| June 9, 2021

Where to begin with powerlifting

Powerlifting is a fantastic sport to get into, the benefits are countless when the sport and all of its practices are performed safely and effectively. In order to develop power, you first must develop full body strength.

By Steven Fitzpatrick

Read time: 3 min.

Powerlifting is a fantastic sport to get into, the benefits are countless when the sport and all of its practices are performed safely and effectively. In order to develop power, you first must develop full body strength.

Where power and strength are different

Strength - The body’s ability to exert force synergistically while utilizing the body as a whole to overcome resistance.

Power - The ability to exert force in the shortest amount of time.

Several athletes make the mistake of trying to focus on power to reach their goal too soon. Truth be told, powerlifting is a sport that takes time no matter how you look at it; it's a matter of patience and hard work, and when put together, you will be able to move more weight.

An essential part to proper strength training is making sure that your technique is always proper in each and every repetition. Sloppy form leads to injury, injury leads to down time, down time can lead to less strength gains...makes enough sense. This is why it is a good idea to record your training often so that you can see where you may be lacking in form. It gives you the ability to dissect the movement, slow down the video, and cross reference old videos with new ones— this can be an extremely effective tool.

Following different blocks, periods of time, exercises, and volumes can help you to develop in different areas relative to the weight you are moving. A good place to start for a novice (where it is important to develop confidence for the movement pattern itself) is the Strength/Speed area, where using percentages of 50-60% of your max, can be useful in higher repetitions, as early on, repetition is your most important tool. This will allow you to get a safe and comfortable feel for how you should be moving.

Accelerative strength will be where most powerlifters should spend their time, this will be 70-90% of your max. The goal in this area is to be able to move your weight from point A to point B as fast as physically possible. FORCE x VELOCITY = POWER. So by creating as much speed as physically possible through these percentages, your strength will transition into power. While in the “Absolute Strength” category, this is a place where the central nervous system is under the highest degree of stress, it is VERY important to understand that not too much time must be spent in this area in order to develop true 1RM. Although, in order to allow for the motor units and CNS to attain a proper feel, response, and stimulus to max loads, an appropriate amount of time must be spent in this category, which will come down to proper programming, which ties into rest, recovery, and the amount of adaptive stress an individual can and should tolerate in a block.

With all of that being said, stated above is a simple method or initial progression, which must then be put together into a properly periodized program, with that being done, all aspects that complete the tree of power development will be reached.

Static core stability exercises and the right amount of mobility are so important, they must be adhered to and focussed on, especially at the start of any athlete's career as a powerlifter. I do believe that a lot of powerlifters try to tackle compounds too directly. Your core is being trained while you do these compound movements without a doubt, however, training your core to where it needs to be in these movements is crucial, which is why I always recommend planks, bird dogs, and dead bugs. They teach the pelvis and scapula where they need to be and how they need to function in direct correlation to strength and power compound movements.

Accessories are also commonly neglected, you can think of accessories as smaller components when all put together truly piece what a compound really is. After training each individual area, being able to tie everything together and effectively and consistently perform the movement properly is what power lifting is all about. To sum it up, learn and understand body mechanics, understand why core training is important, don’t leave your power training exclusively up to barbell training: put everything together. Be patient and work hard, and you will succeed.

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