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Powerlifting is a three-discipline test of strength, with the lifters overall score determined by the total weight lifted between the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Strict rules apply to the way that the weight must be lifted.
In competition there are three referees judging each lift and their opinion is shown by way of red and white lights. Naturally the aim is to achieve three white lights, but a decision consisting of two white lights, to one red light is sufficient for a lift to be passed.
Here’s a closer look at the three lifts.
The bar is taken out of the rack on the lifters shoulders. On the referee’s signal, the lifter squats down until the hip joint breaks ninety degrees, with the knee joint. This is what is also called the “critical point”.
The lifter then has to drive the weight back upwards, returning to their original start position. Once the start position is reached, the weight is then returned to the rack.
Bench Press:
The lifter lies on their back on the bench, and receives the bar arms length. On the referee’s signal, the lifter lowers the weight to their chest in a controlled manner. The lifters shoulders, and back side must be in contact with the bench at all times, as must their be feet in contact with the floor.
The lifter is required to hold the weight on their chest for a definite pause (one second), before driving the weight back to the original start position. This should be one continuous movement, with the extension of both arms even at all times.
The bar is on the floor and the lifter “pulls” the weight from this position aiming to lock out at the top, with their shoulders back. The referee will then give the signal to place the weight back to the original start position.
The lifter is not permitted to drop, or lose control of the weight at any stage. The “pull” off the floor, should be one smooth action – with no pause, or downward movement before reaching lock out.
Once the lifting is complete the strongest man in each weight class and overall best lifter are determined by a formula (Wilkes). Lifters not only compete in their weight class, but also age categories.
Powerlifting is a sport for all shapes, sizes and ages. Many of the very top lifters in the world are between the age of 35 and 45. Some lifters go on into their 50’s and 60’s competing in Masters competitions.