How To Get Started With Powerlifting

by Tyler McCall

May 31, 2019

Hi, my name is Tyler and I’m currently 18 years old, I’m a young guy I know, but the positive impact of powerlifting has been undeniable in my life. Just graduating high school, living what most would call an average life for a high school student, working part-time as a lifeguard, there’s a lot of free time that can lead to poor decisions, as an idle mind is a curious mind. Around the beginning of high school, four years ago, I discovered how rewarding and fulfilling going to the gym to work on powerlifting was, and it kept me out of a lot of trouble and became an outlet for all the pent-up emotions a kid going through puberty could feel. Now I know what you may be thinking, this kid is way too young to be giving me advice and that story isn’t really relatable to my current life, but just hear me out. In this article, I’m going to give you a rundown on why and how beneficial powerlifting can be in anyone’s life, whether you’re going through a rough depressive time or just need to pick up a fun way to stay fit, powerlifting brings it all.

What is Powerlifting and How Serious Do I gotta be about it?

So by definition powerlifting is competitive weightlifting where you focus on the main three lifts: the bench, the squat, and the deadlift. I know what some people are thinking, how can competitive weightlifting be a fun way to get fit? It seems like a lot of work. And while you’d be correct that there is a lot of hard work that needs to be put into it, it is, in my opinion, one of the most rewarding sports you can take up. Basically, you just focus on getting stronger at the three main lifts, while adding strength and muscle doing accessory exercises. It is arguably the absolute best way to stay fit and be functionally strong as a natural athlete.

Now you may be thinking, I don’t want to be the guy slamming around weights in the gym or wearing a onesie and going to competitions with a bunch of sweaty dudes and gals. Well here’s the thing, powerlifting doesn’t have to be taken extremely seriously to be effective to be fit. It’s all about progressive overload which is basically just trying to get a tiny bit stronger and improve every single time you step into the gym. If you wanna take it to the next level and compete and become super hardcore about it, all the power to you! But for most people, just focusing on the three main lifts in the gym and seeing yourself get stronger and bigger or in better shape, is actually really fun and motivating.

Now, of course, the more serious you take the sport of powerlifting and your gym routine, the better your results are gonna be. Now you may be wondering, “how do I even get started in this sport? I don’t want to spend days researching I just want to get in there and have fun.” Well no worries, the next part of this article will give you a quick and easy guide to getting started!

How do I get started?

Well, the very first thing you’re going to need to get started is a gym membership, or somewhere with a barbell and weights. There are a plethora of gyms all around the world no matter where you stay, and many are affordable and provide many fun and useful amenities. Other than having a gym membership, the base equipment you need is all going to be at the gym. Of course, you can buy a belt(which I recommend once you become more advanced), chalk, or knee sleeves, but all of those things are extra and shouldn’t be used when you first start out.

Trusted Authorities

So, to actually start, you’re going to need to learn the motor patterns of three mains lifts we talked about before, the bench, squat, and deadlift. There are a million different Youtube channels and articles written online very detailed on each of these three lifts. A couple of Youtube channels I recommend are OmarIsuf and Jeff Nippard, they provide clear and concise information on each of the three main lifts. If you don’t feel like venturing to those youtube channels or going to another article, I’ll give you a little breakdown on each of the lifts, but I truly recommend you go check out in-depth videos on each of the three main lifts.

Here’s a quick disclaimer, you absolutely HAVE to learn how to do each movement properly with the correct form before attempting to use any amount of weight. You might be able to get away with bad form when the weight is light, but the more you increase the weight the more important is to have correct form to prevent any injuries from taking place.

The Three Main Lifts

Bench

Bench: This is always the favorite “bro” workout. Who doesn’t like throwing on a bunch of weight and bouncing it around on their chest? There are a few key factors to take into consideration while benching, how wide your grip is, your starting position, and the movement itself.  For the general rule of thumb, I usually measure how wide my hands will go by placing my thumbs where the knurling starts on the bar(the part that’s not smooth), this is usually about how wide most people need to go. You can play around with the width and I recommend that you do, but make sure just to use the bar, no weight, when adjusting your grip, as going too wide can cause a lot of unwanted shoulder pressure. Your starting position should have three different points of contact on the bench, the back of your head, your upper back, and your butt. This creates a slight “power arch” which is very beneficial in keeping your shoulders safe. Lastly, when you unrack the bar, you want the bar path to be a straight line from the top down to your chest and back up.

Squat

Squat: This is one of the most hated movements, but arguably the most important one to master. The three things we will go over in this quick rundown is bar placement, how low you need to go, and the movement itself. For bar placement it’s pretty simple, you want the bar to rest about midway up your traps, not on your neck and not too far down on your back. Practice unracking and reracking the barbell with no weight on it and play around with the bar position until you feel it is comfortable and secure. So the bare minimum for squats is going parallel to the ground, meaning if you took a picture of your legs at the bottom of your squat they should make a 90-degree angle. While this may be hard, make sure you perfect getting good depth before adding weight, the biggest mistake you will see in the gym is people doing half squats with a large amount of weight. Finally, the movement itself, again, you want the bar path to be a straight line, you want to bring your hips and butt back while keeping your upper body nice and straight until you get to that 90-degree position.

Deadlift

Deadlift: This is the movement that makes you feel like an absolute beast. And it is very crucial to learn proper form for this lift as it is the most dangerous of the three. If you were only going to watch one video on Youtube I would recommend it is a video on how to deadlift properly. We will be going over hand placement and the way you grip, starting position, and the movement. So when you approach the bar you want the bar to be about midway over your foot and have your feet shoulder-width apart. For your grip, you’re going to want to put your hands slightly wider than where your legs are, almost touching but not quite touching your legs. For starting position you want your butt and hips to be down and back, you want your body to be straight, most of the time looking like a 45-degree straight line, and you want your arms to be straight. For the movement itself, once again, you want the bar path to be straight, to start the movement it’s best to think about the cue of pushing the ground down like a reverse squat rather than pulling the bar up. This will make you maintain a straight back rather than rolling your back like a cat.

Begin Your Journey Now!

Now you have knowledge of the three main lifts, why powerlifting was so beneficial to my life and how it could be beneficial to yours also, and some names of trusted content creators in this sport that provide great information for free on Youtube. I hope you begin your long yet exciting journey into powerlifting as I said, it is one of the most rewarding challenges you can take up in your life. Good luck and remember to perfect your form above all else, even if it means using a smaller amount of weight.

Tyler McCall

By Tyler McCall

Hey, I'm Tyler, I'm 18 years old, and I am very passionate about fitness and helping others achieve their health and fitness goals! I write from gym owners, you can see more of my work at https://tylersmccall.com/

Read more at nattyfitnessrocks.com

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