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).


2021 Canadian Competition Pathway

This pathway is currently under development. Please stay tuned.



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. In para powerlifting, there is only one sport class for each gender and is separated by weight — classification is not by specific disability.

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 may be reviewed periodically for certain athletes. See WPPO Classification rules here.

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.



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.



In order to compete in the CPU and at WPPO sanctioned events, you must have a valid membership with the CPU and are not currently serving any anti-doping violations in any sport.

  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. A Medical Diagnostic Form will be required and is to be submitted to the CPU if your plan is to compete for Canada at any WPPO events. This must be submitted prior to Classification for review.

  2. 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. 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. 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.

  4. All athletes are required to complete the CPU’s annual online learning module: True Sport.

  5. The CPU 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 the CPU.

  6. You will need to submit the IPC Athlete Eligibility Agreement to the CPU.

  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. 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 is the responsibility of the athlete. You will need to present your valid IPC Licence and all valid memberships when competing at any CPU and WPPO events.