Lifter Classification Information

 

This is applicable to all lifters that compete in raw, drug free powerlifting competitions in federations that enforce below parallel squats and paused bench presses.

 

 

Operational Definitions of the following terms:

 

Elite: An exceptional lifter, for males this means the lifter is very likely in the top 10 in the nation for their respective weight class and the lifter may be close to a top 5 ranking among comparable federations for that competition year.  For females this means the lifter is very likely in the top 5 in the nation for their respective weight class and the lifter may be close to a top 3 ranking among comparable federations for that competition year.  Elite lifters generally place very well at local level competitions and will usually hold their own at National level competitions. It is not uncommon for Elite level lifters to have 10+ years of experience with serious powerlifting training.  Approximately 1% of competitive powerlifters will reach the Elite level of classification.

 

Master: A very skilled lifter, for males this means the lifter is likely in the top 50 in the nation for their respective weight class among comparable federations for that year.  For females this means the lifter is likely in the top 20 in the nation for their respective weight class among comparable federations for that competition year.  Master lifters usually perform quite well at local level competitions and may want to think about competing on a National scale.  Master lifters are likely to have 6+ years of experience with serious powerlifting training.  Approximately 10% of competitive powerlifters will reach the Master level of classification.

 

Class I: A skilled lifter.  A Class I lifter is significantly stronger than the average person that engages in regular intense weight training.  Class I lifters are likely to have 4+ years of experience with serious powerlifting training.  A high percentage (~30%) of competitive powerlifters are at the Class I level classification.

 

Class II: A relatively skilled lifter.  A Class II lifter is stronger than the average person that engages in regular intense weight training.  Class II lifters are likely to have 3+ years of experience with serious powerlifting training.  A high percentage (~30%) of competitive powerlifters are at the Class II level classification.

 

Class III: A Class III lifter is stronger than the average person.  Class III lifters are likely to have 2+ years of experience with hard resistance training.  A reasonable number (~20%) of competitive powerlifters are at the Class III level classification, this classification is common among teenage and upper level master lifters (50+ yrs old).

 

Class IV: A Class IV lifter is at the beginning stage for a powerlifter.  Class IV lifters are likely to have 1+ year of experience with hard resistance training.  A smaller number (~10%) of competitive powerlifters compete at the Class IV level classification.

 

RAW POWERLIFTING

 

FEMALE CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS

Revised on January 1, 2012

*NOTE: Weights Below in LBS.

 

Women’s Squat

 

Wt. Class

 

97

105

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

198+

ELITE

 

179

189

204

240

250

260

279

295

305

330

MASTER

 

163

172

186

218

228

237

254

268

278

300

CLASS I

 

147

155

167

197

205

213

229

242

250

271

CLASS II

 

131

138

149

175

183

190

204

215

223

241

CLASS III

 

113

119

129

151

158

164

176

186

192

208

CLASS IV

 

97

102

110

130

135

140

151

159

165

178

 

Women’s Bench Press

  

Wt. Class

 

97

105

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

198+

ELITE

 

120

135

143

160

170

181

192

206

210

225

MASTER

 

109

123

130

146

155

165

175

187

191

205

CLASS I

 

98

111

117

131

139

148

157

169

172

185

CLASS II

 

88

99

104

117

124

132

140

150

153

164

CLASS III

 

76

85

90

101

107

114

121

130

132

142

CLASS IV

 

65

73

77

86

92

98

104

111

113

122

 

Women’s Deadlift

 

Wt. Class

 

97

105

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

198+

ELITE

 

248

259

285

304

321

353

363

380

385

405

MASTER

 

226

236

259

277

292

321

330

346

350

369

CLASS I

 

203

212

234

249

263

289

298

312

316

332

CLASS II

 

181

189

208

222

234

258

265

277

281

296

CLASS III

 

156

163

180

192

202

222

229

239

243

255

CLASS IV

 

134

140

154

164

173

191

196

205

208

219

Women’s Strict Curl

 

Wt. Class

 

97

105

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

198+

ELITE

 

50

58

65

72

76

79

83

88

94

99

MASTER

 

45

53

59

65

69

72

74

80

85

90

CLASS I

 

41

48

53

59

62

65

67

72

77

81

CLASS II

 

36

42

47

52

55

57

59

64

68

72

CLASS III

 

32

37

42

46

49

50

51

56

60

63

CLASS IV

 

27

32

36

39

42

43 

44

48

51

54

 

 

Women’s Powerlifting Total

 

Wt. Class

 

97

105

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

198+

ELITE

 

535

573

611

665

703

756

813

839

859

918

MASTER

 

487

521

556

605

640

688

740

763

782

835

CLASS I

 

439

470

501

545

576

620

667

688

704

753

CLASS II

 

385

418

446

485

513

552

593

612

627

670

CLASS III

 

342

361

385

419

443

476

512

529

541

578

CLASS IV

 

289

309

330

359

380

408

439

453

464

496

 

 

 

 

 

 

MALE CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS

Revised on January 1, 2012

*NOTE: Weights Below in LBS.

 

Men’s Squat

 

Wt. Class

 

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

220

242

275

275+

ELITE

 

292

320

348

389

452

495

535

565

590

620

662

MASTER

 

269

294

320

358

416

455

492

520

543

570

609

CLASS I

 

239

262

285

319

371

406

439

463

484

508

543

CLASS II

 

210

230

251

280

325

356

385

407

425

446

477

CLASS III

 

184

202

219

245

285

312

337

356

372

391

417

CLASS IV

 

161

176

191

214

249

272

294

311

325

341

364

 

Men’s Bench Press

 

Wt. Class

 

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

220

242

275

275+

ELITE

 

235

258

275

314

358

387

415

440

462

483

500

MASTER

 

214

235

253

289

329

356

382

405

425

444

462

CLASS I

 

193

212

226

257

294

317

340

361

379

396

412

CLASS II

 

169

186

198

226

258

279

299

317

333

348

363

CLASS III

 

148

163

173

198

226

244

261

277

291

304

315

CLASS IV

 

129

142

151

173

197

213

228

242

254

266

275

 

Men’s Deadlift

 

Wt. Class

 

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

220

242

275

275+

ELITE

 

346

374

402

468

537

597

625

642

660

689

700

MASTER

 

318

344

370

431

494

549

575

591

607

634

644

CLASS I

 

284

307

330

384

440

490

513

526

541

565

574

CLASS II

 

249

269

289

337

387

430

450

462

475

496

504

CLASS III

 

218

236

253

295

338

376

394

404

416

434

441

CLASS IV

 

190

206

221

257

295

328

344

353

363

379

385

  

Men’s Strict Curl

 

Wt. Class

 

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

220

242

275

275+

ELITE

 

85

100

115

130

142

151

160

168

175

175

175

MASTER

 

77

91

105

118

130

138

148

156

163

163

163

CLASS I

 

70

82

94

107

117

124

132

139

144

144

144

CLASS II

 

61

72

83

94

103

109

116

122

127

127

127

CLASS III

 

54

63

72

82

90

95

102

107

111

111

111

CLASS IV

 

46

54

62

70

78

83

88

92

97

97

97

 

Men’s Powerlifting Total

 

Wt. Class

 

114

123

132

148

165

181

198

220

242

275

275+

ELITE

 

805

881

947

1124

1261

1396

1495

1587

1630

1710

1740

MASTER

 

741

811

871

1034

1160

1279

1375

1460

1500

1573

1601

CLASS I

 

660

722

777

922

1034

1148

1226

1301

1337

1402

1427

CLASS II

 

580

634

682

809

908

1012

1076

1143

1174

1231

1253

CLASS III

 

507

555

597

708

794

879

942

1000

1027

1077

1096

CLASS IV

 

443

485

521

618

694

768

822

873

897

941

957

 

The Powerlifting Total is the sum of the lifter’s best squat, bench press, and deadlift performed within a sanctioned powerlifting competition. 

 

These lifting classifications apply to a drug free lifter that is competing without the use of any supportive equipment other than a lifting belt and wrist wraps.  The standard form for a proper competition squat is the lifter must bend the knees and lower the body until the top surface of the legs at the hip joint is lower than the top of the knees.  The standard form for a proper competition bench press is the lifter must pause the bar on the chest until the press command is received.  The standard form for the deadlift is that the lifter must stand erect with shoulders in line with the body without using a hitch.  The standard form for the strict curl is that the lifter must keep their upper back and butt pressed against the wall throughout the entire lift.

 

 

 

 

 

FAQ about the New Lifter Classification System

 

Why were the numbers revised?

                  Initially the goal was to simply create a classification system for the individual lifts based off of the system that was currently being used to classify a lifter’s powerlifting total.  After further examination it became apparent that the current system was not quite describing what we were seeing on the platform. Just a few people each year were hitting elite at the lightweights, even with a large number of competitors, and a large number of people were hitting elite at the heavyweights, the terms were not balanced.  An attempt has been made to more properly align the standards so that elite at 148 means approximately the same thing as does elite at 242.  Standards have been established for each individual contested lift and the numbers for the powerlifting total standards have been slightly revised.

 

How did you come up with the numbers?

                  The primary resource that was used to calculate actual numbers instead of expected numbers was the lifter rankings system on PLwatch.com.  Information from the years 2008, 2009, and 2010 were primarily used. PLwatch.com does not separate by out federation standards and/or if lifters are drug tested so we had to further examine the rankings based on those qualities.  Those numbers provided the backbone for the Elite standards, however several lifting formulas were also used, input was given from federation officials, and patterns were analyzed.  The other rankings (Master through Class IV) were set up to maintain a similar standard in relation to the Elite rankings as occurred in previous years.

 

Why do we need 4 classes of lifters plus Elite and Master, why not fewer classes?

                  Powerlifting is a sport that accepts all comers, some great lifters, some not so great.  Some lifters are at the tail end of their sporting career and others are just getting started.  In addition general gym goers that lift weights but don’t compete like to “look in” to get a sense of how they might fare in a competition.  The 6 rankings helps separate out those lifters that are at the top of their game to those lifters just getting started and everywhere in between.  While it is true that the significant majority of full meet lifters will be class II or above, the standards for the single lifts are higher and many lifters will find themselves working hard to simply place on those standards, let alone shoot for a Class I or Master level or beyond.  Multiple standards can inspire a lifter to get that extra 5 or 10 lbs on a lift, if one is so close to that next level it might be the motivation they need to hit that weight.  Finally powerlifting as a whole is inclusive, not exclusive.  It is not just a sport for the “super strong” among us, it is a sport for all those lifters that want to test themselves in a competitive setting and to see what their own personal limits may be. If lifters disapprove of the lower classes they can simply ignore them.

 

What’s new about this?

                  First, the powerlifting total standards have been revised, although not greatly.  In general the light weight standards have been lowered slightly, the middle weights are relatively unchanged, and the heavy weight standards have been raised slightly.  Secondly there are standards presented for each individual lift which is a new idea.  The individual lift standards can be applied to both a full meet and a single lift competition.

 

Why don’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. 

 

Why are the standards higher for females than males relatively speaking?

                  Fewer women compete than men, it can be assumed that if more women were to compete there would be more good lifters.

 

Why aren’t the jumps between weight classes more even?

                  The jumps in weight between the weight lifted in weight classes was based on actual performance, not expected performance.  For some weight classes and lifts there was a minimal advantage in being just one weight class heavier, in others there was a very significant difference in the performance of the lifters.  The standards were set up in general to classify what lifters were actually doing on the platform instead of what was simply expected of them.

 

I know a lot of people that can hit the Elite numbers, are your numbers right?

                  It is natural with any sport that the more accomplished lifters receive more press and recognition.  Elite in this sense does not mean one is guaranteed to be a National Champion or a World Class lifter, although both of those lifters would be elite.  Elite simply means very good.  When looked at nationally there will still be a reasonable number of elite lifters per year.  If you think you have seen a lot of people train in the gym that could be elite, it is likely you might not be familiar with the standards set forth to complete the raw powerlifts in a competitive setting and you may not be aware if those other lifters are drug free or not.  The rankings on PLwatch.com confirm that an elite level performance to the standards set is relatively rare.  If you think you really know some people that could hit these numbers but they don’t currently compete, suggest that they go and lift in a competition, they should be very competitive.

 

Aren’t these standards too high?

                  The standards need to be moderately high in order for them to mean anything.  If 50 people in each weight class are hitting Elite then it lessens the title. You personally might have your own definition of Elite and Master and so on, these standards are based on the operational definitions put forth at the beginning of this article.

 

Aren’t these standards too low?

                  They were based on the rankings on PLwatch.com. It is likely that if all competitive powerlifters competed in the same federation under the same standards, there would be more “elite” level lifters than the numbers here and the numbers might need to be revised.  However, use of powerlifting equipment, strictness of judging, and drugs all play a significant role in the numbers lifters can put up.  If more people want to come and lift under these standards and prove them too low, so be it.  Until that time all we can use is the information we have.

 

Will you revise these standards?

                  Yes, the plan is to reexamine them in 3-5 years and see how they are holding up.  If they are still adequately describing the type of lifting seen then it will not be necessary to revise them.  If many more lifters are achieving the designations put forth then the standards can be revised.

 

 

What’s with the Curl?

                  The curl was actually included in the first powerlifting competitions in the 1960’s but it was dropped after a few years, likely due to the time a full powerlifting meet takes as it is. The curl has been reintroduced lately in several federations to test the strength of the arms.  These standards apply to a strict curl (up against the wall) using an EZ bar.  For those that like this lift, it is meant as a guide, for those that don’t like this lift, ignore it.  The curl is not added to a lifter’s total, it is a stand alone event.

 

Why don’t the Elite numbers on Curls increase after the 242 weight class?

                  So far there has not been a noticeable increase in curl strength in the heavier weight classes so the standards reflect that.

 

How did you come up with the curl numbers?

                  Because less people compete in the curl the standards are higher.  The elite number would generally give a lifter the first or second ranking for the curl in that weight class that year for that federation.  As more people compete in the curl those numbers might rise.  The curl numbers can be revised in 3-5 years if necessary as well.

 

How come the Master lifter is closer to Elite than the other categories?

                  The Master lifter ranking is closer to the Elite lifter ranking from a percentage point of view than the other rankings because of the fact of diminishing returns.  In the beginning lifters start off using low weight but make great progress.  The more experienced the lifter gets the slower the gains come.  Once a lifter has reached a high level of proficiency adding another 5 or 10% to their strength can be quite a challenge.

 

If I am not at a Category IV level am I too weak to compete in powerlifting?

                  Powerlifting is more about competing with yourself and better yourself than lifting a certain amount of weight.  If you can lift the bar and you enjoy testing yourself in a competitive environment, powerlifting is for you.  You will very likely find the atmosphere at a powerlifting competition to be quite supportive, almost all good lifters started out pretty weak at some point so they can relate to where you might be now. In addition if you are older (50 + years old) or younger (<18 years old) of course it is less common for those lifters to lift extremely high amounts of weight.

 

What can I do with this information?

                  You can use this information to assess your strengths and weakness as a powerlifter.  If you are a Class I bencher but a Class III deadlifter it means your deadlift is a weak point for you and likely needs more work.  You can use these standards as a motivation tool to lift more weight.  You can use these standards to see if moving up or down a weight class is likely a good idea for you.  If you can move up a level by gaining or losing body weight it is a likely good idea, if your relative classification goes down then it is likely not a good idea.  Finally you can acknowledge your accomplishments and hard work by purchasing certificates that designate your ranking with a particular lift in a certain competition for that year.

 

To purchase a certificate with your lifter classification on it, contact Paul Bossi at rawlifting@aol.com

 

If you have any questions/comments/concerns or feedback about these standards please contact Tim Henriques at NPTITim@aol.com