The sport of Powerlifting began as the “Odd lifts”. Olympic Weightlifters who participated in the Clean and Jerk, Snatch, and Clean and Press in the Olympics often did Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Military Press, Arm curl, and several other weightlifting exercises in training.
Soon enough, Olympic Weightlifters began focusing on these lifts so much they began perfecting them and comparing their results. It got competitive. They noticed that 3 lifts in particular of all the “Odd Lifts” were the best 3 events to measure a person’s power. Even the 3 lifts that were in the Olympic Weightlifting program did not quite measure the human power the same. They relied more on speed and agility. Just like the Olympic lifts, these 3 power lifts required a lot of technique to maximize the lifters efforts. However, unlike the Olympic lifts, these 3 power lifts relied heavily on brute strength with much less emphasis on agility, and speed as the Olympic lifts. Originally called the “Odd lifts”, consisting of many exercises, these lifts were eventually narrowed down to the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift, and the sport of Powerlifting was formed.
Developing into a Sport
Many famous Olympic Weightlifting Champions such as Paul Anderson and Doug Hepburn (both recognized as the “World’s Strongest Man” in their respective primes) would eventually adopt power lifts as their favorite, and become equally known for their power lifts as Olympic Weight lifts. Doug Hepburn became the best Bench Presser in the World, and Paul Anderson the best Squatter.
Powerlifting as a sport is born
With its roots in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting has many of the same rules. Each lifter has three attempts in each event (Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlifts, always in that order), with the best successful attempt going towards their total weight lifted. The lifter’s total determines their placing in the competition. If a lifter attempts a weight and fails they must attempt that weight again or go higher up in weight. Under no circumstances can a lifter go down in weight for an attempt; failing to record a successful lift in the three attempts given for one of the events results in a disqualification of the lifter. This makes for exciting outcomes when a close competition can have lifters fail at a weight three times in a row and “bomb” out of the competition.
To advance from the Squat event to the Bench Press means the lifter must have at least one successful Squat attempt to continue. The same goes for advancing from the Bench Press event to the Deadlift event. At the World stage, in highly competitive tournaments were the lifters are pushed to the max in every lift, “bomb outs” are frequent enough. It is the wild card that keeps the sport interesting as any lifter can move up in placing due to an unexpected bomb out.
These events are also held as single event competitions, with the Bench Press being by far the most popular.
Today, the sport has grown to have more members than Olympic Weightlifting. Powerlifting is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and a part of the World Games. The sport has spread to a total of 115 countries, stretching 5 continents, and has become part of modern culture. In every gym you can find people Bench Pressing, Squatting, and Deadlifting. These exercises have become much more commonly practiced than the Clean and Jerk and Snatch. Strike up a conversation with some one from a local gym and they are inevitably going to ask, “How much ya bench?”
Doug Hepburn would be proud.
***6 Pack Lapadat is a Champion Powerlifter and Guinness World Record holder for feats of strength. He performs his feats to raise money for sick children. To learn more about 6 Pack Lapadat/or help donate towards the cause you can browse through this site.