The Arnold Sports Festival (ASF) is one of the most popular annual events in the USA. ASF is organized by Arnold Schwarzenegger and held annually at the Arnold Sports Festival in Lake Placid, New York from July 1st through August 31st each year.
In 2011, the event was renamed “Powerlifting World Championships” and moved to a new venue in Columbus, Ohio from 2012-2014.
The first competition took place in 1970 with the inaugural event being a meet between Jack Lalanne and John Grimek. The sport grew rapidly during those years as lifters competed against each other in regional meets, but it wasn’t until 1974 when the first world championship was held. That year, Bob Hoffman won the overall title after defeating Mike Mentzer by a razor thin margin of just .03 seconds.
Since then, the sport has grown exponentially. Today there are over 100 countries represented at the ASF, and the number of competitors is growing every year. The largest national federations include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan , Mexico , Netherlands , Norway , Russia , South Africa and Turkey .
Rules and Rankings
The rules governing the sport of powerlifting are defined by the I.P.F (International Powerlifting Federation). The federation recommends that participants wear a one or two-piece outfit that shows their shoulders, but competitors sometimes wear unitards. In some federations, briefs are allowed while in others, only unitards are permitted.
Elbow wraps and knee wraps are also authorized though their thickness cannot exceed 10 cm.
Athletes are allowed to enter as many ASF meets as they want. The federation keeps records for bench press (bench), deadlift (dead) and squat (squat), and each lifter has three categories: open, master and teen. A lifter’s category is determined by their age on the day of competition.
Competitions: The Powerlifting Records
Best Lifter Records (Men)
Championship Record Holder Division Body Weight Squat (raw) Squat (equipped) Total (raw) Total (equipped) Under 105 lbs Sam Byrd 104.9 515.5 1,033 1,597.5 545 2,036 Under 165 lbs Ben Miller 165.3 670 1,470 2,040 810 2,580 165-179.9 lbs Clayton Skancke 180 585 1,380 1,980 735 2,610 Over 180 lbs Jay Nera 193.9 705 1,527.5 2,231.5 852.5 2,985
Best Lifter Records (Women)
Championship Record Holder Division Body Weight Squat (raw) Deadlift (raw) Total (raw) 105 lbs Julia Ladewski 112.2 355 675 132.5 485 757.5 132-148 lbs Zuzana Stromkova 139.7 525 787.5 148 585 842.5 148-165 lbs Jennifer Thompson 132.5 500 700 150 575 772.5 165-181.5 lbs Jennifer Meadows 166.5 635 882.5 181.5 635 882.5 Over 181.5 lbs Kelly Kendall 202 705 947.5 181.5 705 947.5
Powerlifting has recently seen a surge in popularity with many new meets being planned and held all across the globe each weekend.
The following is a brief look at the timeline of events leading up to the foundation of the ASF. For a more in-depth account, refer to our full article on the subject.
The first powerlifting meet was organized in 1964 by the legendary American fitness trainer, Jack LaLanne. During the late sixties, the sport continued to gain traction and it wasn’t until the late seventies when it became official and was recognized as a national sport by the U.S.A. Powerlifting Federation in 1975.
Despite the lifting community’s enthusiasm for the sport, powerlifting was still fairly unknown. This was due to the fact that there were very few federations and those in charge sought to keep it this way. They even went as far as banning certain equipment that they believed gave the athlete an “unfair advantage”.
Due to the nature of those who were involved in powerlifting at this time, the sport attracted a fair number of proponents of social Darwinism. These people believed that the strongest man should be in charge and so powerlifting was riddled with controversy as many federation officials would sometimes determine who the winner of a particular competition was rather than letting the weightlifters themselves decide.
This often led to public brawls and fistfights at competitions and even some meetings of officials ended with shootings. In fact, one of the first boycotts of a major powerlifting event occurred in 1979 when the AAU refused to recognize Matt Dimel as the U.S. National Champion simply because he was considered to be too big and was believed to have used anabolic steroids.
The boycott was very short-lived though since many lifters did not agree with how the AAU were handling things and eventually decided to compete in another organisation’s competition. As a result, the U.S. National Powerlifting Committee was formed and went on to become the American Powerlifting Federation.
During the eighties, the sport continued to grow and became more well-known thanks in part to increasing media coverage. However, steroids were still very much frowned upon and despite numerous tests done by different organizations, it was impossible to detect all of the different types of steroids being used at the time. These factors, combined with several others, eventually led to a huge steroid scandal in which several high profile athletes were banned and the sport received a lot of negative publicity.
As a result, the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) was created in response to all of the controversy that surrounded powerlifting during this time. The IPF decided that in order to lift the sport out of its dark period, they needed to make it cleaner and drug-free. As a result, the use of all performance enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids were banned from all IPF affiliated competitions and any athlete who tested positive would be banned from the sport.
In 1993, the American Powerlifting Federation (APF) was renamed to the USA Powerlifting (USAPL) after it became affiliated with the IPF.
Sources & references used in this article:
Can absolute and proportional anthropometric characteristics distinguish stronger and weaker powerlifters? by JWL Keogh, PA Hume, SN Pearson… – The Journal of Strength …, 2009 – journals.lww.com
Anthropometric dimensions of male powerlifters of varying body mass by JWL Keogh, PA Hume, SN Pearson… – Journal of Sports …, 2007 – Taylor & Francis
In Memoriam: Dr. Terry Todd (1938–2018) Pioneering Powerlifter, Writer, Sport Promoter, and Historian Who Changed the Cultural Paradigm for Strength by JP Shurley – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2018 – journals.lww.com