While lifting weights may seem straightforward on the surface, it truly requires deep understanding and education to master powerlifting technique and to take part in the universal sport.
Here we will delve into the fundamental techniques of powerlifting, focusing on the squat, bench press, and deadlift, the three core lifts that define this very sport. Whether you are a beginner looking to start your powerlifting journey or an experienced lifter seeking to refine your skills, mastering these techniques will elevate your performance and lead you to new personal records.
#1 The Squat
The squat is something you’ve probably seen before, whether you’re a professional or not. It is the perfect holistic exercise that targets major muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Perfecting your squat technique not only enhances your performance, but also reduces the risk of injury. Far too often people increase their weight on their squat, lifting heavier and heavier yet consistently neglecting proper technique - maybe it's to feed the ego? It is a difficult truth but something far more common than you may think.
If you’re feeling that this could be you, don’t fret! Many of us have been through this stage, and whether it is growing maturity, or an educational instructor that makes us shift into suppressing our ego and conducting our lifts more safely, it all equates to the same.
The truth is, the safer you lift, the more you can lift. So, these are some things to keep in mind during your lift and we recommend practicing these techniques even with no weight on the bar so you can truly perfect it before moving up in weights.
Here are the key elements to focus on:
Stance and Foot Positioning
Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, toes pointing slightly outward.
Ensure that your weight is evenly distributed across your feet to maintain balance throughout the lift.
Bar Placement and Grip
Position the barbell on your upper back, resting on your traps and rear deltoids.
Maintain a tight grip throughout the lift and lock in your positioning with a tight back.
Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees simultaneously.
Descend until your hip crease is below your knees, ensuring your knees track in line with your toes.
Maintain a tight core throughout the lift to support your spine and prevent rounding.
Drive through your heels as you ascend, pushing your hips forward to complete the movement.
Should you need to lean forward, do so - it is a common misconception that you’re unable to tilt. Tilting is fine, think of a tilt rather than a bend, for better clarity on this movement take a look at this video here.
The Bench Press
The bench press is a classic compound lift that primarily targets the chest. Proper bench press technique is essential to maximise your upper body strength and protect your shoulders from injury; so, let's explore the key components:
Lie flat on the bench with your eyes aligned directly under the barbell.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground, creating a stable base.
Arch your back while keeping your glutes on the bench, this will help you gain some power from your legs. (Yes, your legs!)
Hand Placement and Grip
Take a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your wrists stacked directly above your elbows, but don't put the weight in your wrists - ensure the press is coming from the right place.
Grip the bar tightly, engaging your forearms and creating tension throughout your upper body.
Lower the barbell in a controlled manner to your mid-chest, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle.
Push the barbell upward in one swift strong movement, maintaining a tight grip and engaging your chest and triceps throughout the movement.
Lock out your elbows at the top and pause momentarily before starting the next repetition.
The deadlift is the ultimate test of raw strength, targeting the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and grip. Executing the deadlift correctly will allow you to move more weight efficiently and safely.
Side note: There are various deadlifts, for this instance , we’ll be talking about the standard, traditional deadlift, no variation. Let us know in the comments if you want us to go over the deadlift variations in our next post.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with the barbell over the middle of your feet.
Bend at the hips and knees to grip the barbell just outside your legs, using either a double overhand or mixed grip.
Drop your hips down, straighten your back, and lift your chest, creating tension in your hamstrings and lower back.
Ensure your shoulders are slightly in front of the barbell, and your arms are straight.
Initiate the lift by pushing through your heels, driving your hips forward, and standing up tall.
Keep the barbell close to your body as you lift, maintaining a neutral spine throughout.
At the top, lock out your hips and shoulders, standing erect with your chest proud.
Lower the barbell back to the ground with control, hinging at the hips and maintaining tension in your muscles.
The Importance of Progressive Overload
In powerlifting, progression is key to continually improving your strength and performance. Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the weight you lift or the intensity of your workouts over time.
This approach challenges your muscles to adapt and grow stronger, enabling you to reach new heights in your powerlifting journey. We have an extensive guide on progressive overload here for more information, but these are the basics to remember.
Tracking Your Progress
Keep a detailed training journal to record your lifts, sets, and repetitions, along with any notes about your form or how you felt during the workout.
Monitor your progress and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.
Structuring Your Training
Follow a well-structured powerlifting program that includes the squat, bench press, and deadlift, along with accessory exercises to address weak points and imbalances.
Gradually increase the weight you lift, adhering to proper form and technique.
Before You Go…
Consistency and dedication are the keys to success in powerlifting. Respect your body, listen to its cues, and always prioritise safety. With time, effort, and perseverance, you will break barriers, set new personal records, and uncover the true potential of your strength.
So, step onto the platform with confidence, and if you need any help in hitting your powerlifting goals get in touch with us here at Infinity Performance for more information.