What To Expect At Your First Weightlifting Meet

We will be having our Fall Club Weightlifting Meet in about a month’s time, and for some of you, this will be your first experience following a weightlifting competition protocol. We will be going over what to expect in training, but I thought it would be good to have something written down for all of you to follow. This will be a friendly club meet to introduce you to the idea of competition. While the results will be official and count for those that need to qualify for Winterlift/Provincials, for the majority of you, think of this meet as more of a practice session, just structured in competition format.


Weightlifting is a bodyweight sport, therefore you only compete against those that are in the same weight class as you. The weigh-in is the first official part of competition day. For your first meet, athletes should not be concerned with what they weigh, as the main goal of the first meet is to make your lifts, so we’re trying to limit the amount of stressors involved.

The start list for each session will be posted close to the weigh-in area. The start list will show the session weigh-in time, start time, athletes names, declared weight class, and each athlete’s lot number. The standard weigh-in time starts 2 hours before the start of the competition and lasts for one hour. Athletes are then called to the weigh-in room one-by-one, beginning with the lightest weight class and lowest lot number within the weight class. Once in the weigh-in room, the athlete will step on the scale to determine their bodyweight, declare their opening attempts in the snatch and clean and jerk, and then initial their start card that lists their name, bodyweight, and declared opening attempts. The athlete should know what their opening attempts are prior to the weigh-in having discussed them with their coach. Typically for your first meet, this will be a weight that you can consistently make.

If an athlete is not present when their name is called, the next athlete on the list is called, and the athlete that wasn’t there must now wait until all other athletes have been called before they can weigh in. Also, if an athlete is trying to “make weight” and weighs in above (or below) their intended category, they have the remaining hour to try and drop (gain) a bit of weight, come back, and be weighed again. In this case, you wouldn’t sign your card until you make weight or run out of time.  As stated before though, “making weight” isn’t something to be concerned with at your first meet.


Mohamed and James in the warm up area at the 2014 Ontario Scholastics


After the weigh-in has concluded, the start sheets will be updated to include the athlete’s bodyweight, declared opening attempts, and their new start number. If there were no athletes that moved from their declared weight category to their actual weight category, the start number order will be the same as the weigh-in order. Athletes and coaches should then be looking at this list when it is made available to determine when the athlete should begin their warm-up. In competition, the weight of the bar only goes up, therefore the lightest weights are lifted first. If you have the lowest declared opening snatch, then chances are you’re lifting first, which means you should be probably be the first one warming up! If you have one of the heaviest declared openers, you’ll need to wait for everyone else to lift before you, and need to time your warm-up accordingly.


Julia and Chenoa lining up for the 2014 Ottawa Regional Inter-Club Meet

There is a “Presentation of Athletes” 15 minutes before the start of the competition. Athletes are lined up in the back room by one of the officials, brought out to the platform, and presented to the audience. The announcer will introduce each athlete individually, usually stating their weight class and what club they are representing. Since this is close to the start of the competition, those lifting first will likely be in the middle of their warm-up, while others may just be loosening up. Once all athletes are introduced, it’s back to the warm-up room, and then the announcer will give the time remaining to the start of the competition.

Usually we define a warm up in terms of general warm up and specific warm up. General warm up includes any mobility type stuff, arm swings, leg swings, air squats, etc. I’ll include empty bar work with this as well. I’ll then define specific warm up as anything with weight. At this point, this should primarily be the full lifts performed for minimal reps. Some may prefer to do complexes/power for the first few sets, but once we really get going, this should be full lifts for mostly singles. The coach should be back and forth between the warm-up area and the competition area to keep their lifter on track so they’ll be ready to lift before their name is called.



Chenoa approaching the platform at the 2014 Ontario Scholastics

Ok, so now you’re weighed in and warmed up. Get ready to have your name called and be ready to lift! You will be called to the platform by the announcer, and the clock will start running. Once your name is called, you will have one minute for your attempt. The clock will stop once the bar leaves the floor, so you can take as much time as you need in the bottom of a snatch, or to set up for the jerk after the clean, as you need. There will be a warning buzzer when you have 30 seconds left. Most lifters will try to either make sure they lift before or after the signal to avoid having it buzz as you are lifting. Once you have the bar overhead under control, with your feet in line, you will either get a down signal (buzzer) along with a light, or the centre judge will give you an audible “down” signal while motioning with their hand. You then need to place the bar back on the platform in front of you in a controlled fashion, keeping your hands on the bar until it is below shoulder level.

Once you’ve completed your attempt, the judges will give their decision of good/no lift. Some informal club meets may be run with just one judge, but for the most part, it will be 3 judges, and majority rules. There are a few reasons you may get the bar overhead and not be awarded the lift. The most common is finishing with a press-out (incomplete extension of the arm). Others include (but are not limited to) lowering the weight before the down signal, elbow touching the knee in the clean, double dipping in the jerk, and having any part of the body other than the feet touch the platform (dropping to one knee).

Counts in CrossFit, but in a weightlifting competition, this is a "No Lift!"

Counts in CrossFit, but in a weightlifting competition, this is a “No Lift!”

If you were successful in your lift, you and your coach will then decide on your next attempt. If you don’t declare a weight immediately, you will be automatically incremented by 1 kg. You can then make 2 additional changes to your attempted weight, provided they are made before the 30 second warning. If you were unsuccessful, you will have the option of repeating the same weight. In either case, if you happen to follow yourself (lift next with no other lifters between you), you will then have 2 minutes on the clock for your attempt. The flip side of this is that if there are a lot of other lifters between your last attempt and your next attempt, you may need to go back to the warm up room to do some more lifts to prevent from cooling down. When following yourself, the first weight change must be made within the first 30 seconds. Each lifter has 3 attempts to put up a number for their snatch score. The highest weight successfully lifted then becomes the first part of your total score.

After everyone has completed their snatch attempts, the competition will then move on to the clean and jerk portion. There is a standard 10 minute break in between the snatch portion and the clean and jerk portion of the competition. Often in larger sessions, usually with 10 lifters or more in a single session, the break is either shortened or eliminated. If there is a change in the length of the break, this will be announced beforehand and lifters and coaches must be prepared to time their clean and jerk warm ups appropriately. Each lifter then has 3 attempts to put up a number for their clean and jerk score. Their best snatch and best clean and jerk are then added together to give their final “Total” score.


James racking 115kg while Coach Greg looks on

Have Fun!

If this all seems like a lot to take in, don’t get discouraged or worry about it. A lot of the technical parts of competing are ultimately the coach’s responsibility. The athlete’s responsibility is to listen to their coach and do what they are told, when they are told, and focus on just making their lifts. Competing in a weightlifting meet is what makes this a sport and is what differentiates a weightlifter from someone who trains using snatches and clean and jerks. Performing in a competition is a skill that has to be practiced and will improve with experience, just like every other aspect of the sport. In the beginning, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t breaking records every time you compete. There’s a big difference between hitting a PR on a random training day when you get to control a lot of the variables, and lifting against the clock, at a specific time, on a specific day, with just 3 attempts, and no option for lowering the weight. That being said, performing well in a competition is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in this sport knowing that the effort you put in to your training is proven on the competition platform.

For some more info on weightlifting competition, check out the following articles by Uncle Bob Takano:

Weightlifting Competition Etiquette

Preparing for the First Olympic Meet

By |September 24th, 2014|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on What To Expect At Your First Weightlifting Meet

2014 JustLift Fall Club Meet – Olympic Weightlifting Competition

We will be having a Club Meet at the end of the current training cycle on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 at JustLift in Ottawa. This will be a friendly meet ideal for those of you who have never competed in an Olympic Weightlifting competition before, or if you have just a handful of weightlifting meets under your weightlifting belt.

This meet will be sanctioned by the Ontario Weightlifting Association, and lifters will be able to qualify for Winterlift and Provincials. Athletes will be required to have an OWA athlete membership for the 2014-2015 season (ends March 31, 2015). New lifters are eligible for the Introductory Lifter membership discount.

Let us know if you plan on coming to either compete, watch, or help out! We’ll have an athlete sign-up sheet at the gym!

Check back here for more details! You can contact Ian for more info.

By |September 11th, 2014|Blog, News|1 Comment

Fall Schedule Changes

Beginning Monday, September 8th, we will be changing our morning training hours for the fall. Training will be from 9am – 11am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Those that are following our JustLift Level 1 program may train together from 9am – 10am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. All changes are now reflected in our online schedule.

By |September 3rd, 2014|Blog, News|Comments Off on Fall Schedule Changes

Back to School and End of Summer Deals

Back to School

Are you a student heading back to school? Commit to making JustLift a part of your semester and save!

3 Months 3x/wk – $300 (Student)

3 Months Unlimited – $400 (Student)

Promotion ends September 30, 2014. Must present valid Student ID

End of Summer

Vacation season is coming to an end, so there’s no better time to dive in and get back into a steady routine of training with the JustLift family!

3 Months 3x/wk – $330

3 Months Unlimited – $440

Promotion ends September 30, 2014

Drop-In, Lift Up

Our 5 session punch card is a steal. For not much more than a month of coffees, you get coaching from our team of experts. We want to see you all come in more and improve, so we will be changing our 5 session punch card to a 10 session punch card at the end of September. But for now, you can still get the 5 session card at the old rate! Stock up now and the 3 month shelf life won’t start until your other cards are done!

5 session punch card – $65


By |August 24th, 2014|Blog, News|Comments Off on Back to School and End of Summer Deals

JustLift Kids Fall 2014 Semester


We’re super excited to announce the launch of our JustLift Kids program starting on September 8, 2014 for children aged 6-9 and 10-12. This isn’t strictly a weightlifting program, but an overall functional fitness program that will teach your child the fundamental movement skills and the basics of strength and conditioning training that will translate over to sport specific performance and a lifelong appreciation of physical fitness. This is something we’ve been wanting to do since we started. By hosting the 2014 Young Hercules Competition, we were able to purchase some equipment that will help out with the Kids program. We’re really looking forward to helping kids develop a positive relationship with physical activity, health, and fitness, and to give them an opportunity to have fun training! This is the best time for kids to learn how to move their bodies and develop proper technique for all exercises so that it just becomes natural for them later on in life.

You can find out more information on our program description page for JustLift Kids.

The Fall Semester will run from September 8, 2014 to December 17, 2014. To register your child, contact us at or 613-701-0678.


By |August 22nd, 2014|Blog, News|Comments Off on JustLift Kids Fall 2014 Semester

2014 Young Hercules Weightlifting Competition

Update 2014-07-07:

Start List:  2014 Young Hercules Start List V1


Who: Ontario’s Youth (13 – 17) and Mini (10-12) aged Weightlifters!

What: 2014 Young Hercules and Mini-Hercules Weightlifting Competition

Where: JustLift, 895 Churchill Ave. South, Ottawa, ON

When: 9:15am, Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why: This is the premiere developmental meet for Ontario’s youngest lifters! By supporting weightlifting competitions for our youngest athletes, you are helping our sport grow and improve, as the kids of today will soon be the stars of tomorrow! Come lift, come watch, and show your support for our little powerhouses!


Registration information is available on the Ontario Weightlifting Association Website:!upcomingevents/ctqv

No entries will be accepted after July 7th


Call for Volunteers: If you’re interested in helping out with the competition, we are looking for help with setup/tear down, loaders,  and a few odd jobs during the competition. Contact Ian ( if you’d like to be added to the volunteers list.


Members: There will be no training Saturday due to the competition, so either come watch or come help out!

Canada Day BBQ and Training


Come celebrate Canada Day with JustLift!

Starting at Noon, we’ll be firing up the BBQ, so BYOM (bring your own meat), and enjoy your post workout nutrition with the crew at JustLift! Get some training and BBQ in before tackling the rest of the Canada Day festivities in the Capital! Make sure to show your colours and wear all the Red and White!

Training times are as follows:

9am-10am – JustFit, JustLift Level 1

10am-Noon – JustLift Level 2, JustLift Powerbuilding



By |June 24th, 2014|Blog, News|Comments Off on Canada Day BBQ and Training

No Training Saturday, June 14, 2014

Class cancellations: There will be no training this Saturday as we will be hosting the NCCP Weightlifting Competition Introduction Course from 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Please adjust your training plans accordingly.

By |June 12th, 2014|Blog|Comments Off on No Training Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bacon Swiss Burgers with Tomato and Avocado

A bacon Swiss burger embellished with ripe tomato and avocado: delectable! In this burger, I’ve spiced up the meat with thyme and Worcestershire sauce, which hint at the Mediterranean and at the steak house. In this case, a soft white bun is the best choice—any other type of bun and the burger might become too huge to eat. But of course, that’s what helps to make it delectable. Serve your favorite condiments alongside.


  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck or sirloin
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 or 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable oil, for grilling
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted, for serving
  • Thinly sliced ripe tomato, for garnish
  • Thinly sliced red onion, for garnish
  • Sliced ripe avocado, for garnish
  • Boston lettuce leaves, for garnish


1. If you will be grilling the burgers, preheat a barbecue grill to medium-high.

2. While the grill is heating up, cook the bacon on the stovetop in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it is just crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set it aside to drain. (If you prefer to panfry the burgers, reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet.)

3. Place the beef, Worcestershire, Tabasco, thyme, and salt and pepper in a bowl, and toss lightly with a fork to combine. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

4. When you are ready to grill the burgers, oil the grill grate well. Add the burgers and grill for about 3 minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium-rare meat. Turn them over and grill for another 3 or 4 minutes, topping the burgers with the cheese in the last minute of cooking. (Or panfry the burgers in the hot bacon fat over medium heat for 3 minutes per side for rare meat, adding the cheese as described.)

5. Place the burgers on the toasted buns, and top them with the bacon, tomato, onion, avocado, and lettuce. Cover with the tops of the buns and serve immediately.

Recipe from TEN: All the Foods We Love, Ten Recipes for Each by Sheila Lukins (Workman Publishing, 2008). Found on

By |May 27th, 2014|Blog, Nutrition|Comments Off on Bacon Swiss Burgers with Tomato and Avocado

The Notorious “Pull More”

When you’ll most likely hear this cue:

From an error or improper form in the second pull, mostly in the snatch.


  • Your muscles weren’t engaged properly, therefore letting the bar loop away from you- jumping or missing forward.
  • You’re not staying close to the bar, landing with the bar over your head instead of shoulders and/ or being rejected in the catch.

Possible solutions:

  • Make sure that off the ground: you draw your shoulders back and engage your lats (retract your scapula). What will happen now is your shoulders move back and down. It’s easier to learn how to get into this position when using an empty bar in a standing position, then going to the hang and then squatting it down to the start position.

*Note- Keep your head up in flexion, this will help turn on your upper back as well as help you keep your center of gravity in a more favorable position (belly button over the bar)

  • Sometimes the bar path will be completely straight -good for you- but if your body doesn’t move around the bar as efficiently as possible, you’ll end up with missed or ugly lifts. The point of weightlifting is to lift the weight. By extending away from it you’ll end up being inefficient in two ways. One, by not being over the bar thus not being able to keep pulling up on it (you do have to move back just enough to get out of its path when its time to turn over). And two, by having to move diagonally instead of straight down, back into the spot to receive it- I call this dive bombing.

*Note- When someone comes in and has a hard time with moving around the bar I like to set them up against a squat rack with a PVC pipe and tell them to go through the movements as if they were snatching on a smith machine.

To interpret

Here’s the tricky thing. When a coach simply tells you to ‘pull more’  its hard to know when to pull more. Instead of just pulling more, next time ask- or try to figure out where the bar went off its bar path or you weren’t as close to the bar as you could be- Then emphasize on pulling it towards you at that moment.
Alternative cues

“Keep it close”

“Pull it in”

“Jump and pull”

“Pull early”

“Lats/ Shoulders back”

“Elbows back”

“When giving a cue, you don’t want to actually ‘fix’ their mistake but make them aware of what their body needs to be feeling in the moment that made them miss the lift. You need to train them to be able to feel it in themselves what was wrong, giving them cues of what to be thinking about instead of what to be doing. When coaching, you need to find what cue, mantra, phrase, relation, sound, feeling that will make them understand what needs to be done and then ingrain it in their mind so far that it becomes second nature to them.”

Photo: Hookgrip

By |May 26th, 2014|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on The Notorious “Pull More”