What is Powerlifting?
Powerlifting consists of 3 lifts in the following order: Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift. Each lifter is given 3 attempts at each lift, however, within any of the lifts, each sequential lift must be equal to or more than the previous one. For example, if someone attempts 100 lbs on their 1st squat and is not awarded the lift, their next squat weight can only be equal to or more than 100 lbs. The rules for each lift follows.
(Copied from the USAPL Rulebook)
1. The lifter shall face the front of the platform. The bar shall be held horizontally across the shoulders, hands and fingers gripping the bar.
2. After removing the bar from the racks, (the lifter may be aided in removal of the bar from the racks by the spotters/loaders) the lifter must move backwards to establish the starting position. When the lifter is motionless and erect (slight deviation is allowable) with knees locked the Chief Referee will give the signal to begin the lift. The signal shall consist of a downward movement of the arm and the audible command “Squat”. Before receiving the signal to “squat” the lifter may make any position adjustments within the rules, without penalty. For reasons of safety the lifter will be requested to “Replace” the bar, together with a backward movement of the arm, if after a period of five seconds he is not in the correct position to begin the lift. The Chief Referee will then convey the reason why the signal was not given.
3. Upon receiving the Chief Referee’s signal the lifter must bend the knees and lower the body until the top surface of the legs at the hip joint is lower than the top of the knees. Only one decent attempt is allowed. The attempt is deemed to have commenced when the lifters knees have unlocked.
4. The lifter must recover at will to an upright position with the knees locked. Double bouncing at the bottom of the squat attempt or any downward movement is not permitted. When the lifter is motionless (in the apparent final position) the Chief Referee will give the signal to rack the bar.
5. The signal to rack the bar will consist of a backward motion of the arm and the audible command “Rack”. The lifter must then move forward and return the bar to the racks. Foot movement after the rack signal will not be cause for failure. For reasons of safety the lifter may request the aid of the spotters/loaders in returning the bar to, and replacing it in the racks. The lifter must stay with the bar during this process.
6. Not more than five and not less than two spotters/loaders shall be on the platform at any time. The Referees may decide to the number of spotters/loaders required on the platform at any time 2, 3, 4, or 5.
1. The bench shall be placed on the platform with the head facing the front or angled up to 45 degrees.
2. The lifter must lie on his back with head, shoulders and buttocks in contact with the bench surface. The feet must be flat on the floor (as flat as the shape of the shoe will allow). His hands and fingers must grip the bar positioned in the rack stands with a “thumbs around” grip. This position shall be maintained throughout the lift. Foot movement is permissible but must remain flat on the platform. The hair of the athlete must not hide the back of the head when lying down on the bench (pony tail is preferred). The Jury or Referees may require the lifter to affix his/her hair accordingly.
3. To achieve firm footing the lifter may use flat surfaced plates, or blocks not exceeding 30cm in total height and a minimum dimension of 60cm x 40cm, to build up the surface of the platform. Blocks in the range of 5cm, 10cm, 20cm, and 30cm should be made available for foot placement at all international competitions.
4. Not more than five and not less than two spotters/loaders shall be on the platform at any time. After correctly positioning himself, the lifter may enlist the help of the spotter/ loaders in removing the bar from the racks. The lift-off if assisted by the spotter/loaders must be at arms length.
5. The spacing of the hands shall not exceed 81cm measured between the forefingers (both forefingers must be within the 81cm marks and the whole of the forefingers must be in contact with the 81cm marks if maximum grip is used). If in the case of some old injury or anatomically the lifter is unable to grip the bar equally with both hands he must inform the referees prior to lift-off for each attempt and if necessary the bar will be marked accordingly. The use of the reverse grip is forbidden.
6. After removing the bar from the racks, with or without the help of the spotters/loaders, the lifter shall wait with [elbows locked into the starting position] for the Chief Referee’s signal. The signal shall be given as soon as the lifter is motionless and the bar properly positioned. For reasons of safety the lifter will be requested to “Replace” the bar, together with a backward movement of the arm, if after a period of five seconds he is not in the correct position to begin the lift. The Chief Referee will then convey the reason why the signal was not given.
7. The signal to begin the attempt shall consist of a downward movement of the arm together with the audible command “Start”.
8. After receiving the signal, the lifter must lower the bar to the chest or abdominal area (the bar shall not touch the belt), hold it motionless on the chest, after which the Chief referee will signal the audible command “Press”. The lifter must then return the bar to straight arms length elbows locked. When held motionless in this position the audible command “Rack” shall be given together with a backward motion of the arm. If the bar is lowered to the belt or does not touch the chest or abdominal area, the Chief Referee’s command is “Rack.”
1. The lifter shall face the front of the platform with the bar laid horizontally in front of the lifter’s feet, gripped with an optional grip in both hands and lifted until the lifter is standing erect.
2. On completion of the lift the knees shall be locked in a straight position and the shoulders back.
3. The Chief Referee’s signal shall consist of a downward movement of the arm and the audible command “Down”. The signal will not be given until the bar is held motionless and the lifter is in the apparent finished position.
4. Any rising of the bar or any deliberate attempt to do so will count as an attempt. Once the attempt has begun no downward movement is allowed until the lifter reaches the erect position with the knees locked. If the bar settles as the shoulders come back (slightly downward on completion) this should not be reason to disqualify the lift.
There will be three judges per lift. The lifter needs at least two of the three judges to deem the lift “good” in order for it to be considered a successful attempt. The best successful attempt of each lift is used in the calculations of the 3 lift total.
Weight Classes (1 kg = 2.2046 lbs)
43 kg* | 47 kg | 52 kg | 57 kg | 63 kg | 72 kg | 84 kg | 84+ kg
*The women’s 43 kg class is exclusive to the teen, junior, and collegiate divisions
53 kg* | 59 kg | 66 kg | 74 kg | 83 kg | 93 kg | 105 kg | 120 kg | 120+ kg
*The men’s 53 kg class is exclusive to the teen, junior, and collegiate divisions
“The Wilks Formula is used to compare the strength of powerlifters against each other despite the different weights of the lifters.” There is a separate formula for men and women. Most years, it will take achieving at least 500 wilks points to be in contention to win an individual National Championship at Collegiate Nationals. Sample calculations:
To achieve 400 wilks points:
130 lb male totaling 1018 lbs
180 lb male totaling 1308 lbs
230 lb male totaling 1473 lbs
115 lb female totaling 710 lbs
135 lb female totaling 804 lbs
160 lb female totaling 909 lbs
To achieve 500 wilks points:
130 lb male totaling 1272 lbs
180 lb male totaling 1636 lbs
230 lb male totaling 1841 lbs
115 lb female totaling 887 lbs
135 lb female totaling 1005 lbs
160 lb female totaling 1136 lbs
In addition to the full power (3-lift) division, some meets also include Bench Press only, Deadlift only, and/or Push-Pull (bench press and deadlift) divisions.