Gyms might frown upon it, but powerlifting is growing in popularity and is fully embraced at the Arnold.


Powerlifting started to gain traction when lifters in the 1950s and ’60s wanted something heavier than the Big 3 Olympic lifts—press, snatch, and clean and jerk (the press was dropped in 1972). In 1964, the first truly national powerlifting championships took place in York, PA. Today there are multiple sanctioning organizations, the largest of which is the IPF.


Performance rules in powerlifting are fairly simple: Three single attempts each in the squat, bench press, and deadlift are allowed in either a standard meet or a single lift meet (bench or deadlift contest). Each attempt is heavier, and the max weight deter- mines the winner. Each of the three lifts has its own rules, which vary among organizations.


You’ll see many types of physiques across multiple body-weight divisions. Lifters who use supportive clothing or wraps are called “equipped,” and those who shun such gear are called “raw.” Equipped lifters have predominated, and it was impossible to know how much help the gear provided. But today the tide has turned and raw lifting is becoming more popular.

Why It’s Cool:

In 2016 fans witnessed 228-pound Matt Minuth bench 870 pounds, equipped.

Don’t Miss It: See the Arnold Classic Powerlifting at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH, from March 2–5, 2017. More info: arnoldsports