My First USA Powerlifting Competition

Watch this video!

What to Expect When You Arrive at the Venue of Your First Competition:

What happens when you arrive for weigh-ins the day of your first competition?

You will need to become a member of USA Powerlifting before you compete. Please do this here:

You do not have to be a member of a team or have a coach to compete in a USA Powerlifting competition. There are usually many people who will help you understand the process during your first event.

Weigh-ins/check-in will usually begin at 7am (although this is determined by your meet director). In larger competitions there may also be an afternoon weigh-in/check-in session. The meet director will tell you prior to the competition which check-in session you will be in. Please plan to arrive at the beginning of the time indicated. You must weigh-in between the times indicated on your registration form (7:00am and 8:30am) to be eligible to compete.

When you arrive, you will enter the venue indicated by your meet director and proceed to the table with the “CHECK IN” sign. Here they will verify your USA Powerlifting Card, give you your Lifters Card, meet shirt and Liability Form. (this may vary slightly from meet to meet but is generally the procedure).

After you do this step, you will proceed to the “WEIGH IN” area. Form a line and wait your turn to weigh in. You may strip down to your underwear to weigh in. A male will weigh in men and a female will weigh in females. They will record your weight on your Lifters Card and give it back to you.

While you’re waiting to weigh in, write ONLY THE FIRST ATTEMPTS (in KG) for your lifts. DO NOT FILL OUT SECOND OR THIRD ATTEMPTS. These need to be written in KILO’S not pounds. There will be many conversion charts available for your use. DO NOT use an app on your phone or a calculator. The KG must match our charts exactly.

In most cases, the person doing weigh-ins will take your Lifters card. Or you may be instructed to take your Lifters card and give it to the person sitting at the computer. DO NOT walk around with your card. We need to enter all your info before the meet can begin.

Then proceed to the “EQUIPMENT CHECK” table. Here all of your lifting gear and attire will be inspected.

Put all your equipment on the table for inspection. You will need to show:



Tshirt (no v-neck , spandex, compression or babydoll type)

Knee high socks

Wrist wraps

Knee sleeves


All suits if lifting equipped

Knee wraps if lifting equipped

Although we will not inspect, your underwear, it may not have any leg or be made of spandex material. No compression short and no boxer shorts, including boxer briefs.

After you have completed all these steps, proceed to the rack and someone will be there to help you get your rack heights for squat and bench. There will be a piece of paper available to document your rack heights at the rack. If you are doing deadlift only, you do not need to do this step.

After you have completed these steps, you can sit and relax, eat, drink or warm-up. There will be a rules briefing at approximately 45 minutes before the event begins.

The Lifts


  1. Be sure that your hips are dipping just below the top of your knee. The best way to see this is to have someone film you from the side while you squat.
  2. At the top of the lift, make sure you’re standing completely upright with your hips forward and your knees locked.
  3. There are two commands you will hear from the head judge during the squat, Start and Rack.

Bench Press:

  1. Your feet must be completely flat on the ground during the entire lift.
  2. Your head and butt must remain on the bench during the entire lift.
  3. After the “start” command, lower the bar to your chest and stop the bar on your chest. When the bar has become completely motionless, the head judge will say “press”. Press the bar until your elbows lock and wait for the head judge to say “Rack.”


  1. You MUST wear socks that reach your knees.
  2. There is only the “Down” command for the deadlift.
  3. You must stand completely erect with your knees locked and your hips forward with shoulders back. Be careful not to lean back too far at the top as this will unlock your knees and it will be a “no lift.”

Other info:

  1. All lifters must wear a crew neck, cotton or cotton blend t-shirt under the singlet (only men can go shirtless for the deadlift)
  2. The t-shirt can be a solid color or a print, but can’t have logos or writing on it and it can’t be turned inside out
  3. EXCEPT – the MEET T-SHIRT can be worn for all lifts (and t-shirts will be available for purchase at the meet)
  4. You must have knee-length socks for deadlifting (they must completely cover your shins)
  5. You can wear lifting shoes, gym shoes, or almost any other kind of indoor athletic shoe (but no hiking boots and no toe shoes or Vibrams)
  6. If you use a belt, it cannot have any padding on the inside and no Velcro
  7. Women, no baby doll or cap sleeve t-shirts.
  8. You MUST wear a one piece lifting suit or singlet
  9. Boxer shorts or boxer brief’s are not allowed under your singlet

Please read the Lifters Handbook for more detailed information