I started Powerlifting at the age of 21 and I was a late bloomer in the fitness arena. That period of time, I do not have a proper coach to guide this journey. A close friend of my, David Liaw was the person who introduces me to powerlifting. My source of learning was from Coach David, Uncle Google, and Sir. Youtube. I literally do not know anything about Powerlifting that I even Squat on the Smith Machine most of the time. It was indeed a bad option to stick to Smith Machine almost every workout. I had the assumption that it was just the same as free weight squat. I learn from my mistake and move forward.
I just completed my first Powerlifting Meet on 6 February 2018. It was a great experience of learning. In fact, I just finished my Spartan Race Beast 2 months before the Powerlifting Meet. The Spartan Race preparation does affect my strength performance as it is a dominant endurance sport. I had to switch to strength dominant sport within 2 months. That 2 month was the peaking time for my lift. My first official Powerlifting Meet record was 475kg with 88kg body weight. My squat, bench press and deadlift were 160kg, 110kg and 205kg. I very happy with this record and now I have lots of room to climb. This will be fun! I am looking forward to my next Powerlifting Meet.
I am going to share my thoughts on the 10 Commandment of Powerlifting from a late bloomer Powerlifter.
1. You shall have a powerlifting program.
A program is a form of a plan. If you do not plan to succeed, you are actually planning to fail. Your workout program must include the big three lifts, the back squat, bench press and deadlift. It is the number one fundamental workout program for powerlifting. Each of these exercises must be done at least twice in a week or more if you want to increase your lifts number. The second fundamental of a powerlifting program is to have a training objective. Most of the time, it is for addressing your weakest lift and also to boost your top lift. Let say you are weak on the bench press, you need to increase the frequency of bench press within a week. Always track your progress and it must have progressive overloading to promote strength growth.
2. You shall not sacrifice form over heavier weight.
The big three lifts are one of the technical compound lifts. As you push your body to lifts more weights, there will be signs of the weak component of your lift. It could be your lower back during your deadlifts. It could be your hamstring during your squat. Whatever, it never sacrifices form over heavyweight. It could lead to injury and it is the last thing that you want. An injury will lead to ZERO training and ZERO lifts. What you need to do is to record every lift that is close to RPE 9. From, the video you can check all the weak points of the lift. You just need to use your phone and get a tripod. Never sacrifice form over heavier weights.
3. You shall listen to your body.
The main purpose of this commandment is to avoid injury. It can be an extension to the second commandment. If you do not feel well, let’s just say you are sick and down on fever. Do not train! You will make things worse for your body. Even if during your training, you feel discomfort in your knee joint or any joints. Just stop and rest. If it is still painful, just stop and go home. It is alright to do so, and come back stronger the next day. It is good to push your body, but never forget to listen to your body. The last thing we need to avoid is a permanent injury. A permanent injury means zero lifts.
4. You shall warm-up before your lifts.
Warm up is very important. It is to prime the body before you start your training to deliver the three big lifts. It is best to include muscle activation exercise such as the jump box, jump squat, hip thrusters, and push up. I love to use form roller for self-myofascial (SMR) release. It helps to release tight joints like the hips and upper back. It takes only 10 to 15 minutes to warm up to avoid a lifetime injury. Please invest some time to warm up to avoid injury.
5. You shall keep your body tight during your lifts.
When you perform the squat, bench press and the deadlift, you got to keep your body tight. In other words, activate all of your muscle group. The three big lifts are a compound exercise. You must keep your lift tight and to be in control.
When you squat, do not let the gravity take control of your descend. Keep your core, upper back tight, chest up and take control of your descend motion and drive up! When you bench press, tuck your feet flat comfortably under you to keep your lower back curve and upper back tight. Flex your quad and glutes. Unrack the bar and control your descend and drive the bar up. When you deadlift, keep your core tight by pushing air into your stomach, chest up, and leg drive your lifts. Activate your glutes. Overall, keep it tight and focus on your form.
6. You shall stay focus during your lifts.
For every lift, the focus is important. Every muscle movement and every joint movement must be correct. It does not matter even it is (Rated Perceived Exertion) RPE 1 to 6. No matter what RPE you do, stay focus to lift with intention. Keep an eye on your rest time. Do not rest too long and do not rest too short. Do not talk so much in the gym. You are there to lift heavy and not to talk too much. Once you have done your sets, focus on the next sets. Work on it and you need to make sure your form is correct.
7. You shall stay positive during your lifts.
You may have good days and bad days during your workout. Whatever happens, stay positive during your lifting session. Always remember why do you lift. Every powerlifters goal is to increase their total of Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Look at your workout program and visualized your every lift. Visualised the weight that you are targeting to squat. Let just say your goal is to squat 300kg. Then visualize that you are squatting 300kg. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to get there? It very simple, and direct. Work for it. Earn your squat. Stay focus on your goal and stay positive. The other option of positive is negative which will lead to losing. That is three red lights for you.
8. You shall never stop learning.
As you lift heavier, the weak point of your lift will show itself. The best reference is by looking at the bar path of your lifts. As you feel unstable and feeling pain at a specific part of your body, do not be afraid to seek for help. In this current internet world, it is easy to connect with experience powerlifters. That is the benefits of recording your videos. You can post on your Instagram or Facebook. It is better for you to send it to an experience of powerlifters or a coach to help to assess your weak point. From there you will learn. Some of them may ask you to pay for their service. There is no harm to do so. It just means you value their experience. Nevertheless, never stop learning. The biggest room in the world is the room of improvement. Work on it. The more you learn, the higher your total lifts.
9. You shall use chalk when you perform your lifts.
Chalk is typically used for deadlift. The main purpose of using chalk is for better grip and to simulate a Powerlifting Meet. Once your forearm exhausted, you can move to lifting strap. At times, I will use chalk to lift bench press because it helps to feel the bar. Chalk all the way buddy!
10. You shall earn your rest day.
A quote from John Meadows, “Training is digging a hole and recovery is filling that hole back up.” Do not dig too much! Yes, lifting heavy is great. I love it too. However, digging too much will lead to injury. It is a very basic fundamental to training. Liftings your big three is going to tear your muscles. It will repair itself when you are resting and specifically when you are sleeping. Avoid sleep deprivation at all cost. The body learns to adapt and grow to fit the training that you put yourself into. It will learn to adapt during your rest day. Rest for more strength!
Now my next goal is to hit a total of 600kg in the next Powerlifting Meet. It will be a stretch goal and I am going to stick to these commandments to get there. Stay focus and hustle hard. I am documenting my journey on my Instagram page, @marvininspire.
I was working on 195kg deadlift, 3 reps/3sets.
Let me know what do you think of the 10 commandments. If you like it, give it a thumb up and share it with everyone.