Quick rundown on powerlifting

Powerlifting is a sport that consists of the back squat, bench press, and deadlift. In a powerlifting meet, you have 3 attempts for each lift. The time between each attempt will vary depending on how organized and quick the volunteers move. Usually, there are flights for different weight classes that get on the platform at a time; so, the transition from the 3rd attempt of squat to your first attempt at bench press may take an hour or more.


In the USAPL, the squat is assessed by 3 judges: one in front of you yell out the commands, and the other two are on the left and right side judging your depth. A valid lift in the squat consists of the hip crease just breaks the plane of the top of your knee from the side view. Also the front judge will yell out commands and your compliance to those demands are very important. The commands are SQUAT and RACK. You must walk out your bar and show control of the bar before being able to receive the command of SQUAT. You then squat and once you show you have lock out and control of the squat, the front judge will give you the command of RACK. At that point you will be assisted while racking the bar.

Bench Press

From my experience in the USAPL, the bench press is assessed by 3 judges: one behind/over your head with the commands and the other two are to your left and right side. The commands consist of START, PRESS, and RACK. Like the squat, you can either get a lift-off (which I recommend) or get the bar off the rack on your own. Once you have shown the judge that is overhead of you that you have control over the bar, the judge will then yell START. Then you must pause the bar on your chest until you receive the command PRESS. Just as you might think, you press the bar til lockout and once the judge sees control of the bar, the judge will yell the command RACK. You will be assisted in the racking process. The two side judges look for the touching of the bar on the chest as well as proper elbow lockout.


To me the most primal of the three lift. The only command here is DOWN after a proper lockout of your deadlift. Sumo and conventional deadlifts are permitted in the USAPL. When it comes to the lift on the platform: the bar is set, you set up your lift, you lock it out, the judge yell DOWN, you must hold onto the bar until the weights are back on the ground before it is considered a valid (3 white light) lift.Do not drop the bar after the lockout or it will be considered a miss.

Hope this give you a brief breakdown of a powerlifting meet and I would recommend going to a powerlifting meet, even if you don’t stay for the entire meet, just to get a feel of the speed of a meet. Feel free to email me at sumolifts@gmail.com for questions, comments and other inquires.