Powerlifting For Women – Full Guide

Jun 8, 2022 | Powerlifting Basics 101

If She can do it then what is your excuse?

Let’s understand what is Powerlifting.

Powerlifting is a strength sport in which the goal is to lift the maximum amount of weight possible in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. At a competition, an athlete gets three attempts at each lift. It differs from Olympic weightlifting in that it doesn’t use the snatch, clean, or jerk movements. Although it started out as a male dominated sport, powerlifting has grown exponentially over the last few years and has become a lot more diverse.


Anyone can be a powerlifter

Powerlifting – pictures of well-muscled men in softsuits stalking up to the bar, sniffing ammonia, and slapping their chalk-covered hands together may come to mind simply from uttering the term.

If that’s the case, I completely understand. Many people who are new to powerlifting — who have taken an interest but have not competed yet — may feel intimidated by a world they don’t yet understand.

As stated previously, it’s not just the men who are having a good time: women are now dominating the powerlifting scene. Lifters like Stacy Burr, Marisa Inda, Stefi Cohen, and Hunter Henderson continue to establish incredible records while attracting an increasing number of female athletes to the sport.

Powerlifting is more than just a workout; it’s a method of training with a single goal in mind: to increase the amount of weight you can lift in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. It requires diligence, patience, and the drive to keep improving.

Since many women spend most of their lives being told what size they should be, how much body fat they should have, what they should be eating, powerlifting becomes a place of solace. It takes the emphasis away from how your body should look and puts it on something more important, what it is capable of.

There is only one question to answer on competition day: can you lift it or can’t you? (The good news is that you can with the right training program and coach.)

Most women tend to hold off on competing. They see elite level lifters on social media and think to themselves, “I’ll compete when I’m strong enough.” While social media may appear to be dominated by lifters pulling ridiculous, elite level weights, in reality the spectrum of lifters in terms of strength, age, and experience is larger than what it seems.

From the outside, it can look intimidating when you aren’t sure what you are getting into. At Nemesis, we’ve coached countless women to step onto the powerlifting platform for the first time. The more knowledge you have ahead of time, the less intimidating the process can be!


How strong do you need to be?

According to most federations, the most you need to be able to lift for squat and bench press is the empty bar plus the 2.5kg collars. This means you must be able to squat and bench a minimum of 25kg.

For deadlift, you need to be able to lift the bar with a 15kg plate and 2.5kg collars. This brings the minimum weight you must be able to deadlift up to 55kg total. Sounds pretty doable right? In fact, most of you reading this are thinking, I can lift that!


Anyone can compete in powerlifting

The other advantage to powerlifting is any age can compete. I’ve seen competitors as young as 16 and as old as into their 70s compete. Most federations have various age categories for juniors and master lifters.


The biggest advantage is that anyone of any size can compete.

Some women get nervous when they find out powerlifting is a weight class sport. Most women have been conditioned over the years to be unhappy with their weight. However, strength and size are seen as an advantage in powerlifting.

As a competitor, you have the advantage of witnessing a wide variety of body types hit the platform. This helps you to rethink the way you see your body and the number on the scale.

Weight classes are present to serve one main purpose, to level the playing field in the sport. It wouldn’t be fair to put a 52kg lifter up against a 110kg lifter. Mass moves mass and regardless of how strong the 52kg lifter is, the 110kg lifter would likely out lift them.

Common weight class breakdown:

  • 48kg class: up to 48kg
  • 52.5kg class: 48.01kg up to 52.5kg
  • 56kg class: 52.51kg up to 56kg
  • 60kg class: 56.01kg up to 60kg
  • 67.5kg class: 60.01 up to 67.5kg
  • 75kg class: 67.51kg up to 75kg
  • 82.5kg class: 75.01kg up to 82.5kg
  • 90kg class: 82.51kg up to 90kg
  • 110kg class: 90.01kg up to 110kg
  • 110kg+ class: 110.01kg up to unlimited


Regardless of your size, there is a place for you.


How can women get started in powerlifting?

1) Find a powerlifting coach, Strength Training Coach, or Powerlifting Program which will help you to get started. Start by looking for a training program or a powerlifting coach like nemesis—or, better yet, both! Whether you are new to the gym or have been training for a while, having a coach will make sure you are lifting with proper technique, and training efficiently.

Check out our free 9 week powerlifting program.

2) If you are new to the big three (squat, bench press, deadlift), it’s beneficial to work with someone in person one on one until you feel confident in your lifting.

3) Attend a local powerlifting meet. Watching how competition day is run and how it all works will help build confidence and make you feel more comfortable in the competition environment.

4) Find your first meet! Having a coach can be beneficial here as they will have an intricate knowledge of when and where competitions are being held. They will also help to pick a meet that is best suited to you as well as help make sure you have everything you need for the day.

5) Have fun! Powerlifting is about being the best, strongest version of you! Enjoy the day and hit some massive PBs.


Benefits of powerlifting training for Women:

There are numerous workouts targeted exclusively at women, such as pilates, Zumba, barre, yoga, and so on. Although none of these workouts are inherently harmful, I find powerlifting to have the most long term benefit.

Powerlifting is a sport in which contestants attempt to lift the most weight in three lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Women are finding powerlifting, which is spurring an increase in participation in the sport that was previously dominated by men. In actuality, half of the athletes at the last competition I observed were female.

1) First are the physical benefits. General benefits include getting stronger, increased muscle mass, improved bone density

2) Not as obvious are the mental health benefits. Strength training can reduce anxiety and depression. It also improves sleep quality, reducing symptoms of fatigue.

3) Powerlifting will give you the confidence you didn’t know you had. There is nothing more liberating and empowering than picking up some heavy-ass weight.

4) Improving your relationship with your body and food. Powerlifting makes you focus on what your body is capable of and how strong you can be. It encourages you to eat for performance and getting big and strong.

5) Powerlifting provides a community of like minded women. Regardless of how it appears, powerlifting is a team sport. The powerlifting community is accepting and supportive of everyone. Finding like minded people to train and spend time with makes going to the gym that much more fun!


Weight training women over 50:

If we don’t emphasize a strength training program on a daily basis as we get older, we will gradually lose muscle mass. Strength training results in increased muscle mass which can make our body look more ‘toned’.

Being stronger means you’ll be able to pick up and carry groceries, lift grandkids, and participate in fun activities like golfing or other sports while being self-reliant.

We begin to lose muscle mass and strength around the age of 30 if we are sedentary and not actively trying to build or maintain muscle. Many females become increasingly sedentary as they get older, and their muscles begin to atrophy as a result. That is why it’s important to introduce a strength training program into your routine. Building lean muscle is not only beneficial to your health, but it also keeps you looking and feeling your best.


1) Women’s Bone Density Increases With Weight Training:

Muscle loss can harm bone density. Each year, a large number of elderly persons are admitted to hospitals due to unexpected falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the greatest cause of morbidity and mortality among the elderly.

Strengthening the muscle and ligament tissue that protects your bones can help you avoid falling in the first place. Improved bone density also means you are less likely to experience a fracture. Incorporating a solid strength training program a few days a week can help you avoid some of these issues with getting older.


2) Women Can Lose Weight By Lifting Weights:

When it comes to stopping several diseases associated with aging, eating a healthy diet is critical. Historically, cardio has been seen as the best way to lose weight. However, strength training can help you lose weight through increased muscle mass and increased metabolic rate.

Managing body fat through strength training, a low-intensity cardio routine, and a healthy diet is the best way to go.

3) Weight training increases metabolism:

As mentioned previously, strength training and weightlifting increase muscle mass, which contributes to improved metabolism. Better metabolism means a better body composition and the ability to eat more. And who doesn’t want to be able to eat more!

4) Weight training is beneficial to one’s mental health:


More muscle mass isn’t the only benefit of strength training. As you grow older, you may experience a variety of life changes, and it’s natural to experience stress, anxiety, or depression. Adopting a strength training program has been shown to improve mental health and reduce symptoms associated with stress, anxiety, and depression.

5) Lifting weights improves balance, coordination, and mobility:

Weight training not only strengthens your muscles and protects your bones, but also forces your body to work in a way that allows you to move well and continue to be self-reliant.


Best pre-workout for Women:

Pre-workouts are very popular amongst serious and casual gym goers. There are a lot of products out on the market. It’s difficult to determine what is worthwhile and what is a waste of money.

Most of the time, the fancy pre-workouts aren’t worth your time. Below are some things that you can either use on their own or combined that will actually enhance your workouts.


The best 3 pre-workout supplements are:

1) Beta-alanine: This is a non-essential amino acid that has been shown to improve performance, increase lean body mass, increase training volume, and improve fatigue.

2) Caffeine: A naturally derived stimulant with the ability to increase energy expenditure. The good news too, you don’t need a fancy pre-workout to get caffeinated. Good old coffee will do the trick.

3) Carbohydrates: This one isn’t as obvious. Having quick digesting carbs before and during training can help maintain glycogen stores which in turn can improve performance during training.

Powerlifting has numerous benefits. It will make you stronger, feel great, build confidence, and provide a supportive community!

With one, uniting goal of lifting more weight than you ever have before, there is only one question: can you or can’t you?

Nemesis is ready to help you reach your goal!