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Olympic Weightlifting is considered as one of the greatest tests of strength and power, and competitions are the stage on which the sport comes to life. Within this page we will guide you through what to expect from a weightlifting competition.

Already know your stuff? Find your next competition using our Competition Calendar.

Want to find out what it totals you need to hit for competitions this year?Click Here to Download 2018 Qualification Totals 


The Weigh-In

Before any lifting begins there is a weigh-in to register the actual body weight of all athletes competing. This determines which of the eight weight categories they will be competing in.

Check out our handy table below to see which category you fit in to.

Men’s weight categories  Women's Weight Categories
56kg (123lb)  48kg (106 lb) 
62kg (137lb)  53kg (117 lb) 
69kg (152lb)  58kg (128lb) 
77kg (170lb)  63kg (139 lb) 
85kg (187lb)  69kg (152 lb) 
94kg (207 lb)  75kg (165 lb) 
105kg (231 lb)  90kg (198 lb) 
+105kg (+231 lb)   +90kg (+198 lb)

The weigh-in is also when athletes announce the first weight they will attempt to lift in both of the Olympic lifting styles – ‘The Snatch’ and ‘The Clean & Jerk’.

Want to find out more about the Olympic lifting styles? Click here.

Attempting lifts

The athletes will have three attempts to record their highest lift in both the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. The Snatch is attempted first and the barbell is loaded on the lifting platform in order of progression. This just means that the athlete attempting the lowest weight will lift first.

As attempts are made the athletes have to announce the next weight they will attempt to lift and any increase in weight must be a minimum of 1kg. Athletes have 1 minute to perform the lift, or 2 minutes if they are attempting consecutive lifts.

Once all athletes have had their three attempts at lifting their highest weight in the Snatch there is short break and this process is repeated for the Clean & Jerk. 


Three referees watch on as the athletes attempt their lifts. Each referee has a control box with two buttons; one is white and the other is red. The white button is pressed when the referees have judged a lift as ‘Good’. The red button is pressed if the referee believes the athlete has committed a fault during the execution of a lift and a ‘No Lift’ decision is made.

A majority judgement is required from the referees to determine whether a lift is ‘Good’ or ‘No Lift’. For example, if two referees press the white button to indicate a ‘Good’ lift and the third presses the red button, the majority will be accepted.

Scoring and who takes Gold?

An athlete’s score is calculated by combining the best successful lifts in the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. The winner of the competition is the athlete with the highest combined total.

If two lifters are tied, the lighter of the athletes will win. If their body weights are identical then the lifter that reached the total in the fewest number of lifts will win.

Want to find out more information about how BWL competitions work? Click here to head over to the Resource Centre to access our Competition Rules and Regulations documents.