What Equipment Do Olympic Weight Lifters Use?

by Jolie Johnson

Weightlifting has been an Olympic event since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. However, women didn't compete in Olympic weightlifting until 2000. The International Weightlifting Federation, or IWF, is the governing body of weightlifting competitions. It oversees the rules and regulations for the competitors' equipment, including the barbell, discs, bandages and belts.

The Bar

For the Olympic Games, the IWF board selects the make of the barbell from among the IWF-licensed companies. The men's bar is 2,200 mm long and weighs 20 kg. The center is 28 mm thick and the sleeves are 50 mm thick. The women's bar is 2,010 mm long and weighs 15 kg. It is 25 mm thick in the center and 50 mm thick at the sleeves. The identification markings on the men's bar are blue and on the women's bar are yellow.

The Discs

The discs are the weight plates that slide onto the bar for resistance. Ten weights are used, each a specific color: 0.5-kg white disc, 1-kg green disc, 1.5-kg yellow disc, 2-kg blue disc, 2.5-kg red disc, 5-kg white disc, 10-kg green disc, 15-kg yellow disc, 20-kg blue disc and 25-kg red disc. The larger discs, 10 kg and up, must be 450 mm in diameter, with a variation of plus or minus 1 mm.

Belt and Gloves

Lifters can wear a weight belt over their costume. The width of the belt cannot be more than 120 mm. Fingerless gloves that cover only the first phalanx of the fingers can be worn to protect the palm of the lifter's hands. Tape or plasters are allowed on the fingers and thumbs. If plasters are worn on the fingers, there must be a visible separation between the plasters and the glove.


Bandages, tape or plasters made of gauze, medical crepe or leather may be worn on the wrists, knees and hands. The wrist bandages must not cover more than 100 mm of skin, and the knee bandages must not cover more than 300 mm of skin. Lifters cannot wear bandages on the elbows, thighs, shins or arms. Magnesium chalk can be used on the hands, thighs or other body parts, but no other substance is allowed.

Photo Credits:

  • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.