Bench Press Rules of 1964: Pioneering Standards for Powerlifting

The year 1964 marked a pivotal moment in the history of powerlifting as the Houston AAU Convention settled upon and established the first set of official rules to govern the bench press event. This significant development came as powerlifting was officially declared a sport, marking the beginning of standardized regulations for one of its core disciplines. The following are the bench press rules instituted during this landmark event:

Lift Execution: The lifter is required to lie on their back on a flat bench, feet flat on the floor, and grip the barbell with both hands. The lifter must then lower the barbell to the chest and press it to full arm extension.

Starting Position: The barbell must be motionless on the lifter's chest before the press begins. Once the bar is deemed motionless, the head referee signals the start of the lift.

Press Command: The lifter must wait for the head referee's audible or visual command to begin the press. This ensures a fair and standardized start across all lifters.

Completion of Lift: The lift is considered complete when the barbell is fully extended, and the elbows are locked out. The lifter must then wait for the head referee's command to rack the bar.

Rack Command: The lifter is required to wait for the head referee's command to rack the bar, indicating that the lift has been successfully completed.

Spotters and Loaders: Adequate spotters and loaders must be present during the lift to ensure the safety of the lifter. They are responsible for assisting the lifter if needed and for loading and unloading the barbell.

Prohibited Actions: Any deliberate bouncing of the bar off the chest, heaving, or uneven extension of the bar is strictly prohibited. Lifters must adhere to the specified range of motion and follow the commands to ensure fair and consistent judging.

These rules, established in 1964, laid the foundation for the regulation of the bench press event in powerlifting competitions. They reflect the commitment of the AAU to create standardized guidelines that would promote fair competition, safety, and the growth of powerlifting as an officially recognized sport. The adoption of these rules marked a historic moment in the evolution of powerlifting, shaping the future of the sport for generations to come.