I watched my first ever powerlifting competition on the weekend. It was a local competition and was billed as a “fun meet” and had just eight competitors. You can read the results here. The meet was held at a local Goodlife gym on a Saturday afternoon. It seemed funny walking by all the people lifting relatively light weights on machines to get through to the back studio where the competition was taking place.
I went because one of the big guys I most like to throw around at Aikido was competing. I know if I can move Steve that I’ve got my technique correct!
Powerlifing is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. It’s different than the sport of Olympic lifting which I think might be more familiar to the average person.
Olympic lifting is more speed, power, and timing. Powerlifting is a straight strength competition. And they each feature different lifts. Olympic lifting is the clean and jerk and the snatch. Powerlifting is squat, bench press, and deadlift.
And of course there’s some argument back and forth about which is best.
With their proposed popularity comes a little controversy. Many Olympic lifters and powerlifters proclaim their style of training as the “method of choice” for training athletes. Each method of training elicits a unique training philosophy, program, and outcome. For instance, “Olympic-style weightlifting is an excellent training method for developing power. It consists of two movements—the clean and jerk and the snatch. The derivatives of those movements are what make up the majority of the training exercises” (Gambetta 2007). Unlike its name, powerlifting is a training method that focuses on maximum strength. “Powerlifting is centered on the three competition lifts of the squat, bench press, and the deadlift; powerlifting develops strength in almost all major muscle groups” (Piper & Erdmann 1998).
The mood at the competition seemed friendly and supportive. There were two women competing, both young, but a few older women watching who usually lift but who were injured at the time. Some of the younger people were brand new to ccompetition. One young man had driven down from further north and his parents had to run out and get knee high socks. They were new to the idea of deadlifting socks which are required. I noticed that pretty much everyone had the other gear, one piece suits, special lifting shoes, and belts.
It struck me, watching, that you’d have to be not at all self conscious about your weight to compete. The screen displaying the weight the person was attempting also displayed their body weight.
I was curious too to see the weights the women were lifting. While there was some overlap between the first weights they attempted and my personal best, they were–no surprise here since this is their thing–much stronger than me.
Since moving to CrossFit, I still squat (see Get your ass to grass: Squats and functional fitness) and deadlift (Why deadlift? I mean, besides for the cool socks) but I haven’t done a bench press in years. Now, I want to know. I might have to sneak into the weight room before Aikido someday and find out what my max bench press is.