How Powerlifting Competitions Work?
Looking for that new year push but not sure how things run? Fear not! We are here for a blow-by-blow account on how the day works, as well as a few helpful tips! NOTE: This article refers to IPF powerlifting competitions and other federations may vary.
The Days Before
The two things beforehand you should always make sure you do for a competition are:
- Ensure you are training to the rules – I would always recommend reading the rule book first and at least understanding the reasons for failure at a powerlifting competition. Each lift has its own set of rules. Pages 10-12 of the IPF Rulebook is a great place to start.
- Find out what Equipment is needed – Within IPF Powerlifting you need to wear certain brands of personal equipment and other powerlifting clothing is mandatory. You are required to wear a Singlet for all 3 lifts as well as Long Socks/Deadlift Socks for Deadlift. You will also need to wear a T-shirt and footwear for all 3 lifts (this includes Deadlift Shoes!). These 3 items are the minimum of what is needed. On top of this if you are wearing Wrist Wraps, Knee Sleeves or Powerlifting Belts make sure these are IPF Approved otherwise you may not be able to lift with them.
With Powerlifting becoming more and more popular you want to make sure that you have a competition in mind and have entered in plenty of time. Most competitions will have a cut-off date of 4 weeks before the date, but they may fill up earlier and close early.
The Morning Of
Before you get to the venue you want to make sure you have your bag packed and ready for the day! A lot of competitions will have something called an “equipment check” meaning you will have to show the referee the clothing you will be wearing on the day to make sure it meets the requirements. If you do not present the items at equipment, check you may not be able to use it in competition, so make sure you bring all your equipment for the day!
A simple equipment check is:
- Powerlifting Singlet
- Wrist Wraps
- Knee Sleeves
- Powerlifting Belt
- Competition T-Shirt
- Deadlift Socks
- Powerlifting Shoes
The above is all you will need to show at equipment check, but it is always good to remember other items such as:
- Anything you use for warmups such as bands or a foam roller
- Pair of Joggers (competitions have a lot of waiting around and you may get cold!)
2 hours before your competition starts you will have to weigh in for your weight class. The weigh in lasts 90 minutes but it is always good to make sure you are at the competition at least 15 minutes before the weigh in officially starts. Sometimes weigh ins will be first come first served, other times you will be given a lot number, and they will move down the list calling names. If you miss your slot, you will be put to the back of the queue, which will always be annoying even if you are not close to the top end of your weight class!
At weigh in you will give your “Openers” which is the weights of your first attempts on squat, bench and deadlift. You can change these up to 3 minutes before each discipline starts.
The Running Order
Every powerlifting competition runs in the order of SQUAT, BENCH then DEADLIFT. There are however TWO distinct ways in which a session will run which is quite important for you to know when looking to plan your warm ups.
Scenario one – 1 Flight of Lifter.
This is where there is a group of lifters (max of 14) in one flight. When this is the case all lifters will be warming up together and all lifters will be performing their platform lifts together. Once the lifters are warmed up the lightest first attempt will go first and then move up in ascending bar until every lifter has completed their first squat attempt. Then you will move onto round two where this is repeated but with the second attempts (your second heaviest squat) – Starting with the lightest attempt and ascending to the heaviest. This is repeated again for the 3rd squats and once everyone has completed their 3rd squat there will be a minimum of a 20 minute break for lifters to warm up for bench.
This process is then repeated for bench and then deadlift. One of the important things to remember is that you only have 60 seconds between completing your lift and putting in your next attempt. If you do not put your next attempt in on time you will automatically be giving a 2.5kg increase if your last attempt was successful, or the same weight again if it was not.
Scenario two – 2 or More Flights of Lifter.
This is where there is TWO OR MORE groups of lifters. When this is the case the first group of lifters will be warming up together and then these lifters will be performing their platform lifts together as per scenario one. But while this is happening group two will be in the warm up room warming up for their squats. Once the first group finish ALL their squats the 2nd group will then come and complete their 3 platfrom squats in the same order. This is repeated until all groups of lifters have finished squatting. There will then be a minimum of a 10-minute change over.
This process is then repeated for bench and then deadlift. Again… ONE of the important things to remember is that you only have 60 seconds between completing your lift and putting in your next attempt. If you do not put your next attempt in on time you will automatically be giving a 2.5kg increase if your last attempt was successful, or the same weight again if it was not.
Making attempt changes
On the second and third attempts once you have entered your attempt you cannot change the weight and you are not allowed to decrease the weight based off your last lift. For example, if you open on 100kg squat and fail the lift, you cannot enter 90kg for your second attempt. You can only enter 100kg again or increase the weight. This rule means it is SO IMPORTANT to pick a safe opener that you can do even on your worst day!
Your 3rd deadlift is the only time where you can make changes to your attempt after entering the weight. This change can be made twice (as long as you have not changed your opener) but again you can not change the weight lower than what is already on the bar. For example if you want to drop the weight to 90kg then the bar has to be loaded to less than this weight for you to do so.
Once the final deadlift is done… Your day is over! Congrats you’ve done it (virtual fist bump). The above is just a brief overview of what to expect but the key thing to remember really is powerlifting is such a supportive sport. If you are unsure, ask. Ask fellow lifters, ask the judges or the MC. Or even just drop us an email with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to give any pointers!