How to be Be a Better Power Lifter
When one first sets out to be a power lifter, he may have envisioned himself lifting monster weights and being the resident lifting beast in at the gym in no time. As in most cases, however, things don’t always go as planned. Lifters often discover that getting there is much tougher than they imagined it to be. Some are able to tough it out, but there are some who find it too hard and just drop out somewhere along the way.
The issues involved are always the same. There are those who find themselves maxed out at a particular lift weight that is way below what they were gunning for. Others may have hit their goal and feel that they can improve on their performance, but couldn’t find a way to do it. And sadly, there are those who were driven and had much promise, but were hampered by injuries.
It would be easy to assume that with the wealth of knowledge and advice on how to improve one’s performance and max lifts, a typical lifter can easily bust through plateaus and improve their performance. Such inundation of information, however, can also lead to confusion: train heavy often, train heavy sparingly; low rep max weight, high rep med weight; train to failure, don’t. It sometimes seems like a cruel joke with the hapless lifter jumping leaping from one advice to another and almost always ending up with little or no positive results at all.
Sticking With the Basics
The problem with most of the advice is that some people for some reason can’t resist the urge to complicate matters. The words “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” used to describe training methods are perhaps the most abused words in athletic training. More often than not, these “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” training methods are just rehashed versions of basic training techniques. And most of the time, sticking with the basics is all that a lifter needs for his performance to improve.
Every lifter knows that power lifting requires, well, power. Explosive power, that is. In order to achieve that, a lifter will need strength and speed working in harmony together in ripping a 600lb bar from off the cement, in pushing off 500lbs of weight off their chest and in blasting a 700lb weight on their shoulders from off the floor. That is the kind of explosive power that the lifter needs.
Train for Speed
Every lifter basically has an idea on how to improve his strength. However, most of them are missing out on the key element of speed. Adding more speed to each rep during training, will help the muscles develop the needed blast of energy. This also trains the nerves to shock the muscles into jumping into action rather than a slow, sleepy drag of a push and a pull. When adding speed to lifts and reps, however, it is also important to maintain proper form which will also be discussed later on in this article.
Some of the more successful power lifters set aside a 3 set, speed lifting day 2 to 3 times a month. An example of this would be a speed bench press wherein they load up the bar with 2/3 of the weight they can normally lift for 14 to 20 reps. They would then bench it as fast as they could for 30 reps or more. They do it for 3 sets and they are done for the day. One can create his own speed lift routine that he is most comfortable with based on this principle.
Strength and Form
A lifter’s exuberance and enthusiasm can at times lead him to try and lift heavier weights that he is supposed to, sacrificing form and risking injury in the process. The heavy weight may also force him to cheat on his reps. Rather than improve his performance, this actually stalls his progress. Maintaining a proper form during training is the key to progressing through the weights that can be lifted and it should not be the other way around.
For squats, never ever slouch, don’t roll your back and your shoulders forward and keep your back straight in a natural position. If you can’t keep this form all throughout the rep and you are bouncing at the bottom of the lift, then take off some of the plates.
For the bench, keep your feet planted on the floor (read a little on leg drive), keep your hips on the bench and don’t bounce the bar off your chest. If you are fading on your lockout, add a little more tricep exercise and if you are fading off the chest, add some lower lat workouts. Use a full grip on the bar all the time.
For deadlifts, just like with the squats, keep yourself from slouching. Your shoulders should only be pulled down by the weight and not forward. Keep a slight bend on the knees and don’t lock them out. The staggered grip is the best for this exercise.
You may not find yourself trying to lift a busted X-wing from a swamp anytime soon, but the Jedi principle will help you improve your performance. If you think you are ready to add a few more plates to the bar, run your entire workout routine in your head several times over. Visualize lifting the added weight, too. This will give you the sense that you have already done the routine before and you’ll find lifting with the added weight a bit easier.
The plateaus and stalls in progress that most power lifters experience are mostly due to misguided approach, wrong training methods and a rather unrealistic expectation on their progress. They need to forget about the much hyped “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” training methods for now. By taking time out to assess their training routine and their mindset, most of them will realize that getting right down to the basics with the right approach is all that will take for them to take their performance to a whole new level.
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