Powerlifting Rules and Technique Differences

Before thinking of competing there are a few diffrences and some basic rules that you should know beforehand and there is some very particular technique for lifts to be approved by the judges. Lifters are usually observed by three seperate judges at different angles and must get the okay from two out the three judges for a lift to pass.

In the following blog we’ll outline and go over the rules for each of the three Powerlifting movements.


The squat is the first lift attempted in Powerlifting competitions and is also arguably one of the most difficult in terms of rules. Some newer lifters are surprised by how deep they are required to squat in a Powerlifting meet.

  1. The lifter must unrack the bar and then stand up straight with their knees locked and motionless.
  2. Once the lifter is in the correct starting position the Chief Referee will make a gesture with their arm while calling out “Squat”.
  3. Upon receiving the Chief Referee’s signal the lifter must bend their knees and lower body until the top surface of the legs at the hip joint is lower than the top of the knees. Only one attempt is allowed and the attempt has deemed to have begun once the lifters knees have unlocked.
  4. The lifter must then stand up and get back into the upright starting position, double bouncing or any extra downward motion during this phase is not allowed.
  5. Once the lifter has locked out their knees and is in an upright the position and motionless the Chief Referee will then signal the lifter to rack the bar.

Causes for Disqualifications for the Squat              

  1. Failure to observe the Chief Referee’s signals at the beginning or completion of a lift.
  2. Double bouncing during any phase of the lift.
  3. Failure to get back into the beginning
  4.  upright position with locked knees.
  5. Stepping forward, backwards or moving the feet laterally after the “Squat” signal


The bench is the second lift that is attempted during a Powerlifting meet. Just like the squat, there is a little more complexity to a Powerlifting bench and your standard bench press at the gym. The main difference being that there is a requisite brief pause at the bottom most position.

  1. The lifter must lie on their back with the back of their head, shoulders and buttocks in contact with the bench.
  2. The lifter have their feet flat on the ground and their hands must grip the bar with a thumbs all around grip.
  3. The lifter is allowed to use up to 30cm blocks to help keep their feet flat on the ground.
  1. The lifter must not have their hands spaced more than 81cm.
  2. After lifting the bar off the rack the lifter must remain motionless with their elbows locked and wait for the Chief Referee’s “Start” signal.
  3. After the signal to start the lifter must lower the bar down to the chest or abdominal area and hold it motionless and wait for the Chief Referee’s “Press” signal.
  4. Once the press signal has been begin the lifter must then return the bar to the original positon with locked out elbows and wait for the Chief Referee’s “Rack” signal.

Causes for Disqualifications for the Bench

  1. Failure to observe any of the Chief Referee’s signal throughout the duration of the lift.
  2. Any movement in position on the bench of the head, shoulders or buttocks.
  3. Sinking the bar into the chest or abdominal area after the “Press” signal.
  4. Any downward movement of the bar after the “Press” signal.
  5. Failure to straighten the arms and lock out the elbows.
  6. The feet not remaining flat on the ground and coming up at any point during the lift.


The deadlift is the last lift of a Powerlifting meet and is also the most basic in terms of rules in comparison to a regular gym deadlift.

  1. The lifter will begin facing the front of the platform with the bar in front of their feet.
  2. The lifter is permissed to use any grip they prefer with both hands.
  3. The lifter may begin the lift whenever they please and must stand erect with knees locked and shoulders back.
  4. The lifter must then remain stationary and wait for the Chief Referee’s “Down” signal.
  5. Once the down signal has been called the lifter must then control the weight down with both hands.

Causes for Disqualifications for the Deadlift

  1. Any downward movement of the bar during the upwards phase of the movement.
  2. Failure to stand erect with knees locked and shoulders back.
  3. Supporting the bar with the thighs during the lift.
  4. Stepping the feet in any direction. The feet must stay in the same position throughout the whole lift.
  5. Lowering the bar before recieving the Chief Referee’s “Down” signal.
  6. Dropping the bar after the “Down” signal or letting the bar come down in an uncontrolled manner.