Powerlifting is a never-ending journey for an ever-moving goal. Most lifters with any time in the sport will tell you that they would love to go back and start over knowing what they know now. Most lifters will make a grotesque number of mistakes over the first few years (at least). This often will lead to injuries that can hamper them for years and even limit overall potential. Over a series of articles, I am going to do my best to help beginner lifters navigate the process of powerlifting. When it comes down to it, this sport is simple. Simply squat, bench, and deadlift (at a meet) for a total.
So how do you make it to the platform? What does the transition from casual gym goer, to competitive powerlifting look like? The focus on this article will be the selection of a training program. I am going to assume that you have some time under your belt doing causal gym training, and are somewhat proficient in the squat, bench and deadlift. As a beginner, it is important to not over complicate your program. Simply look for these three things: A focus on the competition movements, an appropriate number of deloads, and a peak.
A focus on competition lifts is a must for a beginner. To be clear, I am not saying that the program must have multiple days for each movement. In fact, I am not keen on high frequency training. What I am trying to communicate, is that all movements in the program are with the purpose of improving your squat, bench and deadlift. Movement selection is very important. The 10 plus weeks you spend preparing for the meet requires a shift in focus to just those movements, and the ones that will improve them. This is where a coach, or a watchful eye of someone with experience, will come into play. Being able to assess what your weakness are and improving on them is not something most beginners will be able to determine.
Oh no, the dreaded deload. Taking a down week, focusing on form, and letting your body heal doesn’t making you less of a #warrior or whatever else you rookies are putting on your IG now. Every well-built program has some sort of deload built into it. Just because it doesn’t use the name deload, doesn’t mean it isn’t one. Just to be clear, working at 80% isn’t a deload; that’s a typical beginner mistake. Depending on your strength levels, volume, frequency, and injury history you should see a deload in the program every 3rd to 6th week. These also play a key part in developing a peak for the meet.
Peaking for a meet really isn’t rocket science, but people sure do screw it up. For most beginners its simple. The reps and volume will drop as your percentages continue to climb. Somewhere about 5 weeks out there most likely will be a deload. The final few weeks are set to determine opening, second, and sometimesthird attempts. I am not an advocate of taking a max in training, unless it has some sort of reverse band, or partial range of motion. Maxes are what the platform are for. Over the last few weeks accessory work will lessen. Take off the week of the meet and put it all together on the platform.
It really is that simple for you beginners. Don’t overcomplicate things, just get in there, and train. We talk a lot of shit on our site, and that’s for various reasons. Don’t mistake it though, we want you to compete, we want the sport to grow, we just don’t want to see you in a unicorn singlet. If you have any questions,feel free to ask on our Q&A or join the degenerate crew and add one of us as a coach.