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USPA Classification Standards for Raw Elite


Much argument has gone back and forth on the subject of “what is elite?” in powerlifting. Fortunately, Kevin Meskew has given us a new chart of standards. It has been mentioned these may be changed slightly for accuracy. This list includes both Elite, International Elite, and more.

Steve Denison says:

The original classification standards going back to the late 80’s or early 90’s that I got from Don Haley, who recently passed away at 90+, were Single ply based standards from old single ply gear. Back then there was no raw, classic raw, or Multiply. Just one category so the standards were based on that type of gear in those days. The original classification was also put together based on the average totals for each wt class from say the 1985 to 1990 IPF Worlds. From those totals they derived the elite, master, class 1,2,3, and 4. Then from those base totals we developed our own standards based on percentages for Raw, Classic Raw, and Multiply. Everything is based on the original single ply standards from those days. Those standards were never adjusted for the new generation single ply gear. That’s the basic synopsis for the Classification standards we have today. The USPA is the only federation that has put this together in more detail for each category. Now if you look at the Classification standards from the APF they will be somewhat higher because of the gear and that’s where our MP classification standards may be more in line with the original APF standards.

Below you will only see raw, and classic classifications in the Open division. For the full lists including age divisions, single ply and multi ply visit the Mens Classification Standards and Womens Classification Standards.


The chart below represents the Classic division. Here, knee wraps are allowed.

Raw Standards

Classic Raw Standards


For comparison, here are the older standards for raw elite by the 100% RAW powerlifting federation.

100% RAW elite classifications

Click to enlarge

Which chart is most accurate? You be the judge.

  1. Both are accurate. Why? 100% Raw is drug tested, USPA isn’t.

    Sure some people get around drug testing, but that doesn’t represent the majority of lifters.

    1. MindofShadow


      Good target for people that lift in that matter.

      1. hastalles

        Target? In other words, limit. 😐

    2. DannyAguirre

      This is a very late reply to this but NO! The 100% raw standards are a joke, in 2006 hit a 1380 total just 16 lbs under they’re so called Elite as a hospice patient while undergoing chemo and radiation treatments.,d.cWc

      1. Actually, your total would be Elite for USAPL (a drug free federation tied to IPF) as well. Last year a 627.5 KG total would place you in the Top 10 in the 181 lb class.


    137 lbs. for drugs? Come on. Those older standards were mediocre/”good” and that’s that. Far from the definition of “elite”.. A group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, esp. because of their power, talent, or wealth.

  3. mrchariybrown

    I say, who cares. Doesn’t change anything whatever you think. Just ego boosters/deflaters in my opinion.

    All that really matters is lifting your ass off, being the best you can be, and records of course haha.

    Daniel Green said it pretty well.. “If you now will have to make a higher total to be elite, will that make it easier to enter a competition and outlift another man? I don’t think so…”

    If and when I total elite in the RPS, I will say that I have an elite total based upon whatever the fed says is elite. But in the end of the day, that doesn’t matter to me.

  4. For clarification purposes, conversation will now go like this: “Nice squat, was that raw raw or classic raw?” “oh, ok intl. elite or elite?” “oh 100% RAW elite. Nice bro.” 😀

  5. DieselWeasel

    LOL @ “raw raw”

  6. Mark Welbourn

    I’m not sure what other guys say on these new standards, but they are really high for the lighter classes (148-198) i.m.o….. the swedish national champion Per Berglund (163lb) who placed 3rd at the Eleiko World Cup last summer has never totaled international elite as per these standards. I got bumped from Class 1 to Class 2 too…. ouch 🙂

    1. That’s interesting. I worry that this list isn’t exclusive enough because my lifts put me in the Elite category on squat and deadlift and Master in bench. And I feel I’m capable of reaching International Elite status sometime this summer on my squat. I don’t consider myself weak or even really average but I definitely don’t see myself as Elite.

      Anyone have a list of drug test world record squat and total in the 165 and 148 classes?

      1. This list might be helpful, check it out:

        Although you will need to know what feds are tested. If you look for the names, I believe Tony Conyers is tested (AAU), as well as Vashon Perryman (100% RAW), and Joe Morrow has also competed tested.

        Some of the others may have been tested as well.

        The word “Elite” is up for too much debate. I’m starting think it should just be a statistic. Top .1%, Top 10, etc. Maybe then there would be less debate?

  7. I think people should worry less about getting an “Elite total” and worry more about getting as strong as possible. Who cares what an Elite total is?!?!?!?!? I thought the goal was to be the strongest no matter what, not limit yourself to reaching an Elite total…..I view it the same as people that argue pound for pound lifting vs overall total strength…Sure Jesse Norris is amazing because of how strong and how light he is, but that would be like saying Andrey Malanichev’s total over 2500 raw is crap because he weighs over 300 pounds…Get as strong as you posssibly can and put up a big total and nobody will give a fuck about your weight.


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