USPA Approved Gear & Equipment For Competition (2021)

I know how stressful competitions can be. Not only do you have to keep practicing, but you should also keep tabs on all the formalities behind participation.

Today, I’ll help you check a crucial task off your list. I’m giving a fully-detailed guide on the USPA approved gear. I’ll discuss the technical rules and allowed brands for every piece of equipment, starting with the belt and ending with the singlet.

Speaking of competitions, I’ve written a similar guide for IPF & USAPL approved gear. Make sure to save it if you plan on competing in the IPF/USAPL, as the gear rules are different between federations.

Without wasting any more time, let’s dive right in!

USPA Approved Gear: The Full List

The complete list of USPA approved gear is:

Click each link to be taken to the section you want to learn more about.

What Makes Equipment USPA Approved?

The United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) specifies a set of technical rules for almost all the powerlifting gear. Not only does the gear have to follow these rules, but it should also be produced by certain brands.

Generally speaking, the rules don’t change. Brands, however, are always updated on a yearly basis. Mostly, every update presents new manufacturers, but some might get banned, too. This actually happened just recently with Metal, but more on that later.

The Risk of Not Having USPA Approved Gear

The rules are there for a reason. They make sure none of the lifters have an unfair advantage over the others. Therefore, if the judges detected any unapproved gear on you, this might be viewed as a cheating attempt. 

How to Know If Your Gear is USPA Approved

The easiest way would be to search for the respective product on my list. I spent hours preparing this to make sure every product is included with purchasing links. You can use the internal search feature in your browser (mostly by pressing ctrl/command + F) to quickly pinpoint a product.

Alternatively, you can search for the approval status on the official website of your product. But since some brands don’t regularly update their websites, this isn’t always dependable.

You can also wear mouth guards in competition. Check out my guide on the 5 Best Mouth Guards For Powerlifting

USPA Approved List of Powerlifting Gear for RAW Division

In RAW competitions, aka Modern RAW, you can wear a belt, wrist straps, elbow sleeves, knee sleeves, and a non-supportive singlet. There is a similar division called Classic RAW that I’ll discuss later.

USPA Approved Belts

By choosing the right belt, your spine will bear the least amount of stress, thereby decreasing the likelihood of injuries. It also encourages you to lift more weight by enhancing your proprioception.

Inzer Forever Lever Belt 10MM – Best Overall

The Forever has been the go-to belt for many lifters since it was released. Its 10mm edition is perfect for beginners and professionals alike. But you can always upgrade for the 13mm version to get more support.  You can read my full Inzer Forever Lever Belt Review  if you want to hear my detailed thoughts.


Lifting Large Economy Lever Belt 10mm– Best Budget

As the name implies, the Economy belt is intended to balance affordability with performance. The only thing that sets it apart from the Forever belt is the slightly lower durability. But this is totally understandable at this price range.  I also wrote a full in-depth review on the Lifting Large Economy Lever Belt .


USPA Technical Specifications for Belts

  • Your belt shouldn’t exceed 4” in width and 13 mm in thickness.
  • The buckle’s internal and external widths should be 11 and 13 cm respectively.
  • The main belt’s body must be made of leather, vinyl, or any non-stretch material.
  • The lamination could be glued, riveted, or stitched.
  • The belt can’t be equipped with padding, cushioning, or any other support.
  • It can be secured with single prong, double prongs, or a quick-release lever.
  • Whatever buckle you choose, it has to be connected to the belt with studs or stitching.
  • The presence of velcro on any part of the belt will get it disqualified.
  • The belt must have a 5-cm-wide tongue loop made of leather or vinyl.
  • The tongue loop should be placed within 15 cm away from the buckle.
  • You’re free to print your name, your sponsor, or club over the front of the belt.
  • You must wear the belt above the lifting suit.
  • You can place the buckle over your back, but it has to be on the front for bench press.

Full List of USPA Approved Belts

Technically speaking, the USPA doesn’t specify certain manufacturers for belts. Any belt that satisfies the previously mentioned rules will be accepted into their competitions. However, it can be extremely tiring to go check every belt for those intricate rules. You should be saving this time for your workouts.

So, to make matters easier, I listed the IPF and USAPL approved belts below. Since they have the same rules as the USPA, you can be 100% certain about any of the following gear.

SBD
Eleiko
Rogue
A7
Steel Sweat
Lift.net (Stoic)
Titan
Inzer
Iron Tanks
Lifting Large
ONI (Bukiya)
Strength Shop
Super Training
Wahlanders
Beast Genetics

Related Article: Top 10 Best Women’s Powerlifting Belts

USPA Approved Wrist Wraps

Tight wrist wraps are an absolute necessity with any overhead lift. Since they keep your wrists in a neutral position, the risk for injuries due to weight slippage drops significantly. They might also be your quickest way to recover from wrist sprains

Inzer Gripper 20″ Wrist Wraps – Best Overall

The Gripper wraps have been my personal favorite for many years. They literally grip your skin with the rubber bands found on their internal surfaces. They’re absolute marvels when it comes to durability with an estimated life of 5 years!


Titan Wrist Wraps MAX RPM – Best Budget

Titan designed these wraps with the extra smooth seams over the outer surface. This way, you can stack a turn after the other with little to no distortion.


USPA Technical Specifications for Wrist Wraps

  • The wrist wraps must be made of 1-ply woven elastic
  • The elastic core can be covered by cotton, polyester, or both.
  • The wrist wraps can’t be longer than 1 m or wider than 8 cm
  • Any accessories, like velcro, must be incorporated within the one-meter length.
  • When worn, the wraps can’t cover more than 12 cm of your arm.
  • To avoid getting penalized, make sure the wraps don’t touch the bar while lifting.
  • You can use thumb loops to enhance tightness, but they must be tucked under the wraps before lifting.

Full List of USPA Approved Wrist Wraps

A7
Anderson Powerlifting
Cerberus Strength
Contraband Sports
Elite FTS
Intense Attire
Invictus Powerlifting Gear (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Inzer
Iron Bull (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Iron Rebel
Iron Soul Gym (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Lifting Large
Load Strength Sports
Manimal (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Nevada Strength (Added By USPA In The Latest Update Of 2021)
Nordic Lifting
Norse Fitness
Pioneer Products (General Leathercraft)
RDX Sports (Added By USPA In The Latest Update Of 2021)
RISE (Added By USPA In The Latest Update Of 2021)
SBD
Schiek Sports
Sovereign Powerlifting
Squat 2 Depth Apparel
Serious Steel Fitness (Added By USPA In The Latest Update Of 2021)
Stoic (Lift.net)
Strength Shop
Strongbow Strength
Super Training
The Stronghouse Project
Titan
Tuffwraps

USPA Approved Knee Sleeves

Without proper knee sleeves, you might never discover your true squat potential. They provide a safe way to stack more reps and weight with the least possibility of injuries.

Slingshot Knee Sleeves 2.0 – Best Overall

Deciding between the Slingshot and STrong sleeves has always been a tough decision. The Slingshot wraps are generally valued for how their fibers provide safety with a bit of stretchiness.


RDX Knee Sleeves – Best Budget

RDX was just added to the list in 2021. Their affordable sleeves received tons of positive feedback because of their acceptable compression, yet excellent moisture wicking.


USPA Technical Specifications for Knee Sleeves

  • Your knee sleeves must be made of 1-ply neoprene or any woven elastic.
  • The elastic fibers can be covered with cotton, polyester, or both.
  • The sleeves can’t exceed 30 cm in length or 7 mm in thickness.
  • When worn, they should be centered over your knee joint.
  • Your sleeves can’t have any method of adjustment or fastening like velcro
  • Your sleeves can’t touch your socks or lifting suit.
  • You can’t wear knee wraps and sleeves at the same time.
  • Sleeves with crisscross seams aren’t allowed in RAW competitions.

Full List of USPA Approved Knee Sleeves

606 GEAR (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
A7
Anderson Powerlifting
Cerberus Strength
Contraband Sports
EliteFTS
Lift.net (Stoic)
Intense Attire
Invictus Powerlifting Gear (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Iron Tanks
Iron Rebel
Lifting Large
Nevada Strength and Precision (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Nordic Lifting
Norse Fitness
PR Labs
  • Bunker Knee Sleeves 7mm
RDX Sports (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
RISE (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
RPE10 (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
SBD
Schiek Sports
Serious Steel Fitness (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Strength Shop
Strongbow Strength
Super Training
Stronghouse Project
Titan
TuffWraps
Unbreakable Gear

USPA Approved Elbow Sleeves

Elbow sleeves are used in squats to prevent the bar from pressing against your shoulders. They’re also great for deadlifts to take some stress off your elbow joints. On a side note, IPF doesn’t allow elbow sleeves at all!

Yellow Jacket Elbow Sleeves – Best Overall

Being named after the mighty yellow jackets, these elbow sleeves have the stiffest and most durable construction on the market.


Slingshot Sport Elbow Sleeves – Best Budget

Back again with the SlingShot series from Strong Training, this time with their elbow sleeves. Beginners love them because they feel more flexible and pliable than the average.


USPA Technical Specifications for Elbow Sleeves

  • Elbow sleeves are only allowed in squats and deadlifts.
  • They can be made of 1-ply neoprene or any other woven elastic.
  • The elastic fibers can be covered with polyester, cotton, or both.
  • The maximum length is 20 cm, while the maximum thickness is 7 mm.
  • The sleeves can’t be adjustable by velcro or any similar means.
  • When worn, the sleeves must be centered over your elbow joint.
  • Your shirt sleeves can overlap the elbow sleeves, but they can’t extend beyond elbows.
  • Elbow cuffs are allowed, but they should be centered over your elbow joint at all times.

Full List of USPA Approved Elbow Sleeves

Anderson Powerlifting
Cerberus Strength
Iron Bull
Load Strength
Nordic Lifting
RDX Sports (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Super Training
The Stronghouse Project
Titan
Unbreakable Gear

USPA Approved Singlets

Although it feels too revealing for some people, wearing a singlet is always required in any competition. It allows judges to have a clear view of your technique to be able to evaluate you in a fair manner.

Check out my complete review of the Best Singlets For Powerlifting.

Titan Triumph Powerlifting Singlet – Best Overall

I like the wide shoulder straps of the Titan Triumph more than any other singlet. You don’t need to worry about readjusting your shoulder straps every 5 minutes.


Inzer Powerlifting Singlet – Best Budget

If you don’t mind thin straps, the Inzer singlet becomes a no-brainer. It’s always great to find giants like Inzer producing gear at this price point.


USPA Technical Specifications for Singlets

  • Your singlet must be made of 1- ply stretching, yet not supportive fabric.
  • It shouldn’t have any patches, padding, or seams intended to provide support or bracing.
  • The crotch area can be covered by an additional layer sized 12 by 24 cm or smaller.
  • The straps should be worn over your shoulders at all times.
  • The legs must extend beyond the crotch by 2”. But they can’t end beyond mid-thigh.
  • When worn, the singlet mustn’t be visually loose in any area.
  • Surely, it can’t have any velcro, pockets, buttons, or zippers.
  • If you shortened the straps, the excess fabric can’t be stitched back into the singlet.
  • That excess fabric can’t be longer than 2”. 
  • There are no restrictions in colors or patterns.
  • Singlets with designs that promote extreme topics, like drugs, will be disqualified.
  • You’re free to print the logo of your nation, national association, or sponsor.
  • Your singlet can’t bear the logo of any powerlifting organization except USPA/IPL.

Full List of USPA Approved Singlets

Just like belts, the USPA doesn’t specify manufacturers for the singlets. You can wear any singlet you have as long as it follows the mentioned rules.

To save your time, you can take a look at the following singlets featured by IPF and USAPL.

A7
Beast Genetics
Eleiko
Lift.net (Stoic)
Inzer
Iron Tanks
Lifting Large
ONI (Bukiya)
Titan
SBD
Strength Shop
Super Training
Unbroken Designs

USPA Approved List of Powerlifting Gear for Classic Raw Division

In Classic RAW, you’re allowed to use knee wraps if you prefer them over knee sleeves. Aside from that, it’s exactly similar to the RAW division that was mentioned earlier.

USPA Approved Knee Wraps

Choosing between knee wraps and sleeves is supposedly a personal preference. I prefer knee wraps because they allow me to lift more weight.  Any seasoned powerlifter will wear knee wraps as it’s an advantage in competition.

Titan Signature Series Gold Knee Wraps – Best Overall

Since they were released in the ‘90s, the Signature wraps have been the best in terms of stiffness. Needless to say, their unique color scheme is the easiest way to stand out before you even get to the stage.


Inzer Iron Z Knee Wraps – Best Budget

The most unique thing about any wraps from Inzer is the unmatched grip. You can omit chalk altogether without worrying about the possibility of sudden snapping.


USPA Technical Specifications for Knee Wraps

  • Your knee wraps should be made of a 1-ply elastic fabric.
  • Each wrap can’t exceed 2.5 m in length or 8 cm in width.
  • When worn, wraps mustn’t cover more than 30 cm of your legs.
  • To avoid penalties, the wraps should be centered over the knee joint at all times.
  • You can’t wear knee wraps and sleeves at the same time.
  • Your wraps can’t touch your socks or lifting suit as you’re lifting.

Full List of USPA Approved Knee Wraps

Anderson Powerlifting
Cerberus Strength
Contraband
Darksyde Ironwear
EliteFTS
Intense Attire
Invictus Powerlifting Gear (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Inzer
Iron Bull Strength (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Iron Rebel
Lift.net (Stoic)
  • Stoic Knee Wraps
Lifting Large
Load Strength Sports
Nevada Strength and Precision (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Norse Fitness
Pioneer (General Leathercraft)
PR Labs
  • Stiff Knee Wraps
RDX Sports (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
RISE (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
RPE10 (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
SBD
Schiek Sports
Serious Steel Fitness (Added by USPA in the Latest Update of 2021)
Strength Shop USA
Super Training

The Stronghouse Project

Titan

Unbreakable Gear

Related Article:  How To Wrap Your Knees For Powerlifting

USPA Approved List of Powerlifting Gear for Single Ply Division

As the name implies, you’re allowed to wear only 1-ply supportive wear in this division. That includes bench shirts and squat/deadlift suits.

USPA Approved Squat Suits

Manufacturers design the fabric of squat suits in a special way that guarantees an explosive push when you’re ready to get up from a squat. 

Titan Centurion Squat Suit – Best Overall

It might feel absurd to buy a squat suit that costs more than, say, your lifting belt! But the Centurion is absolutely worth it. Titan used the NXG Super Plus fabric, which is among the strongest fabrics ever made.


Titan Spartan Squat Suit – Best Budget

Lucky for us, Titan uses the same NGX fabric in the slightly-affordable Spartan suit.


USPA Technical Specifications for Squat Suits

  • Your squat suit must be made of 1-ply fabric that doesn’t exceed a thickness of 1.3 mm.
  • It can’t have any patches, padding, or seams that are purely added for support.
  • The straps should be worn over your shoulders at all times.
  • The legs must extend beyond the crotch by 2”. But they can’t end beyond mid-thigh.
  • There are no restrictions in colors or patterns.
  • Hems are allowed, but they mustn’t be wider than 3 cm or thicker than 0.5 cm.
  • You can protect the seams by narrow gauge webbing or stretch material.
  • If you shortened the straps, the excess fabric can’t be stitched back into the singlet.
  • That excess fabric can’t be longer than 2”. 
  • Velcro isn’t allowed in any part of the suit.
  • You’re free to print the logo of your nation, national association, or sponsor.
  • Your suit can’t bear the logo of any powerlifting organization except USPA/IPL.

Full List of USPA Approved Squat Suits

Inzer
Titan

USPA Approved Bench Shirts

A bench shirt stabilizes your shoulders to prevent the bar from shifting outside the ideal line above your benches.

Titan Super Katana A/S Bench Shirt – Best Overall

Just like their squat suits, Titan’s Super Katana features the amazing NGX fabric. It’ll add an incredibly helpful rebound to push the bar back up. 


Titan F6 Bench Press Shirt – Best Budget

The F6 shirt is built with finely adjusted angles. When you arch your back the right way, your arms will assume a perfect 90-degree angle.


USPA Technical Specifications for Bench Shirts

  • Your bench shirt must be made of 1-ply cotton, polyester, or both.
  • It can also be made of denim, but canvas isn’t allowed.
  • It can’t incorporate any rubberized material or threading.
  • The sleeves must cover the deltoids, but they can’t extend beyond the elbows.
  • Long sleeves can’t be rolled upwards.
  • When worn, the front neckline can’t extend beyond the nipple line.
  • The front collar can’t be wider than 1.25”
  • For Single-Ply competitions, the shirt can’t have an open back.
  • The bench shirt can’t be worn for any exercise aside from the bench press.
  • It can’t have any supportive patches or seams added for mere support.
  • There are no restrictions in colors or patterns.
  • Hems are allowed, but they mustn’t be wider than 3 cm or thicker than 0.5 cm.
  • You can protect the seams by narrow gauge webbing or stretch material.
  • You’re free to print the logo of your nation, national association, or sponsor.
  • Your suit can’t bear the logo of any powerlifting organization except USPA/IPL.

Full List of USPA Approved Bench Shirts

Inzer
Titan

USPA Approved Deadlift Suits

Technically speaking, you can wear squat suits for your deadlifts. Nevertheless, getting a specialized suit will provide enhanced tension over your back to help you lift the bar.

Titan Velocity Deadlift Suit – Best Overall

Titan equipped this suit with extra elastic bands over the sides in a configuration similar to a harness. This should provide the best pull and posture support.


Inzer MAX DL Deadlift Suit – Best Budget

The Inzer MAX DL isn’t exactly “affordable”, but you can’t find anything lower in price. On the positive side, this suit is designed to work with both the sumo and the conventional stances. You might actually end up saving a lot by that 2-in-1 suit. 


USPA Technical Specifications for Deadlift Suits

Deadlift suits share the same specs of squat suits.

Full List of USPA Approved Deadlift Suits

USPA Approved List of Powerlifting Gear for Multi-Ply Division

As you might’ve deduced, the multi-ply division allows the use of suits and shirts with thicker, more supportive fabric.

USPA Approved Squat Suits

Leviathan Squat Suit – Best Overall

Titan made this incredibly powerful suit by the thickest commercially-available canvas. They also equipped the sides with firm panels to keep your torso straight, thereby preventing lower back injuries.


USPA Technical Specifications for Squat Suits

The multi-ply squat suits share the same specs as their single-ply counterparts. But obviously, they can be made of a thicker fabric.

Full List of USPA Approved Squat Suits

USPA Approved Bench Shirts

Titan Super Katana A/S Bench Shirt – Best Overall

Back again with the patented NGX from Titan. Even if your arms shift backward or forward, they’ll get back on track easily with such strong fabric.


USPA Technical Specifications for Bench Shirts

Multi-ply shirts share the basic rules of their single-ply counterparts. They’re only unique in the following points:

  • A multi-ply shirt can have an open back.
  • Velcro can be placed on the back to make the shirt more secure.
  • Your bench shirt can have non-supportive loops sewn directly behind the triceps.
  • These loops can be made of polyester or nylon. They can’t be wider than 1.5” or longer than 3.5”.

Full List of USPA Approved Bench Shirts

Inzer
Titan

USPA Approved Deadlift Suits

Titan Unlimited Velocity 2-ply Deadlift Suit – Best Overall

Just like its 1-ply counterpart, this suit has side elastics that act like a super supportive harness.


USPA Technical Specifications for Deadlift Suits

The multi-ply deadlift suits share the same specs as their single-ply counterparts; but they can be made of a thicker fabric.

Full List of USPA Approved Deadlift Suits

Do Shoes, Socks, & Underwear Need To Be USPA Approved?

No. The USPA doesn’t state certain manufacturers for shoes, socks, or underwear. However, there are some rules you have to follow.

Shoes

You’re free to choose whatever shoes that make you comfortable, regardless of the shape or design. However, the USPA won’t allow a pair that has metal spikes or metal cleats.

Socks

When worn, the socks can’t come in contact with knee wraps or sleeves. That said, full-length stockings are strictly forbidden.

In deadlifts, you must wear knee-high socks to protect your shins. But again, they have to stop just before the knee joint.

You can’t replace deadlift socks with duct tape. However, it can be used under the socks to provide extra protection.

Underwear

Wearing underwear is left for your personal preference. If you chose to wear one, you must opt for legless briefs that don’t provide any means of support or bracing. Ignoring these rules might be considered as a deliberate cheating attempt.

Other USPA Equipment Rules

Here I’ll address the rules of the minor gear that you can use in the competitions.

Undershirt

Wearing an undershirt is a must in the following conditions:

  • Under the singlet during RAW squats and bench presses.
  • Under the squat suit during squats (never under a bench press shirt)

In deadlifts, it’s optional for men and women. But female lifters must wear a sports bra.

Sweatbands

You can wear any commercial sweatbands while you’re lifting. For headbands, they can’t be wider than 10 cm. Wristbands, on the other hand, have a maximum width of 12 cm.

It’s important to note that you can’t wear wristbands and wrist wraps at the same time.

Check out the differences between the USAPL vs USPA, which are two popular powerlifting federations.

Frequently Asked Questions About USPA Approved Gear

Can I Wear Metal Gear to USPA Competitions?

No. All the equipment from Metal was banned from USPA competitions in the latest update of 2021. This happened after its owner, Ano Turtiainen, posted a sarcastic tweet about George Floyd’s death

What Does USPA Approved Mean?

It means the gear in hand is manufactured by an accredited brand under the legal rules of the USPA.

Are STrong Sleeves USPA Approved?

Yes. USPA accepts the STrong Knee Sleeves from Super Training.

What Equipment Do You Need for Powerlifting?

This depends on the federation you’ll be competing with. But generally speaking, the competition gear you should have for powerlifting is the following:

  • Singlet
  • Lifting shoes
  • Lifting belt
  • Knee sleeves or wraps
  • Wrist wraps
  • Elbow sleeves (not allowed by IPF)
  • Squat and deadlift suits
  • Bench press shirt
  • Underwear
  • Undershirt
  • Chalk
  • Ammonia
  • Baby powder or knee-high socks

If you’re interested in clothing, check out my list of the top 20 powerlifting clothing brands.

What Are the Best USPA Approved Belts?

All in all, it’s hard to find anything better than Inzer Forever Lever Belt. Whether you prefer the 10mm or the 13mm version, you’ll be amazed by its performance and durability.

Want something more affordable? Go for the Lifting Large Economy Lever Belt 10mm. It’s not the best in terms of durability, but at least it offers uncompromised performance.

What Are the Best USPA Approved Knee Sleeves?

I like Slingshot Knee Sleeves 2.0. Their robust fibers have the best support and durability.

Although the RDX Knee Sleeves was just approved in 2021, they’re widely valued for having excellent moisture wicking.

What Are the Best USPA Approved Knee Wraps?

In terms of strength, the Titan Signature Knee Wraps are hands down the best. They’ll give you the strongest push after a deep squat. If you don’t want to spend that much, go for the Inzer Iron Z Knee Wraps.

What Are the Best USPA Approved Wrist Wraps?

I’ve been using the Inzer Gripper Wrist Wraps for years. Its exposed rubber provides tons of support. I also like Titan Wrist Wraps MAX RPM because they never have those annoying distortions when wrapped to the full length.

What Are the Best USPA Approved Singlets?

Titan Triumph is the best in the wide-strap category, while Inzer Powerlifting Singlet excels in the thin-strap type. Surely, both have an excellent fabric with little to no irritation.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide gave you all the information you need. As I said earlier, I’ve also covered the IPF & USAPL approved gear in a separate post. Don’t forget to share both guides with your training and competition mates.

Some research has shown that lifting weights can cause acne if you don’t clean your equipment.