A few years back, there was a big push to train everyone “like an athlete.” The sentiment of such a statement is great…sometimes “exercise” is boring, but training can be a lot more fun. There is definitely a split in the mindset of these two activities. We think of athletes as super-heroes or superstars, and when we think of exercise we usually think of boring stuff like walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical. The problem with training like an athlete is…athlete is an ambiguous term. Look at a gymnast vs a distance cyclist. Both are athletes, but the physical needs of each sport couldn’t be further from one another. But the good news is…you can be an athlete if you want! Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider competing in something:

  • Gives structure to your training: If you have a specific goal it makes creating a road map to that goal much easier
  • It motivates you to train: Sports have events where athletes compete. If your goal is a nebulous outcome of a certain body weight, you have “forever” to work on that goal. Which means putting it off is incredibly easy. If you have a specific event coming up however, you must be prepared for it.
  • It’s Fun! Training for a sport makes you feel bad ass, and who doesn’t want that? In a space where people are constantly told that they are too heavy, or too out of shape or their cholesterol is too high, it’s nice to make progress towards something other than a boring metric on a piece of paper.

There are a ton of sports you can compete in:

  • Running
  • Golf
  • Swimming
  • Triathlon
  • Sqaush
  • Tennis
  • Rec Leagues for: Soccer, basketball, hockey, softball, etc..

But there is one sport I think is a perfect fit for people trying to get in shape, feel stronger, and reshape their bodies, and that sport is Powerlifting.

What is Powerlifting?

Powerlifting is a sport where athletes are split into categories based on their age, gender, and body weight. This means you’ll only be competing against people who are your peers in a physical sense. From there athletes compete in three different events:

  1. Back Squat
  2. Bench Press
  3. Deadlift

Each contestant will get 3 attempts at each event (for a total of 9 lifts), with the goal of lifting the most weight possible. Your heaviest successful attempt at each lift is combined for a “total” and the person with the heaviest total in your age/weight class wins. It’s a pretty straightforward sport, and it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

Why You Should Consider Competing In Powerlifting

Moving beyond the general reasons why competing in any sport is a good idea, you should definitely consider competing in Powerlifting specifically. Here’s why:

  1. The competition events (squat, bench, deadlift) are fundamental exercises that you should be doing in your training anyway. Strength training should be the backbone of any good fitness program, regardless of someone’s goals. And when it comes to getting stronger, you’ll be hard pressed to find better exercises than the squat, bench press and deadlift. These are staples in so many different programs, and for good reason: They work! These three movements combined leave almost no stone unturned when it comes to training the muscles of the body. Even if Powerlifting never crossed your mind, you’ve probably already done some variation of these three movements, making the learning curve of the sport that much easier.
  2. There is a low barrier to entry. Almost every gym has the equipment necessary to train for Powerlifting, meaning you can do it just about anywhere, and you don’t need any “special” equipment to compete, aside from a singlet. Some Powerlifters choose to wear weight belts, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and more, but none of those things are necessary to compete.
  3. There is beauty in the simplicity of it. I truly believe that rules are what makes sports interesting and competitive, however there is something to be said about the elegance of Powerlifting. It’s literally a competition to see who can lift the most weight, and that’s just straight up bad ass!
  4. It’s empowering. Most sports are team sports. Even many sports that are not team sports still feature both competitors in the “field of play” at the same time. For example Boxing and MMA are individual sports, but competitors share the competition space with one another. There are only a handful of sports where athletes are in the spotlight all by themselves, and Powerlifting is one of them. While this may seem intimidating for newcomers, it’s actually one of the best parts of the sport. To have the spotlight on you, and to truly see what you’re made of is a feeling that few other activities can provide for you. Ask anyone who has competed, and they’ll tell you what a rush it is.
  5. Its a great community. Few sports have the camaraderie of Powerlifting. It’s not uncommon to see competitors cheering each other on when someone is going for a big lift. Even in the sport of Weightlifting (Powerlifting’s cousin), you don’t get the same friendly and supportive atmosphere. There will always be detractors, naysayers and straight up egotistical jerks in every part of life, but in Powerlifting, those negative characters seem to be few and far between.
  6. The training for Powerlifting is great for fat loss. Most people think that lifting weights is for getting bigger muscles, and cardio is for losing fat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Strength training is so important for fat loss. Here’s why:
    1. When you lose fat, you will also lose some muscle too. Strength training will help minimize the muscle you lose.
    2. Strength training helps to build healthy muscle tissue, and muscles are more “metabolically active” than body fat. That means if you have more muscle, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day in your normal day-to-day activities.
    3. Usually the physique people want to attain is produced by strength training, whether they realize it not.

How to Get Started

We’ll likely to a follow up article that goes more in depth on what to expect for your first Powerlifting competition, however getting started is fairly straightforward. First you’ll need to register as a member of one of the organizations that host Powerlifting competitions. We’d recommend becoming a member of USAPL because they are the largest Powerlifting Federation in America which means their competitions are more readily available, and are usually well organized. Once you’re a member of a federation you can find a local competition to register for. From there it’s pretty straightforward, register, train, show-up, compete! Of course we do recommend having a coach!

We do offer both Powerlifting and Weightlifting coaching at Arkitect Fitness as we are home to the Rumbler Barbell Club. There are other gyms in Concord that also offer Powerlifting, however to our knowledge we are the only gym in the area with a USAPL team. If you’re not local to us, we do also offer remote coaching for Powerlifting, Weightlifting, and general fitness. If you’d prefer to work with someone in person and you aren’t local to us, do a google search for “Gyms near me” and see what you might find! We cannot stress enough how important having a quality coach is to your end results, regardless of what your goals are.

At the time of this post, our team’s next competition is January 11th in West Boylston, MA. If you’re interested in competing you can register for that event here.