Different than Olympic weightlifting or bodybuilding, the goal of competitive powerlifting is to be able to handle the most amount of weight possible when performing a squat, bench press, and deadlift. These athletes can lift a serious amount of weight, with the men’s national records for squats and deadlifts reaching as high as 800 pounds and over 500 for bench press. While only the elite in the sport can enter these numbers, powerlifters strive to lift much more than the average person. While every powerlifting workout routine should have a variety of exercises with barbells to strengthen your body as a whole, mastering the three core competition moves are essential for being successful.

1. Squats

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Squats are a staple move that focuses most on developing strong legs while also engaging the core and other parts of the body. Lifting as heavy as possible for this exercise while still maintaining pristine form is the best way to increase your lifting power and gain serious mass.

Using a high-capacity squat stand, adjust the metal posts so that the bar is positioned right below your shoulders. The ideal starting position allows you to place both of your shoulders under the bar and hold it with both hands about shoulder-width apart. Position your feet slightly wider than your hips, bend your knees slightly, and push the bar. Squat back as if sitting in a chair, making sure to keep your back straight and knees directly above your ankles. Keep lowering until your bottom is lower than a 90-degree angle. Continue to engage your muscles as you lift the weight back up to a standing position.

2. Bench Press

The bench press is a combination workout that primarily targets your chest. However, you also need strong shoulders and triceps to handle heavyweight with this workout. Best performed with power cages, and you should use a barbell set to lift three-digit numbers. Place a bench inside the power rack and adjust the cage so that the bar is positioned a few inches above your chest when lying down. Grab the bar and push up and out to begin. Gently lower the bar to your chest and then lift it until your arms are straight.

3. Deadlift

With a standard deadlift, start with the barbell on the ground right in front of your feet. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Bend down, making sure to tighten your core to avoid rounding your back and causing injury. Grab the bar, lift your chest, and stand up with the weight, locking your knees and hips. Push your hips back and lower to return to the ground and repeat the workout. This exercise mainly targets your lower back and hamstrings, but they engage muscles in the upper body and core as well.

Whether looking to become a powerlifter or to beat your own personal record, mastering the squat, bench press, and deadlift will give you a strong foundation to becoming stronger than you ever were before. Invest in the right equipment that can help you reach your goals without accidentally injuring yourself during training.

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