How is Weightlifting Scored? Score Yourself Better!

Weightlifting is a popular and challenging sport that requires immense strength, technique, and determination. As you dive into the weightlifting world, it’s crucial to understand how the scoring system works to appreciate this sport’s competitive nature fully.

In weightlifting, athletes compete in two main lifts: the snatch and the clean & jerk. The goal is to lift the heaviest weight in each category, with the combined total determining the overall winner. A panel of referees observes each lift to ensure proper technique and compliance with the rules, contributing to the final score.

As a weightlifting enthusiast, familiarizing yourself with the scoring system will deepen your understanding of the sport and allow you to set personal goals and track your progress. Remember that every athlete starts somewhere, and with dedication and knowledge, you can unlock your full potential in this exciting and rewarding sport.

Weightlifting Scoring Basics

Weightlifting is a sport that involves lifting heavy weights in a series of specific movements, such as the snatch and clean and jerk. In competitions, athletes are scored based on their performance, with the winner determined by the highest combined weight lifted.

However, understanding the scoring system of weightlifting can be confusing for beginners or those new to the sport. Here we divide the basics into the scoring system, attempts, and the judges.

Scoring System

In weightlifting, you are scored based on the total weight of your successful lifts in two disciplines: the snatch and the clean & jerk. Each discipline has three attempts; your best attempt is combined with your total score.


You’ll have a set time limit to complete your lift during each of the three attempts. If you fail an attempt, you can repeat or increase that weight. However, once you increase the weight, you cannot decrease it.

While the number of attempts is limited, strategy plays a crucial role in selecting your opening weights and how you progress through each lift.


Three judges oversee each lift to ensure all lifts adhere to the sport’s technical rules. To receive a valid score, you must:

  • Accomplish the lift within the time limit
  • Follow the correct lifting technique
  • Satisfactorily complete the lift according to the rules

If your lift meets the requirements, you’ll receive a passing score. If not, the lift will be deemed a “no lift,” You’ll need to attempt to achieve a score in that discipline successfully.

The Lifts

The lifts you’ll be doing in a competition consisting of the snatch, clean and jerk, bench press, and deadlift.


In the snatch lift, your goal is to lift the barbell from the ground to overhead in one smooth motion. To score well:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart
  • Grip the barbell wider than shoulder-width
  • Dip into a squat to catch the bar overhead in one quick movement

Remember that judges will be observing your stability during this lift.

Clean and Jerk

The clean and jerk involve two distinct movements. To perform well and achieve good scores:

  1. Clean: Lift the barbell from the ground to your front rack position in one quick motion.
  2. Jerk: Dip your hips, then drive the barbell up overhead as you split your legs into a lunge.

Proper form and execution are crucial for success.

Bench Press

When performing the bench press, focus on the following:

  • Lying flat on the bench
  • Keeping your feet grounded
  • Using a full range of motion when lowering and pressing the bar

This lift is scored based on your ability to press the maximum weight.


For a successful deadlift:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart
  2. Grip the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart
  3. Extend your legs and hips, lifting the barbell off the ground

Your score will be determined by the heaviest lift you complete with good form.

Weight and Age Categories

In a weightlifting competition, there are weight and age categories.

Weight Classes

Competitors are divided into weight classes in weightlifting according to their body weight. There are different classes for both male and female lifters to ensure fair competition. Here’s a quick breakdown of weight classes for each gender:

55 kg45 kg
61 kg49 kg
67 kg55 kg
73 kg59 kg
81 kg64 kg
89 kg71 kg
96 kg76 kg
102 kg81 kg
109 kg87 kg
109 kg and over87 kg and over

Table 1.0 Showing Male and Female Weight Class Comparisons 

These classes ensure you compete against lifters with similar body weights, making the competition more balanced and fair.

Age Categories

In addition to weight classes, age categories are also used to group athletes together in weightlifting. These categories allow lifters of different ages to compete with others at a similar level of experience and development. The age categories include:

  • Youth (17 and under)
  • Junior (18-20)
  • Senior (21 years old and older)
  • Masters (35 and up)

You’ll find age categories in most weightlifting events, providing opportunities for athletes of all ages to participate and compete.

By understanding the weight and age categories, you’ll be better prepared to compete in weightlifting events and set realistic goals for your lifting journey.

Calculating Point Scores

In weightlifting, the Total score consists of the sum of your best successful lifts in the snatch and clean & jerk exercises. Here’s how it works:

  1. You perform three attempts at each exercise.
  2. The highest successful weight lifted in each exercise is recorded.
  3. The Total score is calculated by summing the highest successful lifts from both exercises.

Relative Strength

Now let’s talk about Relative Strength. This measure considers your performance in comparison to others in your weight class.

Both male and female weightlifters need to know how they rank among their competitors. To calculate relative strength:

  1. Find your Total score, as explained above.
  2. Compare your Total score to the heaviest weight lifted by someone in your weight class.
  3. The closer your total is to that heaviest weight, the higher your relative strength.


Finally, Bodyweight. Your body weight plays a significant role in determining your final ranking. In some weightlifting events, bodyweight is used as a tiebreaker between athletes with the same Total score. Keep in mind:

  • If two lifters have the same Total score, the lifter with the lower body weight is ranked higher.
  • If both lifters share the same bodyweight and Total score, they are considered equal in ranking.

Remember to always factor in your Total, Relative Strength, and Bodyweight when evaluating your performance and setting new goals for yourself.

Major Competitions

Where can you find weightlifting competitions? Other than on the TV, you may google either of these championships listed below:


At the Olympics, weightlifters compete in various weight categories, each with a different set of standards. They perform two types of lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. Their final score is the sum of their best successful lift in each category.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) determines athletes’ weight classes. There are a total of 10 classes for both men and women. More information about these weight classes is on the IOC’s website.

Other Championships

Aside from the Olympics, other major weightlifting competitions occur worldwide. Examples include the World Weightlifting Championships and the European Weightlifting Championships.

At these events, lifters use the same scoring system as the Olympics. Specific rules and regulations may vary slightly, but the core concept remains consistent. Additional weight classes might be available to participants in regional and national competitions.

Summarily, weightlifting scoring is determined mainly by the sum of the best successful lifts in the two main categories. Various competitions feature different weight classes and adhere to different rules, but the overall goal remains challenging an individual through the strength of their lifts.

Drawing The Curtain

Weightlifting scoring is determined using three essential components: snatch, clean and jerk, and bodyweight categories. As a participant, you must be well-versed in these aspects to maximize your performance.

First, snatch and clean and jerk are the two main lifts in weightlifting competitions. Your total score is the sum of your highest successful attempts in both lifts.

Additionally, body weight increases your ranking when two lifters lift the same weight. The advantage goes to the lifter with a lighter body weight.

Different organizations have specific rules and regulations, so familiarize yourself with the guidelines for the competition you’re participating in. Understanding the scoring process allows you to strategize and excel in your weightlifting journey.

Frequently Ask Questions

How is weightlifting scored?

In weightlifting, the score is determined by the total weight lifted in two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk. You get three attempts for each lift, and the highest successful attempt in each category is combined to obtain your final score.

What are the different weight categories?

Weightlifters compete in various weight categories, ensuring fair competition among athletes. The categories are as follows:

Men’s class consists of 55kg, 61kg, 67kg, 73kg, 81kg, 89kg, 96kg, 102kg, 109kg, and +109kg.

Women’s class consists of 45kg, 49kg, 55kg, 59kg, 64kg, 71kg, 76kg, 81kg, 87kg, and +87kg.

What are the three judges looking for during a lift?

During each lift, three judges evaluate the proper technique, full extension of arms and legs, and the maintenance of control and balance.

You must receive at least two white lights (out of three) from the judges to consider the lift successful.

Are there age categories in weightlifting?

Yes, weightlifting competitions often have age categories to allow athletes of different maturity levels to compete fairly. The primary age categories include Youth (under 17), Junior (17-20), Senior (20 and older), and Masters (35 and older).

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