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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.

Competition Tiers

Tier 1 - British Championship
This tier of competition is the highest standard of weightlifting in the UK, showcasing the best lifters our country has to offer. Lifters from anywhere in the UK are eligible to compete, however they must have met the qualification standard in a valid competition.

Tier 2 – Home Nation Championship
Competitions hosted by the Home Nations. Each will have its own eligibility standards, so check these with the organiser before entering. For example, the English Championships is only open to lifters who live in England and have met the qualification standards.

Tier 3 – Ranking Events
For example, the Warley Open or London Open. These events are open to all lifters to enter and achieve results that feature on our rankings list. This tier is suitable for both novice and experienced lifters and the ideal place to qualify for Tier 1 and 2 competitions.

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 the links below to see which category you fit in to.

Men's Categories

Women's Categories 

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.


For your first competition you don't need to wear a costume. At Development Age Group and Tier 3 club competitions, lifters may compete in shorts and T-shirt.

After progressing to Tier 2 (Home Nations) and Tier 1 (British) competitions lifters must wear a weightlifting costume (leotard) which complies with the following criteria:

• Must be one piece
• Must be collarless
• May be of any colour
• Must not cover the knees
• Must not cover the elbows 

More information can be found in the Technical and Competition Rules and Regulations 

Information on virtual competitions can be found in the Virtual Competitions Rules and Regulations Guide

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. 

We would also welcome the membership view as to whether British Records can be broken at Tier 3 events. Members can email their views to

Check out our Guide to the BWL Scoring System


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.

Please note the new `foot touching the bar' rule 

A no lift will be given if an individual uses his/her foot to move the bar before the attempt or put their foot on the bar or plates whichever before/after the attempt. The main reason for this is hygiene, if their shoes are dirty, the bar may scratch the athlete's neck so the bar must be clean. The technical official must press the red button to indicate a no lift.

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 lifter who achieved the total first wins i.e. the lifter with the lowest clean and jerk weight. If their clean and jerk weights are identical then the lifter that reached the total in the fewest number of lifts will win.

Next Steps

Now you now the basics, want to find out what totals you need to hit for competitions this year? Check out the link below

2022 National qualification totals

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


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