Training Tips for Competitive Powerlifting

Powerlifters aren’t concerned about building chiseled physiques like bodybuilders. Lifting strength instead of physique is the goal of competitive weightlifters. Massive amounts of weight are pushed, pressed, and lifted in every single workout routine.  In order to avoid injury and gain maximum benefits, weight lifting strength training must observe proper form and safety.


From lifting such enormous amounts of weight, safety concerns should be a top priority when powerlift training. If you are injured, then you will be knocked out of training and competition until you recover, or even permanently if the injury is severe enough.

Firstly, make sure you use proper equipment when lifting heavy weight. Belts, knee wraps, squat suits and bench shirts can be used when strength training the same as they would be used in competition.

Secondly, it is highly advisable to train with heavy weights in a group of three or more people. One spotter for the extreme amounts of weight being lifted may not be sufficient in case you cannot complete a lift. It’s best to have at least two spotters when powerlift training.

Powerlifting Competition Training

In powerlifting competition, your first event is squats, followed by bench presses and ending with deadlifts. Following are some training tips for those powerlifting categories.

Squats – During competition, your hip joints must drop below your knees before returning erect in order to get credit for the squat. Therefore, you should train to meet the same goal in your squat workouts. You should always train to squat below legs parallel before standing back up.

Also, because you will always be training with a significant amount of weight, you should use the proper safety equipment. Train with your squat suit and wear knee wraps for support if necessary. A squat suit will not only help prevent injury, but it will also allow you to lift more weight. It is estimated that powerlifters wearing squat suits can press and additional 50 lbs or more than those without it.

Bench Presses – The bench press is considered to be the easiest of the three competitive lifts. The bar must pause momentarily on your chest before being pressed back up during competition which requires a great deal of explosive strength.

Therefore, you should train for developing muscle reaction which is also explosive in nature. Allow the bar to pause at your chest for a moment and then blast it off. Training in this fashion will cause your muscles to react with the necessary explosive energy required for competitive lifting. You can use a bench shirt for body support and to help lift more weight. Make sure to check the rules of the competition you’re training for as some do not allow the use of bench shirts. For example, the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation only allows the use of leather support belts while the International Powerlifting Federation permits the use of a bench shirt that is comprised of a one ply elastic material. It is best to train without a bench shirt if you will be forbidden to wear one during your competition.

Deadlifts – The deadlift is considered the brute lift of powerlifting competitions. Some competitive powerlifters use a squat suit while others prefer to only use a simple wrestling singlet because they feel too restricted in the squat suit. Whatever you decide to wear is a matter of personal preference, but remember to be consistent and wear the same thing while training and during competitions.

Grip strength is the weak link of deadlifting, so developing a more powerful grip it vital. Avoid using wrist wraps until you get to maximum lift weights. Instead, use chalk until those top weights to help increase your grip strength.

Powerlifting Workout Routine

Keep in mind that muscle is developed during rest and not in the gym. All that heavy lifting you do works to break down the muscle fibers. It is when you are asleep or totally resting that the repair work and buildup is completed. Therefore, you should always give yourself sufficient rest in between strength training programs.

Powerlifting workouts are best done during three days a week with the other days reserved for rest. One of the major lifts should be completed in every workout with complementary exercises to build supporting muscles.

For example, a weekly routine might look like this:

Monday: Squats, leg curls, leg extensions and lunges

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Bench presses, flat flies, triceps extensions and dumbbell inclines

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Deadlifts, Roman deadlifts, shoulder shrugs and upright rows

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

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