Need to learn about powerlifting singlets? If you plan on competing, you’re going to have to! Out of all the various pieces of powerlifting equipment, a singlet may seem the least necessary, but federations require them.
Taking part in a powerlifting competition is an incredible experience that puts your training to the test within a community of knowledgeable and charismatic athletes.
However, understanding the regulations concerning powerlifting singlets can sometimes be a bigger challenge than your training. The following information will make it much easier to navigate the options.
Powerlifting Singlets 101—Do You Have to Wear a Singlet in Powerlifting?
Powerlifters are required to wear a specific, competition singlet, but there are rules about which ones that can be worn. You may be asking which singlet is approved for a particular competition and why are some singlets approved and others aren’t, when they appear so similar?
Only certain brands are approved by certain federations, so it’s important to make sure you get the correct singlet for your given federation.
Learning more about IPF and USAPL approved gear is a good idea if you compete in North America or Europe.
As you are likely aware, powerlifting is a rapidly-growing sport where athletes compete by achieving a one rep max in the deadlift, squat, and bench press. Lifters are separated into different categories based weight, sex, experience level and gear usage, including singlets.
For each lift, an athlete gets three attempts, with the highest completed repetition counting towards their overall total. Winners are crowned for the highest achieved lift in each individual event and for the gross total of all three lifts.
But during competition, a singlet must be worn. Some lifters also choose to wear one during training for specificity reasons. In other words, you always want to train how you compete.
Why Are Powerlifting Singlets Used and Why Are They So Tight?
Singlets are designed to be stretchy and form-fitting for judging and athletic purposes. In sports like wrestling, the close fitting garment allows the ref to easily see illegal grabs and helps prevent athletes from using clothing in grabs, which is also against the rules.
For powerlifting on the other hand, a singlet gives the judging panel a clear view of your body, so critical points of performance, such as depth in the squat event and locking out at the top during dead lifts, can be clearly observed and judged.
Weightlifting Singlets: An Overview of the Basics
A singlet, sometimes referred to as a suit (but not to be confused with an “equipped” squat suit), is required athletic attire for powerlifting and other sports like wrestling and olympic weightlifting. The extremely tight form-fitting garment is made of materials like nylon, polyester, Lycra, or a combination of the three.
In fact, they singlets used are practically identical among the different sports. A weightlifting singlet is going to be effectively the same thing as a powerlifting singlet. But as mentioned earlier, the federation you compete in will largely determine the brand.
The options available are practically endless, and almost every brand claims to be the best. However, like any piece of athletic gear, the best is still the best (depending on your personal needs).
Personal preference plays a huge role, and each lifter will appreciate (and require) a different level of compression, flexibility, texture, and response.
One good technique is to try out a couple brands that comply with your federation to see how they fit your unique body type (we will also remove a lot of this guess work later in the article-keep reading).
Again, it is worth repeating several times: make sure you get a powerlifting singlet that is approved for use in your federation.
Powerlifting Singlet Sizes: Small, Medium, or Large?
Sizing your singlet depends on a number of factors including height, weight, rules of the respective federation, and personal preference.
Most companies will provide a powerlifting singlet size chart to help you choose the appropriate size. However, every brand will have slight variations in how their singlet is cut, so it is important to wear one in the gym before wearing it at a competition (for obvious reasons).
Use the product’s chart to get into your ballpark size range. And although every brand has specific measurements for small, medium, large, extra-large, etc., there are a few basic guidelines you can apply.
Weight classifications generally outline what size singlet to purchase, and almost all companies will offer a multitude of different sizes (from small to 5xl).
Finding Your Singlet Preference
All singlets are extremely form fitting, but the level of ‘tightness’ is varied. Some lifters prefer a minimal amount of compression, while others like more. There are a few things to keep in mind when determining what sort of singlet will work best for you.
- Look for a comfortable amount of compression that still offers freedom of movement, throughout the entire lift.
- Typically, competitions are day-long events, so choose a singlet that will be comfortable for all day wear.
- Very restrictive garments can distract your attention, so look for a singlet that offers flexibility without any discomfort.
- Tip: when you find a singlet you love, make note of the combination of materials for future purchases.
The Science of Rating Singlet Compression
Many lifters wonder, do powerlifting singlets help during a competition? Although a number of scientific studies have been conducted concerning the impact of compression garments on athletes, the results are mixed.
For example, some studies have uncovered an increased vertical jumping ability but not sprint running capacity, while wearing lower body compression garments.
The key to realize is that here is the positive results in that study were attributed to combating fatigue caused by repetitive exercise by compressing the soft tissues. Although, the study’s wording is much more verbose:
“…improved resilience to fatigue profiles seen through enhanced mean power output from repetitive [counter-movement jump] to decreased muscle oscillation and enhanced joint-position sense.”
And as powerlifting is a max-effort sport, these benefits likely don’t carry over.
Researchers also found that compression shorts created “a significantly deeper squat depth and enhanced propulsive impulse.”
Better, deeper form does make sense though. This is because of proprioception. In simple terms, wearing compression devices help your body know “where” it is at in space.
They do this through heightened kinesthetic awareness during movement–your body can literally “feel” the compression as it moves through space. This sensation serves as neural feedback that helps the body correct and improve form.
Although the gains in performance were small–they were noticeable, and powerlifters looking to absolutely maximize their performance should consider a tighter fit for the benefits of proprioception described above.
Wrestling vs. Powerlifting Singlets: What’s the Difference?
Many lifters wonder if there are differences between a singlet used for lifting versus a singlet worn for wrestling and ask, “can you wear a wrestling singlet for powerlifting?”
The answer is both yes, and no.
In terms of style, function and materials used, yes, they’re the same. However, the differences appear in the regulations for each sport and most wrestling singlets won’t make the cut of approved gear in a powerlifting federation.
Each fed has stipulations on the color, the style, and often the length of the singlet that can be worn by competitors.
High-level powerlifting singlets typically offer some thigh protection from barbell knurling that you won’t find on a wrestling singlet. These singlets may also feature more compression to provide an athlete with a little more “pop” or proprioception (explained above) during lifts.
Understanding Powerlifting Federations And Singlet Guidelines
There are literally hundreds of powerlifting federations, but two of the most popular and well-known are the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) and the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF).
While many of the top competitions are hosted by USPA or IPF, there are plenty of locally-run federations that host meets as well–and many of these don’t have the same strict criteria for which brands of singlets are approved.
With that said, each federation mandates different rules in all aspects of the competition. Failing to adhere to the rules and regulations of the federation can result in disqualification, and that includes the singlet you wear.
Some additional U.S. and International federations include:
- 365 Strong World Powerlifting Federation (365-SWPF)
- Global Powerlifting Alliance (GPA)
- Global Powerlifting Federation (GPF)
- International Powerlifting Federation (IPF)
- International Raw Powerlifting (IRP)
- World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation (WDFPF)
- World Powerlifting Association (WPA)
- World Powerlifting Federation (WPF)
- World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WRPF)
- World United Amateur Powerlifting (WUAP)
- USA Powerlifting
- 100% Raw Powerlifting (RAW)
- Amateur Athletic Union Powerlifting (AAU)
- American Frantz Powerlifting Federation (AFPF/AAFPF)
- Anti Drug Athletes United (ADAU)
- Eastern States Powerlifting Federation (ESPF)
- Elite Powerlifting Federation (EPF)
- Independent Bodybuilding Powerlifting Association (IBPA)
- International Powerlifting Association (IPA)
- International Strength Association (ISA)
- Metal Militia Powerlifting (MMP)
- Midwest Powerlifting Federation (MWPLF)
- Natural Athlete Strength Association (NASA)
- Old School Powerlifting(OSP)
- Pure Athletic Power (PAP)
- Professional Raw Powerlifting Association (PRPA)
- Raw Iron Powerlifting (RIPL)
- Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS)
- Southern Powerlifting Federation (SPF)
- World Class Powerlifting Federation (WCPF)
- Xtreme Powerlifting Coalition (XPC)
- And there are plenty more…
Federation Guidelines for Singlets
There are a surprising number of stipulations for lifting singlets. Details like how much fabric covers the leg, thickness of the material, and whether a supportive garment or non-supportive garment is approved for a specific lift are just a few typical regulations.
Always check with the federation you plan to participate in to make sure you cover all the rules. Many brands will clearly mark ‘powerlifting singlet ipf approved’ to make it easy for buyers.
Although many singlets on the market are designed to meet the regulations, when personal alterations are made (which are generally allowed), athletes can run into trouble.
The IPF offers a list of singlet brands and other personal equipment that is pre-approved for competition. Some of these include:
- Inzer Singlets
- Titan Deadlift Suits and Singlets
- Metal Singlets
- SBD Singlets
- Beast Genetics Singlets
(Note: various colors are allowed)
In contrast with singlets, supportive squat and deadlift suits in the IPF are only permitted in competitions designated as ‘equipped.’ These suits follow much stricter guidelines as they provide a high level of support that translates to more pounds lifted.
They must be a single thickness, have legs with minimum length requirements, and any alterations must be approved by the federation. If you are planning on competing equipped, you can check out the complete list of equipment rules here.
The USPA has similar requirements for the singlets permitted in competitions. However, alterations that include Velcro or zippers are not allowed. Furthermore, seams that have been incorporated into the garment must be approved by referees, and may even disqualify a lifter.
Lifting Equipped vs. Raw
As previously mentioned, “equipped” competitions refer to meets that allow the use of certain ergogenic (performance-enhancing) equipment during a lift.
This leads to some confusion between singlets and suits which are very, very different.
Knee sleeves, wrist wraps, belts, and powerlifting shoes can definitely boost an athlete’s performance–but these items are all allowed in raw competitions.
(Note: there are also “raw classic” meets which allow all raw gear plus knee wraps)
Although federations will differ on the specifics, in most cases, there are three specific pieces of equipment that make a competition equipped:
- Knee wraps
- Squat suits
- Deadlift suits
Equipped competitions can be tricky and require careful attention to detail when purchasing gear. Suits are offered in various thicknesses, sizes, lengths, or elasticity. All of these factors come in to play when competing in an equipped event.
Main point: a singlet is different than a squat suit or deadlift suit, and everyone needs a singlet regardless of what division they’re competing in.
It’s worth restating: pay attention and double check that all of your gear meets the requirements and does not violate the rules.
How Popular Brands Of Singlets Stack Up
The powerlifting movement is growing, so the number of options for purchasing a quality singlet are vast.
However, time-tested brands like Inzer, Titan, Iron Rebel, are always a solid choice.
But each brand offers specific pros and cons and there are countless powerlifting singlet reviews to consider. Sifting through all of the reviews is time consuming, and ultimately it might not even be effective–sometimes people leave reviews that just aren’t true.
Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you and have broken down each singlet by brand! Just keep reading.
Inzer Singlet—Popular Men’s Powerlifting Singlet
This is a quality, time tested brand. Walk into any powerlifting competition and you will see a large number of athletes wearing an Inzer singlet.
Inzer singlets have a textured feel versus the smooth feeling that comes with flexible fabrics, which is responsive, and many athletes appreciate the comfort.
Many people wonder…how long does Inzer take to ship? If purchased from the company directly, expect to wait 6-8 weeks.
(Author note: I personally use an inzer singlet and find that it fits well but “folds” somewhat odd around the hip crease–for this reason I recommend going a size down)
Inzer singlets come in three different colors, which come down to personal preference:
- High quality
- Various colors available
- Perfect for raw or equipped competitions
- Typically approved for most federations
- Classic look
- Standard one size fits all cut
- Modifications for size can be prohibited in competitions
- Medium to high price
Titan Singlet—Highly Rated Weightlifting Singlet
Titan name brand singlets are also very popular among both amateur and professional lifters, and offer durability for long lasting use. This highly rated singlet offers ample compression and flexibility.
- Highly rated by previous and current users
- Cleared for use in the IPF
- Various colors available
- Two styles of cuts to choose from, Classic and Triumph
- Anyone can get their powerlifting singlet pink or in a variety of other colors
- Runs tight
- Too much compression for some athletes
- Not the best fit for women (tent butt)
- Hefty price tag
- When worn with underwear briefs (regulation), can be tight in the crotch
Iron Rebel Singlet
Iron Rebel is a dependable brand that offers more compression than other singlets and the company recommends going up a size if you are tall, broad shouldered, or have a long torso. Earning an average 4.9/5 rating from previous users, this product is highly recommended by lifters.
- High quality and thick material ensures durability
- Used by many in USAPF and IPF
- Less expensive than Inzer
- Approved for USPA and IPF
- Longer legs can be a problem in some associations
Nike has created a singlet for powerlifting, adjusting the combination of nylon to polyester for a more responsive. This singlet offers a more unique fit with a short leg length and a broad fabric of the lower neck, to protect against bar abrasiveness.
- Highly durable and good to use for Olympic lifts like clean and jerk
- Offers durability over the thighs to protect legs from excessive abuse
- Short leg length may not clear all competition mandates
- Mainly used for Olympic weightlifting competitions, not powerlifting meets
- Medium to high price range
SBD Singlet: Expensive but Top-Notch
SBD is a British brand that offers traditional singlets for both IPF and other weight lifting communities such as the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
They are extremely high quality and made to deliver a soft, yet compression combination of nylon and Lycra, allowing maximum flexibility and breath-ability.
- Great for athletes who want maximal freedom during lifts
- Breath-ability ensures comfort during long comp days
- Fits ‘weird’ proportions and adapts well to a variety of body types (especially women)
- Limited color options
If price is no object and you are simply looking for the best powerlifting singlets to choose from, look no further than SBD.
Finding the Best Woman’s Powerlifting Singlet
In the battle over the best powerlifting singlet for women, a few brands rise to the top for their ability to prevent ‘looking like a potato.’
As previously mentioned, the SBD singlet is the go-to choice for most women who are looking for a flattering, and comfortable lifting outfit. But, there are two others that rank highly among users (and offer a lot more color options).
The Asics Singlet—Women Weightlifting Singlets
This is a great beginner, female singlet for powerlifting. It typically clears requirements for the IPF and USAPF, and is inexpensive, durable, and flexible.
It is also one of few brands that offers a cut specifically for women, and comes in various colors.
- Multiple singlet cuts for female athletes
- Low cost
- Admissible for use in IPF and USAPF
- Low compression
- Pronounced knurling will cut through material quickly
Virus Singlet—Special New Brand of Women Powerlifting Singlets
This singlet has received rave reviews from women for its high quality and comfort. However, not all federations approve it.
- Male and female cuts
- Rubberized grip that prevent the leg material from riding up during squats
- High quality material and compression
- Won’t ‘cut’ into the legs
- Not acceptable in all federations
- Medium to high price range
Where Can I Buy a Powerlifting Singlet?
A number of online retailers, such as amazon and powerlifting gear stores, offer sales options for a variety of singlets.
Finding the right singlet can make a huge difference during a competition. Not only are you required to meet federation guidelines and regulations, but personal comfort goes a long way towards ensuring that lifters are at their mental best–being uncomfortable or self-conscious on the platform is not a formula for success.
Remember to check your local federations rule book. Also, when shopping for a singlet, some retailers will have an “IPF approved” stamp if it is approved for competition.
Brands like Inzer, Titan, SBD, and Iron Rebel almost always meets federation specifications so you can shop with peace of mind when researching these products.