The history of lifting
If you follow Desert Barbell, or you are reading this, it is safe to say that you are probably bitten by the ‘Iron Bug’. We all love lifting weights and battle with the barbell.
Our aim on the DB website and Instagram is to provide good and honest content about different ways to achieve great strength also keeping you safe while doing so. One way of doing this is to tell the history of our sport(s) and sharing anecdotes and stories about legendary lifters from around the world.
However, to tell the story of Powerlifting and Weightlifting we might as well be the story of the barbell… But we have to start somewhere so let’s at least start with focus on the two sports we all love.
Your imagination, and also google, will bring you back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Competition in strength is far from a modern thing, but the shapes have varied greatly. To be crowned the strongest athlete in a village, town, region or country will always intrigue humans.
The traditional Olympic Weightlifting has, in various forms, been around from the very first Olympic Games in 1896. In the beginning with both single and two-hand variants. Since 1928, it has been in pretty much the same format as we see it now, with the exception that standing press was taken away in 1972. Remaining is snatch and the clean and jerk. A total of three tries on each lift and a total score to separate the lifters. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) was formed in 1905 and is the international governing body for the sport. Olympic Weightlifting is still on the Olympic schedule.
The modern variation of Powerlifting was developed in the late 40´s and early 50s, primarily in the United States and the UK. From the beginning it was known as “odd lifts”and included, for example;one arm dumbbell cheat curl, one arm dumbbell clean and press, one arm snatch and many more in addition to the “normal” lifts; squat, bench press and deadlift. The first national championship, in the United States, was held in 1964. The rest is as we say…history.
The first international championship was held in 1971, in York Pennsylvania, organized by The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and after the following year’s competition, the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) was formed 1972. Since then Powerlifting is as we know it today; squat, bench press and deadlift. The lifter has three attempts at each lift and the total weight is counted. It is also possible to compete specifically in bench press.
In both Weightlifting and Powerlifting the lifters compete in weight categories, but it is also possible to compare lifters from different weight categories with the Sinclair formula (for Weightlifting) and the Wilks formula (for Powerlifting).
Since 1972, IPF has continued to be the main federation for Powerlifting, with more than 100 member countries. There are also competing federations that have been formed, mostly due to different views on the use of different performance enhancing drugs (PED´s). Powerlifting is not on the Olympic program but have been part of World Games since 1981.
Powerlifting can be performed with or without the use of supportive equipment (squat suit, knee wraps, deadlift suit and bench press shirt). This equipment gives a very powerful compression effect that allows the lifter to lift significantly more weight than without the equipment. In what is now called “classic” Powerlifting the use of the above equipment is not allowed. However; belt, wrist wraps and neopren knee sleeves are allowed. Some federations, but not IPF, allow hybrid variations were knee wraps are allowed.
We are here to serve the lifting community with the best possible equipment, educations and information so let us know if there is any specific subject you want to read about.
Co-Founder Desert Barbell
Started weight training 1991 and IPF Powerlifter since 2002