Powerlifting is a strength sport consisting of three lifts: the squat, the bench press and the deadlift.

It is quite different from Olympic weightlifting. The two events in the Olympic event are the snatch and the clean-and-jerk, both requiring explosive movement and technical skill. Powerlifting, on the other hand, is a display of raw strength. It is often called the ultimate strength sport.

In addition, this is not bodybuilding. Although some bodybuilders are quite strong, their aim is to develop the most muscle mass and definition to satisfy an arbitrary ideal of physical perfection. Powerlifters, on the other hand, concern themselves only with moving the most weight possible one time. This also will develop magnificently developed bodies that still appear human and touchable, not veiny and bulging like a monstrous erection.

In a powerlifting competition, the lifters are divided into classes based on age, weight and sex. (Yes, there are women powerlifters, and they can kick your ass.) Each competitor is allowed three attempts at each lift. The best lift of each event is added to their total. Whoever has the highest total wins.

If there are two lifters who have the same total, the lighter of the two wins.

Besides those that compete, there exist many, if not more, lifters who head to the gym, their basement or their garage in order to lift. Powerlifting is primarily a solitary endeavor, similar to running, swimming or yoga, the lifter alone with fears and ambitions and joy, in silence and in noise. It is concentrated meditation. (Try daydreaming while pressing 200 pounds off your chest.)

In the end, like all true practices, the journey to become stronger in the body will manifest itself in the soul. Even if one starts with cans of soup, it's worth a try.

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