Squat- Competition Rules

Erect- Side

Figure 1.2- The lifter should be upright with knees locked

This is the section devoted exclusively to how to compete (and suggestions for how to train) in squat for the sport of Powerlifting.

Erect Starting Position- Front

Figure 1.1














Step 1. Getting Set- Starting Commands

The images seen here (Figure 1.1 and 1.2) is how a lifter should look before starting and at the end of the squat. The lifter is in an “upright position with knees locked at the commencement and completion of the lift”. (IPF Rules-Rule of Performance #1)


As the lifter progresses, the starting position (Figure 1.2) must be established by moving backwards out of away from the racks. (Note: the lifter may be aided in removal of the bar from the racks by the spotter/loaders) When the lifter is motionless, erect (with slight deviation if so chosen) and knees locked, the Chief Referee will give the signal to begin the lift.

The signal shall consist of a downward movement of the arm and the audible command “Squat”. (As seen in Clip 1.1-Squat Rules of Performance #2)

Squat Signals- Clip 1.1


(Note: a lifter may make any position adjustments within the rules without penalty, before the “squat” signal is given)

*If 5 seconds have elapsed while a lifter is setting up and he/she is still not in the correct position to begin the lift, for reasons of safety the lifter may be requested to “Replace” the bar. (This request will be together with the backward movement of the arm by the Chief Referee)


Step 2. The Lift-Squat Execution

Once the signal has been given by the Chief Referee, the lifter must bend the knees and lower the body until the top surface of the legs (at the hip joint) is lower than the top of the knees. (Figure 1.3, Clip 1.2-Squat Rules of Performance #3)

Figure 1.3




*To the right of the white vertical lines on this young man’s singlet, one can see that the top surface of the leg at the hip joint is lower than the surface of his knee. A common misinterpretation of this rule is that the top surface of the thigh, e.g. the middle portion of the quadriceps muscle (which would be located just under this young man’s left elbow in Figure 1.3) is where the hip joint needs to be lower than. This is incorrect as the two points in question are actually pivot points on the body and/or joints.



Remember: only ONE attempt is allowed. (The lift is deemed to have commenced/started when the lifters knees have unlocked)


In Clip 1.2, the full lift with correct depth is shown from the front.

Squat-Depth (Front) Clip 1.2

Clip 1.3 shows the full lift as well with correct depth from the side angle.

Squat-Depth- Clip 1.3

More examples of correct depth: Clip 1.4 (front) and Clip 1.5 (side)

Squat-Depth2 (Front)- Clip 1.4

Squat-Depth2- Clip 1.5


Step 3. Final Position- Ending Commands

When the lifter has recovered, they must be in the upright postion with knees locked once again as evidenced in Figure 1.1 and 1.2. (Squat Rules of Performance #4)

After the Chief Referee has ascertained that the lifter is in the “apparent final position” (IPF Rules), the Chief Referee will give the signal to rack the bar. This signal consists of a backward motion of the arm and the audible command “Rack”. (Refer to Clip 1.1- Squat Rules of Performance #5)

Note: Any foot movement that occurs after this final command has been given by the Chief Referee will not be a cause for failure. The lifter may also request aid from the spotters/loaders in returning the bar to the racks if they choose to once the rack command has been given. (Squat Rules of Performance #5)

*Regardless of whether there is aid in replacing the bar in the racks or not, the lifter needs to stay with the bar during the entire process. For the safety of the spotters/loaders the Referees may deem it a no lift if the lifter leaves the bar at any point when replacing it at the end of the lift. (Squat Rules of Performance #6)