Lifters' Corner: Barbell Sports

(reposted from our February 2018 newsletter)

“What’s the deal with all of these lifting sports?  I can’t keep them straight!”

No worries - let’s take a quick look at the three major sports of the barbell world.

  • Powerlifting: This is the sport of the back squat, bench press, and the deadlift. Each lifter gets 3 attempts on the squat, 3 attempts on the bench press, and 3 attempts on the deadlift.  Take your best attempt from each lift, add them together, and you have what is known as your total.
  • Strengthlifting: This is the sport of the back squat, the press, and the deadlift.  It is similar to powerlifting, but there are several notable differences:
    • The press (i.e., overhead press) is contested, not the bench press.
    • The deadlift is conventional, which means your hands go outside of your legs.  This is how we teach the deadlift anyway, so it’s not unusual to you, but at powerlifting meets, a beast known as the sumo deadlift often makes an appearance (wherein the stance is very wide and the grip is fairly narrow - inside the stance).
    • The judges simply tell you whether or not the lift counted, whereas in powerlifting, the judges are a bit more involved.
  • Weightlifting: This is the sport of the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. Like the other two sports, each lifter gets 3 attempts on each of the lifts, and once again, we add the best successful lifts together to get a total.
    • Weightlifting is also known as “olympic weightlifting” or simply “olympic lifting.”
    • If you’ve ever watched lifting during the Summer Olympics, this is the sport you witnessed.