How to Train for Powerlifting

A variety of exercises can prepare you for powerlifting.

A variety of exercises can prepare you for powerlifting.

To the casual observer, all weightlifting workouts may seem the same. However, when training for a specific sport or event, such as power lifting, you'll have the most success if you tailor your training program to the demands of your specific competition. Powerlifting, which focuses on gaining strength to perform three specific lifts in competition, is well-suited to full-body workouts. Always lift with proper supervision, especially when attempting to beat personal bests!

Familiarize yourself with the rules of powerlifting and the competition you plan to enter. While every competition has differences, the sport of powerlifting focuses on the performance of three lifts: the deadlift, the bench press and the squat. If your meet has any additional lifts or events, familiarize yourself with those.

Learn proper form for all of the lifts your competition entails. Using the right form will help you avoid injuries that could affect your workout efforts.

Perform exercises to assist your bench press strength. The primary muscles used in the bench press are those of the chest, shoulders and arms. In addition to the bench press, you may wish to perform the dumbbell fly, military press and chest press to target the relevant muscles. Because maximal strength is crucial in powerlifting, you should perform sets with low numbers of repetitions and heavy weights, as high reps and lighter weights are for endurance training.

Perform exercises to improve your deadlift performance. The deadlift is a full-body exercise, but the muscles of your legs, such as your quadriceps and hamstrings, provide the primary force. Exercises such as the stiff-legged deadlift, leg press and lying leg curls can help strengthen your quadriceps and hamstrings to help you perform the deadlift during competition. As with the bench press, you should perform sets with low repetitions and heavy weights.

Train your legs for the squat portion of the powerlifting competition. The primary muscles used in the squat are the quadriceps and calves. While the squat is performed with a barbell during powerlifting competitions, you can also perform dumbbell squats to prepare for powerlifting events. Additionally, performing lunges, barbell step-ups and jump squats with heavy weights and sets of low numbers of repetitions can prepare you for competition.

Take a day or two off from lifting prior to your competition. While training helps you gain strength, you need to give your muscles time to rest and recover. It takes a day or two after intense workouts for your muscles to regain strength, so training too close to a competition can hinder your performance.

Tips

  • Always have proper supervision when training, particularly for lifts such as the bench press and squat, which present a risk of being trapped under the barbell.
  • Stretching after your exercise sessions can improve your flexibility and range of motion, and may help reduce the risk of muscular injury.
 

About the Author

Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.

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