Powerlifting workouts are designed to improve your performance on the three competition lifts -- squats, bench presses and deadlifts. You don't have to be a competitive lifter to do a powerlifting workout, though. Strength training not only builds strength and power, it also burns calories, reduces your risk of injury and boosts your metabolism, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Dedicate one day per week to each of the competition lifts. For example, perform squats on Monday, bench presses on Wednesday, and deadlifts on Thursday. Also, perform ancillary exercises during an accessory day on Saturday. Correct technique is vital when powerlifting. Not only will lifting in the correct way help you get stronger quicker and reduce your risk of injury, but powerlifting competitions are subject to stringent guidelines regarding technique. Ask a qualified coach or experienced lifter to demonstrate the correct competition technique for you.
Ancillary exercises are useful for boosting your weak points on the three main lifts, and they also build muscle mass. For example, for squats, you can perform front squats and dumbbell lunges as your ancillary exercises. Do stiff-legged deadlifts and leg curls to boost your deadlift, and pick dumbbell rows and push-ups or dips for your bench press. Perform three sets of eight to 12 repetitions on each exercise on your accessory workout on Saturday.
It can be helpful to follow a block periodization approach with your three main lifts. Block periodization involves splitting your training into three phases. In phase one, use relatively light weights and do five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions in each session. This phase acts to refine your technique and get you started gradually. It lasts four weeks. In the next four weeks, increase the weights you use and perform four to six sets of six to eight tough, but manageable, reps. In the final phase, aim to beat your personal bests on all three exercises. This phase only lasts two weeks and is followed by one to two weeks of rest or very light training.
If you've never lifted weights before, it may be wise to start with a beginners program, rather than a powerlifting one. However, those with only a few months of weight-training experience can try a powerlifting routine. If possible, train with other powerlifters. This will boost your motivation, and having people to act as spotters and critique your form is helpful. You can include some cardiovascular work alongside your powerlifting training to assist with calorie burning, weight management and general health and fitness. Two 30-minute to 45-minute moderate-intensity sessions each week is ample. Ask a coach or trainer to demonstrate any exercises you're unsure of. As powerlifting training can be extremely intense, you should always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new routine to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you.
- Mayo Clinic: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- Block Periodization: Vladimir Issurin; 2008
- Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images