So we have some people on the fence about the Indiana Open, which is a weightlifting competition. But I realized that not everyone understands exactly what a weightlifting competition consists of…so here it is!

The Lifts

The two competition lifts in order are the snatch

Click here to check out Lu Xiaojun’s 175kg world record Snatch at 77kg weight class (for the kg challenged, thats a 385# snatch at a body weight of 169lbs)

and the clean and jerk.

I always like to show a good female video as well, here is a 53kg female performing a 131kg clean and jerk (or, 288lb clean and jerk at 116lb bodyweight)

Attempts

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 women and men. 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.

Fun Fact: The Clean and Press was once a competition lift, but was removed because it was difficult to judge.

The Weight Classes

There are eight male divisions and seven female divisions. The men’s classes are:

  • 56 kg (123 lb)
  • 62 kg (137 lb)
  • 69 kg (152 lb)
  • 77 kg (170 lb)
  • 85 kg (187 lb)
  • 94 kg (207 lb)
  • 105 kg (231 lb)
  • and over 105 kg;

And the women’s are:

  • 48 kg (106 lb)
  • 53 kg (117 lb)
  • 58 kg (128 lb)
  • 63 kg (139 lb)
  • 69 kg (152 lb)
  • 75 kg (165 lb)
  • and over 75 kg.[1]

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. When a tie occurs, the athlete with the lower bodyweight is declared the winner. If two athletes lift the same total weight and have the same bodyweight, the winner is the athlete who lifted the total weight first.[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.

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 his or her own bodyweight and to the Sinclair coefficient formula thereby garnering the “Best Lifter” award.

Outfit, Gear, and other Rules? Click here for a PDF of the IWF Weightlifting Rules

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