Powerlifting: The Benefits Outside of Competing
Powerlifting is a strength sport based around 3 main lifts; the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Similar to the sport of Olympic Weightlifting, the athletes involved have 3 attempts to lift a maximal weight for a single repetition on each of the lift in a single event, known in the sport as a “Meet”.
The idea of Powerlifting originated in ancient Greece, where men lifted stones to prove their strength and manhood. Over the course of history, as these feats of strength were introduced as a sport, different events would be introduced and began to branch into different sports, ultimately leading to the inception of Olympic Weightlifting. As the sport declined in the United States during the 50s, the governing bodies began to introduce what they would begin to call “odd lifts” into the sport when then branched out into different sports themselves, and in September 1964 the first ever Powerlifting meet was held.
The popularity of Powerlifting has grown significantly in the last few years, and has introduced a lot of people into a new style of training which has led to a rise of people questioning just what are the benefits of training for Powerlifting, and does it have any benefits for people not interested in competing in the sport?
To be good at Powerlifting, you have to be strong. The biggest component of Powerlifting training is getting stronger at the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Which also means that you get stronger overall. Not only does getting stronger mean you’re getting better for the sport of Powerlifting, but this can also have many benefits outside of the sport as well, especially later on in life. As we age, our body slowly begins to breakdown and our muscle mass declines. Getting stronger aids in slowing this process down. Strength is the foundation of physical ability, whether that be having the strength to walk, go up and downstairs, carry shopping, pick up our children, and perform essential daily activities. 
Building Muscle and Burning Calories.
When performed correctly, Powerlifting training can have huge benefits to building muscle. One of the biggest things to consider is when performing a Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift or a variation of them, they are all considered compound movements which many consider to be the base of any training program. Getting better at the compound movements will always be the best bang for your buck for building muscle. Building more muscle also raises your body’s Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) which then requires more calories no matter if you’re looking to lose or gain weight. 
Improved Skeletal Health and Posture.
One of the biggest benefits of Strength training is its ability to improve bone density. Bone density is how much bone mineral is found in bone tissue. The higher the density, the stronger your bones are and the less likely you are to fall victim to injury or any bone related diseases. As you’re muscles get stronger through training, you begin to grow a more balanced structure in your body. Poor posture is usually caused by overuse or over activation of a muscle or group of muscles regarding one motion of a joint compared to the opposite – think sitting at a desk for long periods of time, overuse of the muscles pulling your body forward and less so of the ones pulling these muscles back. As we get stronger, these muscles become more efficient thus creating a much better balance of muscle tension, which in turn will improve posture tenfold. 
The Satisfaction and a New Measure of Progress
It’s understood that gym-goers go to the gym to accomplish a goal, whether that be getting stronger, losing weight or building muscle, the list goes on. Each individual goal has a measure of progress that people use to determine if what they are doing is working, such as looking at photos a month or 2 between and seeing if any physical changes have been made, or seeing if the measuring tape has changed or even if clothes are fitting differently. As we go on, we sometimes become so focused on this that we may lose track of other things. Your clothes might fit differently, but how is your performance in the gym? Your weight might have gone down, but do you have the energy you did prior to starting your exercise plan.
Tracking your progress when training for Powerlifting is fairly straight forward: can you do more than you could the last time? Maybe your old Squat 3 rep max is now your 4 rep max. Maybe you can now Deadlift 80 kilograms when you could only do 75 kilograms previously. Performance goals can often outweigh physical goals because, in order to make that performance improvement, the efforts put into it are typically only going to be beneficial for the physical side of things.
To get stronger at a particular movement, you need to build the muscle that provides the force to perform the movement, then train the nervous system to be able to handle the new load that your now bigger muscle has the potential to handle. This can only be achieved with training properly and being able to recover from your training. In order to recover from what can be intense training sessions, you have to eat well, ensure you sleep enough, stay hydrated and stay fit and healthy – all things that fall in line with physical goals as well.
It’s clear that there are many benefits to training for Powerlifting. Overall, when performed correctly, powerlifting training can have not only physical benefits but health benefits that will see you all the way into old age. You’ll never know if it’s for you or not unless you try it. And even if the sport is not for you, you might just find a new training style to keep you on track to hitting your goals.
By Blaine Harrison