Within groups, there is a struggle between what is in the best interest of the group as a whole and what is in the best interest of the individual. There is a social theory that suggests that in order to get ahead as an individual you must be relatively selfish, but that in order for a group to move forward, individuals must be willing to sacrifice for the greater good. I believe this analysis applies well to the sport of powerlifting as it continues to adapt, evolve, and strive for improvement. If this theory holds true, then in order for powerlifting itself to make progress, individuals within the group will have to give up a little something of themselves to push the sport further. Here is how you can help.

Volunteer your time at meets. 

At IPF World’s this past year, there were a lot of complaints about the spotters. Many of them were ill-prepared both physically and mentally for the task. While this was very much a big deal considering it was such a big event, the truth is that there are plenty of local meets that occur every weekend in which meet directors pull people out of the crowd who have never even been to a powerlifting meet to help spot. Spotting, loading, and judging are not easy jobs. They wear you out mentally and physically as the day goes on. If you’re ever had to do either for an all-day meet, you know what it’s like.

RECENT: The Three Most Important Factors for Becoming A Great Lifter

If you’ve never helped at a meet and you are a competitor, you need to volunteer your time to help. There is no room to complain about the spotting, loading, or judging at a meet if you have never been in that position yourself. If you want to improve the quality of the sport, help to improve the quality of the meets. And that is done by people who have experience giving their time and energy to help others in the sport have a good experience.

chad aichs helping lifter

Develop the next generation. 

Powerlifting, as a sport, is a difficult one to do for many years. 10 or more years of competing takes its toll on your body. But there are always new lifters coming into the sport who are looking for help and guidance. Whether you decide to coach, wrap knees, or help with life advice, giving your time and energy towards developing the next generation will help more people have better experiences in the sport.

You don’t have to wait until you are done with the sport either. One of the things that makes me proud of the powerlifting team at my gym is that, regardless of the lifter’s experience or skill level, everyone helps everyone else. Experienced lifters load plates for beginners and vice versa. Everyone gets encouraged and everyone gets coached. I have seen several teams in which the “big dogs” don’t help for shit. They want their knees wrapped and their bars loaded but they never want to return the favor. Part of developing the next generation is developing them the right way and teaching them to be good representatives of the sport. 

Be a good representative.

Competition is great, and when done correctly it will lead to all parties involved improving themselves. When done wrong, it leads to inflated egos and bad character. One thing that Team elitefts gets complimented on often is how helpful they are to other lifters at meets. Helping everyone get their warmups in is a much better approach than being the dickheads who try to bully themselves onto the equipment and then bail when it’s the next lifter’s turn.

Other things to not do include turning around and selling the free supplements you got from your sponsor, taking unemployment and doing online programming but not paying your taxes, and skipping out on child support but still finding ways to pay for all your powerlifting needs. I don’t think people need to be saints by any means. I enjoy extreme personalities, I love competition, and I can get down with some of the rivalries that go on and exist within the sport. But if the sport is going to grow, lifters are going to have to be good representatives of the sport, beyond just their physical abilities.

Powerlifting is filled with passion, both from the lifters and from the companies that support them. The sport continues to adapt and evolve. A sport that was once dominated by geared lifting has now become saturated with raw lifters. Federations have come and gone, and as gear has progressed, so have the rules that govern them. Powerlifting is filled with passion, both from the lifters and from the companies that support them. To grow the sport, we will need to take that passion and sacrifice a little to gain a lot.