Powerlifting Deadlift Rules Guide

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Powerlifting has 3 disciplines: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift, often referred to as the king of powerlifting disciplines.

In the Deadlift, the powerlifting athlete grasps the loaded bar that’s resting on the platform floor. They pull the weights off the floor and then assume a standing erect position – the knees must be locked, the shoulders back, and the weights held in the athlete’s grip. At the referee’s signal, the athlete returns the bar to the floor.

deadlift gym belt

In standard powerlifting competitions, there will be 3 judges checking to see if you’ve complied with movements standards and you’ll need at least 2 out of the 3 to think so. You’ll have 3 attempts on each lift, and your best valid attempt on each lift counts towards the competition total. So if powerlifting is in your future, there’s no better time to start perfecting your movements and observing rules than now!

  1. The lifter shall face the front of the platform with the bar laid horizontally in front of the lifters feet, gripped with an optional grip in both hands and lifted until the lifter is standing erect.

    In the bench press, one side of the barbell can dip down and it will still be considered a good lift. However for deadlifts, any downward movement will be considered a failed lift. Once you’ve initiated the start of the lift, the bar must not have any downward movement whether that’s the whole bar dipping down or just either side dipping down.

    Common scenarios for downward movements would be the bar slipping in your grip, you losing your balance, losing strength, and of course failing to grip the bar and dropping it while attempting to lift. You may pause while lifting and so long as there is no downward movement and you proceed with the lift, then that will still be considered a good lift.

  2. On completion of the lift the knees shall be locked in a straight position and the shoulders back.

    Failure to stand erect with your shoulders back and knees locked straight constitutes for a disqualified lift. You must stand erect at the completion of the lift with your torso perpendicular to the floor. Some competitors will lean too far back, but it’s just wasted effort that won’t score you any extra points and it may also cause you to unlock your knees.

    The bar edging up to your thighs but is not supported by it is okay – but if your thighs support it, this is referred to as ramping and may cause the lift to be disqualified (especially if your knees are seen to move forward to support the weight). Hitching is when you are ramping multiple times to lift the bar, and does not count in any federation.

    You must not move your feet forward, backward, or laterally. Rocking the feet between the ball and heel is allowed. Foot movement after “down” command has been given is allowed.

  3. The Chief Referee’s signal shall consist of a downward movement of the arm and the audible command “Down”. The signal will not be given until the bar is held motionless and the lifter is in the apparent finished position.

    Lowering the bar before receiving the Chief Referee’s signal disqualifies the lift, and again, any foot movement before “down” command is given also causes the lift to be disqualified.

    You must also put the bar down properly. If the bar is returned to the platform without the lifter maintaining control, i.e. the bar is released and dropped, the lift is disqualified.

  4. Any rising of the bar or any deliberate attempt to do so will count as an attempt. Once the attempt has begun no downward movement is allowed until the lifter reaches the erect position with the knees locked. If the bar settles as the shoulders come back (slightly downward on completion) this should not be reason to disqualify the lift.

    Any upward movement of the bar starts the lift, and any downward movement during the lift is cause for disqualification, and no significant downward movement of the bar is allowed at the completion of the lift and before “down” command is given.

    Failure to comply with any of the rules causes the lift to be disqualified.

deadlift lever belt

For more information on competition rules such as competition categories and personal equipment specifications, check out the Technical Rules Book 2019.

For gym gear and accessories to help you stay injury-free, check out the Gunsmith Fitness Shop.

For other great articles on getting fit, check out our blog section.

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