T Nation

Women's Powerlifting?


If anyone could offer some advice on where to start doing some research on women's powerlifting competitions, I'd really appreciate it. I've been lifting for a while now and, while I still REALLY enjoy it, I find myself wondering why I work so hard at it... other than the obvious healthy benefits. I quite literally have no knowledge of the competition world, so even the basics would be super helpful. Thanks in advance!


The sport has several different sanctioning bodies, known as federations. Many federations in USA are also associated with international sanctioning bodies, providing the opportunity to compete against people from all over the world. These federations run the gamut from tested to non-tested (meaning testing for performance enhancing drugs), from raw to single ply to multy-ply (meaning types of supportive gear ie. squat suits, bench shirts and deadlift suits).

Try google searching different federations searching for the style of lifting you’re most interested in, then see which hold meets closest to where you live. Or powerliftingwatch.com has a pretty inconclusive list of different federations with links to their websites. Every federation that I’m aware of has female classes, so you should be able to find a place to compete in any of them.

I can’t recommend trying a meet enough. It really adds meaning to your training, giving a concrete goal and time frame to train for. Powerlifting meets are incredibly welcome and supportive for the most part. It is fun and very rewarding. Your biggest competition is yourself.


Google is your friend. Type powerlifting and whichever region you live in. The results should give you what ever federations are in your area (state/province). Check out their websites. Once you establish what is available in your region, contact them. They exist to provide information for new and potential new members. I run the website for our Provincial affiliate and that’s what we’re there for.


+1 on info provided by Dr J and ouroboro.

When you find a federation you’d like to compete in, make sure you read the rulebook. Most federations have extensive and detailed rules. Start to practice your lifts competition style, like paused Bench and Squats parallel or slightly deeper. In a paused Bench, stay tight. If the bar keeps sinking down slightly, they won’t tell you to “Press!” until it’s stationary. If you are not sure that you are squatting deep enough, or pausing your bench appropriately, have someone (with powerlifting competition experience) watch you or call the lifts.

On competition day, don’t exhaust yourself with too many heavy warmups. Warm up sufficiently with a low weight, you just need your muscles, joints, and tendons warm and fresh. For your first lift, stay with something you can walk into the gym and hit any day. Then your second should be something you can normally do. Then your last can be a personal record if your feeling up to it, or slightly lower than a PR if you want. The goal is to complete all three lifts, however don’t be discouraged if you miss your last lift. Feeling nervous can be your friend, or it may mess with your head the first time. You won’t know until the day comes. Most people feel even stronger on competition days, something about the energy in the air. :slight_smile:


Sounds great. I’ll dos Google search and see what I can find. Thanks everyone for the helpful info!


Go for it and good luck. If you’re in the northeast of the U.S. I can recommend the RPS federation meets. Gene and Ame run efficient and inclusive meets that provide good experiences for novice lifters.

In some respects, there is no gender in powerlifting–just weight classes and gear choices.