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The bench press is one of the three events of powerlifting.
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The deadlift is one of the three events of powerlifting.

Powerlifting is a strength sport, consisting of three events: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. The maximum weight lifted in each event is totalled for a final score; lifters compete in bodyweight classes. Powerlifting is of relatively modern origin, dating from the early to mid 20th century onwards, and is sometimes referred to as "weightlifting's ugly sister". It is open to both men and women.

Existing Olympic weightlifting events, the snatch and the clean and jerk, rely on speed strength as well as technique, with a view to lifting the most weight overhead. Powerlifting relies on limit strength, utilising the entire body to push, pull, and support as much weight as is humanly possible for the athlete to move, although technique and speed are still very important in powerlifting.

  • In the squat, the athlete stands under a racked barbell which is loaded with weight. Grabbing the bar from behind, the bar is put onto the top of the back just behind the neck. The athlete walks clear of the rack (unless competing in a federation using a "monolift", a device which supports the bar in place until the lifter is ready), squats down until thighs are lower than parallel to the floor and stands up again, carefully returning the weight to the rack. Disqualification results from the bar making any downward movement after the lift has started upwards, if the spotters touch the bar in any way, if the thighs do not break parallel, or if the lifter makes no effort to rerack the weight under his or her own power.
  • In the bench press, the athlete lies on a bench. A loaded barbell rests on stands built into the bench above the eye level of the lifter when lying prone on the bench. The athlete removes the bar from the supports with the aid of a "liftoff man", lowers it to the chest or upper abdomen and then presses it up to the full extension of the arms and carefully returns the weight to the rack. Disqualification results if the bar is placed too low on the body (varies by federation), if the bar does not rest on the chest before being lifted upward (in some federations, an explicit "press" command is given, and the athlete cannot lift upwards until it is given), if the bar fails to touch the chest, if the bar hits the uprights of the rack on the ascent, or if the bar makes any downward motion during the ascent. In addition, if the feet move during the lift, the lift is nullified, as it is if the buttocks lift off the bench or if the body makes any extraneous movement during the lift.
  • In the deadlift, a loaded barbell is placed on the floor. The athlete squats down and lifts the bar until the legs and back are straight, and the shoulders pulled back with chest proud. The bar is then returned to the floor in a controlled manner. In competition, the top of the movement is finished by 'locking-out', which means to straighten the back and lock the knees into a balanced position. Disqualification results from the athlete failing to stand completely upright, for using the thighs to assist the lift (hitching), etc.

Although powerlifting always uses the squat, bench press and deadlift as events, different federations have different rules and different interpretations of the rules, leading to a myriad of differing variations on a theme. Some federations, such as the AAU, allow NO protective gear to be worn by the lifter. Some, such as the IPF, only allow a single-ply tight polyester squat suit, deadlift suit and bench shirt, wraps for knees and wrists, and a belt. Other federations allow for opened-back bench shirts, bench shirts made of multiple ply material, canvas squat suits, etc. In an IPF bench press, the barbell can go as low as the xiphoid process and no further in the lift, whereas in other federations, the barbell can touch the abdomen. (This shortens the distance in which the barbell is moved and is an advantage to the lifter.)

With the advent of the latest high-tech gear, powerlifting gear usage has become somewhat controversial. Whereas it has allowed gargantuan lifts such as Scot Mendelson's 900+ bench press, Brent Mikesell's 1100+ squat, etc. Some argue that allowing a shirt that gives 200+ lb (100 kg) of assistance to the lift (when used properly) lessens the point of a purely limit strength sport. However a bench shirt does do a lot to prevent pectoral tears when lifting very heavy weights.

The multiplicity of federations and rules, the behind the scenes politics of Olympic certification, and the use and/or abuse of competition gear makes inclusion in the Olympics unlikely. There is no recognition in the Olympics for powerlifting at this time, however the Cyclops campaign [1] (http://www.powerlifting.com/cyclops/index.cfm) hopes to make Powerlifting an Olympic sport. The International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) runs worldwide events and aims to standardise an international competition, and is at the forefront of these kinds of efforts.


fr:Force Athlétique

The International Powerlifting Federation is the 'official' world body being recognised as such by the International Olympic Committee.


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