Weightlifting as an Olympic sport trains an athlete completely: there is combined power and flexibility, special techniques, an enviable health condition and a life style that is both fit and challenging. Since Olympic weightlifting mainly involves the use of weights mounted on barbells, the specific training that it requires is very often the basis for other sports, such as American football for instance. Olympic weightlifting techniques are the most important part of the training, since the correct performance of the exercises may have very serious consequences on the body. Hence, many professionals in the field will insist on the importance to alternate workout with resting periods.
It is no secret that Olympic weightlifting favors short people, since the success of any weightlifting exercise is directly connected with the height the weights are lifted at. Nevertheless body size is not necessarily a selection criterion that tells which athlete is more valuable; there are tall people who have been very successful at Olympic weightlifting and that is an undeniable fact. There are however certain body features that are developed in time and they surely set weightlifters apart: large muscle size, broad chest and shoulders and an overall look of unsurpassed strength. At least these can be called the standard attributes of a weightlifting athlete.
As an Olympic sport, weightlifting consists of two separate exercises or events, they are equally difficult and challenging for any competitor, particularly since any winner has thousands of hours of training behind. One of the events is called the “snatch” and it involves the lifting of a barbell over the athlete's head in a single continuous movement. The second type of event is the “clean and jerk” that includes two steps: first the athlete lifts the weight in an intermediate position and then he or she lifts it over the head. Olympic weightlifting also requires that the competitors be able to hold the barbells straight-armed and without moving.
There are other special rules concerning the judging criteria for Olympic weightlifting; thus, the competitor has only sixty seconds to get the barbell to knee level. Moreover, he or she needs to hold the weight above the head until three judges mark the lift; when they shine a white light it means that the lift was successful, while a red light marks the failure to perform a correct lift. Sometimes Olympic weightlifting requires two consecutive lifts and this time too there are special rules to be followed by the competitor.