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Sport in which barbells are lifted competitively or as an exercise. The two main events are (1) the snatch, in which the barbell is lifted from the floor to arm's length overhead in a single, continuous motion; and (2) the clean and jerk, in which it is lifted first to the shoulders and then, after a pause, to arm's length overhead. Contestants are divided into 10 body-weight categories ranging from flyweight to superheavyweight. Lifts may range to over 1,000 lbs (455 kg) in the heavyweight divisions. The origins of modern competition are to be found in 18th- and 19th-century strongman contests. The first three Olympic Games (1896, 1900, 1904) included weight lifting, as have all games after 1920.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on weight lifting, visit Britannica.com.