The following article provides a description and overview of Powerlifting and its growth as a sport. How it attracts people who strive for competitiveness, intrinsic motivation, a flexible and simple structure and a sense of belonging. It provides a list of physiological and psychological benefits such as increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, stress and anxiety and provides information on the Powerlifting services available at Strength HQ.
Growth of Powerlifting as a sport
There has been a growing trend of individuals squatting, benching and deadlifting huge amounts of weights, in gyms in New Zealand and across the world. These self-proclaimed “Powerlifters”, do not fit the usual stigma of being big barrel bellied men, with straps around their knees, wrists and suits that keep them from sitting down. No, this new generation of Powerlifters has no mould.
It consists of men, women, old or young, big or small, all working toward their goals of being nothing less than the strongest version of themselves. They are armed with nothing more than a belt, some wrist wraps, knee sleeves, chalk and the occasional ammonia capsule. They are strength athletes, “Raw Powerlifters” and in Auckland alone there has been a 270% growth in competitors. In comparison to popular sports such as rugby, netball, cricket and golf, of which are facing net losses in participators, there has been a 190% increase in competitive Powerlifters in New Zealand, composed of a 250% increase in Female athletes.
What is Powerlifting?
In a nut shell, Powerlifting is a sport that assess maximal strength. An individual presents themselves on a platform in front of 3 judges and attempts to lift the most possible weight they can across three disciplines; the squat, bench Press and deadlift.
This person is separated based on bodyweight, age and gender and has three attempts to lift their maximal weight on each of the movements. The heaviest attempt for each lift is added toward a total and the person with the biggest total in their given class is the winner.
What separates it from other sports, is that anyone and everyone competes at a competition. You share the platform with people anywhere from ages fourteen through to sixty plus. In one meet you’ve got people setting regional and national records, whereas others are competing in their first or second meet. It is one of the most inclusive sports in the world and anyone can compete no matter their demographic profile.
What makes it so attractive?
With such as rise in Powerlifting over the last few years, there are several aspects that make it such an attractive sport to be a part of. This includes being built around effective and basic exercises, an objective goal to chase, a sense of belonging and motivation.
One overarching aspect that makes the sport so inclusive, is that it is built around ‘The big three’; The squat, deadlift and bench press. These movements are relatively easy to learn and can be effectively performed after only a short period, in comparison to the more technically demanding Olympic lifts. They are also ‘progress-friendly and improvement is relatively easy to determine, either you lift more weight than you have previously or you do not. It is simple, allowing people from all fitness levels to be involved.
Since progression on all the lifts and your level of ability is objective and easily measured, it provides a clear goal to work toward. The outcomes in Powerlifting are always known, they are simple and clarity fully exists. You know you want to lift as much as possible and you know that following a structured plan is going to get you there. This is opposed to many individuals who go into the gym trying to pursue multiple goals at once or, even worse, don’t have any goals at all. One week they focus on increasing their push ups, the next the squat and then they get lured into a circuit-based routine they found on the internet. They are constantly stuck in this cycle of not knowing what to do or follow, and they rarely ever progress.
Though these rewards are generally on an individual basis, it fosters a community of like-minded people constantly searching for progression. Those that compete in Powerlifting love it, they are passionate and the love infectious. This loves breeds productivity, enthusiasm and action. Lifters dedicate nearly 100% of the training year to the sport, spending days and hours in the gym, perfecting their craft and building their strength. This passion for the sport attracts likeminded people, creating teams, groups and clubs of lifters, who motivate, inspire & support one another as they all chase the same end goal of being stronger than they were yesterday.
Powerlifting attracts these people as it adheres to so many aspects of motivation. For some, the desire of competition is a driving force behind joining in the sport. Many Powerlifters come from various sporting backgrounds and have always had a reason to train. Powerlifting allows them to continue fulfilling this of role of being an athlete, allowing them to train with a competitive intent, rather than just going to the gym and through the “motions”.
It also appeals to those intrinsically motivated. Though during a meet a lifter competes with and against others, the biggest competition is the person facing them in the mirror. Powerlifters want to get stronger and test themselves. They want the satisfaction of breaking personal records and being better. It appeals to those who find value in setting personal goals, attacking them and gaining a sense of personal achievement through completion.
What are the benefits?
With so many aspects of the sport being attractive, the benefits one gains from training for and competing in Powerlifting is vast. These include physiological gains such as increased strength, muscle size, bone density and fat loss. Psychological benefits such as greater confidence and reduced anxiety, stress and depression.
Though the squat, bench press and deadlift are different movements, when performed effectively, they all fully utilise, build and strengthen musculature in the whole body. In the squat the prime movers are the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. However, to remain a stable upright torso under load, the core and upper back must be big and strong. In the bench press, your prime movers are the shoulders, pecs and triceps. Yet to remain rigid on the bench, the scapula must be retracted and held stable and the lower limbs fully engaged. Therefore, Powerlifting effectively engages the whole body and through utilising different periods of training, rep ranges and intensity, increases the force output and size of muscles and the strength of tendons and ligaments.
Not only does Powerlifting increase muscle strength and size, but it benefits the musculoskeletal system and its entirety. Resistance training has shown to have positive benefits toward increasing bone density and health. Exposing people to a lower risk of bone breakage, osteoporosis and causing stronger bones overall.
Lifting heavy weights can also increase your resting metabolic rate. Evidence suggests that strength training can increase your resting metabolic rate by 7% for a prolonged period after training. As a result, your body is effectively burning more calories long after you have left the gym. Contributing to a greater calorie deficit and a higher chance of weight and fat loss.
Not only does Powerlifting have substantial physiological benefits, but psychological too. Improving your strength and increasing your 1 rep max builds confidence. Confidence in the sense that you gain faith in yourself to push through discomfort and that putting in work will get what you want. Your improved physique and lifting abilities also makes you feel more confident and comfortable in everyday situations.
Powerlifting is not only builds confidence, but helps mitigate stress, anxiety and depression. A grueling workout in which you push yourself, dig deep and channel your aggression to complete, can be the perfect way to mediate and release any built up any angst and anxiety accumulated throughout the day. All that negative energy can be use and expelled through training hard and often after a good workout, you find you’ve forgotten many of the day’s irritations. Hormones released when strength training, such as endorphins, also make you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.
Powerlifting at SHQ
The Powerlifting club at Strength HQ is a group of like-minded, passionate individuals and coaches, with the experience, knowledge and skill to help you achieve your Powerlifting goals and foster the spirit of the sport. We encourage people to train hard, lift heavy, use as much chalk and make as much noise as they like. The club is built around our core values of comradery, team work, working hard, never giving up and trusting in the process. Everyone has a responsibility to focus on training , being on time, supporting one another regardless of skill level and Looking after our equipment.
Club members have access to specific equipment and exclusive club training hours. A number of services are available from educated, experienced and highly motivated coaches who care about you and your progress, such as, individual programming and one on one and team coaching.
If you interested in becoming the strongest version of yourself, being a competitive Powerlifter, looking for a new challenge or think the sport might suit you, then what are you waiting for? Contact us now!
Text Sumner on- 021 253 1307