First Time Lifters

Thinking of signing up for your first powerlifting competition?  Congratulations!

Before you dive into signing up for your first competition, here are the basic steps to help guide you through the process.

One of the things that is encouraged for anyone who has never competed before is to attend a BCPA sanctioned competition. Watching a competition for the first time will help familiarize you on the flow of the competition.  It also gives you an idea of what is expected of a lifter, both on and off the platform.

BCPA Calendar

In the Calendar page on the BCPA website you will be able to find information about when and where the next competition will take place.  For the most part, a first-time competitor, will be eligible to compete at most BCPA sanctioned competitions.

As a first-time lifter, you are eligible to compete in the Winter Open and the Fall Classic only or any BCPA sanctioned competition. This does not include the Provincial Championships.  To be able to compete at the Provincial Championships, lifters must have competed before at an IPF sanctioned competition and have attained the necessary Provincial qualifying standard.

Other BCPA sanctioned competitions are sometimes hosted by a Registered Club. As a first-time lifter, you may enter most of these competitions.

If you have a question regarding a specific competition that you are interested in, such as registration deadline, contest day schedule and all other aspects of the particular competition, please direct your questions to the Meet Director or if you have a question in general about the competitions, you may contact the BCPA either through the website or Facebook page.


Once you have decided on a contest, you must become a member of the BCPA prior to the day of competition.  To purchase a membership you may do so online,

The purchase of a BCPA membership also includes membership to the CPU (Canadian Powerlifting Union), allowing for you to compete at CPU  and IPF sanctioned events anywhere in the world. Memberships last for 12 months from the date of membership purchase.  Once you have purchased your membership, you may print it out or save it to your phone.  Your membership card will need to be shown at the competition.

Canadian Centre of Ethics in Sport (CCES)

The BCPA conducts drug testing in compliance with the CCES.  In order to be able to compete at a BCPA/CPU competition, you must complete the CCES (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport) True Sport Clean online education module.

If this module is not completed and you have not received your Certificate of Completion, you will not be allowed to compete at your contest.

If you have trouble logging in, please contact the CCES for assistance.

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport
1-613-521-3340 x3236 or 1-800-672-7775

Approved Equipment / Clothing

When a lifter competes, all of the equipment and clothing that they are using are checked on contest day to ensure that it is an approved item and/or that it meets the IPF specifications.  If an item is rejected during Equipment Check, that item will not be allowed to be used or worn at the competition.  Make sure you check the IPF Approved List of Personal Apparel and Equipment well in advance of your contest in case you need to purchase new equipment or clothing:

Equipped or Unequipped Powerlifting?

There are two types of categories that you can compete in at a competition – Equipped or Unequipped.

Equipped lifting allows lifters to wear supportive suits for squats and deadlifts and supportive shirts for benching. In addition, equipped lifting allows lifters to wear knee wraps in place of knee sleeves.

In Unequipped lifting (sometimes referred to as “raw” or “classic” lifting), competitors are not permitted to use any supportive equipment suits or equipment.  Other than a t-shirt, indoor athletic shoes, and knee-high socks for the deadlift, the only required apparel is a singlet.  In Unequipped lifting, a lifter is also allowed to wear knee sleeves and wrist wraps.

Regardless of which category you compete in, make sure it is on the Approved List of Personal Apparel and Equipment and that falls within the IPF specifications.

Age Categories

In order to compete, a lifter must be aged 14 years or older.  The following list is how the age categories are broken up.

Open: 14 years and upwards (no category restrictions need apply).

Sub-Junior: 14 years – 18 years.

Junior: From January 1st  in the calendar year the competitor reaches 19 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he or she reaches 23 years.

Master I: From January 1st in the calendar year the competitor reaches 40 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he or she reaches 49 years.

Master II: From January 1st in the calendar year the competitor reaches 50 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he or she reaches 59 years.

Master III: From January 1st in the calendar year the competitor reaches 60 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he or she reaches 69 years.

Master IV: From January 1st in the calendar year the competitor reaches 70 years and upwards

Weight Classes

In addition to age categories, placing is determined on weight classes.  As a first time lifter, it is recommended that you don’t try to lose weight prior to the contest to make a particular weight class. Training and preparing for your first competition is all you should be worried about for your first competition.  Trying to lose weight to make a certain weight class is added stress that you don’t need.  Enter into the weight class that you would normally fall into.

The bodyweight classes are broken up as follows:


53.0 kg Class (Sub-Junior & Junior only) – up to 53.0 kg

59.0 kg Class – up to 59.0 kg

66.0 kg Class – from 59.01 kg up to 66.0 kg

74.0 kg Class – from 66.01 kg up to 74.0 kg

83.0 kg Class – from 74.01 kg up to 83.0 kg

93.0 kg Class – from 83.01 kg up to 93.0 kg

105.0 kg Class – from 93.01 kg up to 105.0 kg

120.0 kg Class – from 105.01 kg up to 120.0 kg

120.0+ kg Class – from 120.01 kg up to unlimited


43.0 kg Class (Sub-Junior & Junior only) – up to 43.0 kg

47.0 kg Class up to 47.0 kg

52.0 kg Class – from 47.01 kg up to 52.0 kg

57.0 kg Class – from 52.01 kg up to 57.0 kg

63.0 kg Class – from 57.01 kg up to 63.0 kg

72.0 kg Class – from 63.01 kg up to 72.0 kg

84.0 kg Class – from 72.01 kg up to 84.0 kg

84.0+ kg Class – from 84.01 kg up to unlimited

IPF Technical Rules

It is not expected that you know all of the rules of the IPF – that is what the Referees are for. It is however, expected that you are aware of the basic rules such as the equipment that you will be using, clothing that you are wearing and what will be expected from you on each lift.  Familiarize yourself with some of the basic rules and when it comes time to compete, it won’t seem so daunting.

Registered Clubs and Powerlifting Friendly Gyms

Still unsure about what to do for your first competition?  Contact the BCPA either by email through the BCPA website or you can contact someone from a Registered Club.  Anyone from these resources can help you.

One of the main things that we hope to see from all new lifters is that they have enjoyed their experience of competing for the first time.  Joining the BCPA and attending at events either as a competitor or volunteer, will be an experience that you will never forget.  There is an abundance of  camaraderie between all of the members that is shown both on and off the platform. Everyone there is because of their shared love of the sport of powerlifting.

Good luck and we look forward to seeing you on the platform!