In all facets of life there are points of diminishing returns. A point where moving one variable a little bit increases the benefits, but if it is increased too much, the level of benefit becomes smaller and ultimately becomes detrimental. Take a race car for example. Up to a point, the faster the car, the greater the chance of the driver winning the race. (Assuming all other variables are the same—driver skill, weather conditions, speed of the pit, etc). Also, depending on the track, there is a point where getting faster is good but going too fast for the track actually begins to be disadvantageous. It can decrease the chances of successfully maneuvering around turns and around other cars, and it increases the driver's chances of losing control of the car...and you can’t win the race once you have smashed into the turn wall.

One of the many great things about owning the Monster Garage Gym is seeing such diversity under one roof. When I say diversity I am not so much talking about federation, race, gender, or strength levels of the lifters, but more so the diversity in the actual experience of the powerlifters—not age, but experience levels. For example we have a young, 19-year-old powerlifter who already has six years of training and USAPL National level competition experience juxtaposed against our newest member, a 30-year-old powerlifter, with a mere six months of training experience in the gym and zero competition experience.

In my two-and-a-half decades of competitive experience, I've observed that lifters with little experience, especially guys under 198 pounds, tend to want to gain body weight quickly. After all, the bigger the truck, the bigger the payload it can carry, right?  Yes…and no.

In actuality, growing naturally into the next weight class over time—by lifting heavy and putting on size via sheer skeletal muscle growth—will equal bigger lifts. However, what I tend to see is the less experienced powerlifters “eating” themselves into the next biggest weight class. Believe me, I am not against a big meal. Those who know me know that I am not the petite flower when it comes to ordering my food, but what I am expressing is caution. Caution with using fast food for fast body weight gain.

“Hey Eric, my bench is up 20 pounds!”

I love to hear that. But if it is because your body weight is up 20 pounds, and not that good quality Chuck Vogelpohl or Dave Ricks muscular 20 pounds, you are missing the forest for the trees. Just like the race car example I mentioned earlier, as a powerlifter, you have to begin to calculate when your weight gain—that McDonald’s type of weight gain— is taking you to the point of diminishing returns. There are two ways you can look at this to see where you are on that road.

The first way is some type of coefficient. For this case, let’s use the Wilks Coefficient. At 181 pounds of body weight pressing 365 pounds, you get a Wilks of 111.267. Add 20 sloppy pounds of body weight to the lifter and add 20 pounds of weight onto your max bench press, and you get 201 pounds of body weight pressing 385 pounds. This results in a Wilks of 110.731. Although your body weight is up 20 pounds, along with your bench weight, you lose .536 of your Wilks value. In turn, this probably puts you in more peril since you are in the 220-pound weight class and are now competing against that fully and naturally developed 220-pound lifter that can weigh up to 220.25 pounds. Worse yet is if that naturally developed 220-pound lifter has dieted down to 220.25 pounds from 225 or 230 pounds of solid body weight.

Naturally growing into a weight class because of muscular body weight will take longer than a five-Big-Macs-a-day meal plan, but in the long haul, you are better off with the slow and steady pace. As I have stated before, powerlifting is a journey, not a destination—and certainly not a race.

Years ago, I bought Ed Coan’s book which is full of hundreds of photos of the King himself. When looking through that book, one of the aspects that is so impressive about Ed is that from 165 pounds all the way up to 275 pounds (a lighter 275 pounds), Ed has quality muscle and never looks sloppy. Further, he took his time gaining the quality weight and, well, you know the rest. Ed pretty much dominated each and every weight class. By no means am I saying that eating cleaner will make you like Ed Coan. Brothers, there is only one Ed Coan. What I am saying is that the day of the sloppier lifter in a weight class is becoming a thing of the past. When the weather is nice, the elitefts™ Prowler® and sled are used more than ever, and when the weather is not so nice, the dreaded t-mill (I can’t even stand to say the actual word) is being used by powerlifters more than ever.

Here is the point. If you get nothing else out of this article, what I am saying is:

Go from the 165-pound to the 181-pound class (or whatever your next size weight class is) through the natural evolution of muscular hypertrophy, both myofibril and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, as a result of your powerlifting training.

I realize that this is tough, especially when the 275-pound guys are lifting big and eating big, too. But even then, look at your leaner, yet super-powerful 275 pounders like David Hoff, Jose Garcia, Mike Tuchcherer, Brian Carroll, and Brendan Luedtke. These are not sloppy looking 275ers, and they are some of the guys dominating the rankings in their weight classes.

Two-time WPC World Powerlifting Champion Eric Maroscher with his Monster Garage Gym Co-Owner, Phillip Daniels. A retired NFL Defensive End for the Redskins, Phillip is a solid, no spare-tire 308-pound class powerlifter.

If you are training right, eating right, and getting the rest you need, your numbers will go up. Let that occur in a way that doesn't leave you losing out at the end of the day due to reaching that point of diminishing returns.

Cover photo by: Bent Nail photography. Please LIKE on Facebook.