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Powerlifting can be a cheap or expensive sport depending on how you spend your money. There are going to be mandatory costs but there are also going to be optional costs. It will also depend on whether you choose to compete as a raw powerlifter or equipped powerlifter too.
So how much does powerlifting cost? Training and competing in powerlifting costs between $296-$793 as a raw powerlifter. If you choose to compete in the equipped division, powerlifting can cost between $677-1808. As well, if you need to stock your own home gym equipment, you’ll need to budget an additional $5000-6000 for bars, plates, and racks.
In this article, I’ll cover:
Here are some additional resources as well:
- Want a complete list of gear recommendations? Check out Competition Gear For Powerlifting.
- Want to learn more about competing in powerlifting? Check out How To Start Powerlifting.
Mandatory Costs of Being A Powerlifter
|Item||Cost (Lower End)||Cost (Higher End)|
|Squat Suit (Equipped Powerlifting Only)||$86||$270|
|Bench Press Shirt (Equipped Powerlifting Only)||$130||$310|
|Deadlift Suit (Equipped Powerlifting Only)||$145||$400|
|Knee Wraps (Equipped Powerlifting Only)||$20||$35|
|Powerlifting Federation Membership||$20||$65|
|Back Pack or Duffle Bag||$35||$80|
|Total Cost (Raw)||$296||$793|
|Total Cost (Equipped)||$677||$1808|
Most of you will be competing in “raw powerlifting”, but I thought I’d include the cost of “equipped powerlifting” too just in case you decide to pursue that specific powerlifting division.
Powerlifting belts can come in different shapes, sizes and buckle locking mechanisms. Most common powerlifting belts are often either 10mm or 13mm thick. Most people prefer lever buckles over prong buckles.
Powerlifting federations will often have a list of approved types or models of powerlifting belts so it is important to always keep up to date to which ones these are as they can change sometimes.
Investing in a good powerlifting belt will be important but should only consider ones that also make you feel comfortable too. There is no point buying the most expensive belt that ends up bruising your ribs or hips in the process.
Check out my reviews of the Best Powerlifting Belts.
Short socks are optional for squatting and bench pressing, but long socks (up to the knee) are mandatory for deadlifts as the barbell can scratch against people’s shins and potentially make them bleed.
This becomes a health and safety issue as blood can be a biohazard.
Powerlifting federations will not allow you to deadlift in competition without long socks. You can always roll the long socks down for the back squat and bench press events.
Want to get advice on programming, technique, or competing? Speak with one of our coaches.
Some federations will only permit certain types of underwear.
The reason why this rule exists is that they can sometimes be confused as squat briefs which are not permitted in raw competitions and lifters can sometimes be caught cheating with it.
Singlets are universally required during official competitions.
The reason for this is because it can reveal if anyone is wearing anything illegal underneath and it allows the judges to be able to tell if they are hitting legal depth during the back squat events.
Check out my reviews of the Best Powerlifting Singlets.
Most powerlifting federations will have regulations as to what kind of t-shirt can be worn underneath the singlet.
There may also be an approved list of which kinds of logos are permitted depending on whether certain companies have sponsored them to have their logos approved, for example, A7 and SBD.
Most people can get away with a simple type of footwear. Traditional old school powerlifters were a big fan of the Chuck Taylor Converse style shoes where they are simple and flat.
Nowadays there are specific brands that produce flat all-purpose powerlifting footwear that can be used for all three lifts.
Squat Suit (Equipped Powerlifting Only)
Squat suits are pieces of equipment that powerlifters use to increase the amount they can squat in equipped style powerlifting.
The suit consists of heavy-duty fabric with some elasticity, which wraps around the waist and provides support for the lower body. Squatting with squat suits often involves lifting more weight than what you’re capable of lifting without it.
Squat suits are often used in conjunction with knee wraps.
Bench Press Shirt (Equipped Powerlifting Only)
A bench press shirt is a piece of equipment designed to be worn during the performance of the bench press in equipped competitions.
These shirts are typically made with various materials, including cotton or polyester blends, and may also include spandex for a tighter fit. The material helps provide more stability to the lifter’s upper body when performing heavy attempts.
Deadlift Suit (Equipped Powerlifting Only)
Deadlift suits are similar to squat suits in the sense that they help you lift more, but are used in the equipped deadlift event.
They are made with the same material as squat suits but the stitching and flaring of the leg part of the suit are slightly different to compensate for how people need to hinge more in the deadlift. These are only used in equipped competitions.
Knee Wraps (Equipped Powerlifting Only)
Knee wraps are used in conjunction with a squat suit during the equipped squat event.
Knee wraps are long stiff strips of woven fabric that have a certain amount of stretch. They are wrapped around the knees to assist the extending of the legs during the squat.
These are only used in equipped competitions.
Check out my reviews of the Best Knee Wraps For Squats.
Powerlifting Federation Membership
An annual membership fee payable to the powerlifting federation you want to compete under is compulsory.
This fee varies depending on which federation you are joining and under what category of an athlete such as age group. Federation memberships are necessary to help fund the functioning of a powerlifting federation.
Competition entry will cost varying amounts depending on the federation and the hosting venue.
The fees will often be split between the federation and the competition host.
Gym memberships are necessary if you do not have a place at home to train in.
Gyms can come in different types depending on whether they are high-end, low end or specialized in a way that directly supports strength athletes such as powerlifters.
You will need a backpack or a duffle bag in order to carry all the personal equipment around. You may even carry a change of clothes, food, and liquid as well.
Check out my reviews of the Best Powerlifting Gym Bags.
Optional Costs Of Being A Powerlifter
|Item||Cost (Lower End)||Cost (Higher End)|
|Ammonia Smelling Salts||$7||$7|
Wrist wraps can be worn around the wrist for extra support and can be used during squats and bench presses.
They can come in different lengths but federations will often have a list of approved brands, models, and lengths of wrist wraps.
Check out my reviews of the Best Wrist Wraps For Powerlifting.
Knee sleeves are used in raw or unequipped competitions usually and help support the knees during the deadlift.
They are not to be confused with knee wraps and do not provide anywhere near as much support in performance.
Check out my reviews of the Best Knee Sleeves For Squats.
Wrist straps are not allowed in powerlifting competitions and are generally used as a training tool to support grip on the bar for deadlifts.
Check out my reviews of the Best Lifting Straps.
Deadlift slippers are a minimalistic alternative for footwear for the deadlift event.
They are usually made of very thin material and often have a very thin sole and base. This is because it is advantageous to have your feet as close to the floor as possible so as to minimize the range of motion.
They are more popular among people who use a conventional style stance as opposed to sumo because they are less stable for sumo stance.
Weightlifting shoes are specific footwear that has a heel elevation that can be as high as an inch.
They also normally have a hard sole and a very flat base. They are used in the squats to help reach legal depth and they are used in bench press so that the foot is fully flat on the floor to maximize contact.
Check out my reviews of the Best Lifting Shoes For Beginners.
Coaching can come in the form of face-to-face sessions, group sessions, and online remote coaching.
They can range in prices depending on the expertise of the coach, and the level of service you are getting from the coach. Not everyone spends money on a coach as they may choose to coach themselves or get coached for free by friends.
We offer a free 20-minute coaching consultation to anyone who has questions related to competing in powerlifting. You can learn more here.
Talcum powder is used to reduce friction on the legs during the deadlift event so that the bar does not decelerate from rubbing against the body.
They are used during competition as opposed to during training.
Chalk can come in the form of pure powder, block chalk, liquid chalk, or chalk ball.
They are applied to the hands for grip and sometimes used on the upper back to increase the sturdiness of the barbell when it is on the back.
There are a variety of different supplements that powerlifters can take to improve performance or improve recovery.
There are pre-workout supplements that can often contain ingredients such as caffeine and creatine. There are also post-workout supplements that normally have a high protein content in them.
Ammonia-smelling salts are used by some individuals as a means to psyche up for a lift.
They can come in the form of a small tub or a single-use ampoule. They provide a pungent hit through the nose that can give the athlete more arousal.
If you do decide to train at home, you will need to use a squat rack in order to perform the squat or bench press.
Squat racks can come in the form of squat stands, half racks, or power cages.
Check out my reviews of the Best Squat Racks For Small Space.
A bench is necessary for the bench press.
They can either come in the form of a free-standing rack that can be wheeled into a squat rack or a bench press with a rack attached to it.
A barbell is a powerlifter’s staple.
There are different types of barbells out there but the most appropriate barbell is a power bar or a stiff bar if you compete in federations such as the USAPL or IPF.
The cost of weight plates will depend on how strong you are to figure out how many weight plates you need.
There are different types of weight plates but thin metal calibrated plates that would be used in competition are the most appropriate plates but also the most expensive type.
Elbow sleeves are not commonly used by powerlifters unless they are experiencing some discomfort or injury.
They help by keeping the elbows warm in an attempt to improve blood flow but also they help by providing some resistance support.
Check out my reviews of the Best Elbow Wraps For Bench Press.
Mouthguards are useful if you have a tendency to bite down hard.
There is some research evidence to suggest that it can also improve your performance when lifting too.
Check out my reviews of the Best Mouthguards For Powerlifting.
Athletic tape is often used around the thumbs and sometimes around the fingers.
This is for those who choose to use a hook grip style grip for the deadlift.
Foam rollers can be used as a post-workout recovery tool or a warm-up tool.
Resistance bands can come in different lengths and different resistances.
They can be used in different exercises but can also be used as a warm-up too as well.
Powerlifting may not be as cheap to participate in as other sports, but it can definitely be a very affordable sport.
It will become more expensive if you decide that you want to have a home gym set up and if you start traveling more for competitions.
One thing not mentioned in this article is that some powerliftings can make money by competing. You can check out my other article to see if that’s something you qualify for.
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting, and accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience coaching various lifters, from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Alongside coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com