What’s Power Lifting?

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Powerlifting involves lifting heavy weights in three activities: squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. The sport originated in New York City in the early 20th century and focuses on lifting as much weight as possible. Competitors are given three attempts at each stage, and the highest weight is taken as the best. The use of machines is controversial, with some arguing it undermines the integrity of the sport.

Powerlifting is a competitive sport that involves lifting large amounts of weight in three different activities. The sport involves squats, bench presses and deadlifts. Unlike Olympic weightlifting, weightlifting focuses primarily on the amount of weight that can be lifted directly, with little attention to accuracy or technique. The genesis of the sport can be traced back to the early 20th century when it was primarily played in New York City. Born out of previous displays of strongmanism, the new generation of weightlifters focused on lifting as much weight as possible and demonstrated their prowess in various positions.

In the squat, one of the events involved in powerlifting, competitors lift large amounts of weight primarily with their glutes and quads. Squat safety is paramount, as serious back injuries can occur with large amounts of weight if you aren’t paying attention to your technique. Many believe that the squat should go no lower than the point where the thighs form a straight line parallel to the floor, while some argue that the thighs can come down if needed, as long as the knees don’t go far forward of the toes.

When you squat as part of a lift contest, you start in a standing position with the bar roughly in the position of your delts. The bar is removed from the rack and the lifter waits for the referee’s signal. Once the cue is given, the power lifting competitor squats until the hips are just below knee level, then returns to the standing position without bouncing and returns the bar to the rack.

The bench press is the second event performed during a lifting competition and focuses on the triceps and deltoids. Unlike a training bench, in power lifting the pectoral muscles play a minor role in the bench press. When bench-pressing as part of a weightlifting competition, your feet should remain flat on the floor at all times and your head, shoulders and glutes should remain flat on the bench. The distance between the hands varies according to the supervising body, but is usually about 80 cm (31.5 inches). Once the bar is in place and the lifter begins the lift, the bar can no longer lower, otherwise the competitor will be disqualified.

The deadlift is the ultimate event performed during a competition and works a huge range of muscles, especially the glutes, quads and hamstrings, and the entire back area. During the take-off phase of the race, a bar loaded with weight is placed on the ground. The lifter then squats to get a firm grip on the bar and lifts up until the entire body is straight. The bar is then held until the signal is given to bring it back to the ground, at which point the lifter brings it back to the ground in a carefully controlled manner.

In most competitive powerlifting arenas, a lifter is given three attempts at each stage of the competition, with the highest weight of those three taken as the best. The best weights from each of the three lifts are then added together and the total is used to determine the winner.
Some lifting organizations allow the use of machines to assist in lifts, while others do not. This has led to vast differences in the records for most weights lifted. For example, the record for the machine-assisted bench press in a competition is 1005 lbs (456 kg), while the record for the largest unassisted bench press is 714 lbs (324 kg). Many argue that the use of machines undermines the integrity of power lifting as a pure weight sport, while others note that the reduction in severe physical harm is worth the trade-off.

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