In its purest form, powerlifting is a sport. If you agree with this, keep reading. If you disagree, click off and move on. This article is for the powerlifter who has trained for some time. As in any sport, one must practice. "Practice makes perfect" is a phrase most people have heard many times. Now, as most know, a perfect practice in any sport hardly ever happens. Making every, play winning every match, getting first place every time, hardly happens. In powerlifting, a perfect practice would mean setting a PR on most lifts and also leaving the training session injury-free. I don't know of many, if any, lifters that this happens for every day, week, month, and year. And if you are always setting a PR, chances are good that eventually, you will hit a wall.

Let’s correlate this thought to football, a sport most are familiar with. As a quarterback, having a perfect practice would be hitting the receiver on every throw, going 20 for 20. They would march down the field every possession and score every series. As a defensive lineman, a perfect practice would mean getting the tackle or sack every play and running through any offensive lineman or athlete trying to block you. In soccer, a perfect practice would mean blocking every shot made against them, basically a shutout. In wrestling, it is getting a tech-fall or pinning everyone in practice while not getting scored on.

RECENT: To Compete or Not to Compete

In bodybuilding, it is equivalent to doing high reps in the gym, posing in the mirror, and addressing weak body parts to create the best looking physique. You can say you train like a bodybuilder, but unless you do competitions you are not one. So with this point made, let's get back to powerlifting.

I have commonly heard lifters at my facility state, "I'm not sure if I'll be ready for the meet" or "I want to see how this training cycle goes before I commit to a meet." Having this mindset in powerlifting (as with any sport) can be a good thing or a bad thing. You always want to do your best and set a PR, but again, it doesn't always go like this. Having the above mindset will eliminate the competing factor in the sport of powerlifting, and by not competing in powerlifting meets, you cannot label yourself a powerlifter. Instead just say, “I like to do the big three lifts of powerlifting.”

powerlifting comp Janek

Let's go back to the examples used earlier. The quarterback throws an interception in a practice then later bobbles a snap. The game is coming up this weekend. Does the quarterback say, "I'm not ready for a game because I didn't have a good practice, so I will probably just wait until the next game to compete"? Or another example: the soccer goalie had one or two goals scored on her in a practice, so she decides that she doesn't want to commit to playing the upcoming game due to a few bad practices. Or yet another example: the wrestler gets taken down a few times and has trouble getting an escape during the same practice. He says, “I am not ready for a wrestling match so I will probably just wait till training goes better.”

That way of thinking in any sport is nuts! Obviously, you always want to do your best at all times, but sometimes (for myself especially) it just doesn't work like that. Don't make up excuses and wait till "next meet" or "next year" when you can "find time."

My earlier write-up about the importance of competing was from the heart (no pun intended, as I'm sitting here waiting for a heart transplant). Why wait? Why not compete? The only way to get better is to test the waters under game-time situations (AKA in powerlifting meets). Granted, beginners and lifters new to the sport should first train for some time, become familiar with the lifts, and learn how to get their numbers up. How do you do this? Surround yourself with lifters who are stronger and have been around longer than you. Most cities and surrounding areas today have someone with some knowledge from the school of hard knocks.

A good perspective on this type of information is from a member of Swede's 5thSet crew, Brian Panara. Brian has spoken about how a lot of time lifters need to "basically just get under the fucking bar and lift." I completely agree. All the info today is great, but when it comes down to it, just train your ass off and compete. There are many options and federations. Everyone can find one to accommodate their preferences (raw, raw with wraps, single-ply, multi-ply, etc.). So take the plunge and get after it. You can only practice so long without there being a light at the end of the tunnel.

Once you compete in a couple meets, you should know if this sport is for you or not. Not everyone has the mindset to participate in the sport of powerlifting. I have personally seen a ton of lifters that really get into it and then quit, retire, get hurt, etc. This sport is unique. To be good, you need to spend hours working and perfecting your form. Just like many sports, you can start this sport at a young age. There are coaches out there to help; you just need to find them. And unlike most sports, in powerlifting, you can compete until late in life.

I have over 60 lifters who still do competitions. Maybe it's just my mindset but compete as much as you can. Why wait? Doing competitions is also a great way to see how you perform in game speed situations. There is a big difference between the atmosphere of training in the gym and competing in a powerlifting meet. It is also great to meet fellow lifters and learn other philosophies, and you can take away some ideas that may or may not work for you.

Videotaping your lifts is very important as well. In almost every sport now, people are using video to review and go over what needs to be worked on in addition to what is good. If you train with someone who has a trained eye in the sport of powerlifting, it is even better. To get hands-on coaching and help is great. It is tough to get better and stronger when your training partner is your phone and your coach is Instagram and Facebook. Surround yourself with lifters, preferably ones who have competed and have been around for a while. Hands-on advice is always best.