I wrote an article on ‘How Can I Start Powerlifting?’ ages ago but I still feel it is very relevant with the exception that the GBPF (Great British Powerlifting) has now change their name to British Powerlifting.
I thought an article with some tips for people who are just starting powerlifting would be helpful as I’ve seen that many of my Instagram friends are coming over to the dark side 😈.
- Find yourself a knowledgable person
I don’t mean some random Professor of Physics (although powerlifting is basically physics) but someone with knowledge of the sport. This could be a powerlifting specific coach, a powerlifting club or simply your friend in the gym who has trained/competed in powerlifting. I personally would recommend finding a powerlifting coach but I know this isn’t a feasible option for everyone e.g. students. If you look back at my first article linked above, it gives instructions on how to find British Powerlifting affiliated clubs and joining the British Powerlifting group on Facebook is good way to find others who train locally to you.
- Start thinking about a plan to follow
If you find a coach, it is likely that you will be given a plan tailored to you and your weaknesses but if not, I recommend Powerlifting To Win as your starting point. There are reviews of many powerlifting programs as well as free Excel spreadsheets which you can download, put in your 1 rep max for each lift and it will generate numbers for you. It is very important to have a structure so that you don’t end up doing the same weight, sets and reps each week so you can progress. If you are converting from a bodybuilding style program, be aware that these programs may look very different to what you’re used to.
- Test your one rep max
One what huh? Your one rep max is the maximum weight you can lift for one rep for each lift. It’s a good idea to know what your numbers are to start with so that you can measure your progress and as I said in tip 2, these numbers can be used for your program. You could just estimate these numbers but I personally think it is best just to test before you start your program so you know at what level to gage your training.
- Be prepared to make a lot of technical changes to your lifts
Even after 2 years of powerlifting training, I am still changing my technique on my lifts. No one has perfect technique and there are always parts which can be improved. As a beginner, you will likely have to make a lot of technical changes. Simple examples of this are squatting to depth and adding in a pause on bench which are not commonly done outside of powerlifting training. Don’t get bogged down by all the new cues, you will do them on autopilot before you know it!
- Don’t cut weight for your first meet
Okay, so you may think I’m getting ahead of the game here talking about meets/competitions already but don’t forget this one. If/when you come to compete, you will have enough to worry about on the day without worrying about making weight. Wherever your weight sits naturally (NO CUTTING), compete in that weight class – even if you weigh 64kg, for your first meet there is no point cutting 1kg. Your first meet should be an enjoyable experience without that added worry. One thing that social media doesn’t tell you about powerlifting is that SO many rebound and binge after competitions, just like bodybuilding, due to restriction from making weight. Yes, I was one of them and I have my wonderful coach to thank for helping me beat the viscous circle of restriction and binging that I forced upon myself.
- Embrace the singlet
Tight on your quads, baggy at the crotch and leaves nothing to the imagination – we all have to wear the lovely singlet. There is no getting past it, a singlet is a singlet but embrace the singlet is all I can say.
- Listen to your body
Powerlifting training is intense. You will be working at much higher weights compared to other types of training and the risk of injury increases with that. If something doesn’t feel right, then stop. There is nothing more soul-destroying than being injured for months on end. Remember, it is a marathon not a sprint.
I hope you found this useful and enjoy what powerlifting has to offer!