Unlocking the Mystery: Olympic Weightlifting Weight Classes Explained

If you’re new to weightlifting or just starting to take an interest in the sport, you might wonder about the different weight classes used in competitions. Olympic weightlifting is divided into several weight classes. These weight classes are based on the lifter’s body weight, and they help to ensure fair competition by pitting athletes of similar size and strength against each other.

Understanding the weight classes used in Olympic weightlifting is necessary for anyone looking to compete in the sport.

Whether you’re a seasoned lifter or just starting out, knowing the rules and regulations for your weight class can help you train more effectively and compete more successfully. In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each weight class and the requirements for competing in each one.

Overview of Olympic Weightlifting

Here we elaborate on the history and the basic rules of weightlifting. It may surprise you that weightlifting can be traced back hundreds of years.

History of Olympic Weightlifting

Weightlifting has been a part of the Olympics since the first modern Olympics in 1896. However, it wasn’t until 1920 that weightlifting became a permanent fixture of the games.

Olympic weightlifting has undergone several changes over the years. This includes the addition of new weight classes and the elimination of certain lifts. Today, Olympic weightlifting consists of two lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.

Basic Rules of Olympic Weightlifting

In Olympic weightlifting, athletes are divided into weight classes. There are currently eight men’s and seven women’s weights. The weight classes range from 55kg to 109kg for men and 45kg to 87kg for women.

During the competition, athletes have three attempts at each lift, and their best lift in each category is counted together to determine their total score.

The snatch is the first lift in Olympic weightlifting. The clean and jerk come after the snatch.

Weight Classes in Olympic Weightlifting

In Olympic weightlifting, weight classes exist to ensure fair competition among athletes of similar size and strength. Without weight classes, larger and stronger athletes would have an unfair advantage over smaller and weaker ones.

Men’s Weight Classes

There are eight weight classes for men in Olympic weightlifting. The weight classes range from 61kg (134 lbs) to over 109kg (240 lbs). Here is a table of the weight classes:

Weight ClassWeight Range (kg)
61kg55.01 – 61.00
67kg61.01 – 67.00
73kg67.01 – 73.00
81kg73.01 – 81.00
89kg81.01 – 89.00
96kg89.01 – 96.00
102kg96.01 – 102.00
+109kg102.01 and above

Table 1.0 Showing men’s weight classes and the required weight range.

Women’s Weight Classes

There are seven weight classes for women in Olympic weightlifting. The weight classes range from 49kg (108 lbs) to over 87kg (192 lbs). Here is a table of the weight classes:

Weight ClassWeight Range (kg)
49kg43.01 – 49.00
55kg49.01 – 55.00
59kg55.01 – 59.00
64kg59.01 – 64.00
76kg64.01 – 76.00
87kg76.01 – 87.00
+87kg87.01 and above

Table 2.0 Showing women’s weight class and the required weights. 

How to Determine Your Weight Class


To determine your weight class, you need to know your body weight. You should weigh yourself in kilograms, as that is the unit of measurement used in Olympic weightlifting. Once you know your body weight, refer to the tables previously listed to find your weight class.

Kindly note that you must weigh in under the maximum weight for your weight class to compete in that class.

Competition Format

In an Olympic weightlifting competition, athletes compete in two lifts. The first is the snatch, and the clean and jerk come afterward.

Each athlete has three tries at each lift. Their best successful attempt in each lift is added to give their total score. The athlete with the highest total score in their weight class is the winner.

Athletes are divided into weight classes, each with a maximum weight limit. If athletes exceed the weight limit for their weight class, they will be disqualified.

Scoring in Olympic Weightlifting Competitions

In Olympic weightlifting competitions, the scoring is based on the total weight lifted by the athlete. The athlete’s best successful attempt in the snatch and the clean and jerk are added together to give their total score. The athlete with the highest total score in their weight class is the winner.

If two or more athletes have the same total score, the athlete with the lower body weight is the winner. This encourages athletes to compete at their natural weight rather than trying to gain weight to be eligible to compete in a higher weight class.

In addition to the overall score, athletes are also judged on the technical proficiency of their lifts. Judges will award points for proper form and technique and deduct points for any errors or violations of the rules.

Training for Olympic Weightlifting

To be successful in Olympic weightlifting, build a solid foundation of strength and conditioning. This includes exercises targeting major muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. You should also incorporate accessory exercises focusing on specific areas like the back, shoulders, and core.

Your strength training should be periodized, meaning that you gradually increase the intensity and volume over time. This will help you avoid plateauing and ensure that you continue progressing.

Conditioning is also vital for weightlifters, as it helps to improve your endurance and recovery between sets. You can incorporate cardio exercises like running or rowing into your training program.

Technique Training for Olympic Weightlifting

In addition to strength and conditioning, you must focus on technique training for Olympic weightlifting. This includes practicing the snatch, clean, and jerk and their variations. Working with a coach who can help you refine your technique and identify areas for improvement.

When practicing technique, start with lighter weights and focus on proper form and execution. Gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the movements. You can also use drills and exercises to target specific areas of the lifts, such as the pull or the catch.

ExerciseSets x RepsRest
Back Squat3 x 52-3 minutes
Deadlift3 x 52-3 minutes
Bench Press3 x 52-3 minutes
Pull-ups3 x 81-2 minutes
Barbell Rows3 x 81-2 minutes
Planks3 x 30 seconds1-2 minutes

Table 1.0 Showing exercise routines to develop a great weightlifting foundation.


Tips for Beginners

Here are two tips for beginners in weightlifting.

Getting Started in Olympic Weightlifting

If you’re new to Olympic weightlifting, it’s important to start with the basics. Choose a weight that you can still bear, and focus on proper technique before adding more weight. Warm up properly before each session and take breaks between sets to avoid injury.

Find a qualified coach with good background to teach you the technique. A coach can also help you identify any weaknesses or imbalances in your form and help you correct them.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Olympic Weightlifting

Trying to lift an unbearable weight too soon is a very common mistake in Olympic weightlifting. This can lead to injury and hinder progress. Focus on proper technique and gradually increase weight over time.

Another common mistake is neglecting accessory exercises. Olympic weightlifting involves a lot of explosive movements, so it’s important to work on building strength in other areas as well. Incorporating exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups can help improve overall strength and prevent imbalances. Tip: don’t forget to prioritize recovery. 

Remember, Olympic weightlifting takes time and dedication to master. Focus on proper technique, seek guidance from a qualified coach, and prioritize recovery to achieve your goals.


Understanding the Olympic weightlifting weight classes is important to compete in this sport. By knowing the weight classes, you can ensure that you compete in the right category and have a fair chance of winning.

Remember that weightlifting is a highly competitive sport, and every pound counts. Henceforth, it is essential to maintain your weight and stay within your weight class to maximize your chances of success.

Additionally, it is important to note that weightlifting is not just about strength but also about technique. Therefore, ensure you practice with proper form and technique to avoid injury and improve your performance.

Overall, participating in Olympic weightlifting can be a rewarding experience, but it requires dedication, discipline, and hard work.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Olympic weightlifting weight classes?

Olympic weightlifting is divided into different weight classes for both men and women. The lifter’s body weight determines the weight classes.

The current weight classes for men are 61kg, 67kg, 73kg, 81kg, 96kg, 109kg, and +109kg. The current weight classes for women are 49kg, 55kg, 59kg, 64kg, 76kg, 87kg, and +87kg.

How do I know which weight class I should compete in?

To determine which weight class you should compete in, you need to weigh yourself and compare your weight to the weight classes. It’s important to note that you must weigh in before you compete, and if you weigh more than your designated weight class, you will not be allowed to compete in that weight class.

Can weightlifters change weight classes?

Weightlifters can change weight classes, but they must adhere to certain guidelines. If a weightlifter wants to compete in a different weight class, they must weigh in at the new weight class at least one hour before the start of the competition. Additionally, weightlifters can only change weight classes up to two times per calendar year.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *