The origin of our modern strength sports dates from the middle of the last century with the development of barbells and dumbbells in central Europe.

In early championships the lifts used were many and various. Bob Hoffman’s book “Weightlifting” published in 1939 in the USA list the rules for 50 recognized lifts. The British Amateur Weightlifters Association to this day recognizes over 30 lifts.

Internationally the Iron game has now crystallized into 3 distinct Sports: Bodybuilding, Weightlifting (often referred to as Olympic lifting) and Powerlifting which recognizes the Squat, Bench press and Deadlift.

The squat had its origin in Austria 130 years ago. The press on back has long been part of the strongman’s repertoire although the introduction of a bench is relatively new. The deadlift is possibly the oldest of all lifts.

The first national powerlifting championships featuring these three lifts took place in the USA in 1964 under AAU rules. Great Britain followed suit in 1966 and powerlifting was underway. The first unofficial World Championships were organized, fittingly, in York, Pennsylvania in 1971. The IPF was formed in 1972 and the 1st official World Championships took place in Harrisburg, Penn., USA in 1973.

Contests are organized in 11 weight classes for men from 52 kg. to over 120+ kg. and for women in 10 weight classes from 47 kg to over 84+ kg.

Age Categories

Sub-juniors  14-19 yrs
Juniors 19 – 23 yrs
Open 24 – 39 yrs
Masters I – 40 – 49 yrs
Masters II – 50 – 59 yrs
Masters III – 60 – 69 yrs

One of the very best features of Powerlifting is that it is a Sport that offers an almost lifelong career, as you don’t get strong until you get older.

In a contest each lifter is allowed 3 attempts at each of the 3 disciplines. The total of the lifters best successful attempt at each determines their place in the contest. The Squat is primarily a test of strength of the legs, glutes and hips. The Bench press is a test of the upper body, chest, shoulders and triceps, while the deadlift is a test of back strength, with hamstrings, spinal erectors and trapezius being the muscles of focus.

Powerlifters train to lift enormous weights and while there are obvious requirements of great strength, precision and technique, it is the overall iron will and correct tactical decisions which are necessary in order to mount the winners’ podium.