Fitness and Exercise

Powerlifting Information: Examine Your Lifts to the All-Time Greats

Some individuals had a singular introduction to bodily energy. At one level, they could have seen an individual elevate a heavy weight — whether or not it was a member of the family shifting an “immovable” piece of furnishings, a muscular athlete finishing a “bench press challenge” on tv, or a superhero hoisting a automobile overhead to save lots of the day — and the spark was ignited.

These feats of energy left an indelible impression and, ultimately, they discovered their means into the gymnasium and started creating their very own muscular prowess. Just a few of probably the most easy avenues for lifters to check themselves is with “the big three” powerlifts — the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Credit score: Actual Sports activities Images / Shutterstock

Aggressive powerlifting provides an opportunity for lifters of any age, measurement, or expertise to match themselves to modern-day friends in addition to legendary lifters of the previous. Right here’s a have a look at what it takes to finish outstanding powerlifting performances.

Powerlifting Information

What’s Powerlifting?

To start on web page one, it’s essential to grasp what “powerlifting” really is. Whereas it would sound counterintuitive, powerlifting is distinctly completely different from weightlifting. The game of weightlifting, as offered within the Summer time Olympics, challenges athletes with the snatch and clean & jerk actions. Powerlifting checks athletes with the again squat, flat bench press, and deadlift (both conventional stance or sumo) to finish a “total” weight lifted for the competition.

The game of powerlifting formally started in 1964 with “The Powerlifting Tournament of America” being the primary organized and acknowledged competitors of the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Maybe not coincidentally, the competition was held in York, Pennsylvania — residence of US Olympic weightlifting coach and founding father of York Barbell, Bob Hoffman.

As powerlifting continued to develop, each throughout the USA and internationally. By the Eighties, it was thought of a full-fledged, albeit area of interest, aggressive sport. From the late Nineteen Seventies till the early 2010s, it garnered sufficient widespread consideration to warrant a devoted print journal, Powerlifting USA, which showcased sport-specific information and coaching options.

As the game of powerlifting grew in reputation, leisure lifters discovered a relatable outlet for testing their energy. Whereas Olympic weightlifting is essentially thought of to depend on important train approach, the large three powerlifts are comparatively extra easy to study, making them extra accessible to the typical gym-goer.

Powerlifting, normally, has practically turn into synonymous with merely making an attempt to build sheer strength within the gymnasium. Nonetheless, the game itself has at all times revolved round three foundational workouts carried out beneath particular standards. If lifts are carried out with completely different or “loose” approach, they’re ineligible for an official file.


In a powerlifting competitors, the barbell again squat is the primary of three actions examined. Relying on the precise federation and ruleset, the barbell is both supported on squat stands or in a monolift — a hydraulic-assisted machine which permits lifters to arrange in a squat stance with out repositioning their ft.

Powerlifting squats are universally examined by requiring lifters to descend till their hip joint is parallel to their knee joint. That is the place the frequent cue “squat to parallel” comes from. Opposite to some frequent opinions, “parallel” will not be essentially associated to the lifter’s thigh place as a result of closely muscled legs could not seem to succeed in parallel when the hip is at an appropriate depth.

Lifters could use both a low bar or high bar setup, relying on their particular person desire. The important thing efficiency issue is reaching the goal depth, and the lifter’s physique kind and mobility will dictate their best approach.

Bench Press

The flat barbell bench press is the only real check of pure higher physique energy in a powerlifting competitors. Nearly all of powerlifting federations have grip requirements, usually sustaining a grip that has at the very least one finger involved with the pre-set ring markers on the barbell. Lifters should maintain their head, shoulders, and glutes involved with the bench all through your entire press, whereas additionally maintaining their ft touching the ground.

The barbell is lowered to chest-level and should stay involved with the athlete’s physique till a decide offers the “press” command to start the ascent. This ensures a constant depth marker for every lifter whereas serving to to forestall momentum from bouncing the bar off of the chest. The bar is then held within the locked out place till the lifter receives a decide’s command to “rack.”

Controversially, lifters could initially arrange with an arch of their decrease again which can add urgent stability and scale back their vary of movement, making the elevate much less difficult. Nonetheless, some federations, such because the Worldwide Powerlifting Federation (IPF), have taken steps to restrict the diploma of arch lifters could use.


“The meet doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor,” is a standard phrase heard in powerlifting circles to emphasise the significance of the competition’s last motion — the deadlift. With the bar starting on the ground, lifters should full a deadlift in a single clean movement. Jerking or “hitching” the bar up the thighs disqualifies the elevate. Full lockout is achieved when the lifter’s legs are straight and their shoulders are behind the bar.

In competitors, powerlifters usually are not allowed to make use of lifting straps, however can seize the bar with a double-overhand, combined (over/underhand), or hook grip (grabbing the thumbs alongside the underside of the bar).

Web meme tradition appears to get pleasure from claiming that “sumo deadlifts don’t count,” however no precise powerlifting group has fallen according to that strategy. Lifters are free to decide on their very own deadlift stance — typical, sumo, or someplace in between — in keeping with their particular person leverages and optimum energy output.


The powerlifter’s complete is the sum of their greatest efficiency in every of the three lifts. Powerlifters get three makes an attempt for every motion, with solely the best weight being tallied for his or her complete. If a lifter fails all three makes an attempt at an train (aka “bombs out”), they’re unable to publish a complete.

Informally and out of doors of competitions, some lifters acknowledge benchmarks similar to “the 1,000-pound club” (454 kilograms), the place a 1,000-pound/454-kilogram complete is reached within the massive three lifts in a leisure gymnasium setting.

In competitors, an elite complete is usually thought of to be 10-times the lifter’s physique weight. Nonetheless, in males’s heavier weight courses (usually 220-pounds/100-kilograms), totals approaching 2,000 kilos (907 kilograms) are thought of “elite,” and are the signal of a extremely superior energy athlete. Girls’s opponents have ultimate totals which are related, however lowered barely.

Powerlifting Divisions and Classes

Opponents within the sport of powerlifting are separated not solely by weight class, however by age group, intercourse assigned at start, and the use (or lack) of supportive tools. Every of those variables are related components to figuring out powerlifting information.

Weight Courses

Within the majority of powerlifting federations, weight courses are damaged up in roughly 15 to 25-pound (seven to 11 and a half-kilogram) increments. The IPF — the oldest, largest, and arguably most well-known federation — has eight weight courses for women and men, all utilizing barely adjusted categorizations in comparison with different federations. Essentially the most generally discovered weight courses are as follows:

Males’s weight courses:

Girls’s weight courses:

At competitions, athletes usually weigh-in not more than two hours earlier than the beginning of the competition and so they should weigh beneath the burden cap for his or her class. This helps to make sure that athletes in a given weight class are competing at usually comparable physique sizes.

Age Teams

Equally, age divisions are most frequently categorized by youthful athletes (Sub-Junior and Junior), open opponents (with out particular age tips), and Masters (lifters over 40 years old).

Sub-Junior lifters are usually 14 to 18 years previous, whereas Junior lifters are 19 to 23 years previous. To extra precisely designate opponents, Masters athletes are usually sorted into 5 to 10-year increments. For instance, “Masters I” could incorporate ages 40 to 49; “Masters II,” ages 50 to 59; “Masters III” would come with 60 to 69-year previous opponents, and “Masters IV” collectively compares athletes over 70.

Males and Girls

Nearly all of powerlifting federations require athletes to compete in keeping with the gender they have been assigned at start. Lately, this has turn into an more and more sophisticated state of affairs notably with regard to transgender energy athletes.

The categorization, and whether or not or not the athletes can compete in any capability, usually comes right down to the person powerlifting group. For instance, USA Powerlifting (USAPL) doesn’t allow female-to-male athletes to compete within the Males’s division. The USAPL stands by their constant stance which forbids any athlete from competing when utilizing exterior androgens for therapeutic use, whether or not it’s a transgender athlete sustaining normal-range testosterone ranges or an getting older cisgender males’s competitor sustaining related testosterone ranges.

The USAPL additionally doesn’t enable male-to-female athletes to compete within the Girls’s division, citing doubtlessly lingering physiological advantages the athlete could expertise from the interval earlier than transition. Nonetheless, the info on these advantages is combined, and doubtlessly negligible. (1)

The IPF, nonetheless, follows the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) tips relating to transgender athletes. Within the IPF, in addition to a number of different organizations, male-to-female athletes could compete within the Girls’s division so long as they meet particular standards similar to declaring their gender identification and sustaining it for at least 4 years, in addition to documenting decreased testosterone ranges for at the very least 12 months previous to competing.

The IPF additionally permits female-to-male powerlifters to compete so long as their testosterone ranges are inside the regular vary for Males’s opponents.

Uncooked vs. Geared up

Uncooked lifting and outfitted lifting are two of probably the most important forks within the street with regards to aggressive powerlifting. The differentiation is constructed round whether or not or not the powerlifting wears specialised clothes to assist and help every motion.

In uncooked powerlifting, athletes usually use a weightlifting belt to assist their core, knee sleeves to stabilize their knee joints throughout the squat, and wrist wraps for joint stability throughout the bench press. Knee wraps, which differ from sleeves and supply extra direct profit to growing squat energy, are generally thought of a slight variation of uncooked lifting — usually designated “raw with wraps.”

With outfitted lifting, opponents are allowed to make use of specifically designed shirts and/or briefs (shorts) which assist within the completion of the lifts. The distinctive gear is actually designed to be extraordinarily stiff, which resists bending or flexing. Whereas this may be a bonus in locking out the burden on a given train, it additionally makes the descent more difficult.

Geared up gear is designed in quite a lot of “levels” — single-ply or multi-ply — relying on the quantity of help offered, as decided by the thickness and development of the gear. Geared up lifting usually permits the usage of heavier weights in competitors.

Nonetheless, outfitted information within the deadlift are, apparently, not often increased than uncooked deadlifts. Seemingly because of commonplace deadlift approach, beginning within the backside place, which doesn’t enable briefs to offer important help.

Present Powerlifting Information

For some normal context, right here’s a quick snapshot of a number of powerlifting information which at present stand (as of the time of this writing).


Bench Press

  • 205.5 kilograms (453 kilos) Males’s Masters II UncookedDavid Ricks — 93 kilograms (205 kilos)
  • 213.4 kilograms (470.7 kilos) Males’s Uncooked — Eddie Berglund — 67.1 kilograms (148 kilos)
  • 272.8 kilograms (600.7 kilos) Males’s UncookedJohn Haack — 99.8 kilograms (220 kilos)
  • 351.5 kilograms (774.9 kilos) Males’s Single-Ply — Kostiantyn Musiienko — 99.8 kilograms (220 Kilos)
  • 408.3 kilograms (900 kilos) Males’s Multi-Ply — Jason Coker — 89.8 kilograms  (198 kilos)
  • 142.9 kilograms (315 kilos) Girls’s Uncooked — Cosette Neely — 44 kilograms (97 Kilos)
  • 146 kilograms (321.8 kilos) Girls’s Masters I UncookedJennifer Thompson — 67.1 kilograms (148 kilos)
  • 182.5 kilograms (402.3 kilos) Girls’s Uncooked — Emily Hu — 59.8 kilograms (132 kilos)
  • 225 kilograms (496 kilos) Girls’s Single-Ply — Rhaea Stinn — 82.1 kilograms (181 kilos)
  • 240.4 kilograms (530 kilos) Girls’s Multi-Ply — Laura Phelps-Stackhouse — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)


  • 408.7 kilograms (901 kilos) Males’s Single-Ply — Ed Coan — 99.8 kilograms (220 kilos)
  • 410 kilograms (903.9 kilos) Males’s Uncooked — John Haack — 89.8 kilograms (198 kilos)
  • 440 kilograms (970 kilos) Males’s Uncooked — Benedikt Magnusson — 140+ kilograms (308+ kilos)
  • 457.5 kilograms (1,008.6 kilos) Males’s Multi-Ply — Andy Bolton — 140+ kilograms (308+ kilos)
  • 487.5 kilograms (1,074.7 kilos) Males’s UncookedDanny Grigsby — 124.7 kilograms (275 kilos)
  • 200 kilograms (440.9 kilos) Girls’s UncookedHeather Connor — 47.6 kilograms (105 kilos)
  • 222.5 kilograms (490.5 kilos) Girls’s Single-Ply — Carrie Boudreau 55.8 kilograms (123 kilos)
  • 275 kilograms (606.2 kilos) Girls’s UncookedKristy Hawkins — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 290 kilograms (639.3 kilos) Girls’s UncookedTamara Walcott — 89.8+ kilograms (198+ kilos)
  • 315 kilograms (694.4 kilos) Girls’s Multi-Ply — Becca Swanson 89.8+ kilograms (198+ kilos)


  • 838.4 kilograms (1,848.5 kilos) Males’s Uncooked — Taylor Atwood — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 985 kilograms (2,171.5 kilos) Males’s Single-Ply — Oleksandr Kutcher — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 1,033.5 kilograms (2,254.2 kilos) Males’s Uncooked — John Haack — 89.8 kilograms (198 kilos)
  • 1,152.5 kilograms (2,540.9 kilos) Males’s Uncooked — Jesus Olivares — 140+ kilograms (308+ kilos)
  • 1,360.8 kilograms (3,000 kilos) Males’s Multi-Ply — Donnie Thompson — 140+ kilograms (308+ kilos)
  • 428.5 kilograms (944.6 kilos) Girls’s Uncooked — Tiffany Chapon — 47.6 kilograms (105 kilos)
  • 687.5 kilograms (1,515.6 kilos) Girls’s Uncooked — Kristy Hawkins — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 726 kilograms (1600.5 kilos) Girls’s Single-PlyAgata Sitko — 82.1 kilograms (181 kilos)
  • 725 kilograms (1,620.4 kilos) Girls’s Uncooked — Tamara Walcott — 89.8+ kilograms (198+ kilos)
  • 816.5 kilograms (1,800 kilos) Girls’s Multi-Ply — Laura Phelps-Stackhouse — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)


  1. Roberts TA, Smalley J, Ahrendt DEffect of gender affirming hormones on athletic efficiency in transwomen and transmen: implications for sporting organisations and legislatorsBritish Journal of Sports activities Drugs 2021;55:577-583.

Featured Picture:Actual Sports activities Images / Shutterstock

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