I’m Allie and I’ll be your head judge for the Lift for Planned Parenthood charity meet. I know that for many of you this will be your first powerlifting meet, so I wanted to give a general overview of the rules of powerlifting and explain how meet day will run!

There’s a few things you need to know going in. I’ll cover what a meet is, the order of operations, selecting your “attempts”, and warming up.

What is a powerlifting meet?

A powerlifting meet is a trainee’s opportunity to express their strength in three different lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. Powerlifting is a weight class sport and competitors are placed into lifting “flights,” which are composed of lifters in your weight class.

Everyone is given three attempts at one rep for each lift. So you’ll be squatting three times, benching three times, and deadlifting three times; in that order. For this meet, you can choose to only compete in one or two lifts of your choice!

Starting with squats, one by one, members of a flight perform their first attempt. After everyone has performed their first squat, in the same order, each lifter performs their second attempt squat. The same pattern repeats for the third attempt.

Does form matter, or do you just have to lift the weight?

While form isn’t considered, there are certain rules for each lift that extend beyond simply moving the weight through the full range of motion.

The Squat

  1. When it is your turn to squat, approach the bar, unrack, and step back.
  2. I’ll be in front of you. Wait for my command to “squat”. Don’t begin to squat until the command is given, or else the attempt won’t count.
  3. Squat the weight to depth.Your hip crease must go past parallel, and there will be two judges to your left and right making sure your squat breaks parallel.Once you are given the command, you are only allowed to bend or straighten the knees once, and that is during the squat.

    Do not adjust your position at all from this point on! Just squat!

  4. Stand, and wait. I will be watching to make sure you’re in control of the weight.
  5. On my command, you will walk the bar back into place and rack it.

The Bench

  1. For bench, you do not have to wait for my cue to unrack the bar. If you prefer, you can have someone hand you the bar. Only choose this option if you practice it beforehand!
  2. I will command you to start the bench.
  3. Lower the weight all the way down to your chest and pause. You must wait for me to give you the cue to press the weight back up. Paused bench is notably more difficult than “touch and go” bench press. I recommend you practice pausing on your own!Your butt cannot lift up off of the bench at any point.Some federations prohibit lifting the heels up, but since this meet is unsanctioned, we will allow you to have your heels down or just your toes down while benching!

After you press the weight up, again you must wait until I give you the command to rack the bar.

The Deadlift

  1. Approach the bar.
  2. Lift the weight. (You can pull sumo or conventional!)You must fully lock out- this means full extension of the knees and hips, with shoulders stacked over hips.You cannot “hitch” the weight up. A lifter “hitches” the weight when she bends her knees so as to rest the weight on her thighs, and then pull the weight up her thighs. If this seems confusing this article has images!

    Stand with the weight. Pause.

I will give you the command to lower the weight. You must keep your hands on the bar as you lower the weight down, or the lift will not count!

I recommend you practice the cues I will be giving you with a partner so that you get accustomed to lifting on command! (Editor’s Note: Look out for a video how-to on the cues used in a meet, coming to the blog soon!) 2 out of 3 judges will have to agree the lift is “good” in order for it to count in competition. You will know immediately after each attempt, because we will hold up either a white or a red paddle. A white paddle signifies the attempt counted, a red paddle signifies the lift was disqualified.

The lifters’ heaviest lifts in each of the 3 movements will be added up to find their total. The lifter with the highest total in each weight class wins! At our meet, there will also be a prize for best lift in each weight class!

How do you decide your attempts for each lift?

First attempt at each lift is typically something one can hit easily for three reps. First attempt is not the time to go for a PR. You want to choose a number that you can definitely get, so that you don’t risk “bombing out” out of the competition by failing to get at least one good attempt.

After your first attempt, you have one minute to tell the judges’ table what your second attempt will be. You can walk into the meet having a good idea of second attempt (maybe your most recent training PR), but have the freedom to change it based on how the first attempt felt. The same goes for your third attempt. Most people save their third attempts for an all-time lift PR.

What are the weight classes?

47kg, 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 72kg, 84kg, 84+kg.

The day will begin with weigh-ins, where lifters will be privately weighed in by a judge to determine their weight class. At this time, they’ll also submit their rack heights and first attempt weights for all three lifts to the judge. (Someone will be there to help you determine and record your rack height to give to the judge.)

Lifting will begin about 2 hours after weigh-ins; during this time lifters can rest, eat, and warm up for squats. If you are not sure how to warm up, there will be experienced people in the warm-up room to lend a hand and help load weights! Warming up for max attempts is different than warming up for training reps.

What should I wear?

Powerlifting meets require competitors to wear singlets, both to easily judge lifts and to ensure no unfair advantage based on clothing type (think compression, etc). Since this meet is unsanctioned and we know you may not have a singlet, we aren’t going to require you wear one, but it is highly recommended. Please do wear form fitting clothing (no baggy shorts, no sweatpants), both for your own ease of movement, and for my ability to judge your lift! Wear leggings and a tank top or slim t-shirt, or tight shorts and a tank top, etc. Accurately judging someone’s squat depth when they’re in baggy shorts or a long t-shirt poses too much of a challenge, and you don’t want to risk your lift being disqualified!

This is a raw-only meet, so you can wear all belts, knee sleeves and wrist wraps. No supportive lifting suits, shirts or knee wraps are allowed. We will generally be following USAPL rules, which can be found here.

I hope this helps clarify things for anyone who is considering trying their first powerlifting meet! Shannon and I are happy to answer any questions you may have about powerlifting in general, or this meet specifically, at Hello@WomensStrengthCoalition.com

Don’t forget, a meet is a chance to get to know fellow lifters in the community, break out of your comfort zone, and more than anything else, have a lot of fun! Looking forward to watching you all hit some big PRs!