Have you just started getting into powerlifting? Are you curious about moving away from traditional weightlifting workouts and into more serious powerlifting training? Have you been powerlifting for years and you like to stay up-to-date on potential ways to improve your form and results?
Powerlifting requires an immense amount of dedication and hard work, but that feeling you get when you achieve a new personal best is incredible. Whether you’re a beginner or a long-time lifter, it’s important to keep your ego in check and learn from others’ mistakes. Let’s review the most common powerlifting mistake that you might be making.
NOT LEARNING THE BASICS
A common powerlifting mistake is having the idea that you can go from a basic weightlifting routine and to an advanced powerlifting workout. Lifting to build lean muscle mass or to lose weight is not the same as powerlifting…not even close.
Worse still is when new powerlifters bring their bad form and posture with them from old workout routines. Not knowing proper execution of the three powerlifting exercises – deadlift, squat, and bench press – will dramatically increase your risk for injury.
How to Fix It: Consider hiring a professional trainer to watch your technique and help you perfect your form. Once everything looks good, start to transition into a ground-level powerlifting routine. Do this for about a month with a certified trainer and fly on your own once you feel confident and your trainer gives you the thumbs up.
LETTING YOUR EGO TAKE THE WHEEL
When you’re just starting out, it’s tough not to feel that sting in your ego when a more experienced powerlifter uses your max numbers as his warm-up. It’s important to be driven, but be sure to constantly check in to see who is behind the wheel: is it logic or ego?
All too often, ego-driven powerlifters want to progress overnight and start pulling that 500-pound deadlift. The result: Injury and months, if not years, away from the weight room.
How to Fix It: Those mass monsters weren’t benching 350 pounds on their first try and neither will you. Be patient and be consistent. Before you know it, you’ll join the ranks of the powerlifters you’ve been admiring.
WEARING TOO MUCH GEAR
There is a plethora of powerlifting equipment that you can use; however, just because it’s available to you, doesn’t mean you need to use every product out there.
Sure, the basic equipment is always a good idea; weightlifting belts, knee wraps or sleeves, and thick grips can be used as a beginner or an advanced lifter. Then you have the specialized equipment that is only necessary when you’re benching, deadlifting, or squatting insane numbers. For example, a bench press shirt is designed to improve your numbers, but you want to focus on building that raw strength first.
How to Fix It: Stick to the basics such as weightlifting belts and knee sleeves until you are at a point where your coach and lifting partners agree it’s time to suit up. We highly recommend using thick grips around barbell or dumbbells to improve your grip strength because this can dramatically boost your gains.
Check out our article on the benefits of grip strength training.
Bring Your Hamstrings Up to Speed: Before beginning a powerlifting-style deadlift, make sure that your quadriceps and hamstrings are equally strong. Incorporate Romanian deadlifts, lunges, and leg curls into your current leg day routine.
Fix Your Grip: Most people will need to take a grip on the barbell that is just outside of shoulder width; this gives your knees enough room to move without bashing into your elbows. If you tend to have a wide back, you might need to move your hands out even more.
Point Your Toes: It’s tempting to start with toes pointed out, but this could bring trouble during the lockout. Try pointing your toes straight or as straight as you can get them to improve your lockout.
Think you’re messing up the deadlifting form? Read our deadlifting checklist, which will help you perfect your form from top to bottom.
Secure the Bar:If you’ve been setting the barbell on your neck during a squat, it’s time to reexamine your form. The traps or upper back muscles form a bridge to lay the barbell across. Be sure to place the barbell here before beginning. On that same note, make sure that rough part in the middle of the barbell is set up in the center of your body. One end of the barbell shouldn’t be favoring more to one side.
Know Your Structure:There’s a good chance you’ve been told that your knees should never move past your toes during a squat. While this might be true for some, it is not true for all. Identify your unique bone structure and squat accordingly. If your knees go a bit past your toes, this is okay so long as you can maintain proper posture and execution. Not sure? Talk with an experienced and certified trainer as well as your chiropractor.
Want to master your squat in less time? Check out our article on how to perfect your form, avoid mistakes, and improve your squat.
Set the Bar: This is an issue of form and one that should be learned when you first start lifting. A lot of people instinctively place the barbell in the palm of their hands closer to their fingers. The proper way to hold the barbell is close to your thumb. While it might take a few lifting sessions to adjust to, it will ensure a secure grip and decrease injury risk.
Start with the Core: This is another form issue that should be learned early on: Not setting up your core to help with stabilization. When you’re focused on pressing heavy weight, it’s easy to forget about how you need to have a stable foundation. Before you start, activate and engage your core. Once you are secure, establish your grip based on the tip above.
Looking to boost your bench? Read our article on the 5 ways to improve your bench press.
Slacking in the Kitchen: It’s not common to find someone who is trying to max out their powerlifting numbers, training almost every day, and avoiding quality nutrition. Powerlifting puts your body through a lot and nutrition is the way to recovery. A 1,500-calorie diet won’t do it; the average powerlifter is consuming 3,000 calories per day. Be as serious in the kitchen as you are in the weight room.
Avoiding Carbohydrates: Continuing with the idea from above, carbohydrates are a must for powerlifting. They provide fuel for your muscle tissue for performance and recovery. While low-carb diets are okay for weight loss and getting shredded, neither of those are your goals as a powerlifter. You should be getting a proper balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat – Not following a diet that cuts out one of the macros.
Skipping on Sleep: This is true for all forms of exercise but especially powerlifting: You must let yourself sleep. The golden standard is no less than eight hours per night and if you are a professional, you should be shooting for 10 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is when the highest concentrations of growth hormone are released, helping to promote muscle repair and growth. Ideally, you’ll be snoozing at 10 p.m. because studies show the biggest spike in growth hormone occurs between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m.
HAVE YOU MADE ANY OF THESE POWERLIFTING MISTAKES?
We’ve all been through the learning curve. What powerlifting mistakes did you make when you first started? How did you correct them? Was there a mistake that we forgot to mention? Let us know on our Instagram or Facebook!