Being an athlete takes a lot of dedication and training. Not only do athletes train to master the sport but to become more powerful. As an athlete, they need to make sure that their body is always physically fit to allow them to excel in their sport.
Which brings us to the question: do athletes need to train in powerlifting? What benefits can they get from powerlifting?
What is Powerlifting?
Powerlifting is different from weightlifting. Powerlifting requires the development of maximum strength on the back squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. All these exercise help increase an athlete’s strength. Weightlifting, on the other hand, also requires developing strength but focuses on three movements – the snatch, the clean, and the jerk. Powerlifting concentrates more on developing the strength to perform different functions, while weight lifting is to be able to lift heavy weights overhead.
Now that we have learned about what powerlifting is, let’s explore the reasons why need to train in powerlifting.
Reasons Why Athletes Should Engage in Powerlifting
There are a number of reasons why athletes should engage in powerlifting. The majority of athletes should incorporate powerlifting into their exercise routines. Here’s why:
- Maximum strength training – Powerlifting incorporates squats, bench press, and deadlift that develop an athlete’s strength. Having strength delivers more power to movements with minimum effort. For example, when a runner has stronger leg muscles, he can easily put force into his movements and gain speed. Therefore, stronger athletes use less energy when performing the sport. A conditioned athlete not only has strength but the endurance to perform.
- Agility and Speed in Performance – Powerlifting requires that an athlete completes the exercises quickly. The movements may seem slow to a normal onlooker, but the force required to perform the squats, deadlifts, or bench press should be quick. What does strength have to do with speed? Let’s take the case of a basketball player. When the muscles are stronger, it is easier for the basketball player to exert effort when running across the court. More power, but minimal effort. Therefore, he has more speed to perform the movements.
- Maximum Leg Power – Powerlifting improves strength especially on the lower body. For example, football players who have more strength can run faster. Long-jump athletes can jump higher due to stronger legs with less effort.
- Functional Deadlifts – To an onlooker, it looks like performing deadlifts uses the strength of the arms. Contrary to that, deadlifting requires lower body strength to push the deadlifts over the head in one clean sweep. Therefore, deadlifts do not only target the arms – that is a small factor. Deadlifts require functional movements of the ankles, legs, thighs, and hips to push the deadlifts. This creates a balance of strength and does not create pressure on one region of the body.
- Confidence – When an athlete completes reps, it boosts his or her confidence. It’s a personal achievement when you successfully perform a rep. Not everyone can complete a rep correctly.
- Lesser Injury – Well-developed muscles protect your bones from injury. Muscles cushion the joints and help in smoother movements.
Which Sports Can Benefit from Powerlifting?
Most athletes can benefit from powerlifting regardless of their sport. Let’s take a look at some of the examples:
- Runners and Sprinters – Squats develop the lower body. A stronger lower body helps athletes develop agility and speed. When the leg muscles are stronger, a runner or sprinter can easily make quick leg movements or sharp turns.
- Swimmers – Swimmers need a strong core, leg power, and strong arms. Powerlifting improves leg power through squats and deadlifts. The core is also strengthened with bench presses and deadlifts. The arms become stronger through the process of lifting the weights. The quick movements required for dead lifts also improve the strength of the arms.
- Contact Sports – Contact sports such as basketball, football, and martial arts also benefits from powerlifting. Strength allows the athletes to create enough power with speed and agility. Stronger muscles also mean lesser injury.
- Other Sports – Other sports which require running, twists, and quick movements such as tennis, volleyball, table tennis, and long jumps benefit from powerlifting. Powerlifting develops the muscles which allow stronger and quicker movements without causing injury.
Pros and Cons of Powerlifting
There are always two sides to a coin. Same goes with powerlifting. In addition to the above benefits, let’s explore more of the effects of powerlifting:
- Strength Development – Powerlifting builds a strength foundation.
- Establishing Good Form – A good form helps the athlete perform the exercises correctly for maximum effect. A good form also helps target the proper areas of the body. Also, proper form lessens the risk of injury.
- Focus – Powerlifting entails focus. Focus on the goals. Not focusing could sabotage their performance and lead to injury.
- Focusing Too Much on Strength – Powerlifting should not be a competition of strength. Yes, you need strength but proper form and execution are more important to get the best benefits. Don’t force yourself to lift more than you should.
- Forgetting Other Aspects of Training – If you are not powerlifting for competition, do not disregard other required training for your sport. If your sport requires cardio training or aerobics, powerlifting should be a supplement rather than the main focus in training.
- Focusing on the Big 3 – You don’t need to do all the exercises. If you don’t have enough use for bench presses, you may skip it. Some people also have difficulty adding pressure to the shoulders. If your fitness trainer goes against it, then you must comply. Powerlifting should be an accessory and not the main focus on your athletic training.
Powerlifting Tips for Athletes
All athletes want to excel in their chosen sport. That is why powerlifting is beneficial to those who want to build their strength so they can perform better. Here are some tips on how you can incorporate powerlifting into your training routine:
- Set a schedule – Consult with your professional training how much time you need for your required sports training. Then, you can set aside once a week for powerlifting so that it does not conflict with your training. Don’t try to mix powerlifting with your regular exercise routines or it could cause burnout.
- Think of which parts of your body need more strength – If you are a runner, focus on lower body strength training. Don’t overdo it. Don’t try to lift more than you should because you are not competing.
- Maintain a healthy diet – Powerlifting helps improve muscle mass. You may or may not get bigger muscles. However, due to the added energy you need, your diet needs should also change. Increase your water intake and protein intake. As much as possible, avoid the steroids as this may have negative side effects.
- Observe the experts – You may want to consult with powerlifters and observe proper form. You may also ask them to become your spotter and check for proper form.
Overall, powerlifting has its benefits if done correctly. Athletes need to develop their strength and muscle condition and powerlifting can do this. The trick is to not overdo it. Think of how your sport will benefit and which body areas you need to target. Get feedback and apply it. Weigh the benefits against the negative effects.