For those new to competitive powerlifting, or those that are thinking about entering a competition in a federation they haven’t lifted in before they can have many questions. Will I be able to wear my knee wraps? When will I be able to weigh in? Am I even eligible to compete?
Trying to understand and find clear information on the differences in rules and procedure between different powerlifting federations can be tricky unless you trawl through the rule book of each federation.
Luckily for you I’ve made a simple, easy to understand table with an explanation of each possible difference!
Despite some slightly different rules between federations it is important to remember that these differences are minor, and each federation hosts standard powerlifting competitions with squat, bench press, and deadlift along with single lift meets!
If you are intending to compete in a meet, be sure to check this table so that you know what to expect. You may need to alter your training to adequately prepare you for a specific meet. For example to get in the habit of bench pressing with your feet flat if you had not been training like that or getting used to squatting with wraps if you’ll be allowed to use them at your meet.
NOTE: IrishPF & NIPF are under the IPF.
Squat bar: Is a bar used only for squat, it is thicker and 5kg heavier than a standard Olympic size bar. Generally it sits a little nicer on your back due to the increased diameter.
Monolift: Is a device that allows lifters to squat without having to walk backwards with the bar prior to the lift.
Knee wraps: All federations allow knee wraps in the equipped category. Some federations allow knee wraps to be worn when lifting in raw category and these are shown above along with the legal length they can be. If lifting equipped, check with your federation as to the maximum allowed length.
Knee sleeves: Knee sleeves are allowed to be worn in most federations when lifting raw. However for the most part they must be single ply and in the IPF lifters must be able to take them on and off without aid from anyone else. (This is to stop lifters using excessively tight knee sleeves)
Head Up: Refers to being allowed to lift your head off the bench while bench pressing.
Heels Up: Refers to if the entire foot is required to be in contact with the floor or if the heels are allowed to be raised.
Wrist wraps: Refers to the maximum length of wrist wraps allowed to be worn. It’s important to note that all federations require that the thumb loop on wrist wraps not be wrapped around the thumb while lifting.
Suicide grip: Refers to if lifters are permitted to use a thumbless grip while bench pressing.
Deadlift bar: is a bar used only for deadlifting. It is longer and thinner than a standard Olympic bar. It usually provides extra grip and more ‘slack’ in the bar making it slightly easier to deadlift with than a standard stiff bar.
Drug tested: Refers to if the federation tests some of its athletes for performance enhancing drugs and other banned substances. It is important to note that just because a lifter chooses not to compete in a drug tested federation this does not mean that they necessarily use drugs. Likewise, just because a lifter competes in a tested federation it does not necessarily always mean that they are drug free.
Weigh in: The times posted refer to how long before the competition starts that the lifter may weigh in. This is an important factor for those that train at a bodyweight above the weight category they wish to compete in as it will be considerably easier to make weight 24hrs prior to lifting, and rehydrate/refuel adequately than if you only have 2hrs to do so.
Restrictive: Refers to if the federation places restrictions on its members as to where and when they are allowed to lift. Meaning that if for example you are a member of X federation you will not be allowed to lift in Y federation. Check with your federation for further clarification.
Single ply: Refers to the specification of attire in the equipped category. This means that lifting equipment can only be of “single ply” thickness/specification when lifting in the equipped category.
(Note: IPO has separate equipped categories for both single and multiply)
Multiply: Refers to being allowed to wear equipment with multiple layers in the equipped category.
For example a multiply bench press shirt, or wearing squat briefs under a squat suit.
All federations will allow a lifter to wear only single ply in the multiply category if they so choose but not vice versa.
***All information is correct at the time of writing. Federations may change their rules. Check with federation if unsure***
Pat Curran is a 2 time National bodybuilding champion and competitive powerlifter. Pat is currently studying a BSc in Sports Strength and Conditioning at L.I.T.