The Events of Olympic Weightlifting

1st Event: Snatch

The snatch is the first lift performed in competitions and each competitor has three tries to make a successful attempt. If the lifter fails for each attempt then they “bomb out” meaning they cannot participate in the clean and jerk portion of the event because they failed to make a successful snatch attempt. This also means they will not be able to medal. The snatch is a more technical lift than the clean and jerk. The Snatch has been called “the fastest lift in the world” because is takes under 1 second to get the bar from the platform to overhead. A basic explanation of the snatch is the lifter will get a very wide grip on the bar. Then the lifter will start the initial drive from the hips, gluteal, and quadriceps muscles. The bar will proceed upward and the torso will stay roughly at the same angle when the lifter set up. The lifter will then forcefully extend their body when the barbell reaches their pelvis region. This extension will create enough speed that it will propel the barbell upwards while the lifter drops underneath to catch the barbell. Then the lifter will recover and stand up with the barbell.

2nd Event: Clean & Jerk

The clean and jerk is the second lift of competition and a lifter has three attempts to successfully complete a lift. The Clean and Jerk is considered the ultimate test of strength and power for a lifter. The Clean and Jerk is broken into two parts, the Clean first and the Jerk second, but is still classified as one lift.


 The clean begins with a grip that is a little wider than shoulder width; this is mainly dependent upon the lifters preference. Then the pull begins which mimics a deadlift. The barbell will proceed up the body until it reaches about mid to upper thigh region. At mid-thigh, the lifter will extend his body propelling the barbell upwards. As the bar is moving upwards the lifter will descend underneath the barbell and flip the wrists and rotate the elbows so the arms are almost parallel to the floor. The bar will then be racked across the clavicles and shoulders to create what is called a “shelf” or “rack” for the bar. The lifter will be in a front squat position and they will stand up with the barbell. That completes the clean portion of the lift.


The jerk immediately follows the clean. The lifter will bend their knees into a “dip” and then straighten their legs propelling the barbell upwards explosively. The lifter will press forcefully and push their self underneath the bar. This places them under the bar in a partial-squat or lunge position. The lifter has to hold the barbell overhead with locked arms.