Dating back to the ancient Greeks who tried to outdo each other lifting stones and bags of sand, lifting weights has always had a competitive element.
On an official competitive level, weightlifting has been controlled by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) since 1905.
Although early forms of weightlifting competitions didn’t categorise according to a person’s weight, size or gender – essentially the winner was the person who could lift the heaviest weights – these days, things have changed.
Weightlifters competing in contests are now divided into weight classes according to their body mass, and these are different for male and female competitors. There are currently eight divisions for men, ranging from 56 kg to 105+ kg, and eight divisions for women, ranging from 48 kg to 90+ kg. All competitions under IWF rules are held according to these categories and sequences.
For young people taking part in weightlifting competitions, there are also eight categories for youth men according to body mass, ranging from 50 kg to 94+ kg, and eight classes for youth women, ranging from 44 kg to 75+ kg. Youth classes cover ages 13-17.
Around 1-2 hours before the start of a weightlifting competition, contestants will be weighed.
Whatever class you fit into according to your body mass type, you’ll take part in two lifts – the snatch, and the clean and jerk.
In competitive weightlifting, entrants in all class groups are allowed three attempts at each of the two lift types. The combined total of the top two successfully-completed lifts will reveal who wins in each of the bodyweight classes. Should a competitor in any bodyweight class fail to successfully complete at least one snatch and one clean and jerk, they will receive a total fail. Competition prizes are normally awarded for the heaviest weights lifted in each category and the total lifts of the combined two categories.
When competing in different weightlifting classes, it is normally the competitor who lifts the lightest weight that starts the competition. They have the chance to lift the weight again if they are unsuccessful on the first attempt. There is even the option to try lifting a heavier weight, following attempts made by other contestants to lift similar weights.
During a competition, the barbell is increasingly loaded with weights set in 1 kg increments. The snatch lift normally starts first, followed by the clean and jerk. Two judges and a referee observe a contestant’s weightlifting attempts, according to the rules and regulations set by the governing body.
If two competitors lift the same top total weight, the one with the lower bodyweight will be crowned the winner. If they both have the same bodyweight, it’s the competitor who reached the total first that claims victory.
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