Powerlifting is a sport which comprises of three different lifts. Powerlifting has recently seen an influx in Indian gyms due to its effectiveness and research studies have shown that it has various benefits. There are two major categories in Powerlifting contests namely equipped and raw.
Equipped Powerlifting makes use of various aids such as lifting straps, weightlifting belt, a lifting suit, etc. This category has received a fair amount of criticism as aids typically help one lift more weight. People competing in equipped category are likely to set records which they won’t be able to do in the raw powerlifting category.
Raw powerlifting discards the use of any aids. People may not lift as much weight as their counterparts in the equipped category but that is the most distinct characteristic trait on raw powerlifting; using the body’s natural strength to lift the weight.
This can be further broken down into weight classes. The International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) has listed weight classes for competitions on their website.
A contestant’s score is decided by the total amount of weight i.e. addition of all three single maximum weight lifts. Judges also rate them on technique and time. The three lifts of powerlifting are as follows:
A squat is where the barbell is loaded with weight plates on a squat rack. The competitor grabs the barbell and mounts it on their shoulder. Maximum weight that is descended in a controlled motion with the hips slightly below the knees and back to the starting position without any aids or spot interference is marked as a successful squat. Equipped divisions use a lifting suit to help them stabilize and lift more weight without any risk of an injury.
Bench press involves a barbell loaded with weight plates on a rack. The lifter must position themselves by lying on the bench with eyes directly under the bar. Then the contestant must lift the bar till his/her elbows lockout, lower in a slow controlled motion till it reaches the chest and back to the starting point.
For the deadlift, a barbell loaded with weight plates is placed on the ground. The lifter places his feet under the bar and lift it. The deadlift is performed with the three grips that are: the mixed grip, the underhand grip and the overhand grip. The contestant begins by lifting it in the crouched deadlift position till they are standing tall with knees locked out and shoulders behind hips. This marks one successful deadlift. Equipped variations may involve support for the lower back with a belt, or weightlifting suit for assistance and prevention of injury.
Powerlifting contests are drug tested to disallow any enhanced competitors (read more: https://www.sports4all.in/post/nada-keeping-indian-sports-dope-free). Powerlifting is one of the few sports where people into their 50s and 60s compete! Every meet has people cheering on contestants, people of the same weight class competing will bring their opponent’s spirits up.
Training for powerlifting has its similarities and differences from weightlifting. Both sports require immense strength, stability and explosive cardio movements. However, the major lifts in powerlifting involve more controlled movements than its counterpart which revolves around stability and high intensity. What brings both strength and sports together is the barbell and the will to become stronger than before.