Powerlifting Information: Easy methods to Evaluate Your Lifts to the All-Time Greats

Some folks had a singular introduction to bodily power. At one level, they might have seen an individual raise a heavy weight — whether or not it was a member of the family transferring an “immovable” piece of furnishings, a muscular athlete finishing a “bench press problem” on tv, or a superhero hoisting a automotive overhead to avoid wasting the day — and the spark was ignited.

These feats of power left an indelible impression and, in the end, they discovered their means into the health club and commenced creating their very own muscular prowess. Just a few of probably the most easy avenues for lifters to check themselves is with “the massive three” powerlifts — the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

Credit score: Actual Sports activities Photographs / Shutterstock

Aggressive powerlifting provides an opportunity for lifters of any age, measurement, or expertise to check 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 know 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 exams athletes with the again squat, flat bench press, and deadlift (both conventional stance or sumo) to finish a “complete” weight lifted for the competition.

The game of powerlifting formally started in 1964 with “The Powerlifting Event 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 US and internationally. By the Eighties, it was thought-about 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 power. Whereas Olympic weightlifting is basically thought-about to depend on vital train method, the massive three powerlifts are comparatively extra easy to study, making them extra accessible to the typical gym-goer.

Powerlifting, basically, has almost turn into synonymous with merely attempting to build sheer strength within the health club. Nonetheless, the game itself has at all times revolved round three foundational workouts carried out underneath particular standards. If lifts are carried out with completely different or “unfastened” method, they’re ineligible for an official report.


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” shouldn’t be essentially associated to the lifter’s thigh place as a result of closely muscled legs might not seem to achieve parallel when the hip is at an appropriate depth.

Lifters might 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 method.

Bench Press

The flat barbell bench press is the only real take a look at of pure higher physique power in a powerlifting competitors. The vast majority of powerlifting federations have grip requirements, typically sustaining a grip that has not less than 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 the whole press, whereas additionally holding their ft touching the ground.

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

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


“The meet doesn’t begin till the bar hits the ground,” 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 raise. Full lockout is achieved when the lifter’s legs are straight and their shoulders are behind the bar.

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

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


The powerlifter’s complete is the sum of their finest 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 outdoors of competitions, some lifters acknowledge benchmarks equivalent to “the 1,000-pound membership” (454 kilograms), the place a 1,000-pound/454-kilogram complete is reached within the massive three lifts in a leisure health club setting.

In competitors, an elite complete is usually thought-about to be 10-times the lifter’s physique weight. Nonetheless, in males’s heavier weight lessons (usually 220-pounds/100-kilograms), totals approaching 2,000 kilos (907 kilograms) are thought-about “elite,” and are the signal of a extremely superior power athlete. Ladies’s rivals have preferrred totals which might be comparable, however lowered barely.

Powerlifting Divisions and Classes

Rivals 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 elements to figuring out powerlifting data.

Weight Courses

Within the majority of powerlifting federations, weight lessons 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 lessons for women and men, all utilizing barely adjusted categorizations in comparison with different federations. Probably the most generally discovered weight lessons are as follows:

Males’s weight lessons:

  • 52 kilograms (114 kilos)
  • 56 kilograms (123 kilos)
  • 60 kilograms (132 kilos)
  • 67.5 kilograms (148 kilos)
  • 75 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 82.5 kilograms (181 kilos)
  • 90 kilograms (198 kilos)
  • 100 kilograms (220 kilos)
  • 110 kilograms (242 kilos)
  • 125 kilograms (275 kilos)
  • 140 kilograms (308 kilos)
  • 140+ kilograms (above 308 kilos)

Ladies’s weight lessons:

  • 44 kilograms (97 kilos)
  • 48 kilograms (105 kilos)
  • 52 kilograms (114 kilos)
  • 56 kilograms (123 kilos)
  • 60 kilograms (132 kilos)
  • 67.5 kilograms (148 kilos)
  • 75 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 82.5 kilograms (181 kilos)
  • 90 kilograms (198 kilos)
  • 90+ kilograms (above 198 kilos)

At competitions, athletes sometimes weigh-in not more than two hours earlier than the beginning of the competition they usually 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 rivals (with out particular age pointers), and Masters (lifters over 40 years old).

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

Males and Ladies

The vast majority of powerlifting federations require athletes to compete in line with the gender they have been assigned at start. In recent times, this has turn into an more and more sophisticated state of affairs notably with regard to transgender power athletes.

The categorization, and whether or not or not the athletes can compete in any capability, typically comes all the way 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 growing old cisgender males’s competitor sustaining comparable testosterone ranges.

The USAPL additionally doesn’t permit male-to-female athletes to compete within the Ladies’s division, citing doubtlessly lingering physiological advantages the athlete might expertise from the interval earlier than transition. Nonetheless, the information on these advantages is blended, and doubtlessly negligible. (1)

The IPF, nevertheless, follows the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) pointers relating to transgender athletes. Within the IPF, in addition to a number of different organizations, male-to-female athletes might compete within the Ladies’s division so long as they meet particular standards equivalent to declaring their gender identification and sustaining it for no less than 4 years, in addition to documenting decreased testosterone ranges for not less than 12 months previous to competing.

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

Uncooked vs. Geared up

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

In uncooked powerlifting, athletes sometimes use a weightlifting belt to help their core, knee sleeves to stabilize their knee joints in the course of the squat, and wrist wraps for joint stability in the course of the bench press. Knee wraps, which differ from sleeves and supply extra direct profit to growing squat power, are generally thought-about a slight variation of uncooked lifting — typically designated “uncooked with wraps.”

With outfitted lifting, rivals are allowed to make use of specifically designed shirts and/or briefs (shorts) which help 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 tougher.

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

Nonetheless, outfitted data within the deadlift are, curiously, hardly ever increased than uncooked deadlifts. Possible because of customary deadlift method, beginning within the backside place, which doesn’t permit briefs to offer vital help.

Present Powerlifting Information

For some common context, right here’s a quick snapshot of a number of powerlifting data 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) Ladies’s Uncooked — Cosette Neely — 44 kilograms (97 Kilos)
  • 146 kilograms (321.8 kilos) Ladies’s Masters I UncookedJennifer Thompson — 67.1 kilograms (148 kilos)
  • 182.5 kilograms (402.3 kilos) Ladies’s Uncooked — Emily Hu — 59.8 kilograms (132 kilos)
  • 225 kilograms (496 kilos) Ladies’s Single-Ply — Rhaea Stinn — 82.1 kilograms (181 kilos)
  • 240.4 kilograms (530 kilos) Ladies’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) Ladies’s UncookedHeather Connor — 47.6 kilograms (105 kilos)
  • 222.5 kilograms (490.5 kilos) Ladies’s Single-Ply — Carrie Boudreau 55.8 kilograms (123 kilos)
  • 275 kilograms (606.2 kilos) Ladies’s UncookedKristy Hawkins — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 290 kilograms (639.3 kilos) Ladies’s UncookedTamara Walcott — 89.8+ kilograms (198+ kilos)
  • 315 kilograms (694.4 kilos) Ladies’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) Ladies’s Uncooked — Tiffany Chapon — 47.6 kilograms (105 kilos)
  • 687.5 kilograms (1,515.6 kilos) Ladies’s Uncooked — Kristy Hawkins — 74.8 kilograms (165 kilos)
  • 726 kilograms (1600.5 kilos) Ladies’s Single-PlyAgata Sitko — 82.1 kilograms (181 kilos)
  • 725 kilograms (1,620.4 kilos) Ladies’s Uncooked — Tamara Walcott — 89.8+ kilograms (198+ kilos)
  • 816.5 kilograms (1,800 kilos) Ladies’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 Medication 2021;55:577-583.

Featured Picture:Actual Sports activities Photographs / Shutterstock

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