Updated: Dec 15, 2022
Powerlifting is the true strength sport for power athletes. It is composed of three attempts on three kinds of lifts, namely, the bench press, squat, and deadlift. Powerlifting competitions happen globally, which includes the Paralympics (bench press) and World Games. The competitions may include use of equipment or without; equipment would refer to the apparel such as suit, briefs, knee wraps, weight belts, wrist wraps, and footwear.
Powerlifting started in ancient Greece and Persia as a show of proof of strength and masculinity. It was included as an official Olympic sport in 1896. From then on, there have been many competitions that feature powerlifting that focus on bodybuilding for both men and women.
However, there were a lot of breakaway groups which had different approaches, had no standards and formal rules, and no instituted world records. Thus, disputes arose. Thus, in 1973, the International Powerlifting Federation was established and rules and records were organized. Among the rules established were introduction of weight classes, pushing for drug testing, and encouraging the forming of federations.
There are various powerlifting federations across the globe, with the IPF being the most prominent. The IPF is the body that determines participation in the World Games, which is closely affiliated with the International Olympics Committee.
Powerlifting makes use of equipment such as weight belts, knee wraps, bench shirts, and deadlift suits. Special types of bars are also used each for the squat and deadlift. These apparel support the lifter in terms of storing energy and assisting in proper and safe posture. Straps are also used for weak grips. The suits are made of stiff and snug material, such as denim or polyester, which stabilizes the joints and muscles during the actual lifting and release. Depending on the competition (either called as equipped or raw), the use of a type of equipment may or may not be allowed.
There are various weight classes and age categories for powerlifting. For men, the weight categories range from 52 kgs to 140+ kgs, while for women, it ranges from 44 kgs to 90+ kgs. Under the IPF, however, the weight range is from 53 kgs to 120+ kgs for men, and 43 kgs to 84+ kgs for women. The average age in competitions are from 15 to 18 years old for the sub-junior category, 19 to 23 years old for the junior, any age for the open, and 40+ years old for the master category.
A powerlifting competition consists of three events: the squad, bench press, and deadlift. The combination of the total scores for the three events will determine the placing. Each lifter is allowed with three attempts for each event and are pitted against their competitors from the same weight class, age, and gender. The events are arranged in this order: squat, followed by bench press, then lastly the deadlift.
Powerlifters engage in weight training in order to be competent for the three lifts. Aside from weight training, powerlifters also engage in weight resistance training and aerobic exercises in order to strengthen muscles, improve performance, and increase endurance. These training sessions are beneficial to gaining more force potential and completing lifts more speedily.