Para Powerlifting


Canada Para Powerlifting is committed to grassroots development and education to build a foundation that supports and promotes para powerlifting programs and services that will encourage and increase athlete participation, fair competition, provide a high-level of technical officiating and classifying, and boost the profile of para powerlifting and its athletes.

OUR VISION is to provide opportunities for personal excellence by developing, delivering and promoting quality programs and services for new and existing athletes, coaches and officials in the sport of para powerlifting.




In para powerlifting, athletes are in a supine position on a specially designed para powerlifting bench. Legs and feet are on the bench and may be strapped with up to two approved bench straps. Once the athlete takes or receives the bar at arms-length, the lifter will wait for the Chief Referee’s command to start the movement. Athletes lower the bar to the chest, hold it motionless there and then press upwards, evenly, until arms are fully extended and the elbows locked, finalizing the lift with a command to rack. This competitive bench press follows the technical rules and regulations of the World Para Powerlifting Organization (WPPO).

Athletes are given three attempts with each lift potentially increasing by a minimum of 1 kg increments; the aim is to lift more than the other competitors in the same weight class. Three referees determine the lift success through the use of white or red lights (or flags). Two or more white lights signify a good lift and two or more red lifts reflect an unsuccessful one. The winner is the athlete who lifts the most kilograms within their weight class, using the AH (Haleczko) formula.

In non-disabled powerlifting, training involves three big lifts. In para powerlifting, you are focused on only one of these: the bench press. Therefore your training will need to focus on this lift and the accessory movements supporting this lift. Of course, if your disability allows, you will want to ensure overall balance in your training routine.

For athletes wishing to compete in multi-sport events such as the Paralympic Games, they must compete and rank at qualifying events sanctioned by the Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) and the WPPO. Canada is working on a process of qualification to assist athletes in reaching that potential, including provincial, regional and national level championships.



Since 2016, the Canadian Powerlifting Union has been the governing body or National Sports Organization (NSO) overseeing para powerlifting in Canada. The CPUs sub-committee representing para powerlifting is developing this sport and the competition pathway for para athletes  interested in this discipline.

The potential for Canadian para athletes to reach outstanding achievements in this sport is immeasurable. The CPU aims to educate and develop para powerlifting from a grassroots level, informing athletes and coaches on how to get started in this sport, the eligible disabilities for this sport, the classification process for powerlifting and requirements to be competitive including advocating for the “spirit of sport” by complying with the Code of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).



Classification is a process that determines if athletes are eligible to compete in each sport and is sport-specific as impairments may impact the athletes ability to perform differently (safely) in various sports. Any athlete that has been classified in another IPC sport, will need to undergo classification specific to WPPO para powerlifting. In para powerlifting, there is only one sport class for each gender and is separated by weight — classification is not by specific disability. 
WPPO para powerlifting is open to athletes with one or more of the eight (8) eligible physical impairments and the impairment(s) must meet the Minimum Impairment Criteria thus impacting sport performance. This impairment must be permanent. All athletes are required to provide medical documentation prior to being classified with an understanding that additional medical diagnostics may be required to support this process. 
Classification occurs prior to and in conjunction with IPC and WPPO events. Athletes must be successfully classified in order to compete at that specific event and any future competitions. Classification may be reviewed periodically for certain athletes. See WPPO Classification rules here.



The Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) has adopted and implemented the Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP). World Para Powerlifting (WPPO) support and abide by the  IPC Anti-Doping Code. Both upholding the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) anti-doping code, who is responsible for the testing program of athletes, processing any medical exemptions, case management and delivery of anti-doping education.

Athletes, particularly those within para sport, may have illnesses or conditions that might require use of medications. It is the athletes responsibility to ensure that any medication they use to treat their medical conditions are not on the prohibited list however, if they are, they must apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) prior to use and this must be approved within their sport.

Testing of athletes may occur both in competition settings and out of competition to ensure athletes abide by the Codes, during both training and competitions phases.



The CPU aims to provide leadership and resources required to promote this sport in Canada and is working on grassroots development with a vision to provide opportunities for quality services and programs. Each individual athlete is encouraged to work with a credible and credentialed coach or trainer who is invested in the athlete and working towards the goal of para powerlifting. The CPU will provide resources for coaches and trainers who are interested in learning about this discipline and who wish to mentor their athletes to the competitive platforms.



Competing in Canada
    1. Prior to committing to a new athletic endeavour, it is best to seek medical clearance to support and ensure health and safety due to your specific disability. You coach or trainer may require medical documentation supporting your participation in para powerlifting.
    2. You must have or attain current membership with the CPU and the appropriate provincial association. Please visit the CPU website to apply to become a member.
    3. All athletes competing within the CPU are required to be Canadian citizens or have Permanent Resident status, or in Canada with a work or study visa. 
    4. All athletes are required to complete the CPU’s annual online learning module: True Sport.
    5. It is the athletes responsibility to review any medication they are using, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and sports supplements to ensure they are not listed on the most recent version of the WADA Prohibited List. If necessary, athletes must submit Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) forms. 
    6. It is the athletes responsibility to be aware of any local, provincial and national level events and to register for those competitions as a para athlete, keeping in mind the Classification rules. Canada Para Powerlifting is currently reviewing the national classification process and will update this as new information becomes available.   
    7. All competition fees, travel and accommodation expenses are covered by the athlete solely. 
Competing Internationally in WPPO and IPC Sanctioned Events:
** Canada Para Powerlifting will provide a checklist to athletes to ensure the following requirements and documents are filed. 
    1. All athletes must meet the CPU requirements above. 
    2. You must be a Canadian citizen. If you have competed with another NPC (country) at IPC sanctioned events, this will require review and approval from the IPC prior to representing Canada.
    3. Medical Diagnostic Form will be required and is to be submitted to Canada Para Powerlifting if your plan is to compete for Canada at any WPPO events. This must be submitted at least three months prior to the competition where Classification is to occur.
    4. You will need to submit the IPC Athlete Eligibility Agreement to Canada Para Powerlifting.
    5. Canada Para Powerlifting will register athletes into the IPC Sport Data Management System (SDMS). If you have competed in an alternate IPC sport, you already have this number. Please provide this to Canada Para Powerlifting.
    6. After all information is accepted and reviewed in the SDMS system, you will be issued an IPC Athlete ID card and a seasonal IPC Athlete Licence. In order to compete at an WPPO event, a valid (seasonal) IPC Athlete Licence is required and this fee associated with this licence may be the responsibility of the athlete. You will need to present your valid IPC Licence and all valid memberships when competing at any WPPO events.
    7. You will need to provide a scanned copy of your Canadian passport and a passport-quality image to be uploaded in the IPC SDMS system.
    8. Travel insurance is required from the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) with specific details and requirements being outlined in the invitation package. Currently, specific COVID-related requirements are being discussed and/or implemented. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available. 
    9. All competition fees, travel and accommodation expenses are covered by the athlete solely. Each event has specific deadlines that will be followed by Canada Para Powerlifting. The athlete must comply with providing any necessary documents as requested by Canada Para Powerlifting to ensure event requirements are adhered to.
    10. All athletes representing Canada will need to purchase a Team Canada singlet (competition uniform) from the designated supplier when this becomes available and a Team Canada track suit, at their own expense.
    11. All athletes competing for Team Canada must follow the rules and expectations set forth by the CPU including anti-doping regulations. This may include signing an Athlete Agreement. 

2021-2024 Competition Pathway

  1. All athletes wishing to compete in WPPO events, will abide by and compete within the WPPO Technical Rules and Regulations. The CPU will coordinate para powerlifting classes at provincial and national events to align with the weight classes of WPPO. 
  2. As a consequence of and due to the instability of COVID restrictions in Canada, athletes wishing to complete at international WPPO events (after the Tokyo Paralympics) for Team Canada may do so without participating in a provincial or national level event in Canada for the duration of 2021. Currently, the focused mandatory event is in Batumi, Georgia in November, 2021. 
  3. Commencing January 1, 2022, all athletes wishing to compete at international WPPO sanctioned events must participate in a minimum of one (1) event in their respective province or at a national event in the same calendar year as the international competition.
  4. An athlete is required to register (gain one good lift) at the yearly event in Canada in order to be considered to represent Canada at international events. 
  5. Although only one (1) local event is mandatory, it is encouraged to attend more than one event to optimize competition experience and to ensure more than one opportunity to register a lift.
  6. If an athlete ranks or medals internationally, they are required to compete at one (1) event in Canada in every calendar year they wish to compete internationally. 
  7. Currently, Minimum Qualification Standards (MQS) are not required to be met for athletes to travel to represent Canada at international WPPO events however, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) upholds its own standards in choosing athletes to represent Canada at multi-sport events such as the ParaPan American Games, Commonwealth Games and the Paralympic Games. Athletes need to aspire to reach the MQS for their respective weight classes.

  8. WPPO junior athletes are athletes between the age of fifteen (15) and twenty (20), by December of the year of competition. Athletes can continue to rank in junior categories in the CPU from the age of fourteen (14) up until the age of twenty-three (23). A junior athlete for the WPPO can compete in both their respective junior and senior class however, this may be two separate events during the competition. Additional fees may be required. 
  9. The 2021-2024 WPPO Qualification Pathway will be the reference for all Canadian athletes to follow to be considered for eligibility for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games. This includes but is subject to changes by the WPPO at their discretion. The pathway lists the following events as mandatory although many options exist for the athletes to qualify (or improve rankings to qualify) for the Paralympics. Participation at these events does not guarantee participation in the Paralympic Games.
    • 2021- World Championship Canada Para Powerlifting has identified the World Championship in Batumi, Georgia as our primary event for 2021
    • 2022- Regional Championships in Chesterfield, St Louis, July 8-11, 2022; Americas Open Championship 
    • 2023- World Championships in Dubai, UAE; Junior and Senior World Para Powerlifting Championships
    • 2024- World Cup; Events to be determined; athletes must compete in two WPPO sanctioned events prior to July 1, 2024
  10. If any athlete cannot attend a mandatory event in Canada or an event outlined in the WPPO Qualification Pathway due to medical condition, illness or factors out of the athletes control, the athlete must submit the exemption request to Canada Para Powerlifting for consideration and/or submission to WPPO. Submissions will be reviewed on an individual basis by Canada Para Powerlifting and/or WPPO for approval. 
  11. The rules may be reviewed and amended at any time by Canada Para Powerlifting. Updates will be posted on the CPU website as they become available. 

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