Every lifter wants to be stronger and have better rankings. What is so different between the haves and have nots? There is no doubt that genetics plays a role. Yet, many very genetically gifted people have come and gone without as much as a ripple. Those who outlast others over the years continue to increase knowledge and do what others won’t do to rise. With the right people in your corner, all while changing your mindset, you can help cut to the front of the line in powerlifting.
Participant to Powerlifter
If you played in a rec basketball league, do you walk around calling yourself a basketball player? Just because you participate in powerlifting does not make you a powerlifter. There is a mental change that must happen. Powerlifting is better off with more participants, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you want to cut the line and be one of the best around, you must make this mental change.
The mental change affects your training, nutrition, and how you approach everything related to being the best possible lifter you can be. Your rank and numbers have nothing to do with the mental change. But the mental change will improve your numbers over the long term. Talk to any top-10 lifter, and you will see it. It is not enthusiasm or even you walking around the office showing off your plastic trophy. When the change is made, people will notice.
Stick With the System
I have written about systems and programs in the past (you can read about it in my book!). A system will allow you to adjust training as needed over the years. Once you have the system in place, it should be adjusted and maintained for years. The longer you work within that system, the easier it will be to adjust when injuries and obstacles get in your way.
The more you jump from program to program, the less time you have for everything to work. At some point, you will need to understand the pros and cons of your program. Once you understand that, you can make appropriate adjustments to fix those weak spots. Your program/system is like a spouse—you will eventually see them without makeup, sickly, and at fault. You still love them but know that no one is perfect.
Train With a Team
Training with a good group of lifters might be the number one way to cut the line. Being accountable to other people will force you to show up or be kicked out. They count on you to be there and will pull you along on your bad days. This group will (should) accelerate your learning curve with constant feedback. Watch videos of good teams, and you will see coaching from multiple lifters. This feedback will help you fine-tune technique. The group will also call you out on why you are not making progress.
Training with a group also sets benchmarks. If you have four guys who squat 600 pounds or more, they can do sets of 10, 12, 13, and 15 reps on the glute-ham raise. If you only squat 400 and can only do six reps, then the odds are pretty good that if you push that up to 10, you have one of the benchmarks set to squat 600 pounds. There are multiple variables to each lift, but training partners can show you where you need to improve.
Visit Other Gyms
Training with different people is a great way to solve problems quickly. If you have a problem and your training partners can’t solve it then a few fresh sets of eyes will help. A few road trips will be well worth the time and money to go train with a different group. You will also have more lifters that can help at meets if you need someone else in your corner. With social media, access to other lifters is easier than ever. Send a message about visiting. Be respectful about time and do your fair share of spotting, loading, and clean up. These relationships can give you many more ideas for improving your lifts.
Do What Others Won’t
If you want to be the best, you must go farther than everyone else. That might mean extra workouts, taking food with you everywhere, cardio, or traveling hours multiple times a week to train with people who make you a better lifter. Studying your craft daily and being brutally honest about your training is required. It may require years of spinning your wheels before a breakthrough to get those next 10 pounds. It is easy to quit but to keep putting in the work looking for answers is where you will learn more about yourself than any other time.
This could fall under the Do What Others Won’t category but I will pull it out because it is very easy to do and makes a huge difference. Many people are afraid to lose their abs, add a layer of fat, and do the work to add the necessary muscle. Many won’t even come close to reaching their potential. They have no idea how big they really need to be to make big strength jumps.
At five-foot-nine-inches, I was told I needed to be around 275 pounds to hit my maximal numbers. As my weight climbed, so did my lifts. My leverages improved along with the amount of muscle I carried. Nearly 50 pounds of body weight was added over five years. That is the weight gain I am talking about. Not five or ten pounds. You might need to skip a whole weight class to fill out your body structure and maximize your leverages. Initially, your numbers will be low for that weight class but they will climb faster than you know.
If you want to skip waiting in line, this is your FastPass. Unlike the amusement park, you can’t buy it. You must put these variables into play. When you do, your lifts will greatly improve and so will your ranking. If you want to stay a participant and show off your plastic trophy, we need you too.