How To Start Powerlifting: A Guide For Beginners

How To Start Powerlifting: A Guide For Beginners

In your adventures to the gym, you’ve probably seen muscular men with muscle-tees loading up a barbell with numerous weights. As you stood there on your treadmill walking and listening to an audiobook, you may have been transfixed by this dude and his size, his strength, and you want to know how to get as ripped as he is.

How can you achieve the same level of strength and confidence? One word: powerlifting.

What Is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is an individualized sport where competitors will attempt to lift large amounts of weight for one repetition in three categories: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Every competitor will be placed in a very specific class which is determined by weight class, age, and experience.


There are also subdivisions for powerlifters who are “raw” and “geared,” which just indicates if the competitor is wearing support equipment.

What Gear Do I Need To Powerlift?

In a powerlifting competition, you will want to have the necessary equipment. What does this include? Well, it includes:

  • Flat Shoes: Flat shoes like Converse or deadlift slippers will allow you to distribute the weight evenly, while running shoes or other sneakers will have a raised heel that’ll make this harder to do. It is worth noting that when it comes to the bench press, many lifters will switch shoes for a sneaker to get more leg drive when they lift.
  • High Socks: When you’re lifting, you have the chance of getting scraped up shins. High socks will at least soak up the blood of your poor shins instead of all it being all over the bar.
  • Lifting Belts: Many people believe lifting belts are more of a hindrance than a help. However, when used correctly, they can help improve strength, performance, and reduce the chances of being injured.
  • Wrist Wraps: Wrist wraps are generally used when bench pressing or even during the squat. The wraps help to stabilize the wrist and gives the lifter the chance to lift heavier weights.
  • Singlets: While you may not be excited to wear a skin tight singlet, they are required by every federation if you intend on joining a powerlifting competition.

How To Start Powerlifting

To begin powerlifting, first need to know how to powerlift. Like we mentioned before, there are three activities under the umbrella of powerlifting.


When your turn is called and the announcer declares, “The bar is loaded,” you have exactly 60 seconds to set up and unrack the bar. If you cannot do this in one minute, you’ve lost your turn.

After unracking the bar, you need to prepare to squat. You can begin squatting once the spotters have cleared the hooks. When you’re ready to go, you need to stand up straight and completely lock your knees. Then you have to make eye contact with the lead ref who will then tell you to “Squat!” which is your signal to begin squatting.

To do this, you will need to squat down until the hip joint is lower than your knee joint. Once you’ve reached that depth, you will then need to lift the weight back up, make eye contact with the ref, and wait until he declares, “Rack!” before you can return the bar to the rack.

Bench Press 

Much like with squats, you will have to wait until you hear the ref declare, “The bar is loaded,” to which you have 60 seconds to get everything set up and begin to lift. This means you start by laying down on the bench and unracking the bar (with or without assistance). You cannot begin lowering the bar until you hear the ref say, “Start!”

Once you get that command, you will lower the bar all the way down to any part of your body (except the belt). If the bar doesn’t touch, you’ve failed the lift. When the bar makes contact with your body, you must hold it in place for the ref to say, “Press!”

Then you push the bar back up and lock your elbows once they are fully extended. You have to wait until you hear the ref say, “Rack!”


Like the other two activities, you will need to wait until the ref says, “The bar is loaded!” before you can begin. You have 60 seconds to walk onto the platform and prepare to lift. There is no “Start!” command with this, so you essentially can begin whenever you’d like within that minute.

Powerlifting deadlift.

While you may think all you need to do is lift the barbell loaded with weight, that isn’t quite it. You have to stand with your shoulders back and your knees are locked – all while holding several hundred pounds. When you’re all locked in place, you’ll want to make eye contact with the ref and then they’ll yell, “Down!”

Then you’ll want to lower the bar to the ground with your hands still on the bar. This doesn’t mean it has to be a slow and deliberate task – you just want to have some kind of control and keep your hands on the bar. You don’t, you fail.


For those who have been training a lot and you are contemplating trying to join powerlifting competitions, you will need to first choose a federation that hosts regular competitions in your area.

You’ll need to choose between the powerlifting weight classes, but this is a minor issue unless you intend on breaking world records.

Once you’ve signed up for competitions in your area, you just have to work hard, have the right gear, and harness the power within!

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