coach, the best way to learn and better help the athletes you train is by becoming a coach through our USA Weightlifting courses.

USA Weightlifting aims to strengthen the weightlifting community at every level—from amateurs up to the Olympic Team. We believe that weightlifting is everyone’s sport, and through it, we can strengthen individuals, communities, and our country. We are dedicated to keeping the sport clean, safe, and focused on challenging individuals physically to help build strength within.

We are committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and safe space for everyone, and we continue to work to remove barriers to entry and encourage personal growth and transformation for all.

Our work also goes beyond the athletes, as we aim to educate the educators. Through the development of coaches and technical officials, we are constantly working to ensure excellence throughout the sport.

We rely on the support of donors like you to expand access and education for the sport, so consider making a donation today! You can also learn more about Weightlifting and Team USA, or consider bringing weightlifting to a school near you!

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