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Powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength. Athletes with a disability compete in the bench press. Competition is open to men and women of all ages and sizes.  Powerlifting follows the same rules as able-bodied bench press. 

Powerlifting was first introduced as a Paralympic sport in 1964 at the second Paralympic Games in Tokyo as ‘Weightlifting’. The name was later changed to ‘Powerlifting’.  

Powerlifting Australia is the peak national body for powerlifting. It is also Australia’s affiliate with the International Powerlifting Federation. Australia holds international prestige in the sport of powerlifting. The Australian team has won a gold medal at every Paralympics Games, bar 1984. 

How to PowerLift

To perform a bench press a lifter lies on a bench and the bar is supported on racks behind the lifter's head. The bar is taken from the racks at arms' length, lowered to the chest and pressed back to arms' length. The athletes are given three attempts and the winner is the athlete who lifts the greatest number of kilograms.

Basic Rules of Powerlifting

Please click here to download the Rule Book from the International Paralympic Committee that is used at national/international events.

Who can Participate in Powerlifting

Impairment Type

To be eligible for powerlifting athletes must have a physical impairment and meet the following minimal disability criteria. 

Physical Impairment Minimal Disability Guide
Limb Loss or Deficiency Leg: Single amputation above the ankle joint.
Loss of Muscle Strength Leg: Loss of strength in a hip, knee, ankle or foot that impacts on the ability to stand.
Hypertonia, Ataxia, Athetosis Hypertonia (Spasticity, Rigidity or Dystonia), Ataxiaor Athetosis that leads to impairment in function in lower limb.
Short Stature Adults standing height less than or equal to 145cm (males) / 140cm (females).
Joint Movement Restrictions Leg-Joint movement restriction in one hip or knee that impacts on the ability to stand.
Leg Length Difference The difference between legs should be at least 7cm.



Each athlete is classified as eligible or not eligible based on whether they meet the minimal disability criteria. To test the minimal disability criteria classifiers observe athletes as they perform a range of movements. They test for muscle power, coordination and range of movement. They also measure the length of the athlete’s lower limbs.

Eligible athletes are divided into ten weight categories based on gender. Females and males compete separately. 

Females Males
41.00kg class Up to 41.00kg 49.00kg class Up to 49.00kg
45.00kg class 41.01 - 45.00kg 54.00kg class 49.01 - 54.00kg
50.00kg class 45.01 - 50.00kg 59.00kg class 54.01 - 59.00kg
55.00kg class 50.01 - 55.00kg 65.00kg class 59.01 - 65.00kg
61.00kg class 55.01 - 61.00kg 72.00kg class 65.01 - 72.00kg
67.00kg class 61.01 - 67.00kg 80.00kg class 72.01 - 80.00kg
73.00kg class 67.01 - 73.00kg 88.00kg class 80.01 - 88.00kg
79.00kg class 73.01 - 79.00kg 97.00kg class 88.01 - 97.00kg
86.00kg class 79.01 - 86.00kg 107.00kg class 97.01 - 107.00kg
86.00kg+ class 86.01kg+ 107.00kg+ class 107.01kg+

For more information click here to download the Powerlifting Classification Information sheet

How Do I Get Classified?

To get classified complete the “Get Classified Form” on the Australian Paralympic Committee website. 

If you have further questions on classification please contact the Australian Paralympic Committee
P: +61 2 9704 0500. 

Get Involved

Powerlifting is ideal for building stamina. It pushes athletes to their physical limits. The sport is seamlessly integrated with able-bodied bench-press. It’s cheap, all you need is a gym membership. Get involved to become your strongest self. 

Where Is it Played

Training can be done in any local gym. However to compete, athletes must be part of a local club that is affiliated with Australian Powerlifting. To find the closest Australian Powerlifting affiliated club near you please visit the website. 

Athlete Pathway

To compete in powerlifting athletes must first register with Powerlifting Australia by submitting this form. 

A clear pathway exists for athletes to progress from local to state, national and even international events. Powerlifting Australia has subsidiary clubs that run local competitions. Club champions are able to compete at state and national events directly organized by Powerlifting Australia. Athletes are graded by their performance at Powerlifting Australia events throughout the calendar year. Their grade determines whether they are able to compete in National Championships or be eligible for selection for the Australian team at International Championships. 

To find out more about the competition pathway please the state office listed below under “Who Runs the Sport?”.

Become an Official


To become a coach, candidates must successfully complete the level 1 Powerlifting course provided by Powerlifting Australia. This course is accredited within the Australian Sports Commission’s National Coaching Accreditation Scheme (NCAS). It is also recognized by Fitness Australia for 14 CEC points.

Look online at for more information, or contact Powerlifting Australia Coaching Director, Robert Wilks at 0418 366 416.


Referee clinics are conducted to qualify individuals to become official Powerlifting Australia referees. Successful completion of a written plus supervised refereeing/officiating exam gives you a probationary accreditation as a referee for Powerlifting Australia events. 

To get involved in a Powerlifting Australia refereeing clinic contact Pam Cutjar at 0429 838 462.

Become a Classifier

There are two types of classifiers, medical and technical. The following prerequisites are required to be eligible for classifier training:

Medical classifiers: Currently registered medical professional (physiotherapist or medical doctor); with minimum 5 years clinical experience with people with physical disabilities. It is an advantage to have a background in powerlifting or classifying para-sports.

Technical classifiers: Must hold a Bachelor or Master degree in sport science/ kinesiology / human movement science or other equivalent; and powerlifting experience. 

It is crucial that classifiers have a strong understanding of powerlifting. To ensure this, candidates must have experience in powerlifting either as a participant, volunteer, coach or administrator. 

To find out more about the classifier pathway contact the Australian Paralympic Committee via email or phone +61 2 9704 0500.

Become a Volunteer

Powerlifting is only made possible through the help of our dedicated volunteer. For information about upcoming volunteer opportunities please contact Robert Wilks (CEO of Powerlifting Australia) on 0418 366 416. 



Please contact your state office (listed in “Who Runs The Sport?” section below) for details about up-coming state and local competitions.


Please visit our events page for any upcoming Australian events. 

UpCOMING International EVENTS

Please visit our events page for any upcoming International events. 



Powerlifting Australia
Mr. Robert Wilks, CEO
Office: Level 6, 167 Queen St, Melbourne
Mail: GPO Box 2322, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001
Mobile: 0418 366 416
Phone: (03) 9670 2933
Fax: (03) 9663 8500


New South Wales

Wheelchair Sports NSW
Contact: Mark Wilson
P: +61 2 9809 5260


Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association
P: +61 7 3253 3333

South Australia

Disability Recreation and Sports SA
P: +61 8 8234 1533


Disability Sport and Recreation
P: +61 3 9473 0133

Western Australia

ReboundWA (formerly Wheelchair Sports Association WA)
+61 8 6143 5800


International Paralympic Committee
P: +49-228-2097-200

International Powerlifting Federation
Email via the website:


Australian Paralympic Committee
P: +61 2 9704 0500


Get in Contact

Powerlifting Australia is the peak national body for powerlifting. For further questions please contact CEO, Mr. Robert Wilks. 

Mr. Robert Wilks, CEO
Office: Level 6, 167 Queen St, Melbourne
Mail: GPO Box 2322, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001
Mobile: 0418 366 416
Phone: (03) 9670 2933
Fax: (03) 9663 8500


Intro to Powerlifting from Australian Paralympic Committee 

Classification from International Paralympic Committee


International Rules from the International Paralympic Committee

Referee Pathway from Powerlifting Australia