The 3 Powerlifting Lifts

Powerlifting is a competitive strength sport where three lifts are performed. These lifts are the big three weightlifting exercises: the squat, the deadlift and the bench press.

Powerlifing is a test of limit strength. Competitors have three attempts to complete each lift. The best attempt counts as their lift for that event and is carried on to form their competition total.

The competitor who lifts the most weight across all three lifts wins the competition.

The sport of powerlifting is most popular in the US, UK and Russia.

Powerlifting rules

In a powerlifting contest, the lifts are performed in this order:

Squat first, then bench press, and finally the deadlift is the last lift.

Between 2 and 5 spotters must be in attendance for each lift.

There is a strict set of rules governing each of the three powerlifts. Read on to find out more about the rules of powerlifting contests:

Squat in powerlifting

The lifter must not double bounce at the bottom of the lift, nor have more than one recovery attempt.

The lifter must not step back or forward once the lift has commenced. This would indicate a stumble.

The lifter must not touch his/her legs with elbows or upper arms.

At the bottom of the lift, the top surface of the legs at the hip should be lower than the knees.

The lifter must wait for the referee to call ‘squat’ before commencing the descent, and ‘rack’ before replacing the bar on the rack after finishing the ascent.

squat powerlifting

Bench press in powerlifting

Feet must be in contact with the ground/platform surface

Grip width, measured between forefingers, must not exceed 81 cm (this spacing will be indicated on the bar)

The lifter must wait for referee to call ‘press’ before pressing upward, and ‘rack’ before placing bar back on rack at the top of the lift.

bench press powerlifting

Deadlift in powerlifting

At the top of the lift, the knees should be locked straight, body motionless and standing erect.

The lifter must wait for the referee to call ‘down’ before returning the weight to the ground/platform surface

The lifter must not step or stumble after commencement of the lift

The lifter must not support the weight of the bar on the thighs at any point

The bar must be returned to the ground/platform surface, maintaining control with both hands

Deadlift powerlifting

Variations in powerlifting

Some federations have slightly different rules. For example, in a ‘push-pull only’ event, lifters only perform the bench press and deadlift.

There are also ‘single lift’ events at which normally only the bench press is performed. There might also be a ‘strict curl’ lift which will be performed before the squat.

Do you powerlift?

Do you enjoy powerlifting? Do you compete in powerlifting events?

Do you have any tips for those new to powerlifting training or competition?

Share your advice or thoughts in the comments.

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