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What types of weightlifing are there?

Weight Lifting comprises the two distinct sports of Powerlifting and Weightlifting, plus the other recognised lifts - the All-Round or "Odd" lifts.


Powerlifting is a relatively new sport that is taking off around the world. The first World Championships took place in the early nineteen-seventies. There are three lifts performed with a bar-bell that are similar to lifts used by many weight-trainers. The idea is to lift as much as possible, and you have three attempts on each lift.

Lift No 1 - The Squat

(Formerly known as the "Deep Knee Bend"). With the bar across the shoulders, the lifter bends his legs until the thighs are below parallel to the floor. He then stands upright again.

Lift No 2 - The Bench Press

Lying on the bench, the bar is lowered, and must pause on the chest before being pressed back up. (There are also separate Bench Press competitions, leading to British, European and World Championships).

Lift No 3 - The Dead-Lift

The bar is simply pulled from the floor until you are standing up.

Compared to Weightlifting, Powerlifting is not gymnastic. It relies much more on the lifter's strength and control. Training on the lifts helps gain the strength and stability required in many other sports.

Weightlifting as a sport

Weightlifting is a competitive sport that has been around for about a hundred years. The modern version is seen on TV from the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. It consists of two lifts performed with a bar-bell. In each case the bar starts on the floor and finishes above the head. The idea is to lift as much as possible, and you have three attempts on each lift.

Lift No 4 - The Snatch

The bar goes from the floor to above the head in one movement. (You can drop under the bar so you can use your legs to help).

Lift No 5 - The Clean & Jerk

The bar is first "cleaned" to the shoulders, and is then "jerked" overhead. (Again, dropping under the bar allows you to use your legs to help).

Weightlifting is fast and gymnastic. Training on the lifts (or partial lifts) helps gain the speed and fitness required in many other sports.

All-Round ("Odd") Lifting

The Odd Lifts are the lifts still recognised by the BWLA, but are not included as part of Weightlifting or Powerlifting competitions. There are over 30 lifts including the Curl, the Dumb-Bell Press and the Press Behind Neck. There are occasional competitions, and records may be broken or set.

Age Groups

The BWLA runs competitions in Weightlifting, Powerlifting and Bench Press. As well as the open age competitions (often called "Senior", to differentiate them from "Junior"), there are competitions for younger age-groups, starting with the Under 13s in Weightlifting, and the Under 18s in Powerlifting.

Perhaps the biggest number of lifters take part in veterans' (known as "Masters") competitions. We have competitions and records in all the lifts from the 40+ to the 70+ age-group.

Weight Classes

Like in boxing, you compete in a weight-class, so that you are about the same size as your competitors. The adult weight-classes range from less than seven stone (44kg) for the smallest women, to over 19½ stone (125kg) for the biggest men. Some of the "superheavyweight" men weigh over 160kg (over 25 stone!).

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