Top 3 Powerlifting Tips For Beginners

Powerlifting is a sport that comprises of three technical lifts and if you’re new to the sport, keep reading as we’ll be suggesting some top tips to help you make progress, getting you ready for your first meet.

An Explanation Of Powerlifting

Powerlifting is a strength sport that focuses on three main lifts; the squat, bench press, and deadlift. The goal is to lift the maximum amount of weight possible for one repetition in each of these lifts, giving you a combined total weight.

powerlifting competition

Powerlifting competitions are held at various levels, from local meets to international championships, and competitors are divided into weight classes and age groups.

A standard powerlifting competition would comprise of all the three main lifts. However, a powerlifting meet that involves just the deadlift and bench press is known as a push-pull competition which are shorter in duration.

Lifters get three attempts for each lift, and their best attempt for each lift is added together to determine their total score.  This total forms the basis of the results and the athlete with the highest total is the winner of the competition.

Powerlifting categories are typically broken down into gender, weight, and height. This ensures a level playing field for the lifters.

The rules of powerlifting can vary depending upon the federation.  For example lifters can compete either equipped or raw.

What Is Equipped Powerlifting

Equipped powerlifting involves undertaking the standard lifts when wearing something such as a squat suit or bench press shirt. These usually allow the competitor to lift more weight while providing an element of protection to muscles and joints.

What Is Raw Powerlifting

Raw powerlifting means that a competitive lifter would not be permitted to wear supportive suits but could make use of certain powerlifting accessories such as knee wraps and deadlift socks. As we mentioned, the exact gear allowing in a meet would also depend on the federation.

The 3 Main Lifts In A Powerlifting Meet

Deadlift

The deadlift involves loading up a barbell which starts off on the ground.  You’d keep the bar close to your feet, bend at the waist and grab the bar with both hands, keeping them shoulder width apart.

deadlift

Keeping your back straight, chest up and face forward, slowly stand up keeping the bar close to your shins.  Be sure to ‘lock out’ your hips (drive them forward) at the top of the movement – this is important in a competition environment otherwise your lift won’t count towards your total.

Squat

A compound movement that activates muscles in your lower body, squats have fast become a very popular exercise due to the strength and muscle building potential. 

squat exercise

When performing the squat, ensure that the barbell is positioned across your upper back without applying pressure to the back of your neck. 

Un-rack the barbell, push your hips back and descend into a squat. Keep your chest up, back straight and face forward until your hamstrings are parallel to the floor.  Descend slowly and with control to prevent injury.

In a powerlifting meet it’s important to squat down until your upper legs are parallel to the ground, this ensures you won’t fail the lift. When returning to a standing position, power up using force, and lock out your hips to finish.

Bench Press

The final exercise in a powerlifting meet is the bench press, a compound lift that requires a ton of chest, shoulder, and triceps strength.

bench press exercise

Using a competition bench press, rack your bar and load up with weight plates.  Lie back on the bench with your eyes straight underneath the bar. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, unrack the bar and keeping it close to you, slowly lower the bar until it reaches your chest. 

3 Top Powerlifting Tips For Beginners

Squeeze your shoulder blades together when you bench press.

By squeezing your scapula during bench pressing will help you to keep your shoulders firmly against the bench (where they should be) and help to reduce the range of motion

Keep your shoulders tight throughout the movement and then lock out the elbows at the top of the exercise.  This will ensure better form and improved stability.  By doing this, you will also engage more of your triceps helping with your overall lift.

Tip 2: Powerlifting Tip When Squatting

Keep your chest up throughout the squat.

Keeping your chest up in the squat means to keep it facing forward at the bottom of the movement and throughout the entire lift. 

By doing this, you’ll prevent your torso from leaning forward as you descend into the squat, reducing any potential for injury and improving your stability which is vital during a heavy squat.

Tip 3: Powerlifting Tip When Deadlifting

Don’t bend your arms during the deadlift.

Never bend your arms when deadlifting. Keep your elbows locked and arms straight throughout the movement.  If you try and pull the bar up with your biceps by bending your elbows, your could tear a muscle. 

Instead, think of your arms as hooks, you are simply using them to hold on to the weight and nothing more.  The key muscles recruited during a deadlift should be your back muscles, hamstrings, glutes and quads.

Other Tips To Help With Your Training

Split Up Your Training

Split system training involves focusing on a specific body area and training until fatigue sets in.  This allows for intensive training, when compared to a full body workout, with ample recovery time before training it again.

A typical week could look like this:

  • Monday: Back
  • Tuesday: Chest
  • Wednesday: Shoulders / Traps
  • Thursday: Biceps / Triceps
  • Friday: Legs
  • Saturday and Sunday: Rest Days

Don’t Overtrain

Overtraining can lead to increased muscle soreness due to not allowing for enough rest and recovery time. This can also lead to poor sleep quality and an increased risk of injury.

Powerlifters generally do not train as much as competitive bodybuilders. This is because the sport puts much more stress on the CNS (Central Nervous System). 3 to 5 days of training per week should be plenty.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Rest and Recover

This ties in with our previous point. If you give your body enough rest time, it will help your muscles recover from an intense training session.  This will result in increased muscle and strength gains and a better workout performance next time you’re in the gym.

Whether you’re a powerlifting beginner or have many years of experience, the tips mentioned in this article are sure to help you with proper form giving you a fighting chance at your next meet!

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