POWERLIFTING: To Compete, or Not To Compete…that is the question.

Pick just about any 12-week chunk of time this year, last year, or from the year before. Unless you were married, went on a vacation, or won the lottery, chances are that if you compare your 12-week chunk of time to any other there is very little variation.

If you are a serious lifter your last 12 weeks are similar to the prior 12 as will be similar to the next twelve. Serious squat training, deadlifting and benching with some scrap parts thrown in for good measure. So, although these 12 weeks might include some difference in the order or arrangement of the movements, or you might be pushing a little bit less or little bit more weight per set, the bottom line is that the routine is basically the same with some great and not so great workouts in the middle.

Take a moment and think about this if you will: If you are that guy in the gym that has if not the best but one of the better squats, benches or deadlifts, who is there for you to compete with? Who is there who will push you beyond your limitations? Who is there for you to start a healthy rivalry with? This is one of the many reasons why the competition is one of the staples to your continued growth as not only a powerlifter but as a person too.

Let’s face it, Ed Coan is easily the best lifter in (Quad’s) his gym. But through years of training for meets, and working to beat his own personal best at each and every meet, Ed has shown the world but more importantly himself that he is the best pound per pound powerlifter that has ever walked the face of this planet. The legendary Ernie Frantz told me one day after we finished squatting that if you keep setting personal records, you will begin to set state, then national, and eventually world records. The key to this chain of events is the mindset that goes into training for the competition.

No one can sustain one constant lifting cycle month after month or year after year. If that were the case the world would be full of 1000lb squatters and 700lb benchers. The reality of the matter is that we have a finite number of weeks we can put our all-out best efforts into until we hit our peak, then we have to back off, rest our tendons, back, knees muscles and mind. Then we begin again. However, this time, at week one of this cycles’ training we began where we were on week three of the last cycle so we are in a constant state of progress.

Another great example of one’s love of training as a means to an end is Svend Karlsen. Svend loves to train but uses, in his case, the World’s Strongest Man Competition as an endpoint to a training cycle. Baseball players have a season, as do football players and even bodybuilders. Just ask Jeff Everson how long the world-class bodybuilder can stay in competition shape maintaining that harsh a training schedule, that torturous of a diet, and that strict a supplement plan. They hit their peak hopefully that day and hour they are on stage. They need the off time of their season or they would all burn out completely. Powerlifting, although not having a season per se, does, however, have its time frames. For example in the APF, March/April, State Championships, May, Nationals, and November is time for the World Powerlifting Championships.

How strong are you? More importantly, how strong can you get? These are two fundamental questions that the competition can help you derive an answer from.

Take some time, find a competition that is about 12-14 weeks out in a location you are somewhat familiar with and start to train. Look at your max efforts now, place them around week 8 or 9 of your training and come to meet time if your plan is sound and your training, rest and nutrition are solid you will enter a new level of personal success. You will have blown past a plateau because of the plan and your perseverance. After the meet, take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, train but just for the enjoyment of training for a couple of weeks, then go for it again.

So the next time someone asks you what you have been up to over the last 12 weeks, your answer might be like Scot Mendelson’s answer might have been like this past November, “Oh, well I just got back from being the first man to bench press over 700lbs outside of the United States of America while I was competing at the WPC World’s in South Africa. What have you been up to?”

Go find a meet…start to train…compete…and look back and say “I have NO regrets, because I went for it…and I will go for it again, and again, and again.”

Ever Onward,
Eric C. Maroscher