*Note: There is a summary at the end of the article for those that want to skip ahead. Thank you.*
I know what you’re thinking-this is my subtle attempt to get everyone reading this article into Powerlifting.
Yes…yes, it is.
Don’t get me wrong, as Personal Trainers it’s not always in the best interest of our clients to be biased about a particular way to exercise. Our main goal-among keeping our clients safe during exercise-is to get results. It’s even better to get results that will last.
I’ve been a Powerlifter for 4 years now-won 2 National Championships, multiple state championships, appeared on powerliftingwatch.com among the world’s best Powerlifters, and hold 5 state records. Trainer or not, it’s my duty to spread the word about the sport I love.
Ok, so what is this Powerlifting? Well, it’s simple really. Powerlifting is a strength sport (like Olympic Lifting, and Strongman) that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and the deadlift. It’s a sport for men women, and even children.
Yes. We wear singlets when we’re competing and awesome knee-highs with butterflies on them. Sometimes. Other than a singlet which is necessary; you can compete with different equipment.
RAW: a belt, knee sleeves (debatable), and wrist wraps.
Classic RAW: You can use everything in RAW, but knee wraps instead of knee sleeves.
Single Ply: Everything in Classic Raw, but with suits for deadlift and squat. The single ply refers to the amount of material for the suit.
Multiply: Much like Single Ply but more of a thicker material for the suits.
The more equipment you use to help your lift, the more you can lift. Each competition is based off of the equipment and the lifts you perform.
Like golf in a way, it’s one of the best sports to be competitive with you and with others.
It’s truly a way of life; what you do in the gym and out of the gym could make or break your performance on the platform.
Instead of talking about the latest fitness fad or workout you could do to get leaner; I’m offering PL as a means of getting stronger, looking better (naked) and gaining confidence about yourself. So I’d like to give you all 5 reasons why Powerlifting IS for Everyone.
Reason #1: FOCUS
One of the most limiting factors about people, is the lack of focus.
*Not that kind of focus.*
Fat loss, weight loss, strength, you name it-it has never became more apparent that having a “training focus” is crucial in attaining these goals. This will tie into some of the other points I’ll mention later, but focusing on performance based goals such as this makes you change your perspective on what kind of goals you set for yourself.
You begin to focus on the positive, than the negative.
“I want to workout because I want to get rid of this ‘inner tube’ around my waist.”
“Is there anything else I can do to help me work on my thighs?”
“I’d like to start out working out 6 days/week. I really need to get in shape. I’m so tired of looking this way.”
In PL, how you look is irrelevant. If you perform like crap- and eat like crap- of course you’re going to look like crap.
If you’re a numbers person, focusing on your training numbers- not the scale– is also a plus. Weight is too manipulative and there are way too many factors to try to control it. But you can most certainly control the weight that you put on the bar.
Having that kind of control is all a person needs to realize that having this kind of focus is much more valuable of your time and energy.
You’ll feel more accomplished YOU did what you said what you were going to do.
Reason #2: To Shed Fat and Lose Weight
You’re probably thinking to,
“Dude, you totally contradicted yourself. You said to focus on your training numbers and not the scale. What gives?!?!”
You’re right. I did.
However, it’s because of the focus on your training that you’re able to start reaping the benefits from your hard-work. How you look is an end result of what you do.
“In a 1994 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” study participants undergoing resistance training increased their caloric demands over a 24-hour period by 15 percent. Resistance training such as powerlifting has long been shown to be effective for fat loss.
It’s guaranteed that when you burn more calories than you consume, you’re going to lose weight. What you do exercise-wise will help keep the “bad weight” off and shed body fat.
Karin here is a prime example of how Powerlifting can help make you look and feel better.
Karin has been working with me for nearly 2 years now. We pretty much started out squatting, benching and deadlifting right from the jump. But it wasn’t in a manner that was as intense as it could be. About a year later, we decided that she needed a focus. Something more positive than just coming in to try and “lose weight.”
Since this was something that I was familiar with as an athlete, I knew what it would take to prepare for a PL event.
Starting in January of this year, we knew that alcohol was going to be cut (back), her eating was going to have to be a lot better and start training with more intensity and focus.
7lbs (10 lbs between the two pictures above) and 2 dress sizes later, she was ready for the competition. She won her age group and left with a first place finish.
More importantly to her though, she was in the best shape of her life (even before having 2 kids) and felt so much better. This was what she was wanting since the beginning.
When it came to her training; she ate better to perform better, lifted more than ever to get stronger, and looked and felt better as a result.
Reason #3: You don’t have to be bulky to Powerlift.
While I agree that it’s not everyone’s goal to not fit into their EXPRESS slacks anymore because your quads are too big or barely get your button down shirt on because of the back you built; you’re not going to grow a set of testicles and sprout hair on your chest when you touch the bar.
Heck, people look at me all the time and don’t think I am a “Powerlifter” or believe that I can move the weight I can without being bigger.
Conversely, you can Powerlift seriously and not be a massive human being. One of the best examples I’ve ever seen is also one of the greatest Powerlifters of all-time, Jennifer Thompson.
The woman in the photo with relatively small arms and “normal” looking legs. At least by American Society standards.
NOTE: The photo doesn’t do her justice though. She’s strong as hell.
If you guessed by looking at her she’s a mom of 2, married, and a 7th grade math teacher in her late 30’s…you’re really good at guessing.
Seriously, you could make some serious dough off of that. Or have your own television show because you know we need more of those.
All she wanted to do was to get stay in shape, but realized that once she started PL she was already breaking American Records.
She has a 302# bench press, 314# Squat, and 409# deadlift.
RAW! And those records aren’t up to date.
There are full grown men that are twice the size of this woman and she’s putting up the same numbers if not more. It’s truly amazing and some might say that she’s a genetic freak. Whether that’s true or not, you have to put in the time and hard work to get that strong.
Men and women put in the time- hours -before they head to work every day to put on makeup, pick out their clothes, get their hair did. The same goes for the gym. How you look is going to be a result of what you do.
That’s the best news that you could get if that’s a main concern of yours.
Reason #4: Community
In my humble opinion, The PL community has one of the kindest-supportive groups of people around. Sure everyone will say that their group of support is best for them. I couldn’t agree more.
Powerlifting has had a bad rap for the videos and photos people put up at meets and in the gym. Stories of lifters kicking people off platforms for “not lifting enough weight” or speaking badly of others doing something they enjoy doing that’s not Powerlifting.
You’re going to have a few bad apples anywhere you go, but trust me when I say that is rare and is not what PL is all about.
“The powerlifting community as a whole is one of the most generous, kind, and supportive groups of individuals in sport. While it’s obviously important to focus on the meet and set new personal records, don’t forget to enjoy the moment and laugh with the people around you. Introduce yourself to someone new, cheer for a complete stranger, and have the time of your life.” -Jordan Syatt,
Read more from Jordan here on T-Nation.
There are tons of forums out there that are willing and able to help those looking to start. I know so because that’s how I got started.
All egos aside, every lifter has gone though their first meet not knowing what the heck they’re doing to some degree.
I went to a seminar once, not 6 feet in front of me were 11 of the world’s best Powerlifters that held at least 14 world records in the sport. Among them was the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time), Ed Coan.
It was Q and A time and I said something about how I don’t belong up there with those people.
Just about all of them had a problem with that-they didn’t believe that to be true one bit.
They weren’t going to sit there and let me degrade myself in their presence. It was truly amazing and something I had never experienced before.
I can’t help but to think they knew exactly what I was talking about though. It made me think about how awesome this sport was. To get that kind of response might have changed my life forever.
Reason #5: ANYONE CAN DO IT
Whether or not you want to step into a singlet and onto the platform, you can never say you’re not strong enough or able.
ANYONE CAN DO IT.
We all know we take our health and abilities for granted. It’s a matter of the mind rather than the body when it comes to doing the things we want to do. We don’t look at other people for what they are; we tend to look at people for what we are or are not.
Constantly judging ourselves based on what the person next to us can do what we cannot.
“But don’t you have to do all 3 lifts to be a Powerlifter?”
There are some that would disagree, but who cares what they say. If you want to be the best deadlifter, or bencher, or squatter you can be. Then so be it.
“Well…my leg is in a boot so I won’t be much of anything.”
You wanna try again??
Like anything technical, you want to make sure you’re doing it right for health and safety reasons.
PowerliftING is something that you can incorporate into your training right away. If you’re interested, find a training partner or a coach/trainer is something to invest in to help you keep you doing what you love to do. Who knows, to the unsuspecting…you’re probably already doing it.
To sum up the 5 reasons why Powerlifting IS for Everyone:
1. Focusing on performance rather than what you don’t like about yourself, sets you up for success. With focus, you’re able to have sustainable results. When you get sustainable results, you’re likely to stick to what works.
2. You’re never going to out train a bad diet. Hands down, eating well to perform well is going to be the biggest factor in your weight loss and fat loss goals. Train with purpose and you’ll be on the right path to success.
3. The perception that in order to Powerlift, you have to be big and bulky. Some of the bigger numbers I’ve been come from some of the smallest people I’ve seen. Your body isn’t going to magically transform into something unrecognizable when you touch the bar. You have to put in the time and work. How you look all depends on what you do.
4. Having social support is undoubtedly a huge factor in your success. Your journey is yours and yours alone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have help along the way. The Powerlifting community has one of the best social support groups around. Starting out can be rough. Everyone in the PL community has been there and struggled. We’re here to help.
5. If you can lift a bar, you can PL. You don’t have to be a competitor to Powerlift. You don’t need all parts functioning. To limit yourself is not a physical issue, it’s a mental issue. Angry, happy, or sad, PL is a great way to let your stress out in a productive manner. Do it right, and you’ll receive all kinds of benefits from practicing the sport we call Powerlifting.