I would say that I am still pretty new to the sport of powerlifting. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years now, but I feel like there are many lessons that can be learned in 3 years. I would like to share a couple of them with all of you in hopes that my lessons may help you in your future endeavors in powerlifting, or perhaps another strength sport. It seems like with most things in life, you learn things the hard way, which usually consists of making mistakes, and then hopefully learning from those mistakes. If I can help just one person bypass a mistake that I’ve already made, then I feel like that is a good thing.
Lesson #1: Just because something goes one way in training does not mean that it will go that way on competition day. I have made this mistake on more that one occasion, and it’s about time that I stopped doing that. Now, you also have the other side of that which is you may be able to pull something off in competition that you weren’t able to in training. Some days are going to be good in training, just like some days are going to be bad in training. This goes hand in hand with life. Sometimes there’s good days, and sometimes you have bad days. The same can be said for competitions; you will have good ones and bad ones. The main takeaway here is just because you hit a certain number on all 3 of your lifts in training doesn’t mean you are promised that number in competition. Nothing in life is promised, not even tomorrow.
Lesson #2: You’re better off training with a group. Trust me on this one. I’ve been with a group since I started powerlifting, and I have added over 200lbs to my squat, 100lbs to my bench, and over 200lbs to my deadlift. Training with a group enables you to be pushed much further than you could ever push yourself. They will force you out of your comfort zone, and they make you do things that you don’t want to do. If you are with a group and they aren’t doing this, leave. Training with a group will also keep you accountable. They aren’t going to let you cheat your reps, or leave something out because that isn’t fair to them if they are doing everything. If I do it, you do it! Plus, it helps to have others there to have your back, both figuratively and literally. You need someone you trust to spot you on big lifts, and you need to have a support system in place so you can talk with others when there is something on your mind. Train with a team, get better!
Lesson #3 Stick to the plan, but also have a backup plan. This has been one of my more recent mistakes. You need to have a goal going into a competition, as well as a plan on how you are going to get there. If you have specific numbers you are trying to hit, make sure they are realistic and not something unrealistic that you wish you could hit. Push yourself every training session to make sure you are one step closer to hitting those numbers. Stick to the plan all the way up to meet day, and especially stick to it on meet day, however have a back up plan. What I mean by this is don’t deviate from your plan just because things may be “feeling better” than they have been. It’s at that moment that you will start to get greedy, then try to hit something higher than you originally planned, and end up missing it and getting lower numbers than you should have. If you do go in with a plan and something backfires or falls through, have a backup plan. Maybe if you were planning to hit a certain total and you have to go 9 for 9 on your lifts, which rarely happens anyways, then try to maybe just hit a nice pr on one of your lifts. You could even do the same thing but backwards. If you were trying to hit a certain number on a lift but missed it, then just try to pull together a nice total pr because, after all as a powerlifter, your total is all that really matters.
Lesson #4 Have a coach or mentor of some sort. This can even relate back to lesson number 2. If you don’t have a team, then at least have a coach, or a mentor who is knowledgeable and won’t feed you false information or feed your ego. Getting a coach is probably one of the single best things you can do for yourself and your lifting. Ask them questions every chance you get so you can learn. If you aren’t learning, then you aren’t progressing. Find someone with experience that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. You want to find someone who will expose your weaknesses and force you to work on them. It is a coach’s job to make you better and educate you on different ways in which you can do that. Find a coach or mentor and stick with them.
Lesson #5 Don’t give up because it gets hard. This lesson to me can mean many things. In the short time that I have been in powerlifting, I have seen many people come and go. I can only imagine how many people a person has seen come and go that has been in this sport for 20+ years. I think I’ve already come to realize that is just how it goes. Of course you want to give up when it gets hard. Giving up is easy, not giving up is hard. That’s why success and achieving goals is so rewarding and feels so good. You worked your ass off for that. Now, understand that you can still work your ass off and still not be where you want to be, or where you think you should be. The truth is, you’re never going to be where you want to be, so you might as well just enjoy the process and have fun with it. If you aren’t having fun and enjoying yourself, then why are you doing it? Find another hobby. I know plenty of people that have gotten just as much satisfaction out of rock collecting, or sewing. If you find something that you truly enjoy, then you won’t be in a rush to get anywhere, you will just enjoy the process of becoming slightly better then you were before.
Like I said, these are only some of the lessons that I have learned so far. I could honestly write another 5 articles about all I’ve learned and still have plenty more to talk about. I hope these 5 lessons can help some of you at one point or another. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with making mistakes–making mistakes is crucial to making progress and becoming better. I just hope that if you are making mistakes, that you are learning from them. If you have any questions, or would like to share some lessons that you have learned, I would like to hear about them. They just might help me, or another person out in the future.