Tara Nott Cunningham's Guide to Watching Weightlifting

Tara Nott Cunningham's Guide to Watching Weightlifting

(Ron Antonelli/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Introducing the Expert

Name: Tara Nott Cunningham
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
Games and Medals: Sydney 2000 (Gold, 48 kg); Athens 2004
Key Quote: “You can be physically prepared to lift the weights but if you aren’t mentally prepared (believe you can) you won’t be able to lift the weights.”


Discs - cylindrical weights that are loaded on each end of the bar

Bar - The men’s bar weighs 20 kg and is 2,200 mm long, and the women’s bar weighs 15 kg and is 2,010 mm long, with a smaller grip diameter.

Collars - Two collars weighing 2.5kg secure the discs (weights) to the bar.

Weightlifting Shoes - Weightlifters wear special hard soled weightlifting shoes to help with balance and stability while performing the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.


1. Press out - A lifter bends their arms while holding the bar overhead, then presses out to try to make them straight. This results in a “no lift,” or a lift that does not count towards their total.

2. Good lift - A lift that has been correctly completed, as determined by at least two of the three referees.

3. Bomb out - A lifter fails to make a good lift in either or both of the two lifts (Snatch and Clean and Jerk), which results in no score.

4. Knurl - the rough surface on the barbell that helps athletes grip the bar better

The Snatch - The weightlifter, palms downward in a wide grip, pulls the barbell from the platform up to a position above his or her head in one fluid motion while squatting or splitting under the bar. The athlete then stands to the final position (arms and legs fully extended). The referee will indicate when it is okay to lower the barbell.


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