What is powerlifting?

Often confused with Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting is an individual sport where competitors have three attempts to lift as much weight as possible for a single repetition in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Lifters are placed into divisions classified by weight class, age group, and experience level. At the end of the day, awards are presented to lifters with the highest total in their division.

What are the events of a powerlifting meet?

This meet will consist of the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift, in that order. In a powerlifting meet, lifters are divided into groups called flights. The first flight will finish all their attempts at a single lift before the next flight beings. Each lifter gets three attempts at each lift! For example, Flight A will take attempts 1, 2, and 3 at squats, then Flight B will do the same with their squats. After all lifters have completed squats, Flight A will begin their bench attempts.

How strong do I have to be to compete in a powerlifting meet?

There is no minimum to compete! As strong as you are now is as strong as you need to be! This meet is open to all ages and experience levels.

I’m worried I can’t lift as much as other people! Can I still compete?

Absolutely. That’s the beauty and the curse of being a strength athlete. Once we pick up the barbell, we have all the room in the world to improve, yet we’re “never strong enough”. There’s always somebody stronger than us! Instead of allowing this to discourage us, think about how much room YOU have to improve and focus on doing YOUR best. This meet is about you vs. you. We’ll have lifters of all ages and experience levels competing. At the end of the day, you’ll find that the powerlifting community as a whole fosters some of the most kind, generous, and supportive people in the world!

How much does the bar weigh?

45 lbs so make sure to add this weight to the amount of weight you are adding to your bar when totaling your lifts.

How do I prepare for a powerlifting meet?

Practice makes perfect! Signing up for a powerlifting meet doesn’t require you to make drastic changes to the current training program that you are following. As long as you have some sort of plan, are consistently progressing at the Big 3 (squat, bench, and deadlift) and understand competition specs, then there isn’t much reason to change what you’re currently doing. As you get closer to a meet, have a friend, coach, or gym buddy call out the commands for you. Make sure your lifts follow the rules of the meet. Ask others if you aren’t sure, or film your lifts and check them yourself.

What are the rules?

This meet will utilize the rules of performance from USA Powerlifting’s technical rulebook, which can be found here. Here are some basic elements of the rules:


Lifters must squat to a depth such that the crease of their hips is parallel to the top of their knee or lower during the squat

Diagram A is an example of a legal squat showcasing the minimum depth needed to be obtained. Diagram C is an example of a “convincingly deep” squat, but it is NOT the standard for depth. However, because judging is a subjective venture governed by objective standards, Diagram C.may be a better depth goal to aim for, as it’s easier for judges to assess the depth and will typically have a higher rate of success.

When your name is called, you have one minute to unrack the weight. Once the bar has oscillated and your legs are locked, the head referee will say “START”, which is your cue to squat to the proper depth and come back up. Once you’ve completed your squat and locked the legs, wait for the referee to say “rack” before walking the weight back into the rack.

Bench Press:

Lifters must keep their head, shoulders, and buttocks in contact with the bench. They must keep their heels in contact with the ground, the barbell must make contact with their chest during the bench press, AND you must pause at the bottom of the press, i.e., when the bar is in contact with your chest.

When your name is called, you have one minute to set up, get tight, and unrack the bar. You can lift it off yourself or request a handoff. When you hear a “START” command, you’ll lower the bar to make contact with your chest until the bar has been brought to a complete stop and is motionless. The referee will then say a “PRESS” command, where you’ll press it, lock it out with straight elbows, and wait for the referee to say the “RACK”command. Just like the squat, don’t rerack the bar until you hear the rack command. This will take practice!


Lifters must lock their knees and finish the deadlift with their shoulders back during the deadlift.

When your name gets called, you have one minute to walk up to the bar, set up, and perform the lift. You don’t need to wait for a command to initiate the lift. Once you lockout, the referee will give you a “DOWN” command where you’ll lower the weight in a controlled manner back to the floor.

In all lifts, if the bar moves downwards during the ascent, the lift will be disqualified. If the lifter fails to observe the chief referee’s commands, the lift will be disqualified, even if the lift is technically sound. Practice the commands!

What are the weight classes? How do I know which weight class to compete in?

The weight classes for all athletes (women/non-binary athletes) are:

  • 43 kg (teens/juniors only), 47 kg, 52 kg, 57 kg, 63 kg, 72 kg, 84 kg, 84 kg+

For your first meet, your best bet is to compete at the weight you walk around at. Competing doesn’t need the extra stress of cutting weight if you don’t have to! If you aim to compete at a weight, but can’t make the weight class, don’t worry! You will be eligible to lift at the next available weight class!

What kind of equipment can I use, and what do I wear to a powerlifting meet?

You are required to wear shoes for all lifts, and you are required to wear something that covers your shins during the deadlift, whether that be knee-high socks or leggings.

For this meet, you can compete using knee sleeves, a belt, and wrist wraps. Knee wraps, squat suits, gloves, and bench shirts are not permitted.

The following aren’t required, but what we would recommend as our “go-to” list regarding powerlifting equipment:

  • Flat shoes: Unlike running sneakers, flat shoes like Chuck Taylors allow lifters to be able to distribute their weight evenly throughout their foot. They also tend to be grippier than other shoes which can help prevent the lifter from slipping. This type of shoe is often worn in the squat or the deadlift.
  • Knee high socks or leggings: This is a requirement for deadlifts. This can help prevent the bar from scraping your shins.
  • Lifting belt: This is completely optional. If used correctly they can improve strength, performance, and decrease the risk of injury, but be sure you know how to properly use a belt!
  • Wrist Wraps: These are commonly used in the bench press to stabilize the wrist. They can be used during the squat as well.

You are encouraged to wear clothing that is comfortable and makes your lifts easy to judge; that means the referees can clearly see the crease of your hip during the squat, your locked elbows and your body’s contact with the bench during the bench press, and your locked knees and hips during the deadlift. Feel free to throw some color in your outfits too! Clothing with logos or writing are permitted as long they adhere to the event’s code of conduct. Lifters who wear the hijab or other head coverings for religious purposes may do so during the meet.

You are not required to wear a singlet for this meet, but if you’d like to… please feel free!

How do I choose my attempts?

Once you have an idea of what your 1-repetition maximum is, you can establish attempts for your lifts. Keep in mind that if you miss an attempt, you will NOT be able to go down in weight. Use this information to make wise decisions! Below are some general attempt selection guidelines.

  • First attempt: This should be easy. A first attempt should be a weight you can confidently expect to hit even on your worst day. The purpose of the first attempt is to simply GET YOU INTO THE MEET. From there, you can always go up in weight for your subsequent attempts. This should be about 90-92% of your estimated 1RM (from a fatigued state)
  • Second Attempt: Once you hit your 1st attempt, increase weight for your second. This should be about 95-97% of your estimated 1RM, depending on how your previous attempt felt. If your previous attempt was a bit heavier or slower than anticipated, I would aim for the lower end of this range. If it felt great and flew, it’s okay to aim for a number a bit higher.
  • Third Attempt: If you successfully hit both your first and second attempt, this is the lift where you’ll challenge your abilities and hopefully hit some PR’s! This lift should be about 100-103% of your previous estimated 1RM. Be careful, listen to your body, but challenge yourself and see what you can do!

What do I bring on meet day?

  • Simple, light, easily digestible foods. Something you’d eat on any other day. Our go-tos involve:
    • Lean protein (chicken, turkey, tuna, whey, jerky)
    • Carbohydrate sources that aren’t overly filling (breads, pancakes, granola bars, fruit, donuts)
    • Candy (We like Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, and gummy worms!)
  • Coffee, preworkout, or energy drinks (if needed).
  • Powerlifting equipment for the meet
  • Music player, book, friends to keep you company/relax/get your mind focused between attempts

Competition Day: What do I expect?

  • Weigh-ins: Weigh-ins are taking place the Friday before the meet, from 3:00 PM-5:00 PM.
  • Sign-in and check your rack height & pin positioning. We will help you through this process!
  • Warm up: A big mistake competitors make is warming up too late. Remember, there will be a limited amount of benches and squat racks to warm up with. We recommend a completing a general warm up (mobility, foam rolling, activation drills) about an hour before the competition begins and start taking warm up attempts for each respective lift about 30-45 minutes before the first attempt. As a general rule of thumb, your final warm-up should be about 83-85% of your estimated 1RM.
  • Between attempts: Depending on how big your flight is, you’ll have around 10-20 minutes between attempts. Relax, listen to music, and visualize success on your next attempt.
  • During attempts: Be respectful and polite to the referees, loaders, and spotters. If you are receiving a handoff, communicate with the person giving it before your bench press attempts if there’s a kind of handoff you are used to. If the referees red light any of your lifts, you are welcome to politely ask why!
  • Between lifts: You’ll have about an hour. Hang with friends, eat, or participate in some of the SFG activities that’ll be going on!

How does fundraising work?

Share your CrowdRise page. For more information on how to start your own CrowdRise page to raise money for this event, contact us at hello@womensstrengthcoalition.com

Will someone help me set up my Crowdrise page?

Yes, please feel free to reach out to us at hello@womensstrengthcoalition.com

Where will the meet take place?

Pursuit Gym, 4487 Bents Dr B
Windsor, CO 80550

What else will there be to do?

While the meet is going on, we’ll have other events and activities going on outside led by the SFG participants themselves!

Can I bring spectators? What about a coach/handler?

Yes, there will be a suggested ten dollar donation for spectators. Each lifter is allowed one coach/handler in the warm-up room.