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Weight Lifting Exercise

Weight lifting exercise has been used for decades as a way of improving health and fitness.
Currently there four major strength sports which promote competitions based on weight lifting exercise. Since most of our understanding of strength training comes out of these sports, it is important to understand the aspects of each.


Competitive powerlifting consists of three lifts: back squat, bench press, deadlift. In a powerlifting competition the competitors are divided into weight classes and each competitor has 3 attempts to lift the greatest weight possible in each of the three lifts. The competitor with the highest total in the three lifts wins.

In the past 20 years the sport of powerlifting has changed dramatically with the introduction of supportive gear such as squat suits and bench shirts. Since being introduced this gear has gradually gotten better and better at providing a competitive advantage to those who use it. Claims of adding 400-500 pounds to a powerlifting total are not unheard of, although most competitors do not gain that much.

This has lead to a variety of powerlifting associations to pop-up. These federations have different restrictions on what type of supportive gear can be used. Some federations allow the use of just about any type of gear, while others do not allow any gear.

Olympic Weightlifting

Olympic-style weightlifting currently consists of two competitive lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk. Each athlete is given 3 attempts to lift the heaviest weight possible in each lift. The competitor with the highest total in the two lifts wins the competition.

Unlike powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting requires more than just pure maximal strength. Both of the competitive lifts require a great deal of explosive strength to be successful. Because of this, it is not uncommon for Olympic weightlifters to do well in other explosive tasks such as the vertical jump and short sprints.


Strongman competitions can consist of wide-variety of events, as there is no standard format. Classic events include the Atlas stones and farmerís walk. While no standard format exists, most strongman competitions incorporate a deadlift and overhead press variation.

Since the variety of events is so wide, strongman competitions require strength in every muscle of the body. Strongman is not a pure strength sport like powerlifting however. Some events test speed, explosiveness, and muscle endurance as well.


Competitive bodybuilding is the display of the muscles for judging by a panel. To do well in a bodybuilding contest the bodyís muscles must not only be large, but also proportional and unobstructed by body fat.

Itís debatable whether or not bodybuilding is actually a sport, as it doesnít involve any display of athleticism.

Exercise index

Check out videos and tips on how to do a variety of exercises in the bodybuilding exercises technique guide.

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