There are two different weightlifting events—the “snatch”, in which competitors must lift the barbell over their heads from the floor in one continuous movement, and the “clean and jerk” where competitors first “clean” the barbell from the floor to an intermediate position, “racking” the bar in a front squat, then standing up in the concentric portion of the front squat, and finally “jerking” the barbell to a position above their head. In both cases, for a successful lift, competitors must hold the bar steady above their heads, with arms and legs straight and motionless.

A third lift, the “clean and press” or simply “press”, was practiced in the Olympics until 1972. The clean and press differs from the clean and jerk, in that the weight is pressed directly up from the chest with the arms only, while remaining standing, while the jerk uses the legs’ power to assist the arms part of the way up, followed by the body sinking downward into a split or squat to complete the extension of the arms, before once again standing. The press was eliminated due to the difficulty in judging whether the lift was performed correctly: Lifters were bending so far backward as to turn it into a “standing bench press”.

Three judges oversee the successful completion of the lift. Once a competitor has met the requirements in their opinion, each judge shines a white light. When at least two white lights are shown, the lift is regarded as successful and the competitor may return the bar to the platform. If the competitor fails to achieve a successful lift in the opinion of a judge, a red light is shown. The bar must be lifted to at least knee level within 60 seconds of the bar being loaded or the lift does not count. If the competitor is making two consecutive lifts then they are permitted 120 seconds for the second lift.

The snatch is one of the two current Olympic Weightlifting events (the other being the clean and jerk). The essence of the event is to lift a barbell from the platform to locked arms overhead in a smooth continuous movement. The barbell is pulled as high as the lifter can manage (typically to mid chest height) at which point the barbell is flipped overhead. With relatively light weights (as in the “power snatch”) locking of the arms may not require rebending the knees. However, as performed in contests, the weight is always heavy enough to demand that the lifter receive the bar in a squatting position, while at the same time flipping the weight so it moves in an arc directly overhead to locked arms. When the lifter is secure in this position, he rises and waits for the referee’s down signal.

Antonio Krastev World Record Snatch 216 kg in Ostrau in 1987.

Hossein Reza Zadeh 201kg snatch.

The lift requires not only great strength but also a high degree of shoulder flexibility, excellent balance, and speed.

It is executed in a single movement. However, for coaching purposes, it is divided into two phases.

Approach the bar and with back straight, crouch low and grasp the bar with it positioned over the balls of your feet. Legs should be bent with the buttocks close to the heels. Any kind of grip may be used, however it is standard to use a wide grip, with the hands near the ends of bar. A hook grip is normally used in competition. The chest should be puffed out and the shoulders slightly forward of the bar.

Begin lifting. The hips, shoulders and bar should move at the same pace. Push from the toes and slowly transition the weight into the mid-foot as you lift. The angle of the torso relative to the ground should remain constant,

Keep the bar close to your legs as you lift – this ensures proper alignment of the body. The bar should brush your legs a little on the way up.

When the weight is at mid-thigh, accelerate the bar upward by powerfully extending the knees and hips ( and to some degree the ankles) until the body is fully erect. At the same time, shrug the shoulders. This part of the lift is known as the ‘scoop’ or ‘second pull’. Often, a lifter will bend the knees slightly and bring their torso to vertical before the second pull. This is called the ‘double knee bend’ style of lifting.

At the apex of the bar’s height, pull your body underneath the bar, catching it with locked arms overhead while squatting. This part of the motion requires a developed sense of timing and coordination, and is the crux of the entire lift.

Lock your arms with the weight overhead and stand up from the squat position.
This lift requires coordination, torso (core) stability, and explosive power of the legs to generate the upward momentum required to snatch hundreds of pounds overhead. Tremendous speed is required to get underneath the bar after the second pull.

Clean and Jerk
The Clean and Jerk is a highly technical lift that is known as “the king of lifts” because more weight can be lifted above one’s head as compared to any other known weightlifting technique.

Hossein Rezazadeh of Iran lifts a World Record 263.5 kg (580.9 pounds — World Record and Olympic Record) in Athens 2004 Summer Olympics.

The clean portion of the lift refers to the lifter explosively pulling the weight from the floor to a racked position across deltoids and clavicles. In early twentieth century weightlifting competitions, a variant movement called the “continental” (because it was practiced by Germans rather than the British) allowed the lifter to pull the barbell up to his belt, where it could rest. Then with several successive flips, the bar would be moved up the torso until it reached the position for the overhead jerk. The continental gained a reputation as clumsy, slow, and unathletic compared to the swift coordinated movement required to lift the bar “clean.” Hence, the clean movement was adopted by the early weightlifting federations as the official movement.

Beginning Phase
he athlete begins the clean by squatting down to grasp the bar. Hands are positioned approximately thumbs distance from hips using what is known as a hook grip. The hook grip requires grasping the bar so that the fingers go over the thumb. This makes it much easier for the lifter to maintain his grip on the bar. The lifter’s arms are relaxed and just outside the legs with the bar up against the shins. The hips are as low as necessary to grasp the bar, with the feet placed approximately hip width. Weight is kept on the heels. Toes may be pointed straight ahead or angled out according to the lifters preference. The chest is up and the back is neutral to slightly hyperextended. This is the starting position of the “pull” phase of the lift. keep your back straight.

Clean Phase
The lifter jumps the bar up through triple extension — a quick succession of extension of the hips, knees and then ankles. When
the legs have driven the bar as high as possible, the lifter pulls under the bar by violently shrugging (contracting) the trapezius muscles of the upper back (“traps”). This pulls the lifter under the bar and into a deep squat position. Specialized bearings allow the bar to spin freely in relation to the weights thus allowing the elbows to extended in front. At the same time, the bar may now lay or “rest” across the palms, the front of the shoulder or deltoid muscles, and the clavicles. At this point the lifter should be in a full squat position, with his buttocks on or very close to the heels, sitting erect with the bar resting comfortably across the deltoids and fingers. By keeping a rigid torso and maintaining a deep breathhold the bar bends over the lifters clavicle. The improvement in construction of modern weightlifting bars has greatly increased this springing action compared with bars used in the first half of the twentieth century. This springing action is used to rebound from the full bottom squat position. This is commonly known as a front squat.

Jerk Phase
The lifter may then adjust grip in anticipation of the jerk phase.The jerk portion of the lift again requires the lifter to jump the bar into the air. A quick dip or bending of the knees initiates another explosive triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles. The jerk also requires the lifter to drop under the bar as the bar reaches its maximum height. Generally the lifter drops under the bar using the split technique. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible for most athletes to press several hundred pounds (depending upon bodyweight) overhead so the lifter does not begin pushing the bar until completely under it. At this point the lifter is under the bar with one leg out front with the knee bent between 70 to 90 degrees and the back leg extended behind with a 20 to 30 degree knee bend and with the heel up and weight on the bent toes and ball of the foot. The torso is erect and in a state of isometric tension, (the breath is still being held) with elbows locked, holding the weight with the arms at full extension in the overhead position. Ideally, viewed from the side, the bar should be over the ears or just behind. The feet are then placed parallel to each other. After one or two seconds the lifter may then take a breath while lowering the bar in front and allowing it to drop to the lifting platform.