THE PYRAMID OF POWERLIFTING

Go to any local powerlifting meet and you will see many interesting trends. One trend is that at the smaller meets there are more benchers than deadlifters. Another trend is the relatively newer lifter is the guy making all the noise and shaking all the plates. He is usually the guy who misses his opener as well. Another trend you see in these meets is that there are few women competitors in relation to men. Lastly, there are more Open lifters than Master category lifters.

Let’s examine that last trend. There are indeed pyramids in powerlifting and age is one of them. Lots of young guys at the bottom of the pyramid, fewer older guys at the top. This last trend is of importance in that typically those few master lifters are typically pretty powerful. Not just powerful for their age, but powerful altogether.

How is it that a tennis player gets older and the young guys run them around the court, but in powerlifting, you can still just keep on getting better and better and up to a point, the Master lifter can keep the young guys at bay?

To start with, the comparison is not that strong in that one sport is based upon reaction time and speed whereas powerlifting is based upon years of muscular development, tendon and ligament strength, technique, lack of injury, competition savvy and total focus.

As the legendary Ernie Frantz gets older, for example, he is in fact, up to a point, kept getting stronger, and stronger. Frantz posted, an 820lb squat at 63 years of age weighing only 220lbs; think for a moment of all the 25-30 year olds that are 220lbs. Out of all the ones you can think of, how many of them can squat 800 lbs?

Provided the powerlifter remains relatively unhurt, he/she will continue to get stronger and stronger up to a point, perhaps into his 40’s or 50’s then it is a matter of holding on to those numbers as long as you can before they begin to creep back down. One of the big variables here is when did the lifter begin powerlifting? Looking back at the Tennis analogy, Jimmy Connors lasted a long time in the sport because he began his international competitive play in his mid-twenties where as a kid who begins playing at 4 or 5 will hit his prime internationally as well as burn-out much earlier. Powerlifting in that aspect is similar. If you begin competing seriously in your teens you will hit maximum lifts in your early thirties, late twenties. If you begin in your twenties, you can enjoy new personal records into your forties, etc. The span of power increases is dependent on when you began serious competition, assuming you are training properly and taking in the proper nutrients from day one.

There is indeed a pyramid in age for the powerlifter, and hopefully, we will all end up like a Louie Simmons, Dick Zenzen or Ernie Frantz and see some of our best lifts come from us even when we are sporting that gray goatee.

Powerlifting is a lifelong sport where the lifter although in a competition to win, is ultimately competing against him/herself. So, hats off to the Master Division lifter, because they have truly “been there, done that.”

Ever Onward,
Eric C. Maroscher