Top Tips for Novice Lifters

  • Invest in your training gear – don’t cheap out!

 (Click this link for my blog about “starters’ kit for powerlifting) however my advice would be to browse because there equipment is superior quality, Made in Britain not China, and as to my knowledge all IPF and USAPL approved!

  • It’s a journey not a race!

Powerlifting is a science, powerlifting requires focus, patience and the ability to critique and analyze yourself putting ego aside. Not only do you have to lift big, but also with perfect technquie following the lift rules and requirements (click here for a blog post about powerlifting lift rules and requirements on the big three lifts in order to secure a ‘good lift’ from the referees).

  • Video your big three lifts and review

I kept and still do a log of my progress videos stored on an external drive dating back two years. I always review my lifts at the end of each session (not during because it disrupts the rhythm and you can get distracted by social media) and at the end of each week and cycle. I make notes on my weak spots, sticking points and what I need to work on and ideas on which coach or program I could enroll on to fix said issues and problems.

  • Keep your spreadsheet up to date

If you don’t know how to use spreadsheets then I would suggest enrolling on a course first prior to starting powerlifting. Every powerlifter I have met has used a spreadsheet for programming. It’s the best way to organize, manipulate and store data. Keeping it all in a handwritten notebook is just not necessary in this day of age!

  • Focus on technquie and form not weight on the bar!

This is a massive mistake I see time and time again in powerlifting. A novice lifter has put technquie and form second and just gone for ego lifting. Not squatting proper depth, not locking out their bench press or deadlifts and lowering the bar during the lift due to the intensity being too much! Remember if you turn up to a meet with a squat PR of 300kg but don’t hit sufficient depth and cant lock out then it won’t count – EVER!

  • Don’t benchmark yourself against others

If the other guy in the gym is lifting 250kg on the squat rack next to you and you’re squatting 50kg it doesn’t matter! Because he was once you! We all started at the same place. Just focus on you and tune out others unless they are offering CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Go at your pace and be proud of every accomplishment you made regardless of what other say!

  • It’s not bodybuilding – CUT OUT THE ‘FLUFF’

 DON’T get lost in the muscle gains obsession powerlifting isn’t about how vascular you are, or how big your biceps are. It’s not bodybuilding and it’s not pretty!!!! The number of time I’ve reviewed powerlifters programs and the amount of ‘fluff’ (this is a term I use for bodybuilding isolation crap you don’t need for powerlifting) that has woven itself into the route of the program is unbelievable. Don’t prioritize it, don’t stress about not finishing your isolation exercises and don’t waste too much energy on them. Focus on compound mulit-joint exercises as they are best for strength gains.

  • Allow sufficient recovery

If you like staying up late every night playing ‘Call of Duty’ or ‘FIFA’ or ‘Madden’ then powerlifting isn’t for you! You need to make sure you average eight hours sleep. Cut out heavy alcohol consumption and your new mantra should be “NOT TONIGHT BRO, I GOTTA LIFT TOMORROW”.  If you’re serious about achieving greatness and reaching big totals then drinking should not be your priority. Medium to high doses of alcohol will start to cause negative effects on strength, especially your recovery. If you are squatting on Monday and Friday and you drink heavily Friday and Saturday then come Monday it’s likely your quadriceps and glutes won’t be fully recovered for Monday.

  • Don’t start a cutting cycle (looking to shed fat) during the novice phases

I won’t go into too much detail in this post on diet and nutrition for powerlifting however I would advise a novice not to start cutting and focusing on their six pack during these early phases. Make sure you’re getting sufficient protein, carbohydrates and calories to keep up with the ‘novice effect’ muscle and strength gains experienced. I remember when I started powerlifting I was eating more than my 14 years of age growth spurt teenage years. That’s fine as this is part of your recovery and getting stronger!

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