The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started In Powerlifting (Part 2) – Muscle Mass Builders    
       
           
       
   
   
   

The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started In Powerlifting (Part 2)

The Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started In Powerlifting (Part 2)


Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author. This article is the first part of a three part series breaking down how to begin in powerlifting with a program for the absolute beginner. 

This is part two of a three part guide, where we go over how to go from a beginner in the gym to becoming a successful powerlifter. In part one, we went over the structure of planning and programming — something you’ll be able to use and understand throughout your entire experience as a powerlifting athlete. In this part of the guide we will cover the details of what the next eight months of training should look like.

Months 1-3

In our first mesocycle, our main focus is going to be on stabilization and strength endurance, introductory barbell techniques, and corrective exercise. This phase is going to feel very “non-powerlifter” because our goal here is to prevent injury by not jumping into a strength phase without any foundation in our training yet.

Many people neglect this step and end up injured in their first year, or they end up with improper training techniques that become harder to fix as time goes on, which too, tends to lead to injury in the end.

Exercises will be selected based on three elements:

  1. Corrective exercise movements
  2. Basic barbell movements
  3. Stabilization & strength endurance movements

Corrective Exercise

Corrective exercises are movements in your program that improve issues in posture and form. These exercises will be at the beginning of your training sessions to cue how your form and posture should feel in your more advanced portion of the workout.

This is arguably one of the more important parts of this phase for any beginner in training as it’s going to be one of the keys to preventing injury. Many athletes starting out may have been mostly sedentary prior to this guide, which means it’s likely that you have one, if not more, postural and form issues.

When working with a coach, we look at your form and technique to see where you may be experiencing overcompensations. While assessing yourself may be hard to do at times, here’s a list of the most common issues in posture that you can look out for:

  • Rounded shoulders: Your shoulders will be rotated inwards and your head may be jutting forward. A good way to assess this on yourself is to stand up and look down at your hands. Are your hands relaxed at your side with your thumbs pointing straight ahead or are they relaxed more on your quads with your thumbs pointing towards each other? If it’s the ladder, then you may have rounded shoulders. You may experience headaches, rotator cuff impingements, or biceps tendonitis if not fixed. You can fix this by strengthening your traps, rhomboids, and rear delts. Muscles you may want to stretch and foam roll are your upper traps, lats, and chest.
  • Anterior pelvic tilt: This is the typical “bikini competitor” look with an arched lower back. A good way to assess this on yourself is to see whether your belly button is pointed more forward or more downward while standing. If the belly button is pointing more downwards, then you may have anterior pelvic tilt. You may experience low back pain, knee pain, or hamstring strains if it is not fixed. To fix it, you’ll want to strengthen your glutes and core. Muscles you may want to stretch and foam roll are your lats and hip flexor complex.
  • Knock knees: You may notice this if you see your knees bending inwards towards the center of your body rather than being stacked under your hips. Sometimes you won’t notice this as drastically when just standing, but do a squat in front of the mirror: if your knees cave as you descend (rather than staying in line with your toes), then you may have knock knees. You may experience low back pain, patellar tendonitis, shin splints, or plantar fasciitis if not fixed. To fix this, you need to strengthen your calves, vastus medialis, glutes, and hip external rotators. Muscles you may want to stretch and foam roll are your calves, adductors, hip flexor complex, and quads.

My advice, start your workout with dynamic stretches first, followed by the strengthening exercises mentioned once you’ve pinpointed any issues in posture. If you don’t think you’re experiencing any issues with form, then proceed with a normal warm-up of light exercises and foam rolling where you feel any general tightness. Do these exercises for 2-3 sets of 10-20 light reps.

Once you no longer have issues in posture and form, then you can go ahead and proceed with general warm-ups and active stretches for the rest of this guide.

Introductory Barbell Techniques

Introductory barbell techniques are the basic movements to learn as a beginner. Any beginner is able to learn and incorporate these movements into their program for benefits outside of strength. These movements include the back squat, front squat, bench press, sumo deadlift, conventional deadlift, barbell row, overhead press, and hip thrust. In the last cycle of your program and as you become more advanced as an athlete, these exercises may become more advanced too, but these are the basic exercises to first learn.

These movements are included in the first phase because it’s important to begin learning the techniques that you’re going to use forever as a powerlifter. This will be the second portion of your workout during months 1-3 because you don’t want to practice technique once you’re exhausted from the main portion of the workout.

How you structure your weekly training split is up to you, but I would personally recommend full body workouts 3x/week and choose 2-3 of these barbell movements to practice each session. You may not be able to lift the 45 pound bar yet with proper form, so if that’s the case, you can opt for using the lighter, pre-loaded barbells in the free weight section of your gym. I would practice technique with 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps with extremely light weight. These movements should not feel challenging in the slightest when it comes to the weight on the bar. Your focus is to maintain balance, execute with proper form, and focus on cues.

Squat

How-To Squat

When setting up, the first thing you’ll do is walk up and grab the bar. Where you place your hands is going to decide your grip-width. You can work with a narrow or wide grip — the key is to find where you are strongest and most stable. Use the rings around the bar to even yourself out.

Next, you’ll duck under the bar and we’ll focus on bar placement: high-bar or low-bar. High-bar is when the bar is placed on your shoulders. This allows for a more “upright” squat and usually a more narrow stance. Low-bar is placed further down on the back, resting on the rear delts. Powerlifters and strength athletes use this stance as it tends to allow for a stronger squat. Start with a high-bar squat to get familiar with the standard squat. Once you get into the strength phase of this program, you can start utilizing low-bar.

Once the bar is placed, we’ll lift it and walk out from the rack. The walk out should be cut down to 2.5-3 steps. Avoid wiggling around and bouncing from side to side. Starting out with high-bar, your stance will likely be somewhere around shoulder-width apart. Start here and then adjust as necessary to where you feel strongest and most stable. If you are squatting high-bar, your stance will likely be more narrow and if you are squatting low bar, your stance will probably be wider.

Before squatting, you’ll want to take a deep breath and then brace. Bracing creates intra-abdominal pressure. This protects your core and spine and allows you to maintain strength throughout this entire movement. The cue that I’ve found works best is to pretend you’re a sumo wrestler “blowing out candles.” You’ll hold your breath until you are back at the top of the lift. You’ll breathe and brace again at the top with each new rep.

You want to break at the hips and knees at the same time. Pretend that you’re sitting in a chair. If this is a movement you struggle with, then practice with some light weight box squats first! Stop when you hit “depth” at the bottom of the squat. This is right below parallel, but more exact: it is when your hip crease is below your knee caps.

As you’re coming back out of the hole, imagine driving your feet through the ground and pressing up into the bar simultaneously to create power. Despite this, make sure you are still in control of the bar, especially at the top. Don’t let the bar bounce off of your shoulders at the top. As the weight gets heavier, it’s going to look slower, but that’s why it’s important to practice the power movements and technique with lighter weights in your early stages of training to get the feel of how to exert that energy.

Pieces of Equipment for the Squat

The first piece of equipment to consider is your shoe choice. The two choices you have for this are flat shoes (such as Converse or Vans) or squat shoes with lifted heels for those lacking ankle mobility. During your hypertrophy and strength phase, don’t wear running shoes. This makes your lifting less efficient, and it can also be dangerous as you work with heavier loads due to the structure of the shoe.

Knee sleeves are something else you may consider. These provide support and warmth to your joints and can help you to lift a bit heavier during squats. I recommend using SBD knee sleeves for the most support, but there are a handful of other great brands as well.

The last piece you may want to consider is a lifting belt. They provide a physical cue to help with bracing (intra-abdominal pressure), similar to when a personal trainer touches the muscle you should be using to help cue the proper movement when going through an exercise. They also provide something for you to press up against, making bracing feel easier. I don’t recommend using this too often; as a beginner, I wouldn’t wear your belt until around 75-85%. It’s important to first learn how to properly cue yourself and not to lean on it for support. The belt I would recommend is Inzer. Avoid using any Velcro belt if you don’t plan on competing; this can’t be used in competition.

Bench Press

When the bench press is performed in powerlifting, the goal is not only to be strong, but to be stable. When setting up, we’ll start by placing our feet on the ground and your hands up against the sides of the bench. Use your feet to drive your traps and back down and into the bench.

There are several positions you can try out to find what is the most stable position for you. Examples of how this may look: (1) wide foot stance with knees externally rotated and feet pointed out, (2) thighs hugging and squeezing the bench with a closer foot stance, (3) feet further back underneath your glutes with your heels lifted off of the ground. Check what your federation allows!

The best foot position is one where your butt doesn’t lift from the bench while using leg drive. To test this, just drive your feet through the ground and see if your butt lifts. Next we’ll focus on setting the back. Do this by driving your traps into the bench. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and back towards your hips. This creates the famous (or infamous) “bench arch,” but it’s important to remember the goal isn’t to create an arch. The goal is to stabilize and protect your shoulders and some will have a more dramatic arch than others.

Once you’re set, grab the bar. If you don’t know your best hand placement yet, then play around with grip-width (wide, moderate, or close-grip) to find your most stable position. After you’ve done this, you’re ready to lift-off and un-rack the bar. Make sure bar is placed over your wrists and shoulders. From here, re-adjust and re-engage your lats. Think: pull the bar apart.

The eccentric portion of the bench press is the descending movement. As you move downward, cue to squeeze your chest up to the bar. The elbows should not be pointing directly in the direction of the bar, but instead should be at a slight angle. Start by pressing with your arms at a 45 degree angle and adjust as needed. During this portion of the lift, use your legs to stabilize. You may notice that the bar path slightly curves out in the eccentric movement.

This is supposed to happen. At the bottom, make sure that the bar is stable before pressing back up. Once it is, drive the bar back up with power and use your leg drive to assist. To use your leg drive, think of driving your legs through the ground. If properly executed, your butt and feet will not lift from the bench/ground.

Deadlift

The deadlift is a compound/multi-joint movement where an athlete lifts the bar or “dead weight” from the floor to a lock-out position at the top around the pelvis. This is one of the most taxing exercises in powerlifting and it requires the most recovery time. For your main movement, you can choose between conventional and sumo deadlifts.

With conventional, you’ll assume a narrow stance around shoulder-width apart and grab the bar from the outside of your legs. A technique to find where you’re most powerful is to do the vertical jump test; where you land is where you can start out with your conventional stance.

Sumo deadlifts will have a wider stance and you’ll grab the bar from the inside of your legs. Find a stance where you feel the most stable. Make sure your knees and toes are still aligned as you move further out with your stance. The next thing to focus on is your grip. There are three options for this: double overhand, mixed grip, and hook grip.

For double overhand, your palms are facing your body when gripping the bar. This is how you should start out with gripping the bar. Eventually, as the weight gets heavier (80-85% as a beginner) you may consider switching grips or using some of the deadlift equipment for grip. I personally recommend lifting this way for as long as you can.

Mixed grip is one of the more popular grips, as its its harder for the bar to slip out of your hands in this position. Keep in mind you may want to alternate which hand is overhand and underhand to prevent any sort of muscular imbalances.

The last one is hook grip, which is an overhand grip, but with your middle and index fingers wrapping around to the other side and locking in your thumbs. This is sometimes hard to do if you have smaller hands. You can also try using a deadlift bar, which is thinner than a regular barbell, but keep in mind that if you’re competing in USAPL, then you won’t be using this bar in competition, so I wouldn’t recommend using it too often in practice.

Once you’ve figured out your stance and grip, it’s time to execute the lift.

  • Step 1: Walk up to the bar. The bar should be placed at midfoot, which is around top of your shoe laces.
  • Step 2: Grab the bar. For conventional, you’ll grab the bar right outside of your legs. For sumo, you’ll grab from inside of your legs. Make sure not to pull the bar to your shins during this step, as it will move the bar away from midfoot.
  • Step 3: Bend your knees and hinge your hips so that your shins are touching the bar.
  • Step 4: Push your chest out. This will help cue to tighten your lats and flatten your back.
  • Step 5: Brace before you pull.
  • Step 6: Time to execute — Pull the bar up, dragging it up against your shins. The bar should stay in contact with your legs throughout this entire movement. Imagine driving your legs into the ground to create power.

Deadlift Equipment Worth Considering

When it comes to shoes, the only thing you should be wearing here are those with flat outsoles (Vans or Converse). A lifting belt may be useful for cueing intra-abdominal pressure for bracing, but it is not a requirement for deadlifts. Beltless deadlifts are becoming increasingly popular this year, which I see as a good thing, as it’s important to be able to brace without a belt in all of your lifts.

When it comes to grip, you can use wrist straps or chalk. Wrist wraps are what you’ll wrap around the bar to help with your grip. I wouldn’t rely on this too often; only use these when needed and this should be at relatively heavy weights (80-85%+). Chalk helps in soaking up the sweat and getting a better grip on the bar. You can use this when necessary. You can find chalk at powerlifting gyms or purchase liquid chalk if you’re training at a commercial gym.

Baby powder is oftentimes confused with chalk. You’ll see people putting baby powder on their thighs before hitting max lifts. It helps the weight slide up easier. Again, don’t abuse this in your training. You can try it out when you get to the higher percentages: 90%+, but don’t abuse it. If it’s something you want to try during competition, definitely try it out around these percentages during your competition lifts.

Stabilization and Strength Endurance Movements

Stabilization endurance specifically focuses on muscular endurance and stability while strength endurance focuses on strength and stability. These are technically two different phases of training, but I combined them into one for simplicity of this guide. This doesn’t change your program at all in the slightest outside of labeling; it just makes it simpler in understanding due to a similar focus.

Our goal during this cycle are to improve neuromuscular efficiency (meaning balance, stabilization, and coordination). We’ll do this in the first six weeks by focusing solely on movements that challenge your proprioceptive abilities. You will progress not by adding weight yet, but by creating a more unbalanced (but controlled) environment. You can do these exercises as single sets or in a circuit.

I would choose 3-4 exercises to focus on each day with 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps. Here are some basic exercises you can try to incorporate, but there are hundreds of exercises and progressions outside of these:

  • Stability ball push-ups
  • BOSU ball push-ups
  • Renegade rows
  • Stability ball rows
  • Single leg shoulder press
  • Single leg cable curls
  • Single leg tricep push downs
  • Single leg rows
  • Single leg cable press
  • BOSU ball squats
  • BOSU ball planks

For the last six weeks, we’ll begin adding in stability exercises to strengthen the muscles and superset these with similar movements, but in unstable environments to create further adaptations. I would choose 2-3 superset exercises to focus on each day with 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. Here are some examples of what this may look like:

  • Bench press superset BOSU ball push-ups
  • Seated cable rows superset single leg rows
  • Seated dumbbell shoulder press superset single-leg dumbbell press
  • Barbell squat superset BOSU ball bodyweight squat

This aspect is important in this cycle because we need to build a solid foundation before progressing into hypertrophy or strength. This cycle is going to make you a better powerlifter by forcing you to adapt to unstable environments while handling heavier loads.

The biggest concern in this phase is posture, form, and technique. If you’re not adapting to cues well, not sure what you’re doing incorrectly in your movements, or overwhelmed with the process, then you’re ready to work with a coach or trainer who can help you in correcting these issues. I would recommend working with an in-person trainer during this phase, as sometimes hands-on help is best when learning cues.

Months 4-5

In our second cycle, our main focus is going to be on hypertrophy and building muscle. This phase is going to build our base for the strength phase. This is where you’ll feel more like a bodybuilder than a powerlifter, but many people tend to enjoy this phase as much as they do strength. This is a phase that is intertwined with powerlifting because building muscle will give more room in also building strength.

Exercises will be selected based on push, pull, and leg movements in this phase. You can train 3-4x/week. If you go for 4x/week, make the fourth day a total body day, and choose exercises from each category, especially exercises that focus on your weak points in training.

Push Days

Upper body push movements include your chest, triceps, and shoulders. Start your workout with a barbell bench press and then choose 1-3 exercises from each category for the rest of your workout. There are several exercises and variations not listed that you can also incorporate.

Chest

  • Push-ups
  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Cable flys
  • Dumbbell flys
  • Machine press

Triceps

  • Tricep cable push-downs
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Kickbacks
  • Cable tricep extensions
  • Machine triceps extensions

Shoulders

  • Barbell overhead press
  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Front raises
  • Side raises
  • Arnold press
  • Machine shoulder press

Pull Days

Upper body pull movements include your back, biceps, and rear delts. Start your workout with a barbell deadlift variation and then choose 1-3 exercises of each:

Back

  • Barbell rows
  • Lat pull downs
  • Seated low rows
  • Single-Arm dumbbell rows
  • Machine rows
  • Pull-ups
  • T-rows
  • Machine rows

Biceps

  • Dumbbell curls
  • Barbell curls
  • Cable curls
  • Machine curls

Rear Delts

  • Reverse dumbbell flys
  • Reverse machine flys
  • Cable face pulls

Leg Days

Lower body (leg) movements include your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings. Start your workout with a barbell squat variation and then choose 1-3 exercises of each:

Quads

  • Walking lunges
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Quad extensions machine
  • Dumbbell step-ups
  • Leg press
  • Kettlebell goblet squat

Hamstrings

  • Romanian dumbbell deadlifts
  • Kettlebell sumo deadlift
  • Banded good mornings
  • Machine hamstring curls

Glutes

  • Barbell hip thrusts
  • Back extensions
  • Glute bridges
  • Cable glute kickbacks
  • Quadruped glute kickbacks

Calves (optional)

  • Seated machine calf raises
  • Standing smith machine calf raises
  • Leg press calf raises

Your sets and reps are going to fall within 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for all exercises, including your barbell movements. It’s okay to also set ranges for yourself rather than a set number during this phase. As you fatigue, you may have to lower the amount of reps from 12 to 10. The amount of volume (sets x reps x weight used) depends on how well you recover. This will be different for everyone, as mentioned in part one of the guide.

1-Rep Maxes and RPE

We will be using barbell techniques from the prior cycle, but with heavier loads and progressions. Previously we weren’t focused on load at all, but now it’s going to be one of the major contributing factors for progression in this phase. We will monitor this based on percentages and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). We’ll be working with training intensities of 65-70% of your estimated one-rep max.

A one rep max is the most amount of weight that you can lift for a single rep. Your training intensity is based off of this one rep max. Your one rep max percentage would be 100%. If you’re doing a lift at 75%, that means it’s 75% of your max lift. For example, if your 1RM is 300 pounds and you’re programmed to do 75%, then you would lift 75% of 300 pounds (300*0.75= 225 pounds). This means you are programmed to lift 225 pounds. Because you (most likely) haven’t tested your true one-rep max (1RM’s) yet, you can use this guide to get your rough estimate of your 1RM for the squat, bench, and deadlift.

While it’s harder for beginners to fully grasp what true RPE’s feels like, it’s a perfect time to get practice in using them while in your hypertrophy phase. We’ll be working with an RPE 6 during the first month and RPE 7 during the second month. An RPE 6 would mean that you have about 4 more reps in the tank and RPE 7 would mean that you have 3 more reps left in the tank.

Your initial barbell movements will be based on percentages and the rest of your movements will be based on RPE as a gauge for how much you should be lifting. Ideally, you’ll continue lifting a little bit heavier in your compound (multi-joint) movements every few weeks, but this will vary from person to person.

Weeks 1-4, we’ll work with 65% of your estimated 1-RM for your main barbell movements and use RPE 6 for the other movements. Weeks 5-8, we’ll work with 70% of your estimated 1RM for your main barbell movements and use RPE 7 for the other movements.

Here is an example of how one of your days may look in this phase:

  • 3×10 barbell back squat @ 65%
  • 3×12 walking lunges superset 12 hip thrusts @ RPE 6
  • 3×12 Romanian deadlifts superset quad extensions @ RPE 6
  • 3×12 Barbell hip thrusts superset Banded good mornings @ RPE 6

Note: In this case, supersets save time, but they are not necessary. If you want to use them, that’s fine, but make sure not to use two of the same muscle-group in one superset (IE: glute bridges superset hip thrusts).

The biggest concern in this phase would be improper form and getting too eager to lift heavy. If either of these become an issue that you can’t correct on your own, then it’s time to hire a coach. People do tend to hire coaches during this phase for convenience rather than struggling with any practical issues. As time goes on though, programming for hypertrophy will become more challenging. In your first 6-8 months, it’s a simple concept because as a beginner you will be making some major newbie gains without putting too much thought into it outside of what’s mentioned above.

Months 6-8

In our final cycle, our focus is to get you strong and prepare you to finally test your strength. I would highly recommend getting a coach for this phase of training. These final 12-weeks will be the beginning of your first “powerlifting prep.”

This is going to be the most taxing part of your training as you’ll be incorporating moderate volume levels mixed with high intensity multi-joint exercises. The start of this phase will be just above 70% of your estimated 1-RM and we’ll end with percentages of ~102% of your estimated 1-RM for your main movements. I would go ahead and re-assess your estimated 1-RM at the beginning of this cycle to get more accurate data. Your reps will be lowered from the last cycle and the sets will be increased. Your accessory work can vary from RPE 6 and 7. Lower it if you’re doing too much volume to allow for proper recovery.

Here are some examples of how volume may look in programming:

  • 5×4 @ 75%
  • 5×3 @ 80%
  • 4×3 @ 85%
  • 2×2 @ 97%

Exercise Selection

Choose one main movement and one secondary movement. Rep, sets, intensity, and training frequency, will change each week and can vary more dramatically from person to person from start to finish. I would personally not train less than 3x/week, but no more than 5x/week as a beginner.

Accessory work is relatively similar throughout the guide. Choose 2-4 exercises at 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps that go with your main and/or secondary movements to focus on strengthening weak points. You can use the same push, pull, and leg movements from cycle 2. Your main movements will be the squat, bench, and deadlift variations where you feel strongest.

Your secondary movement will be a variation of your squat, bench, or deadlift that focuses more on your weak or sticking points in your main movements. For example: pause squat or box squat would be a secondary movement. The accessory work should strengthen your main movements.

An example of how this may look all put together:

  • 4×3 high bar squats @ 85%
  • 5×5 wide-grip bench press @ 75%
  • 3×12 kettlebell goblet squats @ RPE 6
  • 3×10 barbell walking lunges @ RPE 6
  • 3×12 barbell hip thrusts @ RPE 7
  • 3x40sec planks

Form Checks

It’s important to check form in your barbell work, I recommend filming your last set at minimum. Personally I have clients film their first and last sets. You’ll want to film from the side angle for all of these so you can see how your body moves and what may need adjustment. You may also need a front view for squats and deadlifts if you’ve discovered you’re having issues with your knees or footing.

Mock Meet

Before competing in your first meet, I would recommend doing an unofficial mock meet after the first 8-months to see where your strength lies at the end of this year. When it comes to your mock meet, you can make it as official or unofficial as you’d life. Sometimes gyms hold unsanctioned mock meets, but if there isn’t one to compete in, you can easily just set it up unofficially on your own to test your strength.

If you have a singlet, wear it. Ideally, you’ll have three friends judge you from both sides and the front and the head “judge” will call your commands. If you only have one friend calling your commands, that’s fine. Have him or her judge and call commands from the front. You can set up a camera from the side angle just like you would in your form check videos to check your form after you make your attempts.

Just as in a meet, you get three attempts per lift. The order of your lifts will be squat, bench, then deadlift. While in your last cycle of training in these 8-months, it’s important to start practicing your competition lifts with the commands. Many people think about this too late, or think they can remember to do it on meet day without ever practicing commands during their prep and end up bombing their meet. Let’s avoid that.

Squat Commands

  1. Squat: Once you’ve un-racked the bar and are holding the bar in a stable position, the judge will call, “squat!” This is when you will complete your squat.
  2. Rack: Once you’re standing back at a stable position after completing your squat, wait until the judge calls “rack” before taking any steps to rack the bar.

Bench Commands

  1. Start: Once the bar is un-racked, wait to press until the judge calls, “start.” When this happens, bring the bar to your chest.
  2. Press: Wait until the judge calls, “press” before you move the bar off of your chest. The judge will call this command once you’ve shown to be stable and have control of the bar at the bottom.
  3. Rack: When you’re back at the top, hold it there until the the judge calls, “rack.”

Deadlift Commands

  1. Down: There is no signal to start, so when you’ve set up for the deadlift, go ahead and make the pull (just be aware of the time limit on actual meet day). Hold the bar at the top until the judge calls, “down” and then release the bar with control to the ground, without letting it leave your hands until you’ve set it all the way down.

Putting It All Together

Take the final numbers from your mock meet, and these will be your new, official 1-RM’s! After your mock meet, check to see what other competitors are hitting in your weight class in your area. Weight classes are slightly different based on federation, so be sure to check out both USPA and USAPL, as those are two of the bigger federations in the United States.

Remember there is no rush to compete, so if your numbers aren’t close to what other competitors are hitting, that’s okay; you just started. That being said, this will give you a good idea of where you are when it comes to competing and it can also give you motivation. Regardless, once you finish these next 8-months, you can finish knowing that you trained optimally for your goals without rushing progress and because of that, it’s going to put you ahead of the game as a new powerlifter.

If you’re not sure about technique, form, training volume, how to go through a meet on your own, or how to go about the details in the program, then it’s time to work with a coach who can monitor and adjust variables in your program to put you on the best path for your success Part three of the guide where we discuss how to adjust your nutrition throughout these next 8-months to improve on your health and get the most out of your training and performance.



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