When it comes down to our own unique fitness goals and aspirations, each person is unique, and will therefore be striving to achieve different things. For example: a bodybuilder may be training to build as much muscle as possible, so that they can enter a competition and hopefully take home first prize. Endurance runners may be training to get fitter and healthier, so that they can cover longer distances and hopefully enter a marathon or endurance race, and again, finish first. Each person has different goals, targets, and aspirations in mind, so obviously their training, diet, and lifestyle in general will reflect this. Powerlifting, strongman, and general strength training for example, has really taken off in terms of popularity over the last few years, with more and more people choosing to enter powerlifting meets now, than at any other point in previous history. Powerlifting is not a sport to be taken lightly (no pun intended) because if it is, you run the risk of suffering very serious injury, not to mention a damaged ego and hurt pride. If you decide to take up powerlifting, you do so with the intention of increasing all of your major lifts, and hopefully recording some pretty impressive numbers, and even entering a meet, and again, taking home the gold. If you think that powerlifting is simply about getting as much heavy weight off the ground as possible however, by any means necessary, you’re in for a very rude awakening indeed. Thinking of entering your first powerlifting meet? Take a look at these common mistakes to avoid.
Not squatting to at least parallel
If you’re thinking of getting into powerlifting, you will have to get used to barbell squatting as that particular exercise is considered one of the big three, the other two being deadlifts and the bench press. Barbell squatting is notoriously brutal and it is often this particular exercise that catches many powerlifters out, as they simply are not able to squat deep enough and then return to a standing position to rack up the bar. A lot of powerlifters will try to load up the bar as heavy as they can, and will then squat with it, making it look pretty easy, and will feel pretty proud as a result. The problem however, is that many of them do not squat parallel, or anywhere close to parallel, so of course the lift feels easier, because they have less distance to travel. Many of them will train in this way, for months at a time, will go into a competition super confident, only to be gutted when they get a red light instead of the white lights, due to not squatting deep enough. When it comes to squats, you need to go deep as that is what judges look for, and that is what helps build true strength and size. To work on this, strip some weight off the bar, and focus on getting as deep as possible. You’ll be amazed by how difficult it feels, and how much less weight you can lift to begin with, but that’s ok, because the more you practice, the stronger you will become.
Forgetting to pause when bench pressing
When bench pressing in the gym, a lot of people will quickly bounce the bar up and down off their chests, getting it up and down as quickly as possible, which is not what powerlifting meetings will be looking for. When the bar reaches your chest, rather than pushing it into the air again as quickly as possible, hold it for a second or two, and see just how much tougher, yet more beneficial, it really feels. This is sometimes known as pause-pressing, and it is a great way of increasing chest mass and strength.
Not listening to instructions
Remember, at a powerlifting meet, you’re at a competition, you aren’t simply going through a workout, which means you need to listen to instructions, prompts, and commands at all times, and you have to be familiar with each one in the process. There are referees there during each lift, and if a person ignores these instructions, or fails to follow them correctly, they’re simply disqualified from that lift, meaning that months and months of training and hard work will have been for nothing. To ensure this never happens to you, make sure you listen to instructions clearly, and that you understand exactly what they mean. With bench presses for example, there are three commands, which are: Start, press, and rack. Your spotter will help you un rack the bar, you will then wait for the referee to give the “start” instruction and will lower the bar down to your chest, holding for a second, waiting for them to tell you to “press”. Here, you press the bar, lock out your arms, and wait for the “rack” command. There are similar commands with deadlifts and squats, and again, jumping the gun, or ignoring them entirely, will give you a red light, making your efforts futile.
Failing to warm up correctly
Training with light weights puts you at risk of torn muscles and pulled muscles etc, so training with incredibly heavy weights will put you in an incredibly vulnerable position, which is why it’s so important for you to take the time to correctly and effectively warm up before your training sessions, and before any powerlifting competitions you may have entered. Before you begin, always stretch thoroughly, get your blood pumping, and focus on using much lighter weights to ensure your form for each of your lifts is absolutely perfect. Never, ever begin any competition or training session without warming up thoroughly, or else you run the risk of picking up a very serious injury.
Overdoing it in training
Another common mistake that many powerlifters tend to make, is trying to train too hard and too heavy during training, meaning that when it comes to their competition, they’re already exhausted. Leading up to a contest, focus on form and technique. The week before a competition, the idea isn’t to try and train heavier, the idea is to maintain what you’ve managed to build up so far. You could very well squat 500 pounds whilst training, yet a few days later, if you fail with 500 pounds due to being exhausted from your previous training session, those 500 pounds will mean very little.