Your First Weightlifting Meet

Jake Articles, Updates

While we’re still riding high from the Wilkes Weightlifting seminar, I thought it would be a great time to talk about what an Olympic Weightlifting meet is like, and how to prepare for your first one. If you’re impatient, scroll down for a big announcement, and then come back up here to read through.

Learning and playing new sports is a part of CrossFit, and for good reason. There are only a few things in life that I’ve encountered so far that compare to competition. Competition provides a set goal for us, a point in time that we prepare for specifically in order to excel. When channeled successfully, the heightened mental state brings out the best in us, allowing us to perform in ways we’re unable to in the gym. The thrill of success, whether it’s a medal, a PR, or simply the experience of doing something new, is unbeatable.

An olympic weightlifting meet provides a unique opportunity for the CrossFitter. We do the lifts; the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, with some frequency. An olympic weightlifting meet is just that, three attempts in the Snatch, three attempts in the Clean and Jerk. But, without some practice and focus, few CrossFitters would be able to compete very successfully, even at the local level. But, with some work and practice, you’ll find you can do some pretty amazing things.

If you were to compete, the process is fairly straightforward.

What you’ll need

  • A Singlet
  • -A singlet is a one piece, ill-fitting suit. Just kidding. Singlets provide uniform clothing for all competitors to wear, and are required. Werksan USA has singlets for $45, and Dynamic Fitness has singlets for a little more that will blow your mind.

  • Weightlifting Shoes
  • -Weightlifting shoes provide more stability than a regular shoe, little sole compression, and have a wedge heel to assist in the bottom positions of the lifts. Good suppliers are Dynamic Fitness, Werksan USA, and MuscleDriver USA.

  • A USAW Card
  • -Gotta have your USAW card if you want to compete! Get one here.

The Basics

Competitions are broken down by age and weight. Weight and Age classes are below:

What are the age groups?

School Age Junior Senior Masters
17 and under 18-20 21-34 35 and above

Competition age is based on the athlete’s birth year. Determine your age on December 31, and that is your competition age for that year. Example for 2011: An athlete born in 1994 has a competition age of 17 and is a School Age athlete. An athlete born in 1993 has a competition age of 18 and is a Junior athlete.

What are the weight classes?

50 kg* 56 kg 62 kg 69 kg 77 kg 85 kg 94 kg 105 kg 105+ kg
110 lbs* 123 lbs 136 lbs 152 lbs 169 lbs 187 lbs 207 lbs 231 lbs 231+ lbs
44 kg* 48 kg 53 kg 58 kg 63 kg 69 kg 75 kg 75+ kg
97 lbs* 105 lbs 116 lbs 127 lbs 138 lbs 152 lbs 165 lbs 165+ lbs

*indicates a weight class only available to youth athletes

How do weight classes work?

You need to weigh-in at or below your weight class. If you are a male who weighs-in at 84kg, you will be in the 85kg weight class. If you weigh-in at 85.1kg, you will be in the 94kg weight class.

The Lifts

-Ground to overhead, in one shot. No surprise here. Press-outs (catching with bent arms, and extending them to reach lockout) will get you red lights.

Clean and Jerk
-Clean takes the weight from the ground to shoulder, jerk takes it overhead. Biggest things to watch out for are again press-outs, and uneven foot placement at the finish of the lift.

The Format

You get three attempts in the Snatch, followed by three attempts in the Clean & Jerk. At the start of competition, you give the officials your openers for each of the lifts. Your opener should be a relatively easy weight, something you know you can get. Order is essentially broken down by weight on the bar, with broader divisions based on the above mentioned age and weights depending on the size and organization of the meet. Within your weight class, you will certainly be going in order based on bar weight. When your name is called, you’ll have 1 minute to lift, and you’ll get a warning at 30 seconds. After completing your opening attempt, you’ll give the judges your next weight. Order will continue to progress by weight on the bar, and if you’re following yourself, you’ll have 2 minutes instead of 1.

If you miss an attempt, your options are to either repeat at the same weight, or go up – there no going down in weight! For this reason, choose your attempts wisely. Again, for the first, go for a weight you know you can get. for the second, you’ll do something challenging, around your current best. For the third, if you didn’t go for a PR on your second, go for broke here. General guidelines, and when you’re contending for a medal, these rules may very well go out the window.

Do I have to be sweet weightlifter in order to compete?

Hell no. You’ll see a huge range of abilities at any weightlifting meet. The competition is more between you and the weight on the bar, than it is with the folks around you. Cheesy but true. Lift more weight than you have before – that’s the goal.

Why am I talking about doing a meet?

I’ve helped lifters at a few meets at this point. It’s been an awesome time, and I’ve seen people “turn it on” in competition to hit big lifts, and come away with a huge sense of accomplishment. I respect weightlifting as a sport, and with our new facility and awesome members, I want us to contribute to weightlifting.

For the above reasons, we’ll be hosting an olympic weightlifting competition at our gym on October 23rd. We’ll post more info shortly, but it will be happening! We’re beginning a weightlifting cycle today for the advanced programming, but anyone who wants to compete can do the cycle. Oh yea, we’ll also be comping the entry fee for all CFRVA members, you’ll still have to get your USAW card though.

We’ve also ordered a 20Kg and 15Kg competition bar, as well as a set of IWF certified bumpers. I might even get wild and register us as a weightlifting club with USAW.

I encourage everyone interested to compete – please e-mail or comment with questions!