The Power of Weightlifting: A Comprehensive Guide to Weight Categories

If you’re new to weightlifting, understanding weight categories can be confusing. Each weight category has a maximum weight limit, and lifting beyond that limit can disqualify you from competition.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) recognizes ten weight categories for men and ten for women.

So what are the categories? What is the purpose behind them? How do both sexes differ in terms of weight categories? And most importantly, how do you lift better to compete? Find out in this article.

Weightlifting Weight Categories Overview

In weightlifting, athletes compete in various weight categories based on their body weight. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has established ten weight categories for men and women.

Each athlete must weigh in before the competition to ensure they meet the weight requirements for their category. If athletes weigh more than the limit for their class, they will be disqualified.

Why are Weightlifting Weight Categories Important?

Weight categories are essential in weightlifting because they ensure fair competition. Athletes of similar body weights compete against each other, making the competition more balanced. Without weight categories, larger athletes would have an unfair advantage over smaller athletes.

Additionally, weight categories allow athletes to compete at a healthy weight for their bodies. Competing at a weight that is too low or too high can negatively impact the athlete instead.

Women’s Weightlifting Weight Categories

If you are a woman interested in weightlifting, you should know that weight categories are an essential part of the sport. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has established weight classes for both men and women that athletes must compete in.

For women, there are currently seven weight categories:

  • 45 kg (99 lb)
  • 49 kg (108 lb)
  • 55 kg (121 lb)
  • 59 kg (130 lb)
  • 64 kg (141 lb)
  • 71 kg (157 lb)
  • 76 kg (168 lb)
  • 81 kg (179 lb)
  • 87 kg (192 lb)
  • 87 kg and over (192 lb+)

These weight categories are determined by the total weight lifted in two events: the snatch and the clean and jerk.

How are the Women’s Weightlifting Weight Categories Determined?

The IWF determines the weight categories for women based on the average weight of the top three lifters in each category at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. The weight categories are then adjusted every four years based on the average weight of the top three lifters in each category at the most recent Olympic Games.

Note that the weight categories are not set in stone and can change if the average weight of the top three lifters in a particular category varies significantly. This means that weightlifters must stay on top of their weight and be prepared to move up or down a weight category if necessary.

Men’s Weightlifting Weight Categories

Men’s weightlifting weight categories are the different weight classes that athletes compete in during weightlifting competitions. These categories are based on the athlete’s body weight and are designed to ensure fair competition among athletes of similar size and strength.

  • 55 kg (121 lb)
  • 61 kg (134 lb)
  • 67 kg (148 lb)
  • 73 kg (161 lb)
  • 81 kg (179 lb)
  • 89 kg (196 lb)
  • 96 kg (212 lb)
  • 102 kg (225 lb)
  • 109 kg (240 lb)
  • 109 kg and over (240 lb+)

Each category has a maximum weight limit, and athletes must weigh in before the competition to ensure they meet the requirements for their chosen category.

How are the Men’s Weightlifting Weight Categories Determined?

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) determines the men’s weightlifting weight categories. The IWF regularly reviews and updates the weight categories to ensure they remain relevant and fair.

To determine which weight category an athlete competes in, they must weigh in before the competition. If an athlete’s weight exceeds the maximum weight limit for their chosen category, they will be disqualified from competing in that category.

Weightlifting competitions use the Sinclair Coefficient formula to adjust the results for differences in body weight between athletes. This formula allows athletes of different body weights to compete against each other on a level playing field.

Who Holds the Current Weightlifting Weight Category Records?

Some of the world’s strongest athletes hold the current weightlifting weight category records. The world record holder for the men’s 55 kg weight category is Om Yun-Chol, who lifted 294 kg from North Korea.

In the women’s 49 kg weight category, the world record holder is Hou Zhihui from China, who lifted 213 kg.

The current world record holder for the men’s +109 kg weight category is Lasha Talakhadze from Georgia, who lifted a total of 492 kg.

There are more classes with different record holders, and you check all of them in the link we’ve provided.

How to Determine Your Weightlifting Weight Category?

To determine your weightlifting weight category, you’ll need to know your body weight. Weigh yourself in kilograms and then consult the weightlifting weight categories chart. Remember to aim to compete in a weight category that is close to your natural body weight.

Trying to cut weight to compete in a lower category can be dangerous and negatively impact your performance.

How to Train for Your Weightlifting Weight Category?

Once you know your weight category, you can tailor your training to suit your needs. If you’re in a lighter-weight class, focus on building strength and explosive power. If you’re in a heavier weight category, focus on building endurance and stamina.

In either case, incorporate exercises that target the specific muscle groups used in weightlifting, such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

Pay attention to your nutrition to maximize your performance in your weight category. Get enough protein to support muscle growth and repair, and eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. Finally, get plenty of rest and recovery time between workouts to avoid overtraining.


Your body weight determines your weight class, so it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen to stay within your desired category.

When choosing a weight class, consider your own personal goals and abilities. If you’re a rookie, competing in a lower-weight class may be best to gain experience and build your strength. If you’re a seasoned lifter, you should challenge yourself by competing in a higher weight class.

Regardless of your weight class, always prioritize proper form and technique over the weight you lift.

In summary, weightlifting weight categories are an important aspect of the sport. By understanding the different categories and how they’re determined, you can make the most out of your training and competition experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are weightlifting weight categories?

Weightlifting weight categories are divisions in which athletes compete based on their body weight. These categories are used to ensure fairness.

How do I know which weight category I belong to?

To determine your weight category, you need to know your body weight. Weigh yourself in kilograms and then compare your weight to the weight categories for your gender. If your weight falls within a specific category, that is the category you will compete in.

Can I change the weight categories?

Yes, you can change weight categories, but it is vital to do so carefully and strategically. Losing or gaining weight too quickly can adversely affect your performance and health. It is recommended to consult with a coach or nutritionist to create a plan for changing weight categories safely and effectively.

What happens if I weigh in over my weight category?

You will be disqualified from the competition if you weigh in over your weight category. It is essential to ensure you weigh in within your weight category to avoid disqualification.

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