In powerlifting, supportive equipment refers to supportive shirts, briefs, suits, and sometimes knee wraps made of materials that store elastic potential energy and thereby assist the three lifts contested in the sport: squat, bench press and deadlift.[18


Squat[edit] The lift starts with the lifter standing erect and the bar loaded with weights resting on the lifter's shoulders. At the referee's command the lift begins. The lifter creates a break in the hips, bends his knees and drops into a squatting position with the hip crease (the top surface of the leg at the hip crease) below the top of the knee. The lifter then returns to an erect position. At the referee's command the bar is returned to the rack and the lift is completed. After removing the bar from the racks while facing the front of the platform, the lifter may move forward or backward to establish the lifting position. The top of the bar not more than 3 cm below the top of the anterior deltoids. The bar shall be held horizontally across the shoulders with the hands and/or fingers gripping the bar, and the feet flat upon the platform with the knees locked. The lifter shall wait in this position for the head referee’s signal. The signal will be given as soon as the lifter is set and demonstrates control with the bar properly positioned. The head referee’s signal shall consist of a downward movement of the arm and audible command "Squat". Upon receiving the head 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 knees. The lifter must recover at will, without double bouncing, to an upright position with the knees locked. The bar may stop, but there must be no downward motion during recovery. As soon as the lifter demonstrates a controlled final position, the head referee will give the signal indicating completion of the lift and to replace the bar. The signal to replace the bar will consist of a backward motion of the arm and the audible command "Rack". The lifter must then make a reasonable attempt to return the bar to the racks. The lifter shall face the front of the platform, towards the head referee. The lifter shall not hold the collars or discs at any time during the performance of the lift. However, the edge of the hands gripping the bar may be in contact with the inner surface of the collar. Not more than five and not less than two loaders/spotters shall be on the platform at any time. The lifter may enlist the help of spotters in removing the bar from the racks; however, once the bar has cleared the racks, the spotters shall not physically assist the lifter with regards to actually getting into the proper set position. The spotters may assist the lifter to maintain control should the lifter stumble or demonstrate any evident instability. The lifter will be allowed only one commencement signal per attempt. The lifter may be given an additional attempt at the same weight at the head referee’s discretion if failure in an attempt was due to any error by one or more of the spotters. Causes for disqualification of a squat[edit] Failure to observe the head referee’s signals at the commencement or completion of a lift. Double bouncing or more than one recovery attempt at the bottom of the lift. Failure to assume an upright position with knees locked at the commencement and completion of the lift. Movement of the feet laterally, backward or forward that would constitute a step or stumble. Failure to bend the knees and lower the body until the surface of the legs at the hip joint is lower than the tops of the knees. Any resetting of the feet after the squat signal. Contact with the bar by the spotters between the referee’s signals. Contact of elbows or upper arms with the legs. Failure to make a reasonable attempt to return the bar to the racks. Any intentional dropping or dumping of the bar. Bench press[edit] With her or his back resting on the bench, the lifter takes the loaded bar at arm's length. The lifter lowers the bar to the chest. When the bar becomes motionless on the chest, the referee gives a press command. Then the referee will call 'Rack' and the lift is completed as the weight is returned to the rack. The front of the bench must be placed on the platform facing the head referee. The lifter must lie backward with shoulders and buttocks in contact with the flat bench surface. The lifter’s shoes or toes must be in solid contact with the platform or surface. The position of the head is optional. To achieve firm footing, a lifter of any height may use discs or blocks to build up the surface of the platform. Whichever method is chosen, the shoes must be in a solid contact with the surface. If blocks are used, they shall not exceed 45 cm x 45 cm. Not more than five and not less than two loaders/spotters shall be in attendance. The lifter may enlist the help of one or more of the designated spotters or enlist a personal spotter in removing the bar from the racks. Only designated spotters may remain on the platform during the lift. The lift off must be to arms length and not down to the chest. A designated spotter, having provided a centre lift off, must immediately clear the area in front of the head referee and move to either side of the bar. If the personal spotter does not immediately leave the platform area and/or in any way distracts or impedes the head referees’ responsibilities, the referees may determine that the lift is unacceptable, and be declared “no lift” by the referees and given three red lights. The spacing of the hands shall not exceed 81 cm, measured between the forefingers. The bar shall have circumferential machine markings or tape indicating this maximum grip allowance. If the lifter should use an offset or unequal grip on the bar, whereby one hand is placed outside the marking or tape, it is the lifters responsibility to explain this to the head referee, and allow inspection of the intended grip prior to making an attempt. If this is not done until the lifter is on the platform for an official attempt, any necessary explanation and/or measurements will be done on the lifter’s time for that attempt. The reverse or underhand grip is forbidden, as is a thumbless grip. After receiving the bar at arms length, the lifter shall lower the bar to the chest and await the head referees’ signal. The signal shall be an audible command “Press” and given as soon as the bar is motionless on the chest. As long as the bar is not so low that it touches the lifter’s belt, it is acceptable. The lifter will be allowed only one commencement signal per attempt. After the signal to commence the lift has been given, the bar is pressed upward. The bar shall not be allowed to sink into the chest or move downwards prior to the lifter’s attempt to press upward. The lifter will press the bar to straight arm’s length and hold motionless until the audible command “Rack” is given. Bar may move horizontally and may stop during the ascent, but may not move downward towards the chest. Causes for disqualification of a bench press[edit] Failure to observe the referee’s signals at the commencement or completion of the lift. Any change in the elected position that results in the buttocks breaking contact with the bench or lateral movement of the hands (between the referee’s signals). Any excessive movement or change of contact of the feet during the lift proper. Bouncing the bar off the chest. Allowing the bar to sink into the chest after receiving the referee’s signal. Pronounced uneven extension of the arms during or at the completion of the lift. Any downward motion of the bar during the course of being pressed out. Contact with the bar by the spotters between the referee’s signals. Any contact of the lifter’s shoes with the bench or its supports. Deliberate contact between the bar and the bar rest uprights during the lift to assist the completion of the press. It is the responsibility of the lifter to inform any personally enlisted spotters to leave the platform as soon as the bar is secured at arms length. Such spotters shall not return to the platform upon completion or failure of the attempt. It is especially important for a spotter providing a centre lift off to leave the platform quickly so as not to impair the head referee’s view. Failure of any personal spotters to leave the platform may cause disqualification of the lift. Deadlift[edit] In the deadlift the athlete grasps the loaded bar which is resting on the platform floor. The lifter pulls the weights off the floor and assumes an erect position. The knees must be locked and the shoulders back, with the weight held in the lifter's grip. At the referee's command the bar will be returned to the floor under the control of the lifter. The bar must be 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. The bar may stop but there must be no downward motion of the bar. The lifter shall face the front of the platform. On completion of the lift, the knees shall be locked in a straight position and the lifter shall be standing erect. The head 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 an apparent finished position. Any raising of the bar or any deliberate attempt to do so will count as an attempt. Causes for disqualification of a deadlift[edit] Any downward motion of the bar before it reaches the final position. Failure to stand erect. Failure to lock the knees straight at the completion of the lift. Supporting the bar on the thighs during the performance of the lift. 'Supporting’ is defined as a body position adopted by the lifter that could not be maintained without the counterbalance of the weight being lifted. Movement of the feet laterally, backward or forward that would constitute a step or stumble. Lowering the bar before receiving the head referee’s signal. Allowing the bar to return to the platform without maintaining control with both hands.


Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. As in the sport of Olympic weightlifting, it involves lifting weights in three attempts. Powerlifting evolved from a sport known as "odd lifts", which followed the same three-attempt format but used a wider variety of events, akin to strongman competition. Eventually odd lifts became standardized to the current three. In competition, lifts may be performed equipped or un-equipped (typically referred to as 'raw' lifting or 'classic' in the IPF specifically). Equipment in this context refers to a supportive bench shirt or squat/deadlift suit or briefs. In some federations, knee wraps are permitted in the equipped but not un-equipped division; in others, they may be used in both equipped and un-equipped lifting. Weight belts, knee sleeves, wrist wraps and special footwear may also be used, but are not considered when distinguishing equipped from un-equipped lifting.[1] Competitions take place across the world but mostly in the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Iceland, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Taiwan, Japan and Ukraine. Powerlifting has been a Paralympic sport (bench press only) since 1984 and, under the IPF, is also a World Games sport. Local, national and international competitions have also been sanctioned by other federations operating independently of the IPF.


The roots of powerlifting are in traditions of strength training stretching back as far as Greek and Roman times. The modern sport originated in the USA and the UK in the 1950s. Previously, the weightlifting governing bodies in both countries had recognized various ‘odd lifts’ for competition and record purposes. During the 1950s, Olympic weightlifting declined in the United States, while strength sports gained many new followers. In 1958, the AAU's National Weightlifting Committee decided to begin recognizing records for ‘odd lifts’. A national championship was tentatively scheduled for 1959, but it never happened. The first genuine national ‘meet’ was held in September 1964 under the auspices of the York Barbell Company. Ironically, Bob Hoffman, the owner of York Barbell, had been a long-time adversary of the sport. But his company was now making powerlifting equipment to make up for the sales it had lost on Olympic-style equipment. During the late 1950s, Hoffman’s York Barbell Company, his influence in Olympic lifting and his predominately Olympic-lifting based magazine Strength and Health were beginning to come under ever-increasing pressure from Joe Weider’s organization. As America’s (and Bob Hoffman influence in the world of weightlifting was declining and in order to combat the growing influence of Weider, Hoffman started another magazine [Muscular Development which would be focused more on bodybuilding and the fast-growing interest in ‘odd-lift’ competitions. The magazine’s first Editor was the world-renowned John Grimek. During the late 1950s and early 1960s various ‘odd lift’ events gradually developed into the specific lifts – the bench press, the squat, and the deadlift and lifted in that order. Bob Hoffman became more and more influential in the development of this new lifting sport and organized ‘The Weightlifting Tournament of America’ in 1964 - effectively the first US National championships. In 1965 the first named USA National Championships were held. During the same period, lifting in Britain also had factions. In the late 1950s, and because the ruling body (BAWLA) were only interested in the development of Olympic lifting, a breakaway organization called the Society of Amateur Weightlifters had been formed to cater for the interests of lifters who were not particularly interested in doing Olympic lifting. Although at that time there were 42 recognized lifts, the "Strength Set" (Biceps Curl, Bench Press, and Squat) soon became the standard competition lifts, and both organizations held Championships on these lifts (as well as on the Olympic lifts) until 1965. In 1966, the Society of Amateur Weightlifters re-joined BAWLA and, in order to fall into line with the American lifts, the Curl was dropped and replaced with the Deadlift. The first British Championship was held in 1966. During the late 60’s and at the beginning of the 70’s, various friendly international contests were held. At the same time, in early November of each year and to commemorate Bob Hoffman’s birthday, a prestige lifting contest was always held as part of "Bob Hoffman’s Birthday Party." In 1971, it was decided to make this event the "World Weightlifting Championships." There was no such thing as ‘teams’ and thus was predominantly a whole bunch of American lifters, plus four from Great Britain and one from the West Indies. All the Referees were American. This event got off the mark in York, Pennsylvania, at 10.05 am on Saturday 6 November 1971. Weights were in pounds. Lifting order was ‘rising bar’ this was long before the Rounds system . The first lift was the Bench Press. There was no such thing as bench shirts or squat suits, and various interpretations were held regarding the use of and length of knee wraps and weightlifting belts. The IPF rules system did not exist yet, nor had world records been established. Because of the lack of formalized rules some disputes occurred. There was no 52 kg class, no 100 kg class, and no 125 kg class. At the ‘first’ World Championships, one of the American Super heavyweights, Jim Williams (nicknamed ‘Chimes’) benched 660 lbs on a second attempt (no shirt), and almost locked-out 680 lbs on a third. Some other notable lifts – Larry Pacifico benched the equivalent of 233.6 kg (515 lbs) in the 90 kg class; John Kuc deadlifted 371.9 kg (820 lbs); and Vince Anello attempted 362½ kg (800 lbs) at 90.[2] Hugh Cassidy and Williams both totaled 2,160 lbs, but Cassidy got the win because of a lower bodyweight in the Super heavyweight division. In 1972 the ‘second’ AAU World Championships were held, this time over two days – 10 and 11 November. This time there were 8 lifters from Great Britain (two of whom, Ron Collins and John Pegler, did stints as Referees), six Canadians, two Puerto Ricans, three Zambians, and one from the West Indies. With 67 lifters in all, the other 47 were Americans. Lifts were still measured in pounds, the bench press was the first lift, and there were still no suits, power belts, or fancy wraps. Britain’s Precious McKenzie won his ‘second’ world title with 550 kg at 56. Mike Shaw ‘lost’ his world title, won the previous year, to American Jack Keammerer. Ron Collins made up for his ’bomb’ on the bench in ’71 and stormed to the 75 kg title. Pacifico just won against another American, Mel Hennessey, at 110 kg, both with enormous benches of 260 kg and 255 kg. At Super (over 110 kg) John Kuc beat Jim Williams with an incredible 2,350 lbs total (raw). Kuc squatting 905 lbs for a record squat and attempting a 397½ (875 lbs) deadlift again, and Williams benching a massive 307½ (675 lbs) - the greatest bench press ever at the time, before just missing with 317½ (700 lbs).[3] Jon Cole, the Super heavyweight winner of the US Senior Championships 1972 and holder of the greatest total at that time with 1,075 kg (2,370 lbs), didn’t show up to take on Kuc.