Nov 5th, 2011
Lydia setting up for a squat attempt in Pleasanton in January
On Sunday, Tamara and Lydia will travel to Super Training Gym in Sacramento to compete in a powerlifting meet. Today’s post will focus on what happens at a meet and to perhaps encourage some of you to compete at one in the future.
Powerlifting is a strange name for a sport where power is not the contested attribute. Strength is defined as a person’s ability to generate force against an external resistance. Power is the ability to display strength quickly. For example, a 600 pound deadlift will probably come off the floor and proceed to lockout slowly. The lifter will exert significant force (a display of strength), but the bar will not be going too fast. That same lifter might be able to clean 300 pounds. In the case of the 300 pound clean, the bar must move very quickly once it is above the knee, or the lift will not happen. A deadlift requires strength. A clean requires power. Powerlifting is a test of strength, but how fast the weight is moved is not important. Hence, power is not the primary concern in powerlifting.
No matter the nomenclature, a powerlifting meet consists of three contested lifts: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. A lifter has three attempts at each lift. Only one repetition is required for each attempt. When the results of the lifts are summed, the person with the highest total wins. Of course, there are weight classes to provide a more equal playing field and there are formulae that are often used to provide roughly comparable results between lifters of various weights. Depending upon how the meet is run, the results of the formula may actually determine the winner. The most important takeaway is that the lifter has nine chances to build a total and place in the meet. If a lifter cannot successfully complete at least one attempt at each of the movements, then they do not earn a total and are disqualified from placing, although they can continue to lift. No one likes to bomb out of a meet.
It is important to note that once a lifter attempts a weight, the only direction the poundage can go in subsequent attempts is up. Therefore, it is important to pick an opening weight for each lift that is easily manageable. The idea is to get on the board with the opener. Thereafter, the weights can climb and personal records can be set. Missing an opener because it is too heavy is a bad way to start things off and often results in not making a total. Hurt feelings are sure to follow.
Powerlfitng meets tend to be all day affairs. Despite the significant time commitment, they are a great deal of fun. First and foremost, you get to wear a singlet which qualifies as perhaps the finest article of clothing known to man. Stepping up to the bar in front of a crowd cheering you on is exhilarating and promotes maximum force production. You are highly incentivized to put everything you have into successfully completing the lift when you have people watching and yelling. Hitting personal records in training is good, but hitting personal records on the platform in front of three judges is even better. With competent judging, you have independent confirmation that you achieved the proper depth in the squat, or kept your butt on the bench while pressing. I highly recommend competing in general and a powerlifting meet is wonderful place to test your strength and know for sure that you performed the lift to accepted standards.
Good luck to Tami and Lydia this weekend. The meet in Sacramento on Sunday is for women only. The men compete on Saturday. There’s a chance that Tami and Lydia will be competing alongside the mighty Laura Phelps-Sweatt, too. Lift some big weights for us.