These tips and tricks will help you advance your powerlift to up big numbers.
Powerlifting has grown in popularity over the years and is now one of the most popular strength sports. While some may think bodybuilding and powerlifting share certain similarities, they differ in terms of intended goals. While bodybuilding is focused more on achieving a toned aesthetic and that desired physique, powerlifting focuses on maximizing strength in the big three exercises. It combines the bench press, squat, and deadlift into a competitive sport that tests sheer strength and absolute will. While working to enhance these three exercises is crucial for success in powerlifting, there are plenty of tips and ways to boost your powerlift that you should know.
Powerlifting has become a monster sport and sheer test of strength, forcing competitors to have well-rounded strength and serious mental capacity to get that weight up (1). Men and women compete in powerlifting contests all over the world to reach a podium spot. Typically, athletes and competitors will get three attempts to lift their heaviest amount of weight in each of the events. Those three weights are added together for a grand total.
Powerlifting has the benefit to not only allow you to compete at a high level and show off your strength, but it also gets you bigger, strengthens your overall muscular skeleton (2), and can help burn fat by using a lot of fuel and calories. Even if you don’t compete as a powerlifter, working on the big three exercises can enhance overall athletic performance for whatever your desired sport is. So, how do we get to hitting these big numbers. Proper form, a solid workout routine, a good diet, and the ability push through mental barriers are all needed to succeed in powerlifting, so, let’s make it happen.
Deeper, More Effective Squats
Deeper squats will work to enhance muscle growth and it is important to consider quality over quantity. While this will improve your form, it will work to target the muscles needed instead of relying on others for compensation. It will help with glute activation and can improve range of motion in the hips, knees, and ankles, all areas that are often overlooked. A lighter weight is not a bad thing and will allow for more reps and increased growth.
Get That Deadlift Stronger
Through building an effective squat, you will also work to promote a stronger deadlift. With the right technique, your hamstrings, glutes, back, and grip strength will all improve. Getting lower to the floor will help with stability and will also absorb some of your force. Taking your shoes off will be beneficial for this and you will notice you can lift more with quality reps. Consider something like the trap bar deadlift also to really build more strength for when its time for the barbell.
Enhance Your Bench Press
Everyone loves to bench, but many sacrifice form to lift more and ultimately end up lifting less. While performing the bench, if you move the bar in a slight J-shape motion, this will recruit more muscles and work with the biodynamics of your body. As you come down to your chest, push up and drive the bar toward your upper chest and neck area before exploding up. With the bench press, and the other two lifts, it takes time to really nail down form and build strength, so keep up the practice.
Work With Assistance Exercises
Assistance exercises play an important role in muscle-building as well as stabilization. They allow you train for specific events without grinding away at the bench press, squat, or deadlift which can result in muscle overload and overtraining (3). They assist with what you need to do to get to where you want your strength training and aerobic capacity to be. Examples of good assistance exercises include barbell glute bridges for the deadlift, box squats for the back squat, and dips for the bench press.
Form, Form, Form
Again, quality over quantity will always enhance growth and performance more than just grinding out to reach a number of reps. Having solid form is more than important to correct muscle imbalances, stay away from unwanted and unneeded muscle soreness, and that risk of injury that could keep you from the gym. With proper technique on all of these lifts you will lift more weight anyway as a result of being more efficient, so take advantage of that.
Pump Yourself With Protein
Protein is absolutely needed for muscle growth (4) and while there are many other supplements to really help with growth and recovery, a good whey concentrate or isolate protein supplement will pump you with nutrients to stimulate and enhance protein synthesis and muscle growth. Consider looking into a high quality protein powder to really feel those gains grow.
Look Into Lifting Equipment
Lifting equipment can be really beneficial for you, whether it be lifting gloves, a weightlifting belt, knee sleeves, or a host of other options depending on what you need. Lifting gloves will focus on grip strength and disperse the weight to all muscles to help with injury prevention, while a weightlifting belt can work to provide muscle warmth and core engagement to reduce the risk of low back pain and injury. Knee sleeves are great for increasing circulation and blood flow to reduce lactic acid build up and keep your muscles fueled with blood and oxygen.
Powerlifting is a test of pure strength and will. While it may seem obvious to just grind it out in the gym, there are helpful tips you can do outside to make your gains even better. Enhancing all three lifts is key, but working on form, nutrition, and supplement aids to help you get there can be a real game-changer for whatever your goals. Try these tips out to really boost your powerlift and be confident that your lift will get even bigger.
*Images courtesy of Envato
- Ferland, Pierre-Marc; Comtois, Alain S. (2019). “Classic Powerlifting Performance: A Systematic Review”. (source)
- Serrano, Nathan; Colenso-Semple, Lauren M.; Lazauskus, Kara K.; Siu, Jeremy W.; Bagley, James R.; Lockie, Robert G.; Costa, Pablo B.; Galpin, Andrew J. (2019). “Extraordinary fast-twitch fiber abundance in elite weightlifters”. (source)
- Eichner, E. R. (2008). “Overtraining: Consequences and prevention”. (source)
- Pasiakos, Stefan M.; McLellan, Tom M.; Lieberman, Harris R. (2015). “The effects of protein supplements on muscle mass, strength, and aerobic and anaerobic power in healthy adults: a systematic review”. (source)