Over the past couple of years we have seen major changes to what we would associate with a typical gym. Gone are the days of walking into a complex and being tied to the minimalistic approach of pre-loaded machines and the standard line up of treadmills and crosstrainers which dominated 80% of the floor space. Free weights, dumbbell racks, rigs and barbells were reserved for the few old school gyms, tucked away and known for their regular hardcore lifters, absolute titans shifting huge weights, veterans of iron. An intimidating thought for a gym newbie or your standard commercial
gym goer to step into their territory right?
But fast forward to the present day, gyms evolved, we saw squat racks take over, huge dumbbell racks accommodating weights for all, machines where moved, barbells and plate stands now
occupied the once overcrowded spaces.
Not only did our standard equipment change but the way we trained changed to. More variety was presented to us, any questions we had where only a click away with a plethora of information available to us on the internet, communities came together on websites, videos on youtube from all kinds of trainers, athletes, bodybuilders, crossfitters and fitness professionals alike where only a click away. So with all this information available, so many styles of training coming to light and all the
knowledge attainable at hand it begged the question what now?
Like many of us I started my training journey in my teens at a commercial gym, no free weights, plenty of pre-loaded machines and even more exercise bikes and treadmills to boot. Not entirely sure what I was doing I jumped in with nothing but one goal in mind, I wanted to build muscle and
look good, sound familiar?
A few years passed and I mastered what I grasped to be the basics, your standard 3 sets of 10 reps, training specific body parts frequently in hopes to stack more muscle on my frame, which as a guy lets be honest I hit arms probably most if not every session. As my body progressed on what little knowledge I had and lifting on the same groups of machines each day curiosity began to peak, I started researching everything, following people who inspired me, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, typical action movie heroes that most guys physiques aspire to be. I’d search the internet trying to absorb as much information as possible on optimal training routines, which exercises
worked best, what and when to eat for maximum gains!!
The more I learnt and the more I grew, the realisation came about, I needed a proper gym with free weights, barbells, benches, squat racks and those giant metal plates clattering together id saw on the videos of bodybuilding champions lifting at the Gold’s gym. I wanted to see how many plates I could bench press, I wanted the feeling of a loaded barbell across my back as I tried to squat the big weights id saw people crush.
A few months later I felt like I’d struck gold. A new local gym opened different from your standard commercial gyms it had everything id been wishing for, all the equipment I’d been dying to get my hands on was finally accessible, I joined instantly and got to work. I trained hard, continued researching and attained a physique I was pretty happy with But after running the same programming and sticking to the same routine for a good while things began to turn stale, the hunger to train began to slip away and I couldn’t help wondering if there was something more,
something that could re-spark my interests.
And so began the pursuit of strength and powerlifting.
At this point I’d attained my first goal I’d set as a teenager and gained a physique I was happy with, but a new goal had emerged. At first it wasn’t so much as to be the world’s greatest powerlifter, I still hadn’t entered that world yet, but more a case of I just wanted to be strong. I wanted the body I’d created to be functional I didn’t want to struggle with any manual day to day tasks, weather it’d be at my job moving pallets of merchandise around the warehouse or at home doing d.i.y tasks, moving the furniture while decorating, digging through the garden to lay tons of top soil down to
level our massively uneven lawn.
With the new goal in mind I set to begin training, the old typical sets I used to do where a thing of the past. Higher weight lower rep sets became the foundation. The new goal was to stacking as much weight on the barbell as I could and successfully lifting it. My idols then changed, I became more influenced by lifters who could shift huge weights. After more research it was then I came
across the sport of powerlifting.
The sport of powerlifting is a demonstration of maximal strength in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Months of training culminate in just one day of testing each lift.
Training became more meaningful again. I had a goal with unlimited potential, it became less about what I looked like in the mirror and more of how much I could increase my strength in the big three
lifts, squat, bench and deadlift.
This goal had function; strength is never a weakness in all aspects of life. Not only did powerlifting increase my strength, the form and technique required to move such weights taught my body control and efficiency. The mobility to perform a full squat under load allowed my body to move through a geater range of motion than ever before, the strength acquired
through deadlifting made my back bulletproof.
Powerlifting is a full body workout, strengthening nearly every skeletal muscle. Squats work to strengthen the legs and hips more than many other training alternatives. The deadlift strengthens the entire posterior chain a group of muscles we constantly use in day to day life through basic movements, whether it’s a 67 year old grandmother bending to pick up a grandchild or a mechanic leaning into the hood of your car to fit a new part. Finally the bench press strengthens most of the muscles of the upper body within in one movement! Eliminating the need to spend more time in the
gym working each muscle individually.
Not only is Powerlifting is an intense form of exercise to gain strength it also burns a great deal of calories. One of the benefits of intense training is not just the calories you burn while training, but the long term effect this has on your metabolism. A recent study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," study participants undergoing resistance training increased their caloric demands over a 24-hour period by 15 percent. Resistance training such as powerlifting has long
been shown to be effective for fat loss.
Finally powerlifting in a transferable skill, a lot of athletes across a variety of sports undertake some form of strength training. A study in “British journal of sports medicine” showed a direct correlation between squat strength and sprint speed, there was also a direct correlation between squat strength and vertical leap. So if you want to run faster or jump higher build a bigger squat through powerlifting. The strength of your back contributes to many other athletic abilities whether it be a rugby player holding the line in a scrum or an MMA fighter maintaining a dominant position in a grapple. There are few activities where being strong does not help in one way or another.
In summary whether you’re new to training or like myself you just want something more out of hitting the gym. Powerlifting is a great start, built on a solid foundation of the main three lifts and covering nearly all bases of training including strength, building muscle and fat loss why not put your time into a rewarding program that will constantly give back, improve your overall functionality and give you a solid set of skills that will transfer into a chosen sport or general life.
Strength is never a weakness
Marv runs a powerlifting based strength class every Friday at 5.15pm - First time completely FREE