Olympic Weightlifting is a sport in which one athlete or “lifter” attempts a maximum lift of a loaded barbell from the ground to a lockout position above the head. The lifts require explosive power and are completed with speed and greater than normal flexibility. Although a sport in itself, Olympic weightlifting movements are also used in training programs for other sports.
Men and women have been involved in various competitions for strength dating back to ancient civilizations of Greece, China and Egypt. In 1891 the first international weightlifting competition took place and the winner was decided on simply who could lift the most weight. There were no weight classes and no female participants at the time. From 1896 to 1920 weightlifting had come and gone from the Olympics and had been modified many times to include different exercises including single and double handed movements and various overhead press variations. It has since been refined to include both male and female categories, separate weight classes and only two exercises.
#1 The Snatch
The Snatch is an exercise where the barbell is vertically accelerated from the ground to an overhead, locked arm position in one single movement. The barbell is pulled as high as possible followed by a quick drop into an overhead squatting position. Once the athlete stands up from this position the exercise is complete.
#2 The Clean & Jerk
The Clean and Jerk is an exercise that involves two explosive movements that are combined into one exercise. The ‘clean’ portion of the exercise is when the barbell is lifted from the ground to the shoulders into a ‘racked’ position. The jerk portion of the exercise is when the barbell is lifted overhead from the racked position until the arms are completely extended overhead.