How To Become A Power Lifter
The step from squat rack fan to full-on powerlifter can be a weighty one to take. But boy, the discipline and strength needed to powerlift is going to add a whole heap of muscle definition to your physique.
As a true strength sport, technique and mental focus are as important as your fitness when it comes to powerlifting. And the payback for all that hard work will be turbo-charged strength to your training sessions, as well as some serious muscles and the chance to take your newly honed powerlifting skills to the nearest competition stage.
So, whether you want to test your strength in the competitive sport of powerlifting or just want to seriously up the weight you can lift, read on for our beginner’s guide to becoming a powerlifter.
What Is Powerlifting?
As a growing sport, powerlifting certainly packs a power punch. The premise is simple – to lift the heaviest weight you can for a single repetition, in each of the three lift disciplines: the squat, the bench and the deadlift. You get three attempts for each and the heaviest lift counts.
Competitive powerlifting is certainly on the rise, and there are meets all around the US. At the top of their game, competitive powerlifters can lift on average 8 times their body weight. But even if competing isn’t your thing, taking up powerlifting can totally up your muscle game and add a whole new level to your regular gym session.
If you fancy getting in on the power action, then here’s what you need to do:
The right equipment is everything to the budding powerlifter – for both ripped results and safety. The best route is to find a gym that has the powerlifting kit you need, and instructor support if you need some expert input to get that technique right.
When looking for the right training venue, opt for the gym that has created a free weights space that caters for the needs of a powerlifter – so this means quality bench press and squat stations where you have the room and the weights to get on with the job. Check the gym allows chalk (the powerlifter’s best friend) –and don’t forget to clean up your dust after each session.
When it comes to your personal kit, go for flat weightlifting shoes (so you can distribute weight effectively), and also consider a weightlifting belt (for support) and weightlifting gloves, as well as wrist wraps and knee sleeves (for stability and protection as you go up into the lift).
The key to powerlifting as a beginner is not to rush in – start light with your weights and work your way up. This is essential to avoid injury and to also progressively build up your strength. Trust us, by going steady you will see some serious results that you can keep building on.
And always remember to warm up properly for weightlifting. A good way to ease into an awesome powerlifting workout is to start with just the weight of the bar, warming up with a series of reps as squats and bench presses before adding a slightly heavier weight. This way you can ease your body into the session and prevent any injuries.
Smash The Basics
The squat, the bench press and the perfect deadlift – work on cracking the three basic moves before seriously upping the weight and you will have the firm foundations to go out and smash it as a powerlifter. Good technique is everything when it comes to the lift as is having a spotter to make sure your moves are safe and always count:
Squats – The staple of any weight workout, get the humble squat right and you can earn serious points as a powerlifter. To get started, position just above your traps before removing the bar from the rack and calmly get into a comfortable position. Your feet should be pointed slightly outwards and shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees with your butt sticking out before standing back up, keeping your back straight and heels flat on the ground as you complete the squat.
Bench press – Lie back on the bench, with your head, shoulders and butt resting comfortably and your feet firmly on the floor. Now lift the bar out of the rack and bring it down to your breast bone, before straightening your arms to push the bar and weight upward in a smooth, strong motion.
Dead lift – Put some effort in perfecting the deadlift and the sweat will pay off as you perfect the ultimate powerlift. To do so, stand behind the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart. Now bend at the hips to reach down to the bar, and let your knees bend outward. Get a firm grip on the barbell, with your palms on the outside of the bar and swiftly stand up, keeping the move as smooth and strong as possible. Always keep your back straight and engage your abs as you lift. Hold the weight for a few seconds with locked hips and knees before bending back down to return the bar to the floor.
Don’t Forget The Cardio
Besides improving squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, you should also include some cardio 2-3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. Anything from going for a jog to playing sports with friends will do the trick.
To ensure there is consistent power to your lift, you need to work on more than your muscle mass and strength. Make sure you build on your stamina and overall fitness by adding regular cardio sessions into the powerlift training mix. Look to add in two or three 30-minute killer cardio moves each week as part of your training program.
Get Into A Routine
To make effective progress on the road to becoming a powerlifter, consistency is key. Create a training program and stick to it. Aim for 3-4 training sessions a week and work hard in each workout to steadily increase and consolidate the weight you can lift but then allow for rest days in-between so your body and growing muscles can recover.
Eat Like A Powerlifter!
To cook up the body of a powerlifter, you need to eat right – so that’s processed food, soda, cookies and fast food out of the gym window. Fuel your muscles with the right balance of healthy protein, carbs and good fats. Eat protein with every meal – a good rule of thumb is 1 gram per pound of bodyweight each day and ensure you eat healthy carbs after your workout to Replenish your energy. And don’t forget to drink enough water – 3-4 liters a day during training will keep your water levels where they should be and help to prevent injury.
After all your hard work, why not show your moves off by getting involved in your local powerlifting competition circuit. There are several Powerlifting Federations, including the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and the International Powerlifting Association (IPA) which are a good place to start when looking for local competitions and meets.
Finding your powerlifting competitive edge is a great way to give yourself a goal, meet other powerlifters and start working on improving your personal best. And let’s be honest – with all those hours you’ve been putting in at the squat rack, it would be a shame to keep all your awesome powerlifting moves hidden away at the gym!
- What Are the Requirements to Become a Powerlifter? – Livestrong