Sports Summary

Para-powerlifting is the ultimate test of upper body strength. Athletes are given three attempts and the winner is the athlete who lifts the highest number of kilograms.

Bench press is currently the only Para-powerlifting discipline contested at the Paralympic Games, with 10 weight divisions for male and female athletes. The competition is open to all athletes with cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, short stature, lower limb loss and les autres who meet minimum impairment criteria.

Competitors are required to lower the bar to their chest, hold it motionless, and then press it upwards to arm’s length with locked elbows.

Lifting for athletes with an impairment first made an appearance at the 1964 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, where athletes competed as ‘weightlifters’. Para-powerlifting was first introduced in 1984 alongside weightlifting, and by 1996, Para-powerlifting had replaced weightlifting at the Paralympic Games.

Get involved in Para-sport: register your interest today!


Para-powerlifting Brisbane Competition: Saturday 31 July, 2021

Paralympics Australia, in collaboration with Commonwealth Games Australia and Sporting Wheelies & Disabled Association, are pleased to host a World Para-Powerlifting recognised competition on Saturday 31 July, 2021.

Entries close: 11:59pm, Monday 5 July 2021

For more information, please download the Event Information Pack, or enter now.

Events & Disciplines

There are 10 weight divisions across the men’s and women’s competitions, ranging from 49kg to over 107kg, and 41kg to over 86kg respectively.


Who is eligible to compete in Para-powerlifting?

Intellectual Impairment No
Physical Impairment Yes
Vision Impairment No

What is a physical impairment?

A physical impairment is an impairment affecting the physical body and relates to one or more of the conditions listed below:

  • Ataxia
  • Athetosis
  • Hypertonia
  • Impaired muscle power
  • Impaired passive range of movement
  • Leg length difference
  • Limb deficiency
  • Short stature

What are the classes?

Athletes are grouped into classes in accordance with the classification rules. An athlete’s class is based on how their impairment impacts the movement skills required in their sport.

Eligible Athletes with a physical impairment
Not Eligible (NE) Does not have an eligible impairment type and/or meet the minimum impairment criteria for Para-powerlifting

More: PA Para-Powerlifting Classification Information Sheet (updated Jan 2020)

Classification Masterlist

Athletes who have been nationally or internationally classified as per World Para-powerlifting’s Classification Rules or Paralympics Australia’s Classification Policy are automatically included in the Classification Masterlist for Para-powerlifting in Australia.

Rules & Equipment

Discs approved for competition by World Para-powerlifting must:

  • Weigh within 0.25 per cent of their face value
  • Weigh 1.25kg, 2.5kg, 5kg, 10kg, 15kg, 20kg or 25kg
  • Be clearly marked with their weight and loaded in descending weight order (i.e. from heaviest to lightest).


  • The size of the hole in the middle of each disc must be more than 52mm and less than 53mm.
  • For record purposes, lighter discs may be used to achieve a weight that is at least 500g more than the existing record.
  • The first – and heaviest – disc loaded on the bar must be loaded face-first. The remaining discs must be loaded face-out.
  • The diamter of the largest disc must not exceed 450mm.
  • Discs must comply with the following colour code:
Weight Colour
25kg Red
20kg Blue
15kg Yellow
10kg or under Any colour

Athletes compete lying on a bench that is 2.1m long, 61cm wide, and between 45cm and 50cm high. At its most narrow, towards the head, the bench is 30cm wide.

A collar weighing 2.5kg must also be worn by all athletes during their lifts.

Medal History

Year Gold Silver Bronze total
2008 0 1 0 1
2004 0 1 0 1
2000 0 1 0 1
1996 0 1 0 1
1992 1 0 0 1
1988 0 1 1 2


We encourage those wishing to explore Para-powerlifting to contact their state federation in the first instance. The national federation link below provides information on the national high performance program leading to competing internationally and at the Paralympic Games.

National Federation

Paralympics Australia

State Federation

Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association (QLD)