I think by now we’ve all discovered that olympic weightlifting is more complex than just picking things up and putting them down. If you’ve ever attempted a snatch at a challenging weight, then you appreciate the power, speed and agility that’s required to successfully land in the perfect catch position. You might even hear some people joke about the wizardry that occurs somewhere between the lift-off and the catch, where you seemingly black out and end up nailing the lift. Don’t be fooled, though- the people who you see in the back room at the gym are putting in hours of hard work every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. They’re practicing snatch after snatch, clean & jerk after clean & jerk, or some variation of these lifts. The beauty of olympic weightlifting, is that it’s not just about sheer strength; it has so much to do with power and technique. The slightest adjustment to your starting position (where your body is positioned in relation to the bar), will make or break your entire lift.
I find watching a live weightlifting meet to be both captivating and inspiring, and it’s not just because I dabble in the sport myself. It’s truly impressive to watch someone clean & jerk a barbell loaded with nearly twice their body weight, as if it was no sweat at all. It’s an amazing display of an athlete’s combined strength and power, which you’d be hard pressed to find in any other form of athletic training.
Lucky for you, Crossfit New Haven and the New Haven Weightlifting Club is hosting a meet this Sunday, April 30th, which means if you’ve never had the chance to experience a weightlifting meet (or if you just love the sport, like I do) then you have no excuse not to come by. Some of our very own New Haven Weightlifting Club members will be competing, and deserve the support of our CFNH community.
Here are some things to know about how the meet works:
Competitors are broken down into bodyweight categories for the men, from 56 kg. (123.46 lb.) to 105+ kg.( over 231.49 lb.), and bodyweight categories for the women, from 48kg. (105.82 lb.) to 90+kg. (over 198.3 lb.).
The meet on Sunday will likely have 1 or 2 womens sessions and 2 mens sessions (lighter bodyweight classes in the first session, then heavier classes in the second.)
The main event: The meet consists of two events – the snatch, and the clean and jerk. In competition, each athlete is permitted three “attempts” in each lift. The highest weights successfully lifted by each athlete in each event comprise the athlete’s “total”. The athlete with the highest total is the overall winner of the competition.
The weight on the barbell only goes up. You choose your opening weight for your first lift, and are called up to the platform once that weight is loaded onto the barbell. Depending on whether you make the lift or not, you will either choose a heavier weight for your second lift or you may retry that same weight if your attempt was unsuccessful. You’ll notice that there’s a good deal of strategy to this.
Three Judges watch for the criteria that makes a “good lift” or a “bad lift”, and will lift the card that corresponds to their decision (red card= bad lift, white card=good lift).
Here are some of the basic items judges look for:
• No part of the lifter (except the bottom of the feet) shall touch the platform.
• The Lifter cannot “press out” the barbell. Press out is when the elbows are bent and the lifter uses strength of the arms to lock out the elbows.
• The lift must be all in one continuous movement – no stopping and restarting.
• The elbows must not touch thighs or knees during the Clean.
• The Lifter must hold the bar steady and motionless in all parts of the body overhead with feet in line with the plane of the trunk until the judges give the down signal
• The Lifter must guide the bar down at least below shoulder level when the lift is complete.
• The Lifter must remain on the platform during the execution of the lift.
Got all that?
Great! Then we’ll see you at the gym on Sunday!
Womens sessions are from 9:30am-1pm
Mens sessions are from 1:30pm – 8pm
Here's a little peak into Monday's NHWLC session: