Powerlifting is a unique sport, whereby each competition is a true measure of your absolute strength at that one particular moment in time. It is a chance for you to display the previous weeks, months and years of hard work and is a measure of the progress you have made during this time. However, when it comes to Powerlifting many lifters are misinformed, confused, influenced, overwhelmed or just simply clueless about what the sport is all about. In a series of posts, I will attempt to shed some light on what the sport is, what’s involved, what’s needed and necessary to compete, and how to approach your first competition.


Powerlifting is largely an individual sport where each lifter is required to lift as much weight as possible for one repetition in the Back Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift (I say “largely individual” because at International level although individual performances are recognised and individual medals are up for grabs, each lifter is fighting for team points, which contribute towards a total for their country which at the end, determines their rank out of all countries competing in the competition).

The sport has two subdivisions, “Un-equipped” (also known as “raw” or “classic”) and “Equipped”. Un-equipped or Raw lifting means you are only allowed to wear and use approved equipment (belt, singlet, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, chalk). Equipped lifting on the other hand, allows you to wear additional equipment that is not permitted in Raw lifting such as bench shirts, knee wraps (not to be confused with knee sleeves) and deadlift and squat bodysuits. What’s the point you might ask? The additional equipment allowed in Equipped lifting can significantly increase the amount out weight lifted compared to lifting without it. There is often a heated debate on the subject of Raw Verses Equipped lifting, but that is not what I am going to talk about here. I merely wanted to highlight the two sub-divisions and briefly explain the difference.

As well as the above two sub-divisions, there are also a number of different Powerlifting Federations. Variations in competition rules, regulations and requirements exist between these different federations but again, it is not the purpose of this post to highlight nor explain them. I personally compete under the Great Britain Powerlifting Federation (GBPF), which is part of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and if I’m honest, don’t know a great deal about the others. Of course, I have bias toward the IPF and believe it to be the best federation to compete under and since I have most knowledge and experience with this federation, the remainder of this post and the others to follow will be based upon IPF rules and regulations.

Within the IPF, regardless of the level of competition, all lifters are subject to drug-testing, lift Raw and are categorised by their sex, age and body weight, and compete within the relevant class. I will finish Part 1 of this blog series by outlining in the table below each competition class within the IPF. Head over to THE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO POWERLIFTING PART 2 to find out specifics about how competitions are run and what you specifically need to focus on and get right for each lift to be valid.



Sub-Junior (14-18yrs)

Junior (19-23yrs) Senior (24yrs upwards)

Master (40 yrs upwards)

Sub-Junior (14-18yrs) Junior (19-23yrs) Senior (24yrs upwards)

Master (40 yrs upwards)


Up to 53.0kg Up to 53.0kg Up to 59.0kg Up to 59.0kg Up to 43.0kg Up to 43.0kg Up to 47.0kg Up to 47.0kg
53.01 – 59.0kg 53.01 – 59.0kg 59.01 – 66.0kg 59.01 – 66.0kg 43.01 – 47.0kg 43.01 – 47.0kg 47.01- 52.0kg 47.01- 52.0kg
59.01 – 66.0kg 59.01 – 66.0kg 66.01 – 74.0kg 66.01 – 74.0kg 47.01- 52.0kg 47.01- 52.0kg 52.01 – 57kg 52.01 – 57kg
66.01 – 74.0kg 66.01 – 74.0kg 74.01 – 83.0kg 74.01 – 83.0kg 52.01 – 57kg 52.01 – 57kg 57.01 – 63.0kg 57.01 – 63.0kg
74.01 – 83.0kg 74.01 – 83.0kg 83.01 – 93.0kg 83.01 – 93.0kg 57.01 – 63.0kg 57.01 – 63.0kg 63.01 – 72.0kg 63.01 – 72.0kg
83.01 – 93.0kg 83.01 – 93.0kg 93.01 – 105.0kg 93.01 – 105.0kg 63.01 – 72.0kg 63.01 – 72.0kg 72.01 – 84.0kg 72.01 – 84.0kg
93.01 – 105.0kg 93.01 – 105.0kg 105.01 – 120.0kg 105.01 – 120.0kg 72.01 – 84.0kg 72.01 – 84.0kg 84.01+kg 84.01+kg
105.01 – 120.0kg 105.01 – 120.0kg 120.01+kg 120.01+kg 84.01+kg 84.01+kg
120.01+kg 120.01+kg



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