What are the rules of weightlifting?

What are the rules of weightlifting

Weightlifting in competition is typically referred to as the lifting of barbells. Participants must lift the barbell in two different ways, and they have three attempts for each type.

Equipment Requirements

Weightlifting Equipment

For most competitions, the minimum barbell weight requirement for males is 20 kilograms, and for females it is 15 kilograms. Each bar that is used in the competition is required to have two collars which weigh a total of 5 kilograms combined. The discs on the sides of the bar are different colors. Each color represents a different amount of weight. The red discs weigh 25 kilos and the yellow disc weighs 15 kilos. There are also discs that weigh in any multiple of five, with 25 kilos being the heaviest disc. Discs are placed on the bar with the lightest weighing disc on the outside.

In addition to the barbell, athletes are allowed to use both tape and chalk during a competition. The combination of these two tools help an athlete keep their hand positioning during a lift, in order to prevent their hands or grin from slipping and causing a lift to disqualify.

Weight Classes

In weightlifting, because there can be so many qualified individuals, the athletes competing in the event must be separated into different groups. These groups of participants are based on the different categories of weight classes. These different weight classes are based on two things. The first is the amount of weight that the athlete is able to lift. This amount is based on the total weight lifted for both of the main lifting events. Olympic weightlifting is very structured in order to allocate the proper metals to the deserving participants. Weight classes typically consist of 15 individuals, and they are grouped based on estimates made about the maximum amount that the athlete believes they can lift. 

The second factor that goes into deciding which weight class an athlete belongs in is based on the individual’s body weight. Although each individual is assigned a weight class, when it comes to ranking and scoring the overall event, all participants are ranked together. This means that you are not only competing against those in your weight class, but every single competitor who has qualified to lift.

Lift Types

The Clean and Jerk

The “clean and jerk” is the more complicated lift for many, because it has two parts to it. This lift begins with what is known as “the clean.” This refers to the movement of the bar from off of the ground to the athlete’s shoulders. During this part of the lift the bar is allowed to glide along the participant’s leg or stomach area. While in this stage of the lift, the barbell is not allowed to touch the chest region, and if it does it will not be counted. 

Moving onto the second part of the lift, “the jerk” is known as when the barbell is moved from the shoulder area to above the athlete’s head. During this time the arms and legs will be fully extended. Once this motion has been completed, and the participant is at a standstill position, the referee will signal whether or not the lift has qualified, and then they will be able to lower the bar.

The Snatch

“The snatch” is the other type of lift that is used by athletes during a weightlifting competition. The name “snatch” came from the look of the movement used to lift or snatch the barbell in a smooth and unified motion into the air. The barbell always begins on the ground in front of the athlete at a horizontal or perpendicular position. During this lift, the lifter will pick up the barbell off of the ground and over their head all within one continuous motion. While lifting the bar, the athlete is allowed to have it slide up against either their stomach or thighs. At the end of the lift, when it's a snatch, both the participants arms and legs must be extended fully with the bar above their head.

Judging Guidelines

Each participant is allowed to have three attempts for each type of lift. During a competition only one person will go at a time, and there must be three judges working together to referee that athlete’s lifting form. In order for the participant to move onto the next attempt, their first or prior lift must be considered a “good” lift. For a lift to be good and qualify for the rankings, it must be successfully lifted off of the ground using the correct form and style of lift. This good form includes the use of two hands while lifting. 

In order to signal that the lift has successfully qualified towards the scoreboard, a white button will be hit by one of the referees, and then that will cause a white light to be triggered. If the lift does not qualify and the athlete can not properly lift the amount of weight selected, then a red button will cause a red light to go off. At the end of the individual’s multiple attempts, the highest of all of the weights/scores will be counted.


How much weight can be added after each attempt?

Technically there is no weight limit for what an athlete can add after their first successful lift attempt. That being said, experienced weight lifters know to only increase their weight amount by small increments so that they are sure to lift the higher amount. In competition, if an individual is going to attempt another lift, they must increase their lift amount by a minimum of 2.5kg.

How much does a black disc weigh?

A classic black disc used in weight lifting competitions or just basic training typically weighs 2.5 kilograms. This is a great beginning point for athletes who do not have lots of experience weight lifting and therefore need to practice their form before they can work towards pushing their body to lift as much weight as possible.

Can two athletes tie in a weightlifting competition?

No, two or more athletes cannot tie a weightlifting competition. If multiple athletes have received the same overall score, then the individual who weighs the least amount, in terms of body weight, will either be ranked higher or will win the overall competition.