How is an overall winner decided in powerlifting meets?

Author

Sebastian Padilla

Powerlifting scoring uses the Dots Score to decide Best Lifter

To calculate an overall winner at a powerlifting meet, you need a way to compare lifters in different weight classes. So, how do you do that?

In short, it comes down to something called the Dots Score.

The Dots Score is simply a ratio between a lifter’s body weight and the weight they’re lifting. Higher numbers are better. Also referred to as a “coefficient,” the dots score allows us to compare a lifters’ strength relative to their body weight. Because it’s a relative metric, it’s currently the gold standard used in most powerlifting scoring today.

Comparison to Wilks and Other Scoring Systems

While the Dots Score formula isn’t perfect, it’s slowly begun to replace the Wilks coefficient over the last couple of years. Many find it a fairer representation of all weight classes, arguing that the Wilks formula favors heavier lifters. In other words, supporters of Dots scoring claim their method provides a more even distribution of coefficients across the full spectrum of weight classes. 

Despite its growing popularity, some federations use alternative methods. The IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) is the most notable example. The IPF uses their own system called IPF Points, which uses an entirely different formula. Here’s a detailed explanation of how it works.

Should you care?

The fairness of each system compared to the others is mostly a question of mathematics, and I’m pretty bad at math. However, the strategy for getting a better result out of any of these scoring systems is always the same: the larger the difference between your bodyweight and the amount of weight you can lift, the better your score will be. 

My advice? If you’re ever obsessing about these numbers, just focus on getting stronger instead.

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Alex Gaynor

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Sebastian Padilla

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