The snatch is athleticism, precision, and timing personified, but the clean & jerk is where the real championships are won. Taking the heaviest weight possible from the ground to overhead is one of the most impressive feats in all of strength (just make sure you don’t press out the jerk, okay judges?).
And while many of history’s biggest snatches have occurred in training environments, with clean & jerks, we’re a little luckier: most of the heaviest lifts on video occurred during competitions. That’s at least partially true because the days of Soviet superheavies — who account for many of history’s lifts above 260 kilograms — didn’t include smartphones. So while there are still some semi-apocryphal rumors of 1980s lifters going up to 270kg (or higher), what we’ve compiled below is the heaviest collection of clean & jerks ever caught on film.
But first, the heaviest clean & jerk EVER filmed was 267 kilograms (588.6 pounds), a training lift by Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze.
1. Heaviest Ever Filmed: Lasha Talakhadze, 267 kilograms (588.6 pounds)
Georgia’s Lasha Talakhadze — a World and Olympic Gold Medalist and arguably the greatest superheavy of all time — made this lift while training for the 2019 European Weightlifting Championships in Batumi, Georgia. (Which he won, to almost no one’s surprise.) It remains the heaviest clean & jerk ever filmed, at least that we’re aware of.
2. Heaviest in Competition: Leonid Taranenko, 266 kilograms (586.4 pounds)
This lift was made in 1988 in Canberra, Australia, and remains the heaviest verified competition clean & jerk of all time. Made at an unusual weightlifting event sponsored by Samboy potato chips, when Taranenko was promised serious prize money by the then General Secretary of the Oceania Weightlifting Federation, he decided to go for the lift. He even went on to load 270 kilograms on the bar, but ran out of time.
Astoundingly, this isn’t even Taranenko’s heaviest competition clean. His 267.5kg attempt at the 1988 European Weightlifting Championships in Cardiff, Wales, came up just short when he lost control on the jerk.
3. Second Heaviest in Competition: Leonid Taranenko, 265.5 kilograms (585.3 pounds)
The lift below was made at the 1987 World Weightlifting Championships in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia.
This was actually the same competition where Antonio Krastev set what was then the all-time competition snatch world record of 216kg. Krastev’s training leading up to Ostrava was documented in the film “School of Champions.”
Taranenko hit the same weight — 265.5 kilograms — at the Soviet Championships that same year. We’ve combined both his 265.5 clean & jerks into one entry on this list, but technically, Taranenko owns the three heaviest made attempts in weightlifting competition history.
4. Anatoly Pisarenko, 265 kilograms (584.2 pounds)
Made at the 1984 Friendship Games in Varna, Bulgaria — a socialist-friendly alternative to the Summer Olympics, which the USSR had boycotted that year — the Ukrainian weightlifter made this lift weighing just 123 kilograms. This makes him, by far, the lightest lifter to go over 260 kilos in competition.
Disqualified: Aleksey Lovchev, 264 kilograms (582 pounds)
This clean & jerk was made at the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships in Houston, Texas. Though it appeared to be a new world record, breaking the previous one by 500 grams, the lift was ultimately rescinded after Lovchev tested positive for performance enhancers.
5. Lasha Talakhadze: 264 kilograms (582 pounds)
The Georgian phenomenon, who currently holds all three world records for the heaviest Olympic lifts in the current weight classes, made his heaviest competition clean & jerk of 264 kilos at the 2018 Georgian Nationals AND the 2019 World Championships. It was in the latter competition that he set his all-time total World Record at 484kg.
6. Hossein Rezazadeh: 263.5 kilograms (580.9 pounds)
The Iranian weightlifter made this monstrous clean & jerk at the 2004 Athens Olympics. To this day, it’s the heaviest lift ever made at an Olympic event.
Know a massive superheavyweight clean & jerk we missed where video exists? Let us know in the comments below!