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The Best Powerlifting Exercises and Workout Gear  

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 9, 2022

These days, powerlifting is an elite sport, and if you want to compete with the best, you’ve got to prepare like the best.

Gyms around the world are filled with elaborate powerlifting exercises, and competitions have rules and regulations. Most of all, the most impressive lifters have the best powerlifting workout gear.

Read on to learn:

Powerlifting Exercises

Bench press

As one of the “Big 3” powerlifting exercises, the bench rules upper body pressing strength.

When performing a bench press, lifters lie on their back, unrack the barbell, lower it slowly to pause on their chest, and press back up to the start position.

Your standard gym bro bench looks a little different than a powerlifting competition bench. According to the IPF technical rules, every little detail matters, down to the positioning of the head, points of contact with the bench, and grip.

The best intermediate powerlifting program won’t have you maxing out on bench every session. Incorporate different styles, tempos, and pressing angles, and get a pair of the best powerlifting wrist wraps to protect your grip.


You can’t call something the “best intermediate powerlifting program” without them.

There are so many different varieties of squats that it’s hard to keep count. Not only can you vary the type, but you can also change the training stimulus. By shifting from high-volume to speed to max effort, you can make sure to never skip leg day.

While most people think of using them for benching, you might want to wear elbow sleeves during squatting. Some of the best elbow sleeves for powerlifting cushion heavy weight on your back. They prevent wear and tear on the joints while helping you put up big numbers.


Want to show off your raw strength and power? Step up to a loaded bar and deadlift.

Since you’re pulling from a static start (hence the name deadlift), you’ve got to generate a ton of power straight from the floor. You don’t get to feel out the weight during the lowering portion. You just step up to the bar, grip it, and rip it.

Supplement with exercises such as speed pulls, core work, bicep curls, and barbell rows. Grip work leads to a massive deadlift - so invest in the best wrist wraps for powerlifting to protect your paws.

Military press

Whether the moniker came from a test of strength in the armed forces or the resemblance to standing at attention, the military press is simply an overhead barbell press.

Because you’re standing, the military press targets your bench press muscles differently. This can be the difference-maker when it comes to powerlifting exercises.

Both lifts rely on your deltoids, pecs, and triceps. The military press uses more deltoids to help those who get stuck in the middle of their bench. Same goes for pressing overhead to train triceps. Over time, tricep growth leads to better locking-out power at the top of your bench.

Pull-ups or lat pull-downs

Real powerlifters know that a big back is a sign of true strength.

Pull-ups are probably the best of the powerlifting exercises for back, but the bigger you are, the harder they get. Lat pulls are often used as a regression, but they’re a fantastic stand-alone exercise for building a massive back.

Your lats are critical to trunk strength, and muscle imbalance is one of the biggest contributors to shoulder injury. You can’t get stronger if you’re sidelined with pain, so train your back and lift longer.

Typically, a powerlifting program alternates between upper and lower body days throughout the week. Each session you’ll have your main lift - some variation of squat, bench, or deadlift - and a series of supplemental and accessory exercises.

Bent-over row

Another big back exercise, the bent-over row can balance out your physique and improve your posture.

Bent over rows are like a reverse bench. Instead of pressing weight away from your chest, you’re building strength by pulling it toward you. Rows train muscles like your rhomboids, biceps, traps, and lats. As a bonus, you get extra grip work for your deadlift.

While it might not be as fun as benching twice your bodyweight, bent-over rows give you a solid base for even better lifts. Don’t push without adding a little pull.


While none of the “big 3” rely solely on bicep strength… you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Powerlifters put their bodies through a lot in the gym, which can add extra strain to the biceps.

Trust me - you do NOT want to tear a bicep during a max effort attempt. Add in bicep curls at the end of your session to arm your body against injury.

The Best Intermediate Powerlifting Program

If you haven’t read our guide on building your workout routine, you might want to check that out. The best intermediate powerlifting program will be one that works for you. That being said, there are a few bread-and-butter pieces for a great lift.weight lifting by man

Typically, a powerlifting program alternates between upper and lower body days throughout the week. Each session you’ll have your main lift - some variation of squat, bench, or deadlift - and a series of supplemental and accessory exercises.

Powerlifting Program #1

A1:Safety Bar Box Squats 8x3

B1: Glute Ham Raise 4x6-8

B2: DB Single Leg RDL 4x10-15

C1: Pendlay Row 6x6

D1: Hanging Leg Raises 3x20

E1: Heavy Farmer’s Carry: 5x50 meters

Necessary Powerlifting Gear

The Best Powerlifting Wrist Wraps

weight lifting shoesAs the smallest link in the chain, your wrists take on a ton of load. The best powerlifting wrist wraps put you in a safe biomechanical position to lift heavy.

According to IPF guidelines, wrist wraps can’t be longer than a meter or wider than 8 cm, and they also have to be singly plied. That’s why the best powerlifting wrist wraps are the Titan Signature Series Wrist Wraps.

Seasoned powerlifters view Titan as their go-to brand, and their wrist wraps don’t disappoint. One of the biggest benefits is the size variety - you can get them from 12-36 inches in length. Plus, their tension goes well beyond what a beginner would want, making them ideal for the best intermediate powerlifting program.

The Best Elbow Sleeves For Powerlifting

Similar to wrist wraps, an elbow sleeve’s primary function is to reduce stress on the joint. Our pick for the best elbow sleeves for powerlifting is The Strong Elbow Sleeve by Sling Shot.

It’s written right there in the name. These elbow sleeves are great to drive through sticking points to skyrocket big weights. Plus, it’s a Mark Bell product, and that guy knows a thing or two about powerlifting.

When fit snug to your elbows, this piece of powerlifting workout gear improves your squat, bench, and deadlift through the following:

  • Enhanced circulation
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better recovery
  • Injury reduction
  • Increased performance

The Best Powerlifting Singlets

A singlet is required to compete. It regulates uniformity and keeps you from getting caught on anything. Plus, the best powerlifting singlets give the refs a better view of your movement.

Powerlifting squats have to break 90 degrees, determined by the hip crease dropping below the knee. With a good singlet, you’re much more likely to see white lights.

Inzer makes the best powerlifting singlets on the market. They’re IPF approved, meaning they’re made of one-ply stretch material without any patches or padding. They give you smooth motion while staying tight, and their singlets are made from moisture-wicking fabric for those sweaty sessions.

And the best part? Inzer powerlifting singlets ring in at a lower price point than some of its competitors without sacrificing quality. A true win-win.


What Brands Do Powerlifters Wear?

The best powerlifting singlets, wrist wraps, and other gear are allowed in competition. Look for IPF-approved brands like Titan, Inzer, and Slingshot for workout gear.

What Do Powerlifters Wear Under Singlets?

Underneath their singlets, you’ll find t-shirts and basic underwear. It seems like nothing special, but competitions do have rules around them.

T-shirts have to be made of cotton/polyester, can’t be a crop top, and must be short-sleeved. Underwear can be cotton, nylon, or polyester briefs, including a standard sports bra for women. No spandex or rubber material allowed.

What is the Best Cardio for Powerlifting?

A healthy heart is good for general well-being, and low-intensity cardio can be huge for muscle recovery. Weighted carries build trunk stability and upper back strength while also taxing the heart. Sometimes the best cardio for powerlifting, however, is just combining your high rep days with a long walk.

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