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Powerlifting at Home: Tips for Training in Lockdown

Powerlifting at Home: Tips for Training in Lockdown

Lockdown has put a halt on pretty much everything at the moment and training at the gym is no exception to that. There are a lucky few who have their own equipment and can continue training at home, but not everybody has that luxury. The question now is are we going to let that force us into a hiatus and take a few steps back until the gyms reopen, or are we going to look at other ways of training and keep making progress?

For the most part, the latter seems easy enough. Utilising bodyweight workouts, going out for a run or increasing your step count and managing your diet accordingly is a fantastic and gym-free way to keep smashing your goals and moving forward in your fitness journey. One community that may struggle with working on their goals during a lockdown are Powerlifters.

A Powerlifter is someone who competes in a sport centred around 3 main lifts: The Squat, The Bench Press and The Deadlift – all of which are Barbell movements. Without access to Barbells and other appropriate equipment such as racks and a bench, training for Powerlifting might not seem like an attainable goal. However, there is work that can be done outside of training with barbells that can attribute to Powerlifters goal. Thus keep them moving in the right direction without training in their ideal conditions – such as with barbells and racks, etc.

One method that we can look at straight away is Muscle Building. No matter your age, gender, weight class or any other factors; you need to build muscle to be strong. And contrary to many gym bro’s beliefs, you can use bodyweight exercises to build muscle. In general, for each of the powerlifting movements, you need muscles to be big enough to produce the force required to lift bigger weights.

For a big Squat, you need big Quads, big Glutes and strong Abs. For a big Bench Press, you need big Shoulders, Pectorals and Triceps. For a big Deadlift, you need a big Back, Big Hamstrings… you get the picture. While you may not be able to directly train the barbell movements and develop strength and technique that way, you can spend time building up the muscle groups and doing exercises you may not have done before. Depending on where you are in your Powerlifting journey – this may be just what you need to break a big plateau!

So let’s say we’re now in a position to start tackling our new goal of building muscle – how do we do this without a gym?

This is going to fall into 2 different types of approaches – those who have equipment such as dumbbells and kettlebells, and those who have no equipment. Those with equipment can perform similar exercises as they would training with a barbell – so instead of a Barbell Squat, they may perform a Goblet Squat or another leg exercise such as a Lunge. Or a Dumbbell Chest Press instead of a Barbell Bench Press. Or a Suitcase Deadlift, Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift or even some Kettlebell Swings instead of a Barbell Deadlift.

A much more difficult route would be those who do not have equipment, though there is a very easy solution to this – buy some! Some Dumbbells or Home Workout Equipment can come in at very inexpensive prices. Though some can’t afford this due to conditions faced from Lockdown, or all the less expensive equipment has already been bought – hope is not lost. We can start to tackle this by doing some bodyweight exercises around the house or our back gardens using some at-home items.

There are plenty to choose from, and you could also begin to use equipment at home in place of barbells and dumbbells – if you’re strong enough, you may even ask a partner or housemate to sit on your back while you perform push-ups or even squats! Fill up some empty bottles with water and put them in a backpack to create weight resistance for your different movements – there are lots of home workouts available online to follow to get bigger during lockdown.

Depending on your strength levels and the equipment you have available to yourself, there might be concerns that the equipment might not be heavy enough to elicit the same training stimulus or an adequate stimulus to keep your gains progressing during lockdown. Again, there are techniques you can use to make the lighter equipment more challenging.


An eccentric is slowing down the part of a movement where the muscle is lengthed. For example, in a squat, you would look to slow the descent into the bottom position before exploding back up into the top of the movement. Additionally, when lowering weights in a pressing motion, or to the floor slower in a Deadlift. Eccentrics work really well because they increase the Time Under Tension (TUT), one of the contributing factors when building muscle. They can also work really well with technique as well – for example, if you struggle to stay tight during a Bench Press then working on the eccentric can really help you build up the tension and learn to stay tight in that movement.

Paused Reps

Pausing everything after the eccentric portion of the lift before going through the concentric portion can really help make light weights more effective. Pausing in the hole of a squat or pausing at the chest in a press enable the concentric portion of the movement to be harder, allowing the lighter weight to be more effective.

One and a Quarter or Half Reps

Quarter or half reps are never a good idea and are often looked down upon when performed that way – unless performed after a full rep. For example, if you were to perform a 1 and a quarter rep Goblet Squat, you would perform the squat as normal on the eccentric, go up a quarter of the way on the concentric before going back into the hole of the squat and then completing the rep – a technique used by many powerlifters to tackle weak spots in their movements, whether that be with a barbell or another piece of equipment.
There are plenty of others that you can utilise as well; These are just some of my favourites and the most popular ones. Despite all being different, there is no reason you can’t combine them all to make some very horrible, but very effective exercises to keep you tiding over during a lockdown with minimal equipment – unless you’re a fan of 5-second Eccentric Paused 1 and a Quarter Goblet Squats in which it will an enjoyable, effective exercise!

This is just a few options of plenty of options available to you during lockdown. Here at Fitbook, we have a wealth of Personal Trainers who are trusted and experienced in their work. They can provide online coaching for anybody looking to take their Lockdown progress seriously. Have a look today on

By Blaine Harrison


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