Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching




School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Human Performance




van den Hoek, D. J., Mallard, A., Garrett, J. M., Beaumont, P. L., Howells, R. J., Spathis, J. G., . . . Latella, C. (2024). Powerlifting participation and engagement across all ages: A retrospective, longitudinal, population analysis with comparison to community strength norms. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching. Advance online publication.


Background: In Australia, one-third of people ≥ 15 years perform regular resistance training and 90% of those do not meet current health guidelines. All age groups should engage in regular resistance exercise, to maintain strength and function. Objectives: To identify trends in powerlifting competition participation in Australia by sex and age group from 1968 to 2022, and to compare the strength of powerlifting competitors to population age- and sex-based normative values. Method: The number of unique participants and total competition entries for each year were analysed using Australian powerlifting competition data. Subdomains of age and sex were investigated, and mean ± SD, frequency, range, and trend analyses reported. United Nations age classifications were used to identify age trends. Comparisons to population strength norms were explored descriptively. Results: We included 21,514 individual competitors from 1942 powerlifting competitions between 1968 and 2022. Exponential growth was seen in competition entries from 115 in 1981, to 759 in 1994, 1014 in 2011, and to 6803 in 2022, (R2= 0.86). At first participation 18–25-year olds (51.1%) followed by ≥ 36 years (16%) were most represented. Strength comparison to available population norms demonstrates superior upper- (bench press [most competitors above 70th percentile) and lower-body (squat [majority rated ‘excellent’) strength. Conclusions: Superior strength levels of powerlifters further the evidence base for this sport as an effective way to develop muscular strength, with low injury. We advocate for public health promotion and additional support for powerlifting as an underutilised community health tool.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.