The term Powerlifting implies exactly what it is. Plain and simple its a strength sport. There are similarities in both Powerlifting and Olympic lifting in that a lifter gets 3 attempts on each lift. In competition, there are three events, the squat, bench press and the deadlift. In Olympic training alot of lifters use these as assistance exercises in their workouts in an effort to increase the strength of various muscle groups.
First we'll talk about the lifts. Up first is the Squat. Yes the mother of all lifts. If you've read any of my topics, you know how I feel about the squat. It's used as an aid in Olympic lifting for both the snatch and the clean and jerk. In fact the c/j is racked as a front squat before the overhead lift. This exercise is responsible for the building of several muscle groups, yet if your not training for competition, but still working out, you won't see alot of athletes squatting. Instead they'll settle for leg extensions and leg presses instead of getting on the rack. They'll tell you it's easier on the knees. That's a crock...Anyway, in the event, the weight is taken from the rack and rested on the traps. After stepping clear and steadying himself, he squats down until the top of the thigh is lower than the top of the knee. This is what is known as going below parallel. Although with some superheavys it's tough to tell due to the enormous size of the their thighs. After standing up, he returns the weight back to the rack. At no time during the lift can a spotter touch the bar. This would be a cause for disqualification. If he receives at least 2 white lights, the lift is considered good.
The Bench Press...Most used piece of equipment in the gym. I'm not sure why either. Maybe it's because you get to lie down while you workout. In actuality, it's really more beneficail to do inclines than on a flat bench. Okay to the lift itself. While laying on the bench and adjusting for the grip the lifter takes the weight off the rack with or without the assistance of a spotter. At this point, and in a controlled manner, the weight is lowered to the chest and paused slightly then pressed to full extention and returns it to the rack. There are some causes for disqualification. First of all, the athlete cannot touch the rack on the way up and he must make sure that he touches the chest. Some federations will instruct the lifter to lift after the pause. Probably the most critical rule is making sure the buttocks stay glued on the bench. I've seen some benchers arch their back so much in the gym just for the sake of telling their cohorts how much they could lift. Even though it isn't considered a legal bench.
Finally there is the deadlift...Actually this was my favorite lift. Maybe because I had a natural strong pull or I was built with long arms and was only a 132 pounder. Let's face it,whenever you lift a weight from the platform, your'e beginning the first phase of a deadlift. It's a pretty clear lift. While the bar is loaded, you grip it, either inside or outside the legs, then lift until the legs and back are straight and upright. You return the bar to the floor in a controlled manner at which the judges will give their signal. You can be disqualified for either inching the bar up the thighs or if the weight descends at any point during the lift. This one lift puts extreme stress on the lower back and should be perfected by utilizing the legs during the initial pull. I've seen alot of lifters attempt a deadlift using the back itself while their legs were straight. This is the last event of the competition and you find you're body is entirely spent at this point and it usually takes days to recover.
There you have it. As you can see, there are similarities between Olympic and Powerlifting. But all in all the power lifters depend upon brute strength and there is not as much need in technique. You will find in your training that you concentrate more on 3 to 5 reps in your workouts, then switch at times to doubles and eventually heavy singles.