Powerlifting for Beginners

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If you have been in the fitness world for quite some time, and have came across the powerlifting sport and wanting to explore more?

You have come to the right blog!

As an powerlifting enthusiast for more than 5 years, I can say that it was one of the best discovery that I had along side me discovering basketball and piano.

Eventhough I had discover powerlifting for a long time.. It was not until recently that I competed in a powerlifting meet!!

I started to consider/ have the desire to compete was back in 2016, but always had to postponed it due to the competition date inconveniences (always clash with my final exam dates).

Its not until I finished my degree (late mid 2018) that I finally vouch to myself to sign up for a powerlifting competition within one year!

On early mid 2019, the Malaysia Powerlifting Alliance (MPA) has posted their meet schedules for the year. So I scrolled through their meets timing, and picked MPA RAW 2019 to be my first powerlifting competition!

MPA RAW 2019 was held on 28 & 29th September and thanked God nothing came up for me to bail-out or anything. Went to the meet, competed in U82.5kg weight class and got 8/9 (missed my 3rd attempt on bench). Hence overall it was a great and amazing experience, much more than I expected, but have to give credit and thanks to my handler for making it happen though.

 What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a weight lifting sport that primarily highlights these Big Three Lifts/ movements, the SBD (Squat, Bench, Deadlift).

*Note*: Legend has it, It has to be mentioned in that sequence as well. Not bench, squat, deadlift or deadlift, squat, bench.

The goal is to lift maximum amount of weight possible for all 3 movements for a single repetition. In other word a 1 rep max.

But during the competition, each lifters would be given 3 attempts for each movement (squat, bench, deadlift).

Competitions are separated into weight and age classes where athletes compete with lifters of a similar age and bodyweight.

The lifter that lifts the most combined weight in their weight class wins the competition.

The first attempt is called “the opener”. A day before of the competition, each lifter would have to give in their opener numbers (the amount of weights you are going to lift for SBD either in kg or lbs) to the organizers so that they could arrange which lifters would start first.

*Note*: Once you give in your openers, there is no turning back. During the competition, you have to get a minimum of 2 out of 3 white lights within the 3 attempts, or else you would be disqualified. If you failed your first attempt with your openers, you cant reduce it down. Your openers are fixed.


First tip:

Is to always set your openers as light as if you could lift it for 3 reps at any given time.

There are rules for each lift. These rules completely depend on the federation.

First, you register according to the weight class (your current bodyweight) that you want to compete in.

Some even signed up for a lighter weight class (to be more competitive) and start cutting/ lose weight while prepping for the meet.

Second tip:

For a first-timer, many would recommend/ advice to not cut/ lose weight for your first powerlifting meet.

Why? because you could jeopardize your strength performance on meet day, especially you are new to cutting weight. So it is advised to just compete in the weight class same/ heavier as your bodyweight at the moment.

For example for me, my bodyweight was floating around 76kg when I signed up for the U82.5kg weight class (even though there is U75kg weight class).

At that time it was 12 weeks out from the competition date. I knew my body well enough that it would get heavier as I progress in my training hence I didn’t want to risk my strength progress just for the sake of losing weight.

Third tip:

Know the Commands/ Cues!

As important as getting strong in your three lifts, it is also crucial to know the commands! Failing to listen and follow the commands would mean failing your attempts even though you were able to lift it.

Study and practice those commands early on. My personal take is to start practice when around 4 weeks out or when I start my peaking phase.

“You are what you do repeatedly. If excellence is something that you’re striving for, then it’s not an accident. It’s a habit”

-Greg Plitt

Fourth tip:

Powerlifting Equipment!

Always check the type of meet (raw meet/ equipped meet) or try to get the list of equipment that are allowed in the competition.

If the competition doesn’t allow the same kind of equipment that you have, then it could jeopardize your performance later on meet day.

Fifth tip:

Hopefully, by now you have realized at least one thing is that anyone, age, gender or size may enter a powerlifting competition.

As long as you are strong enough to lift the weight of the barbell, which is around 20-25kg (25kg barbell sometimes is used for squats only) then you are qualified to enter.

I used to think that I have to be at a certain strength level to compete, but honestly, once you got into even strength training, you would never be as strong you want to be.

So don’t let that reason hindering you from signing up for your first competition, start now!

“You must believe in yourself enough to be the person now that you want others to remember you for later”

-Greg Plitt

But warning, you might be addicted to the experience later on like I am. The Powerlifting Community is really supportive and friendly. I cant wait for my second time! Hopefully this pandemic phase would go away soon, so that training can be continued. I miss the weights.

Also feel free to share about your powerlifting experiences and share your openers if you have an upcoming meet in the comment section below!

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