Raise your hand if you've heard any of these before: "Benching is bad for your shoulders/elbows...Squatting is bad for your knees...Deadlifting is bad for your back..." I think every person who's spent any decent amount of time weight lifting has their hand up right now, and I do too. In fact, I used to foolishly believe all three of those.
I never used to squat, I never used to deadlift, and I never used to barbell bench.
But now I do, and I do each at least twice a week,
on top of some crazy unconventional lifts that some people say are no good. Here's why:
When I first began my fitness journey I was fairly timid and uneducated. I was afraid to be under a bar in any way, shape, or form. Whether it be squatting, benching, or overhead pressing. I'd watch other guys and girls do these lifts and just think to myself, 'Wow, they're crazy. They're going to have so many problems in the future.' So I observed the impressive feats from a distance and stuck to my 4 sets of 8-12 with very little control over my muscle contractions. I'll touch on this underlined portion later in the article, so keep reading!
It wasn't really until the past 3 years or so that I really started pushing myself in strength training, and not until very recently that I started setting legitimate goals for my Big 3, ie squat, bench, deadlift. There's a certain satisfaction in achieving those kinds of goals. And when you set those kinds of tangible goals for yourself it keeps you coming back with a smile on your face and your nose to the grinding wheel...both in life and in the gym.
The Physical Aspect
One of the things that I really like about power lifting is that it forces you to keep your form in check. I learned the hard way how important that is. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you and say that I've never had any issues from lifting. In my more naive days when I was getting really strong really fast I neglected the importance of form, conditioning, and stretching. And frankly, even if you're not power lifting, you should be taking all three of those into account. Anyhow, I neglected those important factors of lifting, and I hurt myself. Not permanently, not indefinitely, but it sucked. But with attention to those three factors, power lifting movements are actually mechanically efficient and are also set up in a way so that you can avoid injury. Stretching, improving form, and putting your body through proper conditioning makes a world of a difference.
Enough about my issues, let's talk about why I choose to put my body through the physical challenge of power lifting. Explosion, explosion, explosion. Muscle control x3.
Which is to be ready to give 100% at any given moment. That's not necessarily something you get with hypertrophy training. I still do hypertrophy training, but because I put considerable emphasis on power lifting in my training, my fast twitch fibers are always primed and ready to go. It trains you to have better control over your muscles.
That's more of the applicable part of power lifting. The other side of it has to do with why we're all in the gym in the first place. Progress and growth, in whichever way you choose to measure those. I measure my progress by strength increase and muscular development. Power lifting gives me the strength increase that I so desire. And on top of that it lays a great foundation for muscle development as well. Power lifting and strength training creates a certain muscular density that you don't really get from constant hypertrophy training. I'm sure you've seen people who aren't huge, but can push or pull a ton of weight. That is the kind of muscular foundation that power lifting can give you.
The Mental Aspect
I mentioned earlier that the mindset of coming into the gym with a goal to achieve can also benefit you outside of the gym. When I walk into the gym and step up to that bar it's game time. I've got a clear vision in my head of what I'm going to accomplish for that lift. The years and endless hours I've spent with that goal seeking mindset in the gym has translated into my every day life. My work ethic and outlook on adversity through life has changed because of it. If I come across a challenge in life, I now approach it just like I'm approaching the bar at the gym...with the attitude that I'm going to overcome. I will prevail. I will accomplish. And if I don't then I take the necessary steps in order to do so.
My Challenge To You
And really, that's pretty much it! It's fairly cut and dry. I simply love the challenge of power lifting. The structural benefits it can bring your muscles is incredible. The mental training it puts you through is unparalleled. If you've never tried it I challenge you to do so. Or if you don't want to power lift, I challenge you to approach challenges in life in the same way you would "approach the bar", with the mindset to conquer!
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