Michael Adams
Michael Adams

Latest posts by Michael Adams (see all)

   We should not train like powerlifters! There I said it. Bring on the hate. Power lifting is an amazing sport, full of amazing lifters. However, it is not a type of training that is for everyone. For athletes, moms just wanting to move better, dads wanting to stay healthy, power lifting and its style of training is not the best option. On that note, neither is bodybuilding, or long distance running, or yoga, or anything. The truth is it is somewhere in the middle of all that.

   Okay, so, powerlifters are strong as hell. They get to the gym and they bust their asses. Good for them, they give us many insights into how we should set up for lifts, how we need to pay attention to the little things that seem harmless at low weights, but can be devastating at high weights. They show us how with extreme specialization the human body can do amazing things. Thing is, most of us are not looking to squat 1000lbs. Most of us are looking to lose some fat, get some muscle, and look damn good doing it. So training for powerlifting when you are not competing in it just makes very little sense. Let’s break down the good and bad to come from it.

Good things we can take from powerlifting:

  1. The big 3 are an amazing base for any program. For any goal.

  2. Building huge competency into a few compound lifts will carry over into all your other lifts and movements.

  3. Deadlifts

  4. Squats are so much better then leg press.

Now some bad:

  1. Extreme specialization leads to holes in training balance (ask most powerlifters to run 4k, try it, good for a laugh as they look at you like you just asked them to leap over the moon)

  2. Overuse injuries, because they train 3 specific patterns over and over, they risk overuse injuries quite often

  3. The weights they move, have consequences in the long run, as do all sports done at a high level, it takes its toll.

   All right, so now that is out of the way, I could take this same concept to bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, spring training, yoga, you name it. So now let’s look at how to use what powerlifting has to offer, to further your own goals.

   The big 3 are phenomenal movements, and serve as a base to most truly successful programs in strength development, and are very common even in bodybuilding. The reason? They work.  What is the difference in the approach for you to take vs a powerlifter? Simple, you train them for their benefit to the rest of your life, not to solely improve them. These means you most likely won’t dedicate entire workouts to improving them alone. Nor will you take on some of the forms they do for a powerlifting competition. Such as the crazy arch super wide grip bench press. You will keep a good arch and a more neutral width grip. Deadlifting becomes what fits best for your body or sport, rather than about shortening bar path, or lever lengths. (for this reason, I recommend conventional or semi-sumo stance for most people, rather than the full sumo lift). Squats you may do as high bar, or front squats, depending what works better with your body.

   To summarize: Powerlifting is awesome, but training like one is not for most people. Train for your goals, and find programs that match them, and always train hard and smart.