is a competitive sport that is also used to develop the body and help
athletes prepare for other sports. Powerlifting
gives individuals the opportunity to strengthen the body, perfect the
body, test your abilities and help you feel good about yourself.
The sport of powerlifting was developed to test the strength of its
competitors in three events; the squat, the benchpress and the deadlift.
Athletes compete with people of roughly the same body weight.
Click the images below for a detailed description of each event.
the squat, the barbell is positioned horizontally across the back of the
shoulders; the hands steady and balance the bar.
From a standing position, the lifter bends the knees and lowers the
body until the top surface of the legs at the hip joint is lower than the
top of the knees.
This defines a squat of legal depth; few people in the gym squat to
From this lowered position, the lifter returns to an upright,
Contrary to popular belief, the squat is not unusually tough on the
lower back or knees. If done properly -- straight, upright back, knees in
alignment with feet -- you should experience only the soreness indicative
of a good workout!
In periods of heavy training and in competitive meets, most lifters
elect to wear a supportive squat suit. This is a tight fitting, one-piece
suit that looks like high shorts with straps over the shoulders. The
material is virtually non-stretch and sometimes takes a great deal of
talcum powder, patience, and help to get in to!
However, they give a great deal of support and protection to the
hips and back.
In addition to the suit, most powerlifters use stretchy knee wraps.
These lend support to the joint and tendons of the knee.
Last, but not least, just about every lifter will use a snug, heavy
belt. The purpose of the belt is to aid the muscles of the torso (mainly
the abs) in supporting the trunk of the body by increasing abdominal
pressure. Most people use a leather belt of maximum width (just under
4" along the entire length) and thickness (1/2").
The Bench Press:
Most people are familiar with the Bench Press -- lower
a barbell to your chest and push it up, right? Well, there's a bit more to
the technique in competitive powerlifting.
First of all, there's a pause at the bottom. After you've lowered
the bar to your chest and it is still, you are given the command to
"press" it up. No
bouncing the bar off your chest! Also, your head, shoulders, and buttocks
must remain on the bench and the feet must be flat on the floor.
These contact points cannot move during the lift.
Sometimes you see lifters get an arch in their back between the
buttocks and shoulders. This
is legal and aids lifters who have stronger lower pectorials by changing
the angle of the press. Bench
press equipment is much simpler than the squat.
Some type of one-piece lifting outfit is required; most people use
a wrestling singlet. Bench
press shirts may be used...they perform a similar function as the squat
suit by supporting the shoulders and pecs.
It's a very tight, non-stretch shirt that also may require talcum
powder and several strong friends to squeeze you into it. It's my
experience that roughly 70% of lifters use the shirts. Belts are optional
as are wristwraps.
deadlift involves lifting a loaded barbell from the floor (the bar is
actually about 10" off the ground) to a standing position.
There are two general styles of deadlifting: conventional and sumo.
With conventional style, the feet are fairly close together, and
the hands grasp the bar outside of the legs.
The knees and hips are bent and do the majority of the lifting; the
back must remain as straight and upright as possible.
Sumo style uses a very wide stance and the arms grasp the bar in
front of and between the legs.
In some cases, the stance is so wide that the toes almost touch the
plates at either end of the barbell.
From the lowered position, the knees and hips are used to drive the
This style is favored often by taller people with longer arms.
In the deadlift, about half the lifters lift in a squat suit and
half lift just in a singlet.
They usually wear a wrestling shoe or slipper because the very thin
sole enables them to get as close to the floor, and bar, as possible.
Think about lifting in platform shoes, you'd have to get much lower
to reach the bar -- a much tougher position to start from.
The deadlift is probably the easiest lift to judge - it goes up or
However, sometimes a lifter will "hitch" or ride the
weight up his or her legs. This is not allowed. The lifter must "lock
out" or be in a full standing position, not hunched forward.