What to Expect at a Weightlifting Weigh-In

Earlier this week we talked about surviving your first weightlifting competition. Since then, we’ve had quite a few questions about weigh-ins. While I don’t think a first-time weightlifter should worry about fitting into a specific weight class, it can be helpful to know what to expect when you actually go to weigh in. It’s really not so bad.

Whatever weight category you are in, the weigh-in is the same for everyone. You step on the scale, and even if you know what your number should be because you weighed yourself before leaving home, there’s always that moment of panic: what if my scales were off? What if I breathed in a load of carbs… somehow? What if my period arrives unexpectedly?

There’s also some heavy (ha, jokes) bullshit socialisation women have about getting on a scale and having their bodyweight known that can cause anxiety in first-time weightlifting competitors. But don’t worry. Weigh-ins may often take place in a dark public bathroom, but they’re not like prison. There are no unwritten rules like ‘Don’t drop the soap.’

I’ll run through the ins and outs for you.


In an open-style competition, you will be given a start time from which your weigh-ins take place. This is usually first come first serve so get there on time, get weighed in and then get eye-deep in your post-weigh-in food.

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In a national competition, the order is determined by the assigned lifter number. This isn’t random and often a lifter will end up with the same number throughout his/her career. The system supposedly is you are assigned the lowest available number at the first competition you do of the year by British Weight Lifting.

The weigh in can commence no later that 2 hours before the first scheduled lift.

The weigh in will close 1 hour before the first scheduled lift. At most competitions this means it will last 1 hour. However it can be longer because of an earlier start time, but never because of a later finish time. The weigh in also closes if all lifters have weighed in regardless of time.

At either competition, in the event that you don’t make your weight category, you have until this window closes to make weight. Rose had to do this recently at British Master’s when she turned up at 75.2. She wound up going for a twenty-minute jog and then made weight at 74.7.

In an open competition, usually you will be allowed to compete in the category above if you still don’t make weight. However, you will need to have a word with the officials there on the day whether this is an option or not.

What even happens in there?

So, once you get to the weigh-in you will go into a room– usually a changing room or toilet. An official will ask you for your passport/driver’s licence and then you will hand over your weightlifting membership booklet or card. At this point you start getting your kit off, if you want to.

  • You can strip down to your glorious birthday suit (naked– again, Rose did this at British Master’s)
  • You can wear underpants
  • You can wear a bra and shorts

Pretty much anything you are comfortable in.

I personally weigh my underpants in order to find the lightest pair for the weigh-in. Then I change into structured and supportive ones to lift in.


Once you have stepped off the scales and regathered your things, the official you handed your book to will ask you what you want to open with– meaning what you want your first lift in the snatch and the clean and jerk to be. I never usually put my actual numbers down, but go 10 kg less than what I’m planning. That way I can see how the warm-ups go and play the competition like a game of chess.

Generally speaking, it’s safe to pick an opening weight that you know you could do three reps with. Your coach (if you have one, and you should!) may have other ideas.

And that’s it. It’s not that scary. If getting on a scale gives you the heebie-jeebies, just take a few deep breaths and get on with it. You’re a strength athlete now!



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