Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
June 24, 2024
Q&A about Powerlifting Federations and Organizations
Ben Tatar interviewed by Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com

1. What are the most popular powerlifting federations or organizations that most people have heard of? (If possible please describe what makes each one unique or different from the rest).

American Powerlifting Federation The American Powerlifting Federation (APF)- The APF is the most popular powerlifting Federation in the World today. The APF has been around since the late 80's, and the APF came along right after the United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF!) The APF was founded by Ernie Frantz. The APF is linked to the WPO. You can qualify for WPO meets in APF meets. These are meets with bigger venues and where the most serious weights are being lifted.

United States Powerlifting Federation The United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF)- The USPF is the grand daddy federation of them all! Back in the late 70s and early 80s there was 2 feds, USPF, and ADFPA. The ADFPA was drug tested, and the USPF was non-tested. All the legends lift in the USPF, including the greatest powerlifter of all time Ed Coan! However, the USPF has faded as of late, but it's still a strong organization. The USPF only allows single ply, and closed back shirts. So, if you're into minimal gear and want a powerlifting fed that has some history then the USPF is a good fed to check out.

american powerlifting association The American Powerlifting Association (APA)- The APA came along in 1987. The APA was a very good organization and is growing everyday! The APA only allows open back shirts, and 2 ply gear. However, the APA still keeps limitations on the gear. There are still rules in the APA like no canvas, no shirts pulled down past the shoulders, and no briefs under the squat suits. The judging is good, and the atmosphere is very friendly. Most of the world records have been broken in this fed. Classic World Records such as Kennelly's 903 bench press, Gary Heisley's (the 6'10) giant deadlifted 925, and when Vinny D benched 777, back when a 777 bench was even more impressive!

USAPL USA POWERLIFTING (USAPL)- The USAPL is a pretty big fed, but it's a very strict federation. The USAPL allows single ply equipment, and drug tested. The judging is also very strict. Some would say that the USAPL is too strict! The USAPL has some bogus rules too, if you compete against a lifter, in another organization that has been banned in the USAPL, you're banned! Be on the outlook for judging consistency in that org, what equipment is allowed, and how smooth the meets are being run.

WABDL World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (THE WABDL)- The WABDL only deadlifts, and bench presses! This fed also drug tests! The USAPL drugs test as well. The rest of the feds have open or tested divisions.

100% RAW Federation 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation- This Federation is all RAW. I don't think it's as big as the other federations, but all lifters compete
without all the equipment here.

2. Why would someone choose to compete at an event held by one of these established organizations versus competing at a local event?

Well, all feds have local meets also! The American Powerlifting Federation (APF), the biggest fed, has plenty of local meets. Your local meets are usually being held by a gym, the bigger meets are regional, state, national and World. Someone might compete in a local, because it's more comfortable, less pressure, and it's where records still count! Plenty of world records have taken place at local meets before!

3. Are there any organizations that hold Bench Press Only competitions or do you have to compete in Bench Press, Squat, and Deadlift?

All federations have bench press only divisions or deadlift only divisions! There is also just a push-pull competition which is bench press and deadlift competition. So, all powerlifters have the option of just doing a bench competition, deadlift competition, or bench and deadlift competition.

4. What does somebody have to do in order to qualify for a world record? Basically what steps would one have to go through. Do you need to win a regional competition to get invited to a national level competition or how does it work?

You can break a world record in any fed, but only for that federation. If you entered the APF local world gym meet, you could break a national, and/ or world record for the APF. All organizations have a qualifying total, or lift for bench only. In order to qualify for the nationals, then you have to place in the top two and then go qualify for their worlds. That leads to the Arnold, to world records, to being the best bencher of all time, etc.

5) In order to hold an official United States Bench Press record what requirements have to be met?

For a bench record you just have to hit it in a sanctioned meet. You get the record based on the Fed that you lift in and all Fed's have different records to break.

6. If someone wanted to compete in a drug free, natural or drug tested event what organizations are most know for these types of meets?

All feds have a tested division. The APF has a branch called the AAPF that's tested. You can still qualify for WPO meets in this fed.

7. Are there separate records for natural lifts and regular lifts? And obviously equipment varies from federation to federation but what can be used and what can't?

All the federations have different standards. Some allow single ply, or some allow only closed back, some are RAW (no equipment,) and all federations have very different standards. And, yes there are tested and non tested records!

8. What's so unique about the Bench Press America competition that has been held in Chicago the past few years? I heard it had contestants enter from many different federations?

Bench America is unique due to that it's tested, and all lifters from different federations compete in it. Bench America is when the powerlifting world unites and the best compete against the best under the same circumstances.

9) If someone were looking to compete in a competition, where would be the best place to find meet dates and locations?

Go to these links for all of your questions answered: They will provide you with schedules, dates, times, contacts, forums, the email addresses to the presidents of the federation and anything else that you would ever need to know:

100% Raw Powerlifting --rawlifting@aol.com

Amateur Athletic Union Powerlifting (AAU)

American Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation (ADFPF)

American Powerlifting Association (APA)

American Powerlifting Committee (APC)

American Powerlifting Federation (APF)

International Powerlifting Association (IPA)

National Alliance of Powerlifters (NAP)

Natural Athlete Strength Association (NASA)

Son Light Power (SLP)

United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF)

USA Powerlifting (USAPL)

World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL)

World Natural Powerlifting Federation (WNPF)


Canadian Powerlifting Council (CPC)

Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU)


Global Powerlifting Committee (GPC)

International Powerlifting Federation (IPF)

World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation (WDFPF)

World Powerlifting Association (WPA)

World Powerlifting Congress (WPC)

World Powerlifting Organization (WPO)

You can do that, or get a subscription to Powerlifting USA from your local book store and all the meet information will be found in the back of the magazines. By getting an issue of Powerlifting USA, you will get all the information that you will need.

10) Is there a certain federation for beginners or better suited to veterans?

If you're a beginner you would be better off in a local APA fed, the bigger APA meets might be too big, the APF is more of a veteran meet. The APA is probably the best for a beginner as it still has a novice division

Finally in closing I would like to say here at CRITICAL BENCH, we hope that this article provides you with the information that you need to know about powerlifting Federations. And here at CRITICAL BENCH we wish all those who compete to enjoy the experience and to be successful in their powerlifting adventures! Thank you!

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