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The Process

Why Powerlifters Don't Progress

Why Powerlifters Don’t Progress

As lifters, we often have expectations of steady and progressive increases in strength from comp to comp. But, just as with life, strength progression is messy and unpredictable. Considering the number of factors that you need to get right in powerlifting, you’re up for a mighty challenge to progress

Let’s take a look at the two most important factors.

Platform execution will be the factor that has the largest impact, particularly if it doesn’t go to plan. Attempt selection, lift execution and platform psychology will have big implications. 

These, as well as most lifters being required to successfully attempt their third lifts to lock in new strength gains. 

If these are particular issues you struggle with, here is some general advice:

  • Hire a good coach. 
  • Take more conservative attempts.
  • Emulate training conditions to comp conditions. Eg. ref standard calls, time between attempts.
  • Get your mind right well before the day. There are some excellent resources out there on sports psychology. Bob Rotella’s “How Champions Think” is a personal favourite.

Second, is the far more obvious factor of not being any stronger. 

This can come down to factors like insufficient time between comps, poorly designed training programs and poor nutrition and recovery protocols.

What I most commonly see is people competing far too often! Although platform experience is good, training to get stronger is better. And that requires staying off the platform and building a large base with rep work in the 6-10 range. If that bores you, then you’re not going to go very far.

This feeds into the next point. Designing a long term effective training program is not rocket science, but does require some thought and planning. 

Implementing different phases simply takes time and if you rush the process through, training adaptations are not optimised. Communicate with your coach or sit down and plan out a training schedule for your next comp.

Also closely related to this is what you do outside the gym. 

Sleep and nutrition are vital components to facilitate recovery. And it happens to be where true champions create distance. If you’re going by what the rest of the population does sleep/nutrition wise while performing hard training, you’re in for a rough time. Sleeping 6 hours a night and having a haphazard diet is not going to cut it. 

Sleep should be long. As long as your schedule allows you. 7.5-9 hours a night is best! Your diet should be structured to your goals. Implementing measured caloric surpluses/deficits to optimise your body composition and providing fuel to power hard workouts is essential to long term success. 

You may have heard most of the content above. That’s a good thing!

But knowing and doing are very separate things. 

You can’t know the process, you must do it. 

You can’t rush or cheat it either, and that’s why it appeals to so many people.