You might think powerlifting is a sport for the young and spry, but don’t rule it out just because you’ve reached middle age. In fact, it can be a great way to maintain and improve your strength as you get older. If you do a quick search for powerlifting competitions in your area I think you’ll find plenty of master athletes out there competing along with all the young guys and gals. It’s a sport where any age or fitness level has a place.
Consult With Your Healthcare Provider
Powerlifting is a strength sport, so making sure your body is physically ready to take on a challenge like this is always a good idea. Make sure your joints and muscles are healthy and ready to perform weight bearing exercises.
Learn the Fundamentals
Powerlifting consists of 3 main lifts: the squat, the deadlift, and the bench press. Take some time to get familiar with each one of these and their purpose. Each lift has its own technicalities, and learning each one is crucial to being successful in the sport. If you choose to enter a competition, each lift has its own rules so getting all of those cemented in your mind early on will help you in the long run.
Hire a Coach or Trainer
It’s often tempting to train on our own, but when entering a sport such as powerlifting, hiring a coach might be your best option. Although powerlifting isn’t really a technical sport, it still has its nuances that a professional trainer can help you with. You’ll progress much faster and definitely perform better by having some guidance from someone who knows the sport inside and out. Furthermore, having an eye on your form will make certain that you’re executing the movements correctly which will help keep you injury free.
Focus on Proper Form
Lifting with proper form cannot be stressed enough. Proper form is literally the difference between getting stronger and getting injured. I’ve seen way too many people deadlifting in the gym and their back is just waiting to pop because their form is so lousy. Bad form will also keep you from progressing like you want. Make sure that every time you’re under a barbell, you’re executing the movements like you should.
Be Patient and Consistent
Starting a strength sport is exciting, and at first you’ll make some quick strength gains. Eventually those will taper off and that’s where patience and consistency comes in. You’ll find you hit a plateau, and you’ll be stuck at the same weight for weeks, sometimes even months. It feels like your strength isn’t ever going to progress but if you continue showing up and putting in the work, eventually you’ll be adding more plates to the bar. Consistency is crucial in a sport like powerlifting. You can’t show up half the time and expect to get stronger.
Stay Hydrated and Fueled
Powerlifting takes a tremendous amount of fuel. Your goal is to move as much weight as possible using proper technique and form, and that takes lots of fuel in the tank. If you’re concerned about body composition and leaning out, therefore dropping your calorie intake, you’re going to find your strength decrease and your lifts become harder and heavier. Making sure you’re properly hydrated and fueled will ensure you are as successful as you can be.
Start Light and Gradually Increase Weight
This can’t be stressed enough. With powerlifting being a strength sport, it’s so common to see people heading straight for the big weights and then lifting with absolutely terrible form. They are only asking for injury and eventually their body is going to betray them.
Leave your ego at the door and start with the light weights. Perfect your form, perform your reps slowly and controlled, and you’ll find you progress to the next level much faster and much safer than you expect. No one else cares what weight you’re lifting, and you’ll gain much more respect in the sport if you perform your lifts with less weight but with proper form.
Listen to Your Body
You’re not 22 anymore, so your body is going to tell you things that you need to listen to if you don’t want to get injured. When you start to feel worn down and exhausted, take the time to recover. Or if you feel a twinge that goes beyond the normal muscle soreness, make sure it’s not something bigger such as a pulled muscle that needs to be addressed. Take ice baths, epsom salt baths, or whatever it is that your body is telling you to do.
Add in Other Forms of Training
It’s easy to get hyper focused on your sport at hand and as a young chap you can get by with that. But aging means we have to think out of the box a bit more and add in other types of training such as walking, stretching, or even mixing in other types of weight lifting to your routine. When you’ve got a competition on the horizon you might want to stick to the 3 main lifts to perfect your max weights, but keeping your entire body strong and flexible will be an important factor to your health and wellbeing as you age.
Allow for Proper Recovery
Recovery is a critical point in any exercise routine, but especially when it comes to strength sports. It might feel like a waste of time and like you’re going to lose your strength if you take time to rest but it’s actually quite the opposite. Proper sleep and rest will help increase your strength, especially as we get older. Sometimes less is more, and your coach will be able to help you determine what that looks like for you and your program.
Powerlifting is an exciting and challenging sport. The community surrounding it is strong and supportive with everyone cheering each other on. Don’t let it intimidate you just because you’re getting older. It might be the best thing to happen to you.