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A Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting and Para-Sport Powerlifting

Beginner's Guide to Weightlifting and Para-Sport Powerlifting

These are the sports where the object is quite literally to raise the bar! Find out everything you need to know about these ultimate tests of strength in our Beginner’s Guide to Weightlifting and Para-Sport Powerlifting.


Competitions between people to see who can lift the heaviest weight can be traced back to the earliest civilisations on Earth. Historical evidence suggests that the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks (founders of the Olympic Games) all participated in some form of weightlifting contests.

Weightlifting has been a Commonwealth Games sport since 1950, with women’s competition being included since Manchester 2002.

Men’s Para-Sport Powerlifting made its debut at Manchester 2002 and Women’s Para-Sport Powerlifting was added to the sports programme in Delhi 2010. The sport’s popularity has grown rapidly, both in terms of participation and as an exciting sport to watch.

How Weightlifting Works

Each competitor is allowed a maximum of three attempts at each of the two separate disciplines:

The snatch – where a wide grip is used to lift the barbell over the head in one continuous movement.

The clean and jerk – where a narrower grip is used to pull the barbell to the shoulders, before using the strength of the legs to lift it above the head.

The weight lifted from both disciplines is then added together to come up with each competitor’s total.

Weights are added to the barbell in 1 kilogram increments. There are eight weight categories for men (ranging from 56kg to +105kg) and seven for women (ranging from 48kg to +75kg). The competitor who lifts the highest total weight for each category is the winner. If there is a tie, the competitor with the lowest body weight is judged to be the winner. Should two athletes achieve the same combined total and have the same bodyweight, the athlete that achieves their total first is determined as the winner.

How Para-Sport Powerlifting Works

Para-Sport Powerlifting involves athletes having to bench press weights of increasing heaviness into the air from a stationary position. The winner is determined using the AH formula which multiplies a figure representing the competitor’s bodyweight by their best result. Multiple categories will be contested at Glasgow 2014 and AH Formula allows athletes’ of varying ranges of bodyweight the opportunity to compete fairly against their rivals.

Participants with a lower leg or hip impairment compete together with no specific classification. The competition is split into two men’s and two women’s categories (lightweight & heavyweight).

Why You’ll Love It

Weightlifting and Para-Sport Powerlifting are both enthralling sports to watch. You won’t be able to help but get caught up in the drama as you will each lifter to get that weight in the air, watching them stretch every sinew and use every ounce of strength they have in them. Marvel at athletes who are able to lift more than three times their own body weight, not just through pure strength, but also determination. You’ll be almost as exhausted as they are by the end!

The Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games are now over. This website is closed and for reference purposes only. Some external links may no longer work. For the latest news and information, please visit the Commonwealth Games Federation website.