The sport of Powerlifting explained with information on the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift. What do Gene Rychlak, Mike Miller, Andy Bolton, and Garry Frank have in common? They hold the World Records and are the best at the Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift, and Total respectively!
The sport of Powerlifting is designed to test a weight lifter’s absolute strength in 3 static lifts. These three lifts, the Squat, Bench Press, and the Deadlift are supposed to represent the three main forms of lifting weights, Pushing, Pulling, and Squatting.
Improve your Powerlifting with this great deadlift article.
The Squat is considered by many to be the most important and productive form of strength exercise in existence. A powerlifter can use more weight in this exercise than in any other, by using the strong legs, hips and back to their full advantage. Doing a maximum effort Squat also takes some courage. Unlike some exercises, if you can’t lift the weight, you could be in for a serious injury. It is very important to have a spotter around who knows how to spot for a person squatting with heavy weights.
Competitive Powerlifting usually demands that lifters wear special Squat Suits to give them support and help them lift more weight. They also wear knee wraps and thick Power Belts. Some of them also wear Groove Briefs, which are basically the bottom half of a squat suit, underneath their Squat Suit. Powerlifting equipment is essential to be competitive at the National Level and higher!
The world record in the Squat was held by my friend Brent Mikesell at 1141 pounds, until Mike Miller broke it with 1200 pounds in 2005!
The Bench Press is definitely the most popular of the Power Lifts. What question is more common among weight lifters than, “How much can you Bench?” This is the pressing exercise that almost everybody can lift the most weight on. From Football players to Gym Rats, everybody likes to do the Bench Press.
A Powerlifting Bench Press is done a little differently than most people perform the exercise. Generally speaking, you want to arch your back so that only your traps, neck and buttocks are in contact with the bench. This arch shortens the distance that the bar has to travel to lockout. It also places your pressing muscles in a position with better leverage, allowing you to use your lats to help press. In a competition, a lifter is required to lower the bar to the chest under control, pause until given a press signal (in most organizations), and press the bar evenly to lockout.
Most competitors use a special Bench Press Shirt, which helps them to lift more weight. Much like the difference between a Yugo and a Ferrari, Bench Shirts vary in strength and performance. The least expensive shirt will probably help you lift ten to twenty pounds more than you can lift without the shirt. Some of the best lifters, with top-of-the-line shirts, can add about 200 pounds to their top lift! Of course, not all organizations allow all of the shirt styles, and they can cost over 200 dollars for the best shirts. The current world record in this lift is Gene Rychlak with 1005 pounds!
The Deadlift is the most primitive and basic of all of the powerlifts in my opinion. You bend over and grasp a bar loaded with weight, squat down, and stand up with it. It sounds simple, but becomes difficult when you load several hundred pounds on the bar!
While there are suits to help a person lift more, they don’t help nearly as much as Squat Suits and Bench Shirts help those lifts. As a matter of fact, many people find that they hurt more than they help. I have found that a Deadlift Suit does help me explode off of the ground better, but it also makes it impossible to breathe at the bottom. I have to take a big breath, quickly dip down to the bar and pull it up, before I can take another breath. The biggest problem with this is that it is difficult to get a good grip on the bar when I am rushing like this. I have had the bar slip out of my hands more than once because of this, and that means no lift. When I rush, I also have a harder time getting into proper pulling position, so that I can use the best leverage possible. Several of the top Deadlifters of all-time choose not to use any kind of additional support other than a belt for the Deadlift. The world record in this lift is 937 pounds by Andy Bolton of England.
In the sport of Powerlifting, the winner is decided by adding the weight lifted in each of the three exercises together. That total weight is your score. There are contests for just Bench Press, or just Deadlift, but in Powerlifting, the Total is King. For that reason, I consider the King to be Garry Frank. He was the first person to total 2500, 2600, and the only person to total 2700 and 2800. Who knows where he will stop?
How to improve your Bench Press
Check out my powerlifting video clips right here!