Olympic weightlifting

Lasha Talakhadze Rio 2016.jpg
Olympic lifter Lasha Talakhadze lifting 258 kg at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio
Highest governing bodyInternational Weightlifting Federation
First developedAncient Greece, Egypt, China
Mixed genderNo
TypeStrength sport
EquipmentBarbells, weight plates, collars, chalk, tape, shoes, belt
Country or regionWorldwide
OlympicMen: 1896, 1904, 1920  – present; Women: 2000 – present
World GamesWomen: 1997

Olympic-style weightlifting, or Olympic weightlifting, often simply referred to as weightlifting, is an athletic discipline in the modern Olympic programme in which the athlete attempts a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates.

The two competition lifts in order are the snatch and the clean and jerk. The snatch is a wide-grip, one-move lift. The clean and jerk is a close-grip, two-move lift. Each weightlifter receives three attempts in each, and the combined total of the highest two successful lifts determines the overall result within a bodyweight category. Bodyweight categories are different for male and female competitors. A lifter who fails to complete at least one successful snatch and one successful clean and jerk also fails to total, and therefore receives an "incomplete" entry for the competition. The clean and press was once a competition lift, but was discontinued due to difficulties in judging proper form.

In comparison with other strength sports, which test limit strength (with or without lifting aids), weightlifting tests aspects of human ballistic limits (explosive strength); the lifts are therefore executed faster—and with more mobility and a greater range of motion during their execution—than other strength movements.

The lifts performed in the sport of weightlifting, and in particular their component lifts (e.g. squats, deadlifts, cleans), are commonly used by elite athletes in other sports to train for both explosive and functional strength.


The sport is controlled by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). Based in Budapest, it was founded in 1905.

Weight classes

Athletes compete in a division determined by their body mass. In Summer of 2018, the IWF approved the current weight categories, specifying which 7 of the 10 total would be contested at the Olympics.[1]

Men's weight classes:

IWF Categories

  • 55 kg (121 lb)
  • 61 kg (134 lb)
  • 67 kg (148 lb)
  • 73 kg (161 lb)
  • 81 kg (179 lb)
  • 89 kg (196 lb)
  • 96 kg (212 lb)
  • 102 kg (225 lb)
  • 109 kg (240 lb)
  • 109 kg and over (240 lb+)

Olympic Categories

  • 61 kg (134 lb)
  • 67 kg (148 lb)
  • 73 kg (161 lb)
  • 81 kg (179 lb)
  • 96 kg (212 lb)
  • 109 kg (240 lb)
  • 109 kg and over (240 lb+)

Women's weight classes:

IWF Categories

  • 45 kg (99.2 lb)
  • 49 kg (108 lb)
  • 55 kg (121 lb)
  • 59 kg (130 lb)
  • 64 kg (141 lb)
  • 71 kg (157 lb)
  • 76 kg (168 lb)
  • 81 kg (179 lb)
  • 87 kg (192 lb)
  • 87 kg and over (191 lb+)

Olympic Categories

  • 49 kg (108 lb)
  • 55 kg (121 lb)
  • 59 kg (130 lb)
  • 64 kg (141 lb)
  • 76 kg (168 lb)
  • 87 kg (192 lb)
  • 87 kg and over (191 lb+)

Official procedure

In each weight division, lifters compete in both the snatch and clean and jerk. Prizes are usually given for the heaviest weights lifted in each and in the overall—the maximum lifts of both combined. The order of the competition is up to the lifters—the competitor who chooses to attempt the lowest weight goes first. If they are unsuccessful at that weight, they have the option of reattempting at that weight or trying a heavier weight after any other competitors have made attempts at the previous weight or any other intermediate weights. The barbell is loaded incrementally and progresses to a heavier weight throughout the course of competition. Weights are set in 1 kilogram increments. If two athletes lift the same weight, they are both credited with it but in terms of placing the one who listed the weight first gets the highest placing.[1]

During competition, the snatch event takes place first, followed by a short intermission, and then the clean and jerk event. There are two side judges and one head referee who together provide a "successful" or "failed" result for each attempt based on their observation of the lift within the governing body's rules and regulations. Two successes are required for any attempt to pass. Usually, the judges' and referee's results are registered via a lighting system with a white light indicating a "successful" lift and a red light indicating a "failed" lift. This is done for the benefit of all in attendance be they athlete, coach, administrator or audience. In addition, one or two technical officials may be present to advise during a ruling.

Local competition rules

At local competitions, a "Best Lifter" title is commonly awarded. It is awarded to both the best men's and women's lifters. The award is based on a formula which employs the "Sinclair Coefficient", a coefficient derived and approved by the sport's world governing body and which allows for differences in both gender and bodyweight. When the formula is applied to each lifter's overall total and then grouped along with the other competitors' and evaluated, it provides a numeric result which determines the competition's best overall men's and women's lifters.[2] And while, usually, the winner of the heaviest weight class will have lifted the most overall weight during the course of a competition, a lifter in a lighter weight class may still have lifted more weight both relative to their own bodyweight, and to the Sinclair coefficient formula, thereby garnering the "Best Lifter" award.

Other Languages
адыгабзэ: ХьылъэIэт
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العربية: رفع أثقال
aragonés: Halterofilia
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occitan: Alterofilia
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Simple English: Weightlifting
slovenčina: Vzpieranie
српски / srpski: Дизање тегова
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