Para Powerlifting

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Para Powerlifting

The aim of Para Powerlifting is to lift the heaviest weight possible. Competitors lie on a 2.1m bench, lower the bar to their chest and press it to arm’s length using all the power they can muster. Each competitor has three attempts to achieve their best result.

An Overview of Para Powerlifting

Para Powerlifting involves Para athletes competing in weight classes at the bench press, with the winner being the person who lifts the heaviest weight. Individuals are grouped by body weight, meaning athletes with different disabilities compete for the same medal. Para athletes can be strapped to the bench at any point from their ankles to their hips if they wish.

Male and female Para athletes assume a position on a specially designed bench. Para athletes then receive the bar at arms length where the lifter then waits with locked elbows for the Chief Referee's signal. Upon receiving the signal "start", the Para athletes must lower the bar to the chest and hold it visibly on the chest, and then press it upwards to arms length, with an even extension of the arms and locked elbows. An immediate decision is then given by three nominated international referees, through a system of white and red lights. Each Para athlete is granted three attempts, however if a Para athlete wishes to make an attempt in order to achieve a record, they can make a fourth attempt.


Para Powerlifting is open to anyone with a minimum level of disability (paralysis, lower limb amputations and cerebral palsy) who can extend their arms within 20° of full extension during a lift. This sport tests the upper body strength of Para athletes and can sometimes see Para athlete lift more than three times their own body weight!


There are a number of key Para Powerlifting sites across the country including:

Loughborough University
St Mary's University
Bangor University
Suffolk Spartans Powerlifting Club

If you are not within easy access of any of the above investigate what access you have to accessible weightlifting club/gym facilities in your local area. You can also use our activity/organisation finder tool to see which gyms and clubs cater for Powerlifting in your local area.


World Para Powerlfiting approved discs must conform to a number of standards outlined in the sport's rules and regulations. Athletes compete lying on an official World Para Powerlifting approved bench which is 2.1m long. The width of the bench is 61cm wide, and narrows to 30cm where the head is placed. The height of the bench varies between 48 and 50cm from the ground.


Para Powerlifting made its debut at the 1964 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, featuring a handful of male competitors with spinal cord injuries. Fast-forward to the present day and the sport boasts hundreds of elite male and female athletes from a variety of disability groups, representing more than 110 countries.

Considered as the ultimate test of upper body strength, Para Powerlifting is one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports.

Find Para Powerlifting Activities Near You

Use the search below to find local activities near you.

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