Things to know when taking up powerlifting

  1. It’s hard physically.

Lifting heavy things off the ground is really hard. Especially when you get up to multiples of your bodyweight. Especially when you have to train first thing in the morning. It grinds you down and wears you out and makes you ache most of the time. Powerlifting will find every physical weakness you have and explain it to you in exquisite detail.


  1. It’s hard mentally.

I have been close to tears at the end of a heavy set of squats. The only thing harder was going back to do another set. Once you get reasonably strong, every training weight is enough to cause you permanent damage if you screw it up, and your body knows it. Finding the grit to go back and do it again and again can be impossibly difficult some days, especially when you’re underslept/underfed/stressed/cranky/over it.


  1. Eating a lot of food is hard.

You scoff now, but training only takes three hours a week.  Eating takes about three hours per day. Past a certain point of strength it takes an unholy amount of food to support further improvement. Shifting the weight on the scale upwards usually takes serious, concerted effort, especially for more lightly-built lifters. Eating is work and it stops being fun.


  1. You will never be as good as you were in the first few months.

There is a thing called the novice progression.  Basically it means that for the first 3-6 months of your serious lifting life you will gain strength very rapidly, possibly doubling or tripling it. This is exhilarating – one month you’re squatting the empty bar and a couple of months later you’re squatting 150% of your bodyweight.

And then it stops.  You spend the remainder of your career trying to push your weights upwards by a few kilos. And those few kilos are really hard work and rely on you getting the rest of your eating/sleeping schedule worked out. You will never regain that feeling of rapidly increasing competence.


  1. It’s ugly to look at.

Have you even seen a good powerlifter? Most of them are really fat, those that aren’t tend to be ugly.  The movements themselves look ugly and uncomfortable and tend to make the lifter look like they’re about to either have a stroke or shit themselves. Ugh.


  1. You will need a high tolerance for boredom.

There are only three lifts in powerlifting and they’re not too technically difficult. As a result, there’s not a lot of variety in training. There may be some assistance work that resembles what the bodybuilders do in the gym, but powerlifters will always squat, bench press or deadlift as the main training. You need to be ok with this.


  1. It brings a new set of social norms with it.

Once you’ve been seriously lifting for a while you’ll start to form opinions about other styles of lifting which you never would have considered in the past.  Powerlifters think bodybuilders are vain and look ridiculous. Bodybuilders think powerlifters are fat brutes. Olympic lifters think their style of lifting is magical and superior. Everyone hates Crossfit except the Crossfit people who LOVE it.

You will take on one or more of these views and be ok with it.




  1. Dieting is a thing of the past.
  2. You can’t beat the sense of achievement from a deadlift PR.
  3. Who wants to live an ordinary life anyway?

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