Ever wondered how to get started powerlifting? Here’s a guide for powerlifting beginners. Learn how to set up a powerlifter’s strength training workout cycle, manage your weight, and compete in a powerlifting meet.
Powerlifting has one goal from your first warm-up in training to the last deadlift pull in your meet: lift the most weight you can with as little effort possible. This differs from bodybuilding where your focus is on exercising each muscle as hard as you can during every repetition of every set. The keys to competing successfully in a powerlifting meet are conserving your energy and executing your three lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift) as efficiently as possible.
I put this article together to help you apply these concepts as you prepare for and compete in your next powerlifting meet. If you read on, I will walk you through the stages of a successful powerlifting competition:
- Training for Competition
- Managing Your Bodyweight
- Selecting the Right Lift Attempts
- Warming Up
Preparing for the Meet – Your Power Training Cycle:
The goal of your training cycle is to peak in strength on the platform. You can do this by “periodizing” your training cycle. In the most simplistic terms, a periodized strength training program increases in weight and decreases in volume as you approach the date of your competition.
Base your training cycle on your current one rep max (1RM) for each of your core lifts, the squat, bench press, and deadlift. If you have never maxed out and don’t know what your 1RM is, select weights that will thoroughly tax your muscles to complete the target sets and repetitions, and increase the weight as your training phases progress. Newer lifters shouldn’t max out until they are comfortable with the weight and the lifting technique.
A sample periodized training cycle may look something like:
Phase 1 – Conditioning: The first couple weeks of your training cycle is for conditioning. This is also the time to address your cardio conditioning – it will help your endurance as the workouts become more grueling; you’ll want to taper off the cardio intensity as the meet draws near.
- Duration: 2-3 weeks
- Sets: 4
- Reps: 6-8
- Weight: 50-60% of 1RM
Phase 2 – Strength Building: Phase two is where your core strength is built for the competition.
- Duration: 3-4 weeks
- Sets: 4-5
- Reps: 4-6
- Weight: 65-85% of 1RM
- Increase the weight each week. Early in the phase you should be performing more sets and reps than you will later in the phase.
- As the training intensity increases, begin reducing the number of sets of your supporting exercises as well
Phase 3 – Peaking: In the final weeks of training you will be lifting at or near your current max.