Friday, October 20, 2017

A Beginning Powerlifting Program - By Jim Duggan

The title of this article would imply that the routine that follows would only be of use to aspiring Powerlifters. The reality is that just about anyone can benefit from a basic Powerlifting program. Whether you are an aspiring lifter, or an experienced lifter coming back from an extended layoff, or someone who seeks to build size and strength, a program built around the three powerlifts will produce the results you are looking for.

If you plan on entering Powerlifting competitions, you will need to build a solid foundation in order to prepare your body for the physical demands of competitive lifting. The beginning phase is the time to strengthen and develop your muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissues, so that they will be better able to cope with the heavy workload that a Powerlifting routine requires. It is also the time to learn how to perform the three lifts- Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift- properly. Correct form is something that must be learned and repeated constantly. Whether you're a beginner, or an advanced lifter, you should continuously use proper form all the time. And it is much easier to correct flaws in your form in the early phases of your lifting career, while habits are being formed. Sometimes this requires a training partner to watch and critique you while you lift. You do not want to fall into the habit of not squatting deep enough, or not pausing your bench presses. Needless to say, I think it would be foolish to practice sloppy form in training in the misguided hope that you will be able to correct yourself at a contest. Always train the way you compete and you can avoid the embarrassment of bombing out.

The first point to consider when beginning a Powerlifting program is the number of days per week to train. I think a good rule of thumb should be two or three days per week. Some people might be better off doing only two workouts per week, while others can handle a heavier workload. If you handle three workouts per week, and you can adequately recover between workouts, then by all means train three days per week. Nobody knows you better than yourself. But be honest. And, if course, your work/school/family commitments will influence how much time you can devote to your training.

When it comes to poundage selection, as a beginner, you want to use a weight that will allow you to complete each movement in good form. That means no cheating. You may heed a coupkenof workouts before you're able to determine the correct poundages to use. Again, be honest with yourself. If you find yourself cheating to complete the required number of reps, then lower the weight. Once you're using the correct poundages, your next goal will be to train progressively. Pondage progression. The two magic words for any strength athlete. However, before you add weight, you should strive to add repetitions. Adding one or two reps to your training poundages each workout will allow you to add weight during subsequent workouts. For example, if your program calls for you to do 3 sets of 6 reps in the Deadlift, you should try to do 3 sets of 7 reps in the following workout, then 3 sets of 8 reps in the workout after that. Once you can complete 3 sets of 8 in good form, then it is time to add weight, lower the reps and start over again.

One point to remember is to not try to do too much. Too many exercises, for too many sets, without allowing your body time to recover, will lead to staleness, burn out, or injury. None which is desirable.

The routine is as follows:

1) Squats 3x8

2) Bench Press 3x8

3) Deadlift 3x6

4) Military Press 3x8

5) Bent-over Barbell Row 3x8

6) Dips 3x8

7) Barbell Curl 3x8

At the end of the workout, you can do one or two sets of Sit-ups. You're not looking for washboard abs, but rather, you want to strengthen your abdominals which will aid in your Squat and Deadlift.

Another point to remember is to try not to get into the habit of depending on wearing a lifting belt. Anyone who trains in a commercial gym will attest to the fact that just about everybody wears a lifting belt for just about anything and everything. My advice would be to not wear one. It might take a while to become comfortable going "beltless," but you will develop greater strength in your midsection, as well as your lower back, which will translate into increased poundages in your Squat and Deadlift. And then when you use it in a contest, you will get an additional "boost," which will only help your total.

Some additional points:

When Deadlifting, try to use the conventional stance. I realize that many people use the "Sumo" style, but I've always felt that the conventional Deadlift is the truest form of Deadlifting. Call me a purist, but it's just something that I've always believed. And while it may take a while to get comfortable in your grip and stance, just be patient. Don't try to rush things.

When Bench Pressing, try to do all your reps with a pause. At a contest, you will be required to pause the bar at the chest. It makes absolutely no sense to not train the same way. Even if it means having to use less weight.

I would like to say a few words about spotters. When you are Squatting, or Bench Pressing, it is a good idea to utilize spotters. If there are no spotters available, then you should lift in a Power Rack with the pins set so that they will catch the bar in the event you can't complete a rep. In lifting, as in life, it is better to be safe than sorry. Always practice safe lifting habits!

Dips are an exercise that I've always liked doing. They are far superior to pushdowns, triceps extensions, French presses and the like. However you can substitute close grip Bench Presses if you prefer, and see which works best for you.

You can use this routine for as long as you want, but if you plan on competing, you will need to do more assistance exercises for each lift. This means that you'll have to be more judicious in how you set up your training schedule. As Drug-free athletes, we have to be more conscious of our ability to recuperate. Sometimes it boils down to training smarter not harder.   
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