How to Compete with Scottish Powerlifting

This is a very basic and general guide to taking part in a Scottish Powerlifting (SP) competition and a good grounding for competing in British and International competitions.

Useful Documents

IPF Technical Rulebook
IPF Approved Equipment List
SP Guide to Competing
SP Competition Day Packing List

Please click here to view the IPF constitution. The constitution includes details about how the IPF works, and in particular, details some important rules regarding participation in non-compliant anti-doping events.


You can apply for membership on our website here. Membership should be taken out as early in the year as possible, as you must hold a membership before entering your first competition. It can take a few weeks for your membership to be processed after submitting the application form.

Scottish Powerlifting is affiliated to British Powerlifting, and so by joining Scottish Powerlifting, you are also joining British Powerlifting.


The calendar of Scottish Powerlifting competitions can be found on our website here. Entries will usually open at 12pm, 8 weeks before a competition, and have a closing date 4 weeks before a competition.

Competition entry fees should be paid within 48 hours of entering or your entry will be void.

If you wish to change your bodyweight category once you have entered, you can complete a weight class change form found on our website here before the entry closing date, 4 weeks before a competition.

Some competitions require participants to achieve a Qualifying Total (QT) in another competition before you can enter. Details of which competitions need QTs can be found here, and QTs for Scottish Powerlifting competitions can be found here.

IPF Technical Rulebook

Scottish Powerlifting competitions are run under IPF rules. A link to the rulebook can be found at the top of this page, or on the IPF website here. All lifters should familiarise themselves with this rule book before competitions.

Personal Equipment and Clothing

There are 2 competition disciplines within IPF powerlifting, “classic” or unequipped lifting, and equipped lifting.

In both classic and equipped lifting, lifters must wear a one piece IPF approved lifting singlet, a round neck tshirt under the singlet, non-supportive underwear, socks and indoor sports shoes. Knee length socks must be worn when performing the deadlift. You may also choose to wear IPF approved knee sleeves, wrist wraps and a lifting belt.

Equipped lifters may wear a supportive singlet or leotard for squats and deadlifts (“Squat Suit” & “Dealift Suit”), and a supportive shirt for the bench press (“Bench Shirt”). Equipped lifters may also wear knee wraps instead of knee sleeves.

Specific technical details concerning equipment and clothing can be found in the ​IPF Rule Book.

Please check the IPF approved list at the top of this page, or on the IPF website here before purchasing any clothing or equipment for use in competition.

Competition Day

Competition lifting can be a very different experience from lifting in the gym.

Competition technique requires considerable practice in order to satisfy IPF competition rules. It is also important to ensure that you understand the competition and platform protocol.


Lifters are required to weigh-in before they compete. Make sure you have entered in a weight class that you will be able to make weight in. If you don’t make weight for your nominated weight class, you may be permitted to lift as a Guest at the discretion of the Competition Organiser – this means you will be able to compete and achieve a total, but not place or take any medals.

The weigh in lasts for one hour and thirty minutes and the competition starts 30 minutes after weight in has ended e.g. weigh in 8.30am– 10am, lifting starts 10.30am. You must show a form of ID and your Membership Card at the weigh-in – an electronic copy was emailed to you.  This also applies to British Powerlifting competitions. You must show your passport at an international competition.

You will be weighed in and also asked for your opening attempts for all 3 disciplines, all of which will be written on your ​Lifter’s Card ​by the Referee.

You will be given a ​Drug Testing form ​which should be completed and signed by the lifter and handed to the ​Announcer’s Table.

You should tell the ​Referee if you need​ BLOCKS to assist your position in the ​Bench Press​.This will be noted on your ​Lifters Card​.

You will also be given a bundle of Attempt Slips. If you wish to change the opener you gave during weigh in, you should complete the appropriate slip and hand it into the Announcer’s Table. You may only change your opening weight once, up to 3 minutes before your group starts lifting.

An Attempt Slip, completed and signed, must be handed in to the Announcer’s Table indicating your next attempt after your first and second attempts of each discipline. You have 1 minute following the completion of your attempt to do this.

Sample Attempt Slip for Squat​:


After the ​Weigh-in​ you should go to the Competition Platform to have your ​Rack Height​ checked against the Competition Racks that will be used in the Squat. This info will be entered on your ​Lifters Card​.

If you think you will need to have a ​different Rack Height ​to the Standard Height of the Rack for the Bench Press ​you should ask to check this out, and again this info should be entered on your ​Lifters Card​. Following the Weigh-In, lifters are placed in a group or ​Flight which is the order they will begin lifting in each discipline.

Lifters are normally placed in a group which is determined by bodyweight, they are then placed in order of their declared opening weights.

The timing of each Flight, and the order, will be announced by the ​MC or Announcer​ from the ​Official Table ​before the Competition begins.


Make sure you understand when your Flight is due to begin, before you begin your ​WARM UP.

Allow adequate time to warm up and prepare yourself to begin lifting.

After warming up make sure you are in the ​Competition Area ​ready to take your lift when called.
You are ​allowed 1 Minute​ to enter the Platform ​properly dressed and equipped​ and begin your lift from the time the Announcer calls​ ‘Bar Loaded’​. Once on the platform, the only adjustment you may make is to your belt.

Once you have completed a lift, you or your Coach have one minute to get your next attempt slip to the Scoring Table. If you have successfully completed a lift, but don’t hand in your next attempt on time, then your next lift will be increased from your last attempt by 2.5kg. If your previous lift was unsuccesful, and you don’t hand in your next attempt on time, your next lift will remain at the same weight.

Lifters have three attempts to complete a lift in each discipline (squat, bench and deadlift), and the best lift in each discipline is carried forward to provide a TOTAL, which is the sum of the 3 best lifts. The winner in each weight class is the lLifter who achieves the best total in their class.

The Competition takes place on the ​COMPETITION PLATFORM​.

On the ​Platform ​the Competition is adjudicated by ​3 Referees​. There are ​2 Side Referees​ and a ​Centre Referee​.

The ​Centre Referee is in charge of the Lifting on the Platform​ and controls the signals that indicate whether the lift was successful or not as determined by the IPF Rules.

Each Referee will signal when they consider the lifter is ready to commence the lift. and then will signal if they consider the lift is successful or not. These signals might be a series of ​Lights or Flags or Hand Signals​.

If a lift is considered a ​Failure​, the Referees might hold up ​Coloured Cards​ to indicate why they considered a lift was a failure​.

In larger Competitions a 2​nd​ set of Referees,​ sit alongside the Platform and adjudicate on the lifting on the Platform in case of dispute.

The ​Centre Referee will give the lifter a ​series of Commands ​and ​Signals​ during the completion of each lift.

Failure to obey ​these ​Commands or Signals​ will result in a lift being ​failed.


There are 3 recognised ​competition lifts​, completed in this order.


The Commands for each Lift are:


When the lifter has removed the Bar from the Racks ​is motionless​ and considered standing erect and in control, the ​Centre Referee​ will give the signal to begin the lift. The signal shall consist of a ​downward movement of the arm and the audible command “SQUAT”.

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 then return to an upright position.

When the lifter is motionless (in the apparent final position) the ​Centre Referee​ will give the signal to “RACK​” the Bar.

Only then can the lifter replace the Bar in the Racks. The lifter must make an effort to replace the Bar themselves.


The lifter must lie on the Bench on their back, with head, shoulders and buttocks in contact with the Bench surface. The feet must be flat on the floor. His hands and fingers must grip the bar positioned in the Rack Stands with a thumbs around grip and their forefinger or hands must be in contact or cover the rings on the Bar indicating the 81cm maximum width spacing. This position shall be maintained throughout the lift. The hair must not hide the back of the head when lying down on the Bench.
After removing the Bar from the Racks, with or without the help of the Spotter/ Loaders, the lifter shall wait with ​straight arms, elbows locked ​for the ​Centre Referee’s signal​.

The signal shall be given as soon as the lifter is motionless and the bar properly positioned.

The signal to begin the attempt shall consist of a downward movement of the arm together with the audible command ​“START”​.

After receiving the signal, the lifter must lower the bar to the chest or abdominal area (the bar shall not touch the belt), hold it motionless, after which the ​Centre Referee ​will signal with the audible command “PRESS”. ​The Lifter must then return the bar to straight arm’s length, elbows locked.
When held motionless in this position the audible command “​RACK​” shall be given together with a backward motion of the arm.


No Command is given to commence the lift.

The lifter shall face the front of the Platform with the Bar laid horizontally in front of the lifters feet, The Bar is gripped with an optional grip in both hands and lifted until the lifter is standing erect.
The Centre Referee’s​ signal shall consist of a ​downward movement of the arm ​and the audible command “DOWN​”.

On completion of the lift the knees shall be locked in a straight position and the shoulders back. The signal will not be given until the bar is held motionless and the lifter is in the apparent finished position.
Any rising or lowering of the bar or any deliberate attempt to do so will count as an attempt.

Age Categories

Open: from the day they reach 14 years and upwards (no category restrictions need apply).

Sub-Junior: from the day they reach 14 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he/she reaches 18 years.

Junior: from 1 January in the calendar year they reach 19 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he/she reaches 23 years.

Master I: from 1 January in the calendar year they reach 40 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he/she reaches 49 years.

Master II: from 1 January in the calendar year they reach 50 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he/she reaches 59 years.

Master III: from 1 January in the calendar year they reach 60 years and throughout the full calendar year in which he/she reaches 69 years.

Master IV: from 1 January in the calendar year they reach 70 years and upwards.

Weight Categories


Sub-Junior & Junior only-up to 53.0 kg

59.0 kg Class up to 59.0 kg

66.0 kg Class from 59.01 kg up to 66.0 kg

74.0 kg Class from 66.01 kg up to 74.0 kg

83.0 kg Class from 74.01 kg up to 83.0 kg

93.0 kg Class from 83.01 kg up to 93.0 kg

105.0 kg Class from 93.01 kg up to 105.0 kg

120.0 kg Class from 105.01 kg up to 120.0 kg

120.0+ kg Class from 120.01 kg up to unlimited


Sub-Junior & Junior only-up to 43.0 kg

47.0 kg Class up to 47.0 kg

52.0 kg Class from 47.01 kg up to 52.0 kg

57.0 kg Class from 52.01 kg up to 57.0 kg

63.0 kg Class from 57.01 kg up to 63.0 kg

69.0 kg Class from 63.01 kg up to 69.0 kg

76.0 kg Class from 69.01 kg up to 76.0 kg

84.0 kg Class from 76.01 kg up to 84.0 kg

84.0+ kg Class from 84.01 kg up to unlimited