A SPORT, A SKILL, AN ART FORM
Powerlifting is a method of resistance training as well as a sport involving the squat, bench press, and deadlift; events in which competitors are tested on their ability to move maximal weights (1 rep max/1RM) against specific guidelines and rules.
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to powerlifting is that it’s all about how much weight you can bear. This is incorrect and focusing merely on how much weight you can take is a mistake. Powerlifting truly is an art form. It’s all about technique, form, and positioning. While it might take patience to get all of the above correct, it’s worth the time you spend on it. The right form will mean your lifts are not only safe but also extremely effective and that ultimately means you’ll keep progressing forward.
Powerlifters can compete at all levels from local novice events through to national and world championship competitions. However, apart from mastering your lifting technique, powerlifting also brings lots of other benefits.
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT AND FAT LOSS
As mentioned above, the end goal and the competitive side of powerlifting is that you will improve your technique and strength on all three lifts. However, a common question is: “Can powerlifting actually help you lose fat” and the short answer is yes. Incorporating resistance training into your fat loss journey and given that you are eating in a caloric deficit tailored to your needs, powerlifting will help you burn fat quicker. By following a structured powerlifting program you will naturally build lean muscle which helps by increasing your metabolic rate, and that means that every kilogram of muscle you have burns off more calories, even in a state of rest. It has been shown that you can have up to a 15% increase in caloric demand over a 24-hour period post resistance training.
Best of all, this method of training promotes and maintains lean muscle tissue, which means most of the weight you lose while on a caloric deficit will come from your fat stores.
YOU GET STRONGER
Yes, I know, shocking right? surprisingly you get stronger by lifting heavy things, but that’s not all. Powerlifting is obviously beneficial to increasing overall physical strength throughout the body. The squat, bench, and deadlift are huge compound movements all requiring multitudes of muscles across the body. There are very few muscles that don’t get targeted in any one of these movements and accessory movements will be implemented to ensure all muscles are targeted. If performed correctly all the main lifts require the entire body to be activated throughout the movement.
As mentioned, it’s not just the body that gets stronger. You will overcome challenges in every session, every time you approach the bar and you are talking yourself through the cues of the lift, pushing doubt aside and moving forward with confidence and a strong mindset. This mental toughness and inner strength will build as you progress and is constantly challenged. Nothing humbles you like a barbell.
Bone density is the amount of bone minerals in bone tissue. The higher your bone density, the stronger your bones are, and the less likely you are to receive an injury or fall victim to a disease like osteoporosis. Nowadays it’s well known that resistance training methods, such as powerlifting, decrease numerous risk factors for osteoporosis by increasing strength and bone mass. Our bones get stronger when our muscles pull on to produce movement and when we load them with weight, so as resistance training does both very effectively our bone health is far better off when a resistance training method like powerlifting is a core part of our training.
SPORTS AND ATHLETIC ABILITY IMPROVEMENTS
By increasing your strength in all major movements in powerlifting as well as the improvements in your state of mind and mental toughness it is very clear that other sporting abilities will improve by default. Studies have shown a very positive correlation between squat strength and your sprinting speed and jumping performance. So, if you want to run faster or jump higher, building a bigger squat through powerlifting is ideal. There’s also plenty to be said about the strength of your posterior chain (back and hamstrings) and how it contributes to performance in many other sporting activities as well as aiding in injury prevention.
Although they are just a few examples, you would be hard-pressed to find a sporting activity that being stronger doesn’t help in one way or another. Being a proficient powerlifter may even make you a better chess player, you never know.
IMPROVEMENT IN POSTURE AND REDUCE LOWER BACK PAIN
Provided you are following a structured and balanced training program as well as have correct coaching on all the major movements involved, the three power lifts will ensure that all major muscles are activated and appropriately worked. Assistance exercises are also prescribed to balance out any muscular development gaps in your training.
A balanced increase in muscle mass can also assist in improving poor posture. Poor posture is usually caused by overuse or overactivation of a muscle or group of muscles regarding one motion of a joint compared to the opposite. The deadlift is an extremely beneficial exercise to improve any postural imbalances. The deadlift works most of the muscles in the legs, lower/upper back, and core. It’s most commonly associated with building strength and power but performing the deadlift correctly strengthens the spine and many postural muscles, which can improve posture and reduce the onset of lower back pain. Squats strengthen the leg and core muscles. They also, when performed correctly, help move the hip flexors, adductors, glutes, and hamstrings through full ROM allowing them to stretch and strengthen in the right way, these muscles when tight can cause bad posture and contribute to lower back pain.
Upper body accessory work also includes many horizontal and vertical back exercise variations which are very important in improving poor upper body posture, for example, rounded shoulders, poor thoracic extension, and forward head posture.
POWERLIFTING SLOWS THE AGEING PROCESS
Sounds strange but here’s how, As we age our lean muscle tissue will naturally decrease, our bone density will reduce, and our memories might not be as sharp. Resistance training can help us slow this process down. Strength is the foundation of our physical ability. Strength enables us to get out of a chair, walk and run, go up and downstairs, carry all groceries in one trip, lift children, perform essential daily activities, and remain able and independent as we age.
When it comes to resistance training there is nothing that compares to building strength more effectively, efficiently, and safely than the main compound movements of squatting, bench pressing, and deadlifting.
Building and testing your strength in the squat, bench press, and deadlift is one of the most satisfying feelings. Developing strength requires sacrifice, discipline, discomfort, determination, and commitment, but it’s all worth it! When you hit that weight that was previously just a dream it’s a sense of satisfaction like nothing else.
Many people begin training without clear-cut goals or create very vague goals like “I just want to lose a few KGs” but with powerlifting training, you naturally create very specific performance goals by testing and setting new max lifts you immediately have your next target to work towards. Once you reach your goals you reach new heights of satisfaction with yourself and your training. Nothing makes you feel more powerful than hitting a personal best on a big lift.