15 Dumb Things Powerlifters Must Stop Doing
Powerlifting has given me much more than a career. It’s given my life purpose. I get to help guys achieve their goals and become bigger and stronger lifters, sometimes even better human beings.
So with the touchy feely shit out the way, let’s cut to the chase: you powerlifters have got to stop doing so much dumb shit.
Seriously, you’re killing me. It’s like death by exposure to stupid. Some days I feel like I should put on a Haz-Mat suit before going on YouTube.
Since I don’t want to be “that guy” who just walks around angry because the rest of the lifting community is seemingly brain dead, I figure I’ll list the top 15 most idiotic things powerlifters absolutely must stop doing.
So maybe, just maybe, some of you will take a look at your own “practices” and see if you’re committing any of these offences. And then stop doing it!
Note: This is my top 15. I could’ve easily gone to 20 or 30, but then the article would be 10,000 words and no one would read it. Plus I’d piss everybody off, including half my staff. I would also be guilty of most of them and God forbid we ever look like a hypocrite or change our minds on what is stupid. So I kept it to 15.
One last order of business before getting into this list. I want to thank the lifters and coaches of elitefts who took time out of their day to help me with some of the items on this list. While I did note I could rip off a really long list, I was interested in what would be on their lists. Some of their ideas trumped my own.
15. Dime Dropping
When you’re fat and bloated and pull a dime off the bar and drop it on the floor, only to realize that you need it and have to either bend over and pick it up or walk across the gym and grab another. Of course, walking is like doing cardio and you’re too bloated to bend over. This is a tough call.
What’s even worse is when the bastards leave a 45-pound plate face down on the floor. That’s just wrong. A hundred pound plate?! Need I say more?
14. Posting an Apology Online to Your Family, Friends and “Fans” for Doing Poorly at a Meet
This is the absolute worst thing about the day after powerlifting meets. I would rather read 10-page rants from sore losers complaining about the judging and the equipment and the temperature in the warm-up room than another whiny apology from a lifter for “failing to meet their fans’ expectations.”
Hey dipshit: Nobody, especially your family and friends, cares about how you perform at a meet. I would bet that most of them have no clue about what you do or even what any of it means.
Fact is, the only reason they even know that you even competed is that you’ve been beating them over the head with status updates for weeks leading up to the event. You know, that update with how you were starting your weight cut, the last real meal update, the no-carb meal update, the scale pic update, the after weigh-in update, the post weigh-in meal update, and the ready to #killweights update.
So maybe if you didn’t talk so much you wouldn’t have to apologize for something that’s just a natural part of the process of training and competing — failure.
13. Taking the ECA stack and Doing Urinal Yoga
This is something we all experience at least once. That’s okay. It’s being stupid enough to do it multiple times that’s the issue.
Everyone knows the ECA stack (ephedrine/caffeine/aspirin) makes you feel like you need to piss urgently but then restricts urine flow. So you have this annoying bout of stage fright every time you rush to hit the can.
Like I said, everyone knows this. Doesn’t matter.
If you’re a powerlifter you’ll still take the stupid stack, then pull on briefs and a suit and start warming up. You’re not even five minutes in and suddenly feel like you’re about to piss yourself so you hit the can. But you’re wearing your suit and briefs, so you can barely get your dick out without ripping out half your pubic hair.
When you finally do, because you can’t pull the briefs down nor can you get your dick out all the way, your dick is sticking straight up. So you’re basically going to piss in your own face -- but remember you can’t piss anyhow.
Eventually you just have to bend over, almost lie down and point your dick in the direction of the urinal and wait. And inevitably someone else enters the washroom while you’re doing this and never really looks at you the same way again.
The sad thing is, it happens at least 5-10 times in a workout and this doesn’t even speak about how overtime you reach down to pull your dick out you are accidentally applying more and more blue heat liniment. No worries, you will be reminded of this as soon as you hit the shower hours later.
12. Thinking Every Injury Can be Fixed By a Knee Wrap
Pull your groin? Just wrap it.
Strain your quad? Wrap it.
Tweak a hamstring? Wrap it
Cut your forehead open after banging your head into the bar? Hell, wrap it the fuck up. I know I did, and have witness to prove it.
Speaking of wraps, you don’t want to wrap like an idiot. I sell 70 different types of wraps. None of them will do shit if you don’t know how to use them. I love all the debates about what is the best wrap when 90% of the lifters I see have no idea how to even wrap in the first place.
Here’s a tip: I have a 20-year-old pair of Marathon wraps that, when put on right, will out-perform what is considered the best #bestmodewrap put on incorrectly. Before trying to figure out if you need a “casting” wrap or a “rebound” wrap, you really need to learn how to wrap in the first place. We have several articles and videos to help with this.
11. Not Telling Your Training Partner They Smell Like Shit
Powerlifters are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. The assholes that pick on smaller or weaker people typically get washed out fast, as the sport just doesn’t tolerate that kind of thing. Which is good, but can also be bad.
Sometimes you need to be told how it is, with no filter, on stuff other than just technique or training. Number one on that list is when you fucking smell.
Guys, your gear starts to stink. Your suit, your shirts, and certainly your shoes all eventually reek. Often like ammonia and old piss.
If you’re a naturally stinky bastard already – you know the type I’m talking about – this can become a real problem when you have two or three or even 10 pungent motherfuckers sweating their asses off in the gym.
But most people can’t tell when they themselves stink (not until it’s way too late) so it’s on the training partners to grow some balls and break the bad news to them. Fact is, not doing this is worse than giving a shitty spot, because it affects the whole gym and makes for a horrific training experience for everyone, especially in July.
Not being honest with your partner about their odor level is criminally negligent. You should go to jail for that shit. I think they call these “critical conversations.” Have it. Thank me later.
10. Chalking a Sweaty T-shirt
I need to create a series of instructional videos on YouTube. Number one will be how to wrap correctly and number two will be how to use chalk.
Look, you chalk your back to prevent the bar from sliding off once you start to sweat. That’s how chalk works — it absorbs moisture.
Therefore, the order you do this shit matters: Put on dry, preferably not piss smelling t-shirt. Apply chalk to said dry t-shirt. Squat.
But what do guys do? Put on piss smelling shirt. Get all warmed up, break a sweat, do 10 warm-up sets, start dripping out their armpits. And then apply chalk to damp or wet t-shirt.
All this does is create “chalk-cake” on your back. It does not help the bar stay on your traps – it actually makes the bar even more slippery. It also makes an ungodly mess and turns that shitty t-shirt you got free with a tub of protein into a science experiment.
9. Cutting Weight Before Reaching an Advanced Level
Powerlifting competitions can require manipulating your bodyweight to make a weight class. There is nothing “wrong” with this – it’s part of being a savvy competitor.
However, cutting weight is still stressful and doesn’t help the strength or size building process. It makes sense that you only play this card when it’s really necessary, not when you’re just learning the sport.
If you have to put on a squat suit and ride the bike in a sauna just to squeak under 220 pounds so you can then go all “beast mode” and squat 350, maybe you should rethink what you’re doing and why.
Leave the weight cutting to the people that really need to do it.
8. Taking Five Fricken Hours to Do a Bench Workout
How can a group of guys take an entire afternoon to do a simple bench workout? Even when I trained at Westside, it never took longer than an hour to bench, Max Effort or Dynamic.
Shit, when Meadows comes over to the compound and we do one of his two and a half hour leg sessions from hell, we’re still done before the guys benching finish their warm-up.
I understand the need for long rest intervals. I also get trying to copy how the day of the meet is going to play out. Still, how can it seriously take one hour before you have two plates per side?
7. Taking Inappropriate Supplements
Why the hell are all these powerlifters guzzling gallons or “peri-workout” carbs? I get the intra workout nutrition for hypertrophy purposes or when dieting, but a powerlifter is rarely in a calorie deficit.
And look at the training – maybe 100 reps in a workout. Just how much glycogen do you think you’re burning? Meadows will sometimes do 100 reps in one fucking set.
Then there’s all the pump products guys take. These aren’t intended for powerlifting — no one cares about the veins in your calves when you’re benching. But what’s even dumber is that guys will take them while they’re trying to dial in their gear.
Remember, the biggest beef you hear from powerlifters is always about their gear. “My shirt just doesn’t fit right, blah blah.” So why take a bunch of NO2 crap that pumps you up so your gear doesn’t fit the way it’s supposed to?
A pump doesn’t do shit in powerlifting. Nobody cares.
Skip the peri-workout nutrition and nitrous oxide products for low rep training. Eat a sandwich pre-workout and drink water during the session instead.
#sandwich #water #bigweights.
Think I’m lying? Go to any big powerlifting meet and find me a container of Peri-working or NO2. These things can last ALL DAY. Finding these things would be harder then finding Waldo in one of those where’s Waldo pictures.
And if you need an energy “boost” for a training session, whatever you do, don’t take the ECA stack and do the urinal yoga mentioned earlier. A tab or two of Vivarin will work.
6. Doing New Stuff You’ve Never Done At a Meet
Static stretching, funky diets, activation exercises, etc., can all be effective – if you’re used to doing them. Deciding that the day of the meet is the day you start static stretching is about the dumbest thing you can do.
Even the time of day matters. If you’re a 9 p.m. trainer and your meet starts at 10 a.m., you may be in for a rude awakening. You compete how you practice. Use that to your advantage.
5. Looking for Magic Training Gear
I sell training equipment. And I’m here to tell you, the top end products from every reputable brand are all really good. There’s no “shit” at that level. People are breaking world records in Metal, Inzer, Overkill, etc.
The reason guys wear all one brand is due to sponsorship agreements, not product quality. And when a pro bounces from brand to brand it isn’t because Brand A is “shit” and Brand B is “way better.” It’s because their sponsorship agreement with one company ended so they signed with another. The quality of the gear is never an issue. I know many of them that have posted top ten all time totals using gear from two or three different manufactures.
Unfortunately, younger lifters see this and assume that they should be “gear whores” too. Buy a bench shirt, use it for three months, decide it’s “shit” and move on to the next brand.
I’m telling you, as a guy who sells training gear, that this is a huge mistake.
You need to learn how to use your training gear. Train in it, grow into it, learn how use it. Have someone take it in and adjust it for you. Then squeak out every last pound it can give you. Invest in it as you would a wife or girlfriend.
Just jumping from brand to brand isn’t going to get you anywhere except square one. There is no magic gear. However, elitefts™ excessively sells Metal Gear and the sale of our products is what allows us to put out all the free content we sell. So, if you have to choice a line of gear to use, Metal is not only great gear but also supports a great company and great articles like this one. I tried to make that a sales plug and think I failed miserably but it is true. This article is not about selling you products so lets move onto the next one.
4. Missing Lifts in Training
If you’re prepping for a meet and miss a lift in a training session there should be a very good reason for it. Not being in the groove is a good reason – it happens. Failing because you picked a weight that was too heavy is not a good reason. It means you’re an idiot and making all this harder in the long run.
I see this mainly in intermediate lifters. They have everything all planned in their log down to the rep and they hit their targets perfectly. And then what do they do? They decide they’re feeling awesome today and slap two 25’s on the bar and get stapled.
This can set them back weeks, if they’re lucky enough to not get injured. Nothing frustrates me more than seeing a lifter do everything right only to torpedo their own program because they let their ego get the best of them.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when you should say “yeah, let’s go for it.” Preparing for a meet isn’t one of them. Remember what the end goal is.
3. Being Scared of the Weight
This isn’t a macho thing about “not being a pussy.” Powerlifting isn’t that hardcore – it’s nothing like MMA or boxing or even football, where you literally risk getting your head knocked around every time you show up to train.
But you do have to put heavy weights on your back, sit down, and get back up. Or hold heavy barbells over your neck and lower it to your belly and press. A lot can go wrong. I get that more than most.
The key is to learn to use that fear and channel it into performing at a higher level. There are things you can do to instill confidence with heavy weight (like overload sets with reverse bands or high box squats) but it comes down to your desire to succeed being stronger than your fear of failure or injury.
Some people don’t have this. That’s okay. There are a dozen other strength training related endeavors you can try. Like bodybuilding – no one ever tore a triceps doing 15 reps of cable pushdowns – or Olympic lifting or whatever.
But you can’t let fear keep you from getting under heavy weights. You need to embrace it and use it, or get out now in one piece, before you wash out later.
2. Not Seeking Real Life Mentors
I had great mentors from day one. I was coached as a teenager to where I had a 500-pound bench in high school. By that point I was the strongest guy in the gym, so I had to leave to find a new gym where I could learn and grow and improve.
I made a few switches like that before arriving at Westside, where I stayed for a long time and never reached the “strongest lifter” status. The point is, I always sought mentorship from real life experts who knew more and lifted more than me.
Today, there are guys who will ignore real life expertise to follow some online guru with a fancy website.
There are “serious” lifters who live near and/or train at Steve Puicinella’s Iron Sport Gym in Pennsylvania who would rather pay some douche for online coaching and train at a commercial hellhole than train and learn under Steve’s watch. And this is a guy who I’d trust to teach a weekend seminar at Elitefts for my customers without me even being there – he’s that good.
Online sources can be great sources to learn from, but it’s nowhere near as effective as real life expertise. If it’s all you have then find the best you can, but when there are great lifters and coaches within a 30 minute drive… I don’t get that. I used to drive 1-2 hours to squat and we had people at Westside Barbell that would drive 3-4 hours one way a couple times a week to train.
It’s that way with anything online – some guys are really into online porn, but sex with an actual woman is way better. Hey, if you’re alone and can’t get laid, log on and tug away. But if you have a wife, girlfriend or some friend with benefits thing I would bet my ass you would drive more than 30 minutes to get the real deal. The things people will do to get laid amaze me but the things people will not do to get strong even amaze me more.
As an aside, what’s more important? A world record or 10,000 online fans?
Why does anybody even care?
You’re comparing a competitor to someone in this for business reasons.
There’s nothing wrong with being in it for business – someone who builds awareness for the sport and makes money by providing great info is offering a service, not ripping anyone off.
They can be smart, avid trainers and super passionate, just not genetically gifted. But they can still help people and be a part of the industry. Often they will have marketing degrees or even MBA’s. They know making money. They know business – THIS is their craft.
Of course, no one likes it when a business guy fronts like a competitor. People should be equally pissed off when a competitor thinks that a world record in the squat makes them a marketing expert – or “the business guy.” Both paths have their own road of hard knocks and one doesn’t entitle the other.
Both guys can exist. Fact is, both guys need one another.
Which is why I say, who fucking cares?
1. Failing to Figure Shit Out for Yourself
Wanna piss me off? Complain about how a 1000-pound squatter’s program that you followed was “shit” because it didn’t work for you.
Hey asshole – their program wasn’t shit. It was shit for you.
Everybody responds differently. Not just to exercise, to everything. Teachers know this – some kids respond favorably to a militant disciplinarian style, others need less structure. No one is exactly the same. Lifting is no different. It’s called the Law of Individuality.
There are individual biomechanics, muscle fiber makeup, recovery capabilities, immune systems, and response to stresses. Nothing is cut and dried, and nothing works for everyone.
Blindly following someone else’s plan when your progress shows that it’s simply not working is foolish. Of course, beginners need structure and best practices, but at a certain point you need to take ownership of your training.
Listen to experts (especially the real life ones), but the onus is on you to figure this all out.
Looking back over this list I have to admit…
I am guilty of them all.