The Competitive Lifts (Excerpted from Appendix 1 - The Rules of Weightlifting)

The IWF recognizes two events, which must be done in competitions in the following order: a) the two hands snatch (snatch), and b) the two hands clean and jerk (C&J). The overall winner of any weightlifting competition is the athlete who lifts the highest combined amount of weight in the snatch and C&J (i.e., the heaviest weights successfully lifted in each event are combined) . This combined score is called the "Total." While awards are given at major competitions for each event as well as the Total, recognition in the sport of weightlifting goes to the athlete who lifts the greatest total weight in competition. When a weightlifting aficionado speaks of the "World Champion" in weightlifting, he or she is speaking about the winner in the Total.

Because there are two events in weightlifting competitions, and the ultimate scoring of the competition is dependent on the highest amount of weight lifted by the athletes on a combined basis, a weightlifting competition is often referred to as a biathlon.

In the snatch, the bar is pulled in one explosive motion from the floor to full arm's length overhead. In order to make the lift easier to perform, athletes typically bend or spread their legs quickly while the bar is rising in order to catch the bar at arm's length. The combined attributes of great strength and blinding speed are needed to accomplish this challenging event effectively.

In the clean and jerk (C&J), the bar is also lifted to full arm's length overhead. However, although it is considered one event, the C&J is really two lifts that must be completed one immediately after the other. In the clean, the bar is raised (pulled) in an explosive motion from the floor to a point of rest approximately at the level of the shoulders. (The rules permit lifting the bar within a zone from the chest above the nipples to a position above the shoulders, as long as the arms are in a fully bent position with the bar resting on the hands in the latter case.) If the bar has been lifted in one continuous motion to a level of the shoulders or below, it may not be moved from the original position at which it made contact with the chest or shoulders in preparation for the second (jerk) part of the overall lift. However, if the bar was originally cleaned to a position above the shoulders, it may be lowered to the shoulders, but no lower. After the clean but before the jerk, the lifter may unhook the thumbs if a hook grip was used in the clean (a "hook" grip is explained later in this appendix), and/or change the width of the grip. In order to make the lift easier to perform, athletes typically bend or spread their legs quickly while the bar is rising in order to catch the bar on the shoulders.

The second part of the C&J, the jerk, consists of bending the legs and then extending both the arms and the legs to bring the bar to full arm's length over the head in one explosive motion. In order to make the lift easier to perform, athletes typically bend or spread their legs quickly while the bar is rising in order to catch the bar at arm's length. Since the athlete is lifting the bar in two stages in the C&J, heavier weights can be lifted in the C&J than in the snatch.

As a practical matter, bending and/or moving the legs to catch the bar is a required aspect of the snatch, the clean and the jerk. Aside from being sound practice from an efficiency standpoint (the bar does not have to be lifted as high if the body is quickly lowered), it is virtually impossible for the bar to be lifted in a continuous motion (i.e., without a significant and visible change in speed) unless the body is quickly lowered just before the lift is completed and just as its upward velocity is slowing down.


Copyright 1998 A is A Communications. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 15, 1998