Chances are if you’re reading this you’re into fitness, but maybe competing up on stage in a skimpy outfit just isn’t your thing. You love pushing yourself, slinging heavy weights, and are always trying to go heavier than that person next to you at the gym. You’re competitive, love challenging yourself, and like to lift heavy. Sound familiar? If so, why haven’t you given powerlifting a try?
Some of you might be thinking, “What is powerlifting?” Powerlifting is a sport consisting of three lifts: squat, bench, and deadlift. You get three attempts at each lift, and your best lift in each is added together for your total. Each lifter is competing for the best total in their weight class. Powerlifting got its start back in the 1950’s, and became the sport we know today largely due to the help of York Barbell Company and owner Bob Hoffman back in the 1960’s. The sport has, for better or worse, fractured into many different federations, each with their own slightly different set of rules. There is also the option of competing raw, in which you traditionally wear only wrist wraps and a belt, or geared where you wear supportive lifting clothing.
Currently, there are many powerlifting federations to choose from each with their own set of rules. The website www.powerliftingwatch.com does an excellent job of describing each federation and has a listing of all upcoming competitions. The benefit of having so many federations is that it is relatively easy to find a meet near you any time you want to compete. You can also find a federation that shares your view on how people should lift, whether it is drug tested, and what kind of gear is allowed. Everybody has their preferences, and trust me, there’s a federation for you out there!
All federations share common approaches to what constitutes a good lift. For example, pausing the bar on your chest during the bench press, until you are given a press command. The exact rules can be found in any federations rule book, which I would strongly suggest you read prior to signing up for the meet. This will prepare you on what to expect and how to practice in your training. For example, some federations require you to wait for a “start” command before bringing the bar down to your chest, or to begin your descent on the squat. You don’t want to miss a lift at the meet simply because you jumped the head officials’ commands because you forgot to read the rule book!
When picking a meet, I personally log on to the website and search for all meets in my state in the month I want to compete. There will be plenty in your state, so I then narrow it down by which federation I would like to compete in. Some federations like the UPA and RPS welcome all types of lifting, as they offer both raw and geared lifting, as well as the option to be drug tested or not (and maintain records for each of them). Should you ever have any questions, even if it’s to find some local powerlifters in the area to train with, it’s a good idea to contact the meet director, whose contact information is generally listed on the meet entry form.
Powerlifters sometime look like giant, scary men and women who lift insane amounts of weight. The ability to lift insane amounts of weights is true, but they are often far from scary. Through competing, I have met some of the nicest people who have become lifelong friends, coaches, and lifting partners. At my very first meet, I had just moved to the area and didn’t know a single person there, yet everyone was cheering me on and I left finding a new coach and mentor. You are there competing against yourself to reach new personal records in each of the lifts, and most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Look for upcoming articles from Mike on what to bring with you to the meets and how to pick your weight attempts.
This is a guest post by Mike Metzger (@Muscle_Chef on Instagram).