For those of you who aren't Olympic Weightlifters or don't have much knowledge on the sport, you may wonder if some things are different in the sport depending on your gender. As for some sports, being female rather than male can have a impact on what you train for and how you compete. For example, in Gymnastics the males may be focused on still rings or pommel horse using upper body strength, rather than the females focusing on beam work and intense floor routines using balance. Continue reading to find out if Weightlifting varies for different genders.
Different Genders in Weightlifting competitions
When competing in competitions, men and women both complete the same number of lifts (6, 3 sets of each type) and the same type of lifts (Snatch, Clean and Jerk). The rules are the same for both genders and lifts may be passed or failed for the same reasons for each sex. The refereeing and coaching system is also gender neutral, meaning that females don't just have to referee or coach female lifters. However, there are a few differences between male and female Weightlifters.
The first difference you will notice before entering a competition is that qualifying poundages (the total amount of weight you must lift in order to compete) are higher for men than women. Qualifying poundages also go based on your body weight, so the more you weigh the more you may have to lift to ensure your place in the competition. Some people may view this as degrading towards women, however I can see that the system makes sense. The system isn't designed to tell women and men what they cannot lift, but to show what is expected for each competition. Although the qualifying weight for women is lower than the male total, women are not stopped from lifting more than the set example for their body weight. It is also arguable that genetically men are built to be stronger than women, therefore poundage expectations are set higher due to natural strength and ability to build muscle better with the help of hormones (Testosterone). The lowest qualifying poundage for men is 60 kilograms and 45 kilograms for women (Based on 2017 poundages in the British Under 15 category weighing at 44kg).
Before competing, lifters will be weighed in separated rooms for each gender. The person weighing in the lifters is usually the same gender as the lifters. This is because if lifters must undress themselves when weighing in, it wouldn't be appropriate for a member of the opposite sex to be in the room. When each gender is lifting, they will not lift together at the same time. Often the female group will go first, but either gender can. The results from the competition are not combined with both genders, so women will never be competing against men in a Official British Weightlifting competition. This may be different for team based competitions. Also, the weight categories set on the British Weightlifting site are often higher for men as they are expected to weigh more than the women. However, this doesn't mean that men and women can't exceed this limit.
Different Genders when Training
When each gender is training, they may not lift differently technique wise but other aspects can have an impact on their lifting. From observing training sessions and competitors, I have noticed that women can find it easier to focus on technique more than some men. Now I understand that this isn't the same for every lifter but that I what I have noticed. Also due to the fact that men have more testosterone in their bodies than women, men can be more aggressive when attempting personal best lifts (not to say women aren't aggressive too, sometimes I've found myself yelling a lot whilst lifting). But when watching other people train and compete, it is noticeable that men can use their emotions and aggression to lift the bar, more than women. The female gender may be equally as strong as the male, with a higher percentage of muscle mass and lower Body fat ratio; men may be stronger.
Thanks for reading this post! Please note that this post is in no way trying to slate British Weightlifting or specific genders, information may not be factual but based upon opinions and observations.
A 17 year old girl, fitness enthusiast and dedicated Olympic style weightlifter. I'm determined to live a healthy lifestyle and take care of my body whilst influencing other young people to do so. I never doubt my ability to achieve something; I just change what I'm doing until I succeed.