Coaching Powerlifters has been a huge passion of mine over the past decade. Many times we see people walk in the gym not sure where to start. Once they get a little taste of what it’s like to have a bar in their hands, something magical happens. I have seen so many people catch the bug of competitive powerlifting that never imagined they would step on a platform and compete. Some come from an athletic background, and others have never competed in anything in their life. Both find themselves setting goals and putting it all out there on the platform. Though Powerlifting is a competitive sport, it is a highly individual and personal journey. A mindset I like to instill in my athlete’s, is to compete against no one. It is about setting your own goals, developing a game plan, and putting in honest work to execute it.
Here are some things to consider.
DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME UNDER THE BAR?
If you have never lifted a bar until last week, it’s a great time to set your sights on competing about 6 months to a year down the road. Focus on building your base strength and dialing in your mechanics. If you are coming from a solid general strength program or bodybuilding background, I have seen people jump in to a meet with in 3 months of focused powerlifting. See the next headline for more clarity.
DO YOU HAVE A (QUALIFIED) COACH
I can’t count the times I have seen lifters make avoidable mistakes while preparing to compete for a meet. There are numerous ways to prepare for a meet, and having the right coach is important to making sure you can showcase your hard work on meet day and show up strong. Nothing is worse than training for months and bombing out because you didn’t know the rules, or didn’t prepare correctly. I have seen athletes miss attempts in the warm up room, then crumble on the platform because they pushed too hard and didn’t have the right strategy. Remember powerlifting is a sport, it isn’t just show up and lift heavy sh$%.
Another thing on coaching. A good coach won’t just be good at programming. They will prepare you mentally and teach you the rules and strategy of the sport. I had a person corner me not long ago and ask me every question in the world about powerlifting. They wanted me to explain every rule to them, details on equipment, and meet strategy . I told them that they needed to hire me as coach to guide them, because it is a process to learn all this. Their answer was, “I have my trainer helping me.” I responded with, “So you don’t have a coach.” and I was met with offended silence. Just because someone is a personal trainer does not mean they are qualified to get you on the platform. They are probably great at exercising you, but unless they have been on the platform, know the rules, and know how to mentor powerlifting athletes they are not a coach.
I also strongly recommend you find someone locally that can be there to handle you on meet day as well.
DON’T MAKE YOUR DECISION BASED ON RECORDS OR WANTING TO BE COMPETITIVE.
This is probably one of the most common things I hear from people, and it boils my blood. If you are trying to prove something to anyone else you will just ruin the experience, it won’t be any fun. If you are one of those people is waiting to be “competitive” before you register, please realize that there are 132lb females in the world squatting 500lbs. It is a copout to wait to be competitive. Set goals, enjoy the process, and become a stronger human.
Another thing I see, are lifters that are looking at the records in their weight class before ever doing a meet. I love powerlifting, but there are more weight class/age category combinations than I can name, and if you can show up at your first meet and break a record you are either, A) gifted human with amazing strength, or B) you are about to break a record that someone else is about break right after you. In other words it really doesn’t mean much except to stroke your ego. Screw the records and focus on becoming stronger than you were.
ARE YOU READY TO PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AND FOCUS?
The good news is powerlifting is accessible to so many age groups and body types. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to compete, you just have to have the desire to be strong and train with a purpose. The most important thing is to be consistent and follow a solid game plan. As you are peaking for a meet I tell all my athletes to cut alcohol consumption and partying out for 4-6 weeks before a meet. If you are trying to push your limits you must prepare your body to handle the stress you are about to put on it. Sleep, solid nutrition, and leaving toxins out of your system is a reasonable expectation.
Next Week’s Blog: Do’s and Don’ts of preparing for your first Powerlifting Meet