The 1932 weightlifting competitions were held at the 15,300 seat Grand Olympic Auditorium, which also hosted the boxing and wrestling events. The venue stayed open, hosting boxing, professional wrestling, and musical acts, until the 1980s when it was closed. It was re-opened in 1993, but in 2005 was purchased by the Glory Church of Jesus Christ, a Korean-American Christian Church.
Because of the world-wide depression and the long distance of travel to Los Angeles, there were very few entrants, and thus the competitions were held on only two days, 30-31 July. They were also the first competitions at the 1932 Olympics, with two classes (lightweight and light-heavyweight) held on the evening of the Opening Ceremony. The Olympic records were either equalled or surpassed in all classes, but no lifter defended their title. As in Amsterdam in 1928, the contestants contested a triathlon competition, consisting of a military press, snatch, clean & jerk, a format that would last through the 1972 Olympics.
The Olympic Champions came from France (3), and Germany and Czechoslovakia (1 each). The Americans participated for the first time in weightlifting (except for 1904) with 10 competitors but had to be content with two bronze medals. There had been no World Championships contested since 1923, so the favorites were considered those who had featured at the most recent European Championships.