The Sport of Powerlifting

215kg / 474lb Squat

Powerlifting is a strength sport that was founded in 1972.  It is a sport of threes.  Athletes compete on three lifts; The Squat, The Bench Press, and The Deadlift in that order.  Each athlete has three attempts on each lift.  How much the athlete lifts is decided by themselves or their coaches.  Each lift is evaluated by three judges; one at the front and two on the sides.  Based on the rules, judges indicate whether a lift is good or not by colored lights; white for good and red for not good.  For a lift to pass, the athlete must earn at least two out of three lights.


132.5kg / 292.1lb Bench Press

Athletes are separated by sex, category, division, and weight class.

  • Sex is divided between Men and Women.
  • Categories are based on the equipment the athletes use.  Minimal equipment is considered Raw, while substantial supportive equipment is considered Equipped.
  • Divisions are organized by age group from Teen to Masters (older than 55-years-old).
  • Weight classes are divided by 4-kilogram to 15-kilogram increments.

For example, a 23-year-old male weighing 200lbs wearing knee sleeves would be classified as a Men’s Raw Junior 100kg/220lb.


260kg / 573.2lb Deadlift

At the end of a  competition, the athletes best attempt on each lift is taken and added up to give their total.  Athletes in each sex, category, division, and weight class are awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place based on their total.

Best Lifter awards for Men and Women are given out based on the highest Wilks score.  The Wilks score is a formula that takes into account how much the athlete weights and how much they lifted.  This allows all athletes equal consideration, otherwise, only the largest lifters would have a chance at winning.


For most, Powerlifting is a hobby, not an occupation.  While there are an elite few chasing World Records and lucrative sponsorships, your average Powerlifter is just trying to be the best version of themselves.  Yes, we are constantly trying to push our limits and lift more weight than we did last time.

plmemeThat requires a stringent work ethic, dietary restrictions, and detailed planning.  We spend a lot of time in the gym.  We have to train even when we do not want to.  For a Powerlifter, those are small sacrifices we are willing to make.  For us, it is not “work” because of how much joy Powerlifting brings to us.  Setting a new personal best or winning a medal in front of your friends, family, and peers is why we love the sport.


There are some who paint the sport as being the most hardcore activity on the planet.  It is not.  It is lifting weights, heavy weights, but weights all the same.  We are not jumping out of airplanes or swimming with sharks.  Most of us do not take ourselves or the sport too seriously.  There are even Powerlifters who make memes and comics about the sport.  It is just a hobby, and hobbies are done for fun!

The Author

1st Powerlifting Competition

David Lugo has always been interested in athletics.  While in middle school he played basketball for youth leagues and after school at neighborhood playgrounds.  It was not until after high school before he discovered a passion for strength training.  In the past three years, he has gone from a clueless quarter squatter to an intermediate Powerlifter.

Even though Powerlifting is not a team sport, much like basketball success requires teamwork and learning from each other.  As a founding member of the University of Texas Powerlifting Club, he has attended five Powerlifting competitions as a spectator, support, and handler for athletes.

He has competed in two United States Powerlifting Association competitions with 2nd and 3rd place finishes.  In three weeks, he will be competing in his 3rd competition.






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