Powerlifting is ultimately about strength.

Not just a competitive sport, the benefits are tenfold. So, it’s no surprise that anyone looking to get some real muscle behind them is taking an interest.

And compared to Olympic weightlifting and bodybuilding, powerlifting is certainly a lot more raw in terms of requirements – which is another reason why so many people like it so much.

Although there are technical elements that need to be followed, as well as specific weight categories for competing, the real question is: can you lift the weight – which can be refreshing for those used to the specific demands of other weightlifting sports.

It’s also another reason why powerlifting is so influential when it comes to understanding the fundamentals of building strength. With your focus on pushing past your one-rep max, training like a powerlifter can be the perfect way to get yourself to the next level.

young woman with short blonde hair getting ready to do a squat with a black olympic bar

What are the main powerlifting moves?

There are three main powerlifting moves:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press

In powerlifting competitions, you get three attempts for each of these moves, to lift the heaviest weight you’re capable of. Only the highest completed lift is recorded for each compound movement. These highest weights are then added together which gives you your total.

The reason why these lifts are so beneficial is because they’re compound exercises. And compound movements are particularly good for helping to:

  • Build more muscle – working several muscle groups at the same time stimulates the production of muscle-building hormones in your body
  • Burn more calories – when you target more than one muscle at a time, your body requires more oxygen, which means that in turn, you burn more calories.
  • Improve the efficiency of your workout – sometimes training can get a bit mechanical. Isolating specific muscles and working them one by one is great for targeting a specific issue. But it’s not great for getting the most out of your time in the gym. Compound exercises are all about hitting several muscles at the same time which in turn, helps you to get more bang for your buck.
  • Improve balance and functionality – because you need a certain element of balance, coordination and stability while performing compound exercises, they help you to improve your intermuscular coordination as well as your level of functionality. All the little things such as hip motion, core strength and joint mobility will contribute to how well you can perform an exercise. And ultimately, how much you can lift.

young woman doing a deadlift with mirafit olympic weightlifting gear

What equipment do you need to do powerlifting?

If you are just starting out, then perfecting your form with an experienced powerlifter or personal trainer is the most beneficial way to begin. This will simply help you to get the form right before you start adding on weights.

When you have got the form right, you will need:

young blonde woman sat wearing a mirafit tshirt with some black bumper plates

These are the key pieces of equipment. However, while training you may want to add in weightlifting accessories such as gloves, a weightlifting belt and a barbell rest.

Bumper plates in particular are key, as they have a solid rubber construction for absorbing impact – crucial when it comes to deadlifting. They also have a stainless-steel ring which helps to guard your equipment from damage over time.

Unlike other Olympic weight plates, Bumper Plates are all the same size – regardless of how heavy they are – which is important for ensuring your barbell is at the right height when you go to lift the barbell off the floor.

Our Bumper Plates come in black or you can choose the Coloured Bumper Plates, which are more like competition style plates and are also easily identifiable.

How to start powerlifting

There are lots of ways you can get into the sport. Powerlifter Katie Cornish who will be competing in the British Powerlifting Championships at BodyPower in May 2019, advises:

“It’s important to get yourself a coach. That could be someone who is a level 2 or 3 personal trainer, or someone who is already a powerlifter.”

There will also be powerlifting specialist gyms in your area, so you can get hold of some good contacts that way too.

“It’s important that when you’re starting out, you’re not lifting beyond your needs so remember to keep it nice and light,” says Katie.

And of course, as Katie demonstrates, powerlifting is an all-inclusive sport, whatever your age, background or gender.

“Powerlifting is a really empowering sport for women – both mentally and physically. I get great pleasure from getting through the hard work and reaching my goals,” she says.

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