Powerlifting is a strength sport where you basically lift the heaviest weight that you can in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift events and there will be referees to call if it is a “good lift” or a “bad lift”.
You might have been doing some of these exercises (or variations of it) in your own gym or you’ve probably seen a few people do these exercises already. Maybe you’ve been thinking about ditching the dumbbells and going for the barbells and the iron plates but aren’t sure why you should try it just yet.
In the first quarter of this year, I started powerlifting after the TBR marathon and I immediately fell in love with it. I saw how the sport improved the quality of life of many people, including myself. And so I wanted to share with you guys 5 reasons that made me fall in love with powerlifting and hopefully convince you to give this sport a try too! 😊
1. There are no such things as “strong for a girl” or “strong for his/her age” there is only “strong”
I cannot recall how many times someone came up to me and told me that I shouldn’t be lifting “heavy weights” much because I’m a woman or that if I lift anything more than a 10lbs dumbbell… “I will get too big and muscular”. And for a long time, I actually fell into this mentality.
Disclaimer: Girls, you will not get too big if you lift! There are so many reasons for girls to get into lifting and I’ve written some in the article “Girl, Do You Even Lift?”
When I discovered powerlifting, my view on lifting heavy weights totally changed because I became surrounded by very strong men and women who know that strength has no gender and age – Strong is simply strong.
In powerlifting, anyone can lift.
The first thing I loved about powerlifting is the mentality that anyone can lift and be strong. It doesn’t matter what your fitness background is and it doesn’t matter how old or young you are. In fact, there are divisions in powerlifting for children under 14 years old and for high school students, divisions for lifters who are above 40 years old, and powerlifting competitions for PWDs as well!
2. It gives you a new reason to appreciate and love your body
Social media and the television have painted this particular picture of what our ideal body should look like. For girls, it’s to have skinny arms, a very flat tummy, and thighs that are thin enough for a “thigh gap”. For guys, it’s to have the sculpted 6 pack abs and a Captain America kind of biceps.
And there is nothing wrong with that! These people probably have the ideal body fat percentage of an athlete or something! But it takes an enormous amount of time and effort (not to mention a huge role that our genetics play) to achieve these bodies.
What powerlifting did for me and for many powerlifters I know is this:
It made us realize that there is so much more that the body is capable of than just being “bikini body or summer body perfect”. It gave us a new reason and motivation to go to the gym– to be stronger and better than who we were yesterday.
I used to workout 4 or 5 times a week and eat less than 1500 calories a day just to fit in a dress. Yet despite losing a few pounds, I was still insecure and unhappy.
The transition of choosing to be strong and not skinny made me look at the mirror with fresh eyes because what I see in front of me is not someone trying to look like someone else anymore – it’s me, slowly trying to be stronger and healthier in my own way and in my own pace.
3. It teaches a lot about humility and patience.
You see, it’s not just about lifting the bar off the floor. It’s about understanding the safest and most efficient way of doing so. And that had a lot to do with leaving the ego aside when training.
To be quite honest, I thought I was strong until I tried powerlifting. I’ve always had a bigger body type compared to most of my friends and I’ve been “sort-of-kinda” living an active lifestyle. So when I first approached a barbell for a deadlift, I wanted to immediately lift 70 kilos because I saw powerlifting girls younger and thinner than me lift the same weight and more! I ended up failing to lift the bar off the ground and embarrassing myself in the gym because of my very bad form.
You see, this sport has its own way of instilling humility when you see how much time and work the strongest have really put into getting where they are. It teaches patience that you have to earn the right to lift a particular weight. It teaches you to respect your body’s current capacity while still slowly pushing your limit.
4. Seeing your progress is priceless
I’ve seen girls who weigh below 47 kilograms and can deadlift more than 200 pounds and guys who are above 80 kilos but are very ripped and can squat more than 500 pounds any day.
But the best part of their stories is whenever you hear them say “dati nga hindi ko mabuhat kahit 20kg bar lang” or “hirap na hirap nga ako sa pushups at pullups dati”. And you see them reminiscing these things with a smile on their face because they know that they’ve come so far.
Every week of training where you add even just a few pounds to what you used to lift or even just days where you finally get that technique or groove gives an immense sense of fulfillment and validation that you’re doing something good – that you have actual control on your progress and strength. You will start to value big and small signs of progress equally because you’ve experienced the hard work it took to get them.
As what a good friend and Powerlifting National Record Holder, Raymond Debuque, said:
“At the end of the day, Powerlifting was never about the medals and rankings…. it’s about you and how far you can push your body to be as strong as possible.”
5. There is so much to love about the competition
One thing I commonly hear about powerlifting competition is this: what’s the difference between lifting a Personal Record in the gym and a personal record in the competition?
The answer: None and a lot.
Technically speaking, if you can lift a weight in the gym with a good and safe form, then great. That’s a PR for you!
But so much in the sense that the environment cannot be compared to anything. You’ll hear strangers cheer for you and shout “BUHHAAATTT!!!” or “UPPPPP!!!” in the most enthusiastic way as if you’ve trained with them your whole life.
You’ll hear your competitors shout “You got this” even if it will cost them their medal if you succesfully squat that weight. And you’ll encounter referees who will sit there for hours and meticulously check all your lifts and numbers for pro bono.
You’ll see people warming up and being at their most nervous state. You’ll witness the strongest ones unable to hide their disappointments upon failing a lift yet still so determined to redeem themselves. And then you’ll witness different individuals on the platform at their happiest and proudest because they just made a personal best!
It’s just all raw emotions coming to life in the 1 minute that you are given in the platform.
It’s about that one day of celebration of being as strong as you can be with the people who want to push you to be even stronger.