Powerlifting is all about the bench press. Athletes lie on their back on a bench to lower a weighted bar to their chest, hold it motionless then press it upwards to arms’ length with locked elbows. Using well developed chest, shoulder, arm and triceps muscles, some can lift more than three times their own body weight!
Each athlete starts by lying totally flat on a specially designed bench 48 to 50 centimetres off the floor. The bench is 2.1 metres long and 61 centimetres at its widest. After taking or receiving the weighted bar and holding it at arms’ length, the lifter then lowers the bar to the chest, holds it motionless then presses it upward in one smooth movement to the original position, with both arms equally extended and locked elbows. The bar is held motionless in that position until the Chief Referee says ‘Rack’ and it is returned to the stand.
The attempt is judged by three referees using a system of white and red lights, with two or more white lights indicating a good lift, and two or more red lights indicating a no lift. Athletes have three attempts at each weight.