T Nation

New Lifter Classification Standards


I just wanted to let everybody know about the newly revised Lifter Classification Standards that have been put together. These standards go into effect Jan 1st, 2012 for the 100% Raw powerlifting Federation and the ADAU. The total classification has been slightly revised and a new set of standards for each of the contested lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, and strict curl) have been established for men and women.

These standards were based primarily off of the rankings on plwatch.com and instead of attempting to predict what we should see lifters doing, we are looking at what we actually saw lifters do on the platform. The standards are set up for the raw, drug free powerlifter that competes in federations that enforce below parallel squats (without knee wraps) and paused benches.

Lifters can use these new standards to see where they rank on specific lifts, to see if moving up or down a weight class is a good idea, and to see where their weak points might be competitively speaking. Non PLers can use this to see how they might fare if they actually entered a powerlifting competition. Here is the link:


I welcome any sort of feedback on these standards, good or bad - I know people tend to have opinions on either side of the standards for these type of things. There is more detail in how the numbers were set up and what the classifications mean on the same page as the link. This was also posted on plwatch.com. I hope you find these standards useful and helpful in your training.

Thanks for reading - Tim


Cool thanks. Are the standards for the lifts as individuals, for people that do single lifts? Like bench only, deadlift only? Because for 165 I see 452/358/537= 1347, but elite total for that weight class is 1261. Pretty big difference, what am I missing here?


Seen this in the FAQ Below the charts

Why donâ??t the standards on single lifts add up the standards for the total? The single lifts standards represent the ability to specialize, if one only trains the bench press it will be easier to improve just that than if one divides up their resources among additional lifts. Thus a good all around lifter whom is Class I in most lifts might actually be a Master lifter when examining their total because they have no weak points.

Hope this helps


Sure does, thank you.


This is very helpful and sets some real world expectations for all lifters. Thanks for posting.


God damn.

My bench is awful. Barely got into class III, while my squat is hovering between Class I/II.

I guess my training mentality though has always treated the squat as a lift where my PRs should be skyrocketing, while if I get 2.5kg gain on the bench I'm ecstatic. Time for more upper body work?

EDIT: Just read the quote above as well. That does help haha.


Looks like the went up from the previous classifications. Good. That is a step in the right direction. Still too low in my opinion.


Too low. In my opinion there should be only 5 lifters or so in a year capable of hitting elite in a given weight class. Elite should truly be the elite.


I agree. I am elite in all but bench... and strict curl? I think, I've never done it before so I don't know. Anyway, definitely think the standards are too low.


Maybe it's possible that you guys are just really strong and may not accurately represent the population at large?


From a guy who works with truly Elite Marathoners, I would have to agree that maybe not 5 but 10 to 20 people would be able to hit Elite status per weight class per year. The marathon trials coming up on the 14th in Houston have an Elite field of 158 men who had to run sub 2:19 to get there. Now the world record in the marathon is at 2:03:38.

So basically if someone is running 45 seconds PER mile slower than record pace that still qualifies as "ELITE".
How about raising up to the standard instead of dumbing down everything so everyone is a "winner" ? I am OK with the fact that I suck. It does not disuade me for wanting to train at Elite/ westside/ Monster or any other place where the wild things are...thanks for listening to this spew. Oh and Go MEB Keflezighi on the 14th, my training partner and friend : )


Given that these are no gear and drug free the numbers seem very accurate to me.



I wouldn't be surprised if we see how many people totaled elite it would be much more than 10 lifters per weight class, in America alone.


You can verify this very easily via powerliftingwatch.com and looking at the rankings. I explained the procedure in the FAQ on that page but I took the 5th through 9th best numbers in each weight class for the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 and averaged them per year and then averaged those 3 numbers and that was the basis for how these numbers came about. I did have to exclude results from feds that don't test and/or don't enforce strict rules (which are usually the same feds). So did more than 10 PEOPLE in American total more than elite, likely yes. Did more than 10 people do it in raw, drug free, strict feds? Maybe in a few weight classes but likely not on a regular basis.

Thanks for the post and the feedback, I understand everybody's operational definitions are different.


Fair enough. I suppose I just don't consider myself "elite" though my squat/deadlift are in both the 165/181 classes. Just goes to show that when you train with people way stronger than you (as well as much larger) your aspirations are much higher than if one were training alone (started training at a PL gym with multiple WR holders and now just believe I'm weak).


Thanks for posting this.

I have been meaning to find this information for along time so I can see where I fall.

It would be interested to see the distribution of lifters plotted out. They seem to be saying they designed the weight classes in a bell-curve.

Most people here seem to be saying they should have done it in a linear decline so only a few ever reach Elite while the largest majority is only able to achieve class III/IV.

Or did I read that wrong?


That makes a little bit more sense. Under those standards, I'm still considered elite. That is just strange to me because most of the other lifters I associate lift are stronger than me. But, they are also juiced out of their minds and use knee wraps. I just have to get my strict curl up to become a more well rounded athlete. Does that number factor in a curl vest?

Just kidding.


I think back in the day app 4-10 guys in the plusa top 100 hit elite in a weight class. May e less than 5 in the very light classes. Of course everyone used equipment and there was no accounting for anabolics . Well, most used equipment but it was maybe fifty pounds on a total for light guys and maybe a little more for the heavier guys.

These drug free standards annoy me. Some guys might exceed them easily but decide to use to compete in other Feds. What I mean or am trying to say is they would easily exceed these naturally but want to lift differently . I don't know if I'm being clear here, but I think they set them low.


Example, in the old adfpa, now usapl you needed app 1120 or so for class one. These standards have it almost two hundred lower a z suit, knee wraps and first generation inzer blast shirt didn't give a whole lot.