2024 Olympian Olivia Reeves “Doesn’t Think About Calories,” Trains Weightlifting Only 4X Per Week

In just about 90 days, freshman Olympian Olivia Reeves will take to the stage during the Women’s 71-kilogram weightlifting event at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The clock may be winding down, but Reeves — a Junior world-record holder and possibly the States’ best hope for a gold medal in weightlifting this year — isn’t pressed for time.

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During a Reddit “Ask Me Anything(AMA) on May 9, 2024, Reeves, 21, spilled the beans on how she’s spending her last few months before the biggest athletic event of her career, and what she owes her successes on the lifting platform to

Editor’s Note: The athlete’s answers throughout this article have been lightly edited for readability.  

“I Work Out Four Times a Week for Two Hours” 

Training for the sport of weightlifting is grueling. Professional Olympic lifters can spend anywhere from 10 to 20 or more hours per week in the gym perfecting their craft and honing their technique. But Reeves has taken an uncommonly-minimalist approach to her weightlifting workout routine

I train on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, for about two hours. All of my workouts include some version of a snatch, clean & jerk, or squat,” Reeves explained. “I think not being in a hurry to train more has helped the longevity of my career.” 

When prompted about her favorite weightlifting accessory exercises (supplemental movements designed to address weak points or build muscle), Reeves quipped that she enjoys shoulder press variations, but otherwise doesn’t perform much non-sport-specific training.

The snatch and clean & jerk are weightlifting’s dual competitive disciplines. Both exercises involve moving a loaded barbell from the floor to arm’s length above the athlete’s head in the blink of an eye.

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“I Do Hot Yoga Every Week”

Working with the barbell on a regular basis takes its toll on even the world’s best weightlifters, and Reeves is no different. She outlined some of her favorite recovery practices, saying, “I try to be proactive. Just doing [the snatch and clean & jerk] won’t keep you healthy. I do hot yoga weekly, acupuncture and cupping every other week, and get a sports massage once a month.” 

Weightlifting workouts entail plenty of heavy-duty lifting. Reeves mentioned that she often performs the “5×5 workout” when she squats; five sets of five repetitions at about 80% of her 1-rep max. “It’s VERY challenging,” she added. 

A 2020 meta analysis concluded that regular sports massages “may somewhat improve flexibility and [mediate] delayed-onset muscle soreness,” in athletes. (1)

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“I Don’t Think About the Calories” 

Like all athletes, Olympic lifters rely heavily on nutrition to fuel their performance on the lifting platform. While some weightlifters opt to meticulously count calories or put together meal prep, Reeves plays things by ear when she’s traveling for major weightlifting competitions. 

I’m not one to think about the calories,” Reeves joked when asked about her eating habits abroad. “On competition day I’ll eat whatever our hotel is serving before I weigh in. After that, I’ll mix some protein powder into my coffee and sip on it,” Reeves added, noting that she isn’t a fan of pre-workout supplements. 

Reeves did say she enjoys recovery beverages like LMNT or Pedialyte during weightlifting competitions. Some studies have argued that sports drinks high in electrolytes can help athletes utilize energy more efficiently. (2)

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“Mentality Matters Just as Much as Strength”

One Redditor got to the heart of what Reeves relies on most when she competes in weightlifting. For Reeves’ part, increasing strength and maintaining an equally-strong mind go hand-in-hand:

“The mental aspect of lifting is just as important [as strength]. When you’re at a competition, you need to be able to trust yourself and perform on autopilot.” Reeves noted that she always takes time to do her hair and makeup before coming out in front of a stadium audience. “I’m a big believer in ‘look good, feel good, do good.’”

Professional weightlifters have all sorts of pre-competition rituals. Some practice mental visualization, others listen to music or even shout aggressively in the minutes before they attempt to lift a heavy weight. 

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“I Wanted To Intimidate China” 

Although weightlifters compete individually on stage, the sport as a whole is very much a battle between various participating countries’ teams. At the highest levels of Olympic lifting, certain countries from Europe and Asia dominate — none more so than China, whose weightlifters won as many gold medals as all other countries combined at the last summer Games in Tokyo

“At my last competition, my goal was to try and intimidate China,” Reeves remarked. She’s referring to the 2024 IWF World Cup, the final qualification opportunity for any athlete wishing to secure a ticket to Paris. 

“Increasing my Total (the sum of her best snatch and clean & jerk) shows that I’m still progressing in my weight class, and that threatens Team China,” Reeves continued, mentioning that while she enjoys the friendly rivalry with countries like China, her primary goal remains pushing her own limits as an athlete.

At the World Cup this past April, Reeves out-lifted Chinese world-record holder Liao Guifang in a stunning upset. On Friday, May 10, the Chinese Weightlifting Association announced its weightlifting roster for Paris 2024. Guifang was not selected. 

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“Athletes Need To Market Themselves” 

One Redditor probed Reeves for her opinion on how social media affects the lives and careers of professional athletes. “There’s such a short window where athletes are marketable,” Reeves replied. “Marketing ourselves over social media is a great way to stay engaged with our fans. Everyone has bills to pay.” 

Weightlifting is not a lucrative sport in the United States. USA Weightlifting, the sport’s central governance stateside, pays their Paris prospects a performance-based stipend of $3,500 per month. Reeves added that she has her airfare and lodging expenses covered when she has to travel for competitions. 

Many professional weightlifters seek out affiliate deals with gym equipment or supplement brands to subsidize a lifting-centric lifestyle. Reeves is currently a full-time college student studying sociology.  

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“I Don’t Take Time Off”

Prominent lifting competitions take mental and physical tolls on athletes in attendance. It’s quite common for weightlifters to take several weeks off from strength training after they compete, but Reeves gets right back to the grind:

“I don’t take time off after competitions. I’m usually right back in the gym working toward the next event. I enjoy what I do, so it rarely feels like work,” she said. 

After their gold-medal sweep at the 2020 Olympics, Team China elected to sit out of the 2021 IWF World Championships three months later to give their athletes a break from the rigors of competition.

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“I Tell Myself ‘I Can Do It,’ and Then It Happens”

Almost nothing counts more than confidence in sports, and that goes doubly true for the notoriously-fickle and hard to master Olympic lifts. But Reeves doesn’t rely on luck when she competes; she manifests instead. 

I just tell myself that I can lift the weight, and then it happens,” Reeves replied when asked how she maintains her confident, cheerful demeanor on the lifting platform. She joked that her method does not have a 100% success rate. 

It’s worked pretty well for her so far. Reeves is heading into Paris as a safe podium contender in the Women’s 71-kilogram event. More than that, she ranked higher than any other Paris-able weightlifter at the closure of the qualification period. 

[Related: Every American Weightlifter Who Has Won an Olympic Medal]

No American woman has won Olympic gold in weightlifting since women athletes were first permitted to lift at the Games in 2000. If Reeves believes she can make it happen, that 24-year streak might just break this August. 

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Historic Upset: Rizki Juniansyah Sets World Record Total, Steals Olympic Slot From Teammate


Davis HL, Alabed S, Chico TJA. Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2020 May 7;6(1):e000614. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000614. Erratum in: BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2021 Apr 21;7(2):e000614corr1. PMID: 32426160; PMCID: PMC7228568.

Li X, Wang W, Guo R, Wang A, Wei C. The Effects of Sports Drinks During High-Intensity Exercise on the Carbohydrate Oxidation Rate Among Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2020 Dec 11;11:574172. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.574172. PMID: 33362573; PMCID: PMC7759561.

Featured Image courtesy of USA Weightlifting

Editor’s Note: BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. The two organizations maintain editorial independence unless otherwise noted on specific content projects. 


The post 2024 Olympian Olivia Reeves “Doesn’t Think About Calories,” Trains Weightlifting Only 4X Per Week appeared first on BarBend.


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