What is Powerlifting?

two men in the gym lifting barbell together needs a drinking water


Powerlifting is a competitive strength sport that involves performing maximal lifts in the squat, bench press and deadlift. Powerlifters train to improve these three lifts.


  • Competition includes the one-rep-max squat, bench press and deadlift. Lifters get three attempts per lift to reach a total combined weight across the events.
  • Training focuses on low reps, progressive overload and technique practice to maximize force generation in the power lifts.
  • Supportive equipment like squat suits, bench shirts and belts assist heavier lifts during meets but may be avoided in raw competitions.
  • Powerlifting requires immense whole body strength. Done safely, it also builds functional fitness for sports and daily life.


  • 1RM max effort lifts
  • Using accommodating resistance like chains or bands

Related Terms

  • Powerbuilding, squat, deadlift, bench press

Common Questions

  • Is powerlifting the same as weightlifting? No, weightlifting is Olympic lifting – the snatch and clean and jerk.
  • Is powerlifting bad for joints? Not if practiced with proper form. The risk is overtraining and lifting too heavy, too soon.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Bodybuilding – Focus on aesthetics and symmetry, not max strength.
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