All ideals aside, strength athletics is about competition. Competition by definition means your performance is relative to your other competitors. Henry Rollins was right in saying “The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black.” Indeed,performance is measured on an absolute scale in strength sports.
However, if you want that gold medal, it doesn’t matter that you only lifted 2 pounds less than the number one: the ordinal scale of competition is merciless and anything less than the best performance will denote a second place or worse. Realize this: you don’t have to be good. You just have to be better than the others in your class. Personal bests get you fulfillment, but only competitive bests get you medals. This is the fundament of determining which weight to compete at.
Selecting in which weight class to compete may seem like a mundane task. Everyone understands the guys in the higher weight classes are stronger and no one wants to drop too much weight and lose strength, so most people end up intuitively selecting a weight class in between. Others live by the ideal of only comparing yourself with yourself and not worrying about the others in whatever class you happen to compete in. However, like all things in life, weight class selection can also be analyzed with the rigor of science. If you’re a serious strength athlete and want to know what the research says on which weight you are most competitive at, read on.