Is Powerlifting an Olympic Sport?

Is Powerlifting an Olympic Sport?

Powerlifting is one of the greatest showcases of organized strength in the world and provides a chance for people to compete in consistent movements to prove they are the best… So why ISN’T powerlifting an Olympic Sport?

Before we dive deep into this problem, the easiest answer is simply that as a sport, no powerlifting federation has checked off the criteria set forth by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for consideration.

This leaves the powerlifting community out in the rain like a rejected Charmander that no trainer wanted.

Why isn’t powerlifting in the Olympics? What can we do to get there? Is there any form of powerlifting in the olympics?

Well, it’s time to get Isekai’d into the world of strength training and answer these questions and MORE!
Table of Contents:

  • Why Powerlifting Isn’t in the Olympics
  • How Can Powerlifting Get in the Olympics?
  • When WIll It Be Accepted into the Games?
  • Why is Weightlifting in the Games?
  • Why Did the IOC Let Para-Powerlifting In?

Why Powerlifting Isn’t In The Olympics

For the purpose of this article, we will be using the IPF, the major international powerlifting federation that is looking to get accepted by the IOC.

While the following reasons aren’t the ONLY reasons powerlifting still hasn’t been accepted, they give a good starting point for understanding the Olympics/Powerlifting conundrum.

The Use of Performance Enhancing Drugs in Powerlifting

If you are looking for the number one reason powerlifting isn’t the Olympics, just look to the P.E.Ds to find your answer. The inconsistent testing of some federations and the rampant use in others likely puts off the IOC from picking up powerlifting for the Games.

While the IPF holds high standards for their athletes, the specific rules for drug testing aren’t followed by all drug tested federations, so that makes it even harder.
The Olympics aren’t completely drug free, but to allow in a sport that has known issues is a cause for concern. 

Inclusion in 3 or More Multi-Sport Games

While powerlifting has been accepted into the World Games, they must be brought into the fold of at least two more. The reason for this is to prove that there is a growing interest in the sport around the worlds and to prove that powerlifting can be successful on a world stage with that level of competition.

The Equipment Divisions Cause Division

In the IPF there are two main categories of equipment, Raw (Knee Sleeves) and Equipped (Supportive Gear), which is potentially watering down the recognition process for the IOC.

As a collective, the IOC would have to decide whether to let both in or just one, which makes it a difficult discussion based around who likes lifting in what? No matter what decision is reached, people are not going to be happy with their events being invalidated 

The divisions cause rule confusion, making it harder for people to understand what is going on for the general audience, which in turn makes powerlifting less entertaining.

Dozens of Federations, With Dozens of Different Rules

While more people than ever have become powerlifters, there are also more federations across not only the globe, but an incredible amount in the United States alone.

Each one of these federations has different rules spread across them creating different ideas as to what can be allowed and what cannot be allowed.

For example, IPF and similar federations have a 2-hour weigh-in rule, meaning that lifters compete a bit closer to their weight classes as re-comping is a bit more difficult. However there are other federations have 24 hours weigh-in rules, which allows lifters to cut a much larger percentage of their weight on or before meet day. There are other examples like which bars are used, events and even something as small as foot positioning.

This causes federations to have a wide array of rules, understanding and interpretations. Another part of this would be to start to simplify the rules and make it more clear not only for competitors but athletes as well. The more confusion that happens in the sport, the less likely it is to become popular with the world.

Powerlifting Meets Take a WHILE

Listen, as competitors, we have to admit that a powerlifting meet can take a LONG time. The days have been known to go on for upwards of 8-10 hours. Considering there are 3 movements (times 3 no less) and a ton of weight classes, why wouldn't it take a while.

The question that needs to be addressed here is how to make powerlifting more exciting to watch for the observer? What can be done to add pizazz? Lights, live commentary, and streamlining the event are a few of the ways we can create some hype behind the events.

How Can Powerlifting Get Into The Olympics?

IOC Laid Down the Laws… Follow ‘Em

The IOC has handed down policies and feedback and the IPF has continued to listen and improve according to the IOC standards placed.

The IPF has been working towards this for years and has vowed to keep working towards the goal. But they must be accepted into 3 multi-sport games, create balance within the executive board and improve the appeal of the sport to the youth.

While social media has helped promote powerlifting, it is still unproven over the years. If we keep working towards building a welcoming community for everyone, powerlifting can keep moving into the right direction to be ever present.

Continue Promoting Drug… Testing

The dedicated drug free federations must continue to be consistent and compulsive with how they test their competitors according to the standards that WADA have set up.

There is also the fact that the weightlifting community has a stressed relationship with the IOC due to a number of their athletes already testing positive for substances of the banned kind.

When it comes to drugs, they cannot and should not be used in conjunction with powerlifting federations that strictly prohibit that kind of behavior. It puts the sport at risk.

When Will It Be Accepted Into the Games?

This is an impossible question to accurately answer because of ever changing goal posts. Many people are speculating that within the next decade powerlifting could make a birth into the world stage,

It all comes down to whether or not the IOC accepts the bids and if the goals posts don’t move again. With the IPF constantly working towards it, the goal may not be that far away.

Why Is Weightlifting In The Games?

As a sport that has been recognized since the 19th century, there is more participation worldwide compared to powerlifting. It is also more entertaining for the general audience to watch compared to powerlifting because of the athletics that are put on display.

There is also the added bonus of it being easy to understand from a rules standard. With only two movements, one command (the down signal) and one ‘type’ of lifting with no equipped versions. 

And much like we discussed earlier, with dozens of feds in powerlifting, weightlifting has the advantage with only the single IWF.

Why Did the IOC Let Para-Powerlifting In?

Unlike traditional powerlifting, Para-Powerlifting has been an Olympic event since 1984 (and I don’t mean the book). Athletes who compete in the para-olympics solely focus on the bench press as their main movement.

Olympicans, much like with regular powerlifting, have 3 full attempts to bench the weight and the people who podium are those how have the highest bench in their weight class.

Like any other powerlifting federation, the para-powerlifitng athletes must get the bar at an arms length, control it and press the bar back up to the lock out position.
Fairly basic and straight forward, which also makes it easier for the audience at home to enjoy.

Final Thoughts

While many lifters world wide are hoping that powerlifting will get that IOC stamp of recognition making it possible for them to receive funding, it hasn’t happened yet.
Federations like the IPF will continue to march towards that goal, complying to standards and doing their best to ensure that everything will be alright and people see this.

Do you think that powerlifting is going to make it into the Olympics, or should they even bother focusing on that?

If this article helped whet your appetite for powerlifting, read THIS article to gain a better understanding of who should compete!


If you are looking to follow and learn from some amazing people and powerlifters follow the links below or read this article for some great stories. Or if you are looking for programming, you can find one of our free programs here or you can reach out to one of our team members to see how to take your training to the next level.


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