This is a question I have seen a lot recently on social media, people wanting tips and advice about how to get into powerlifting, how to find their first powerlifting competition, and questions about rules and regulations, etc, etc.
The best advice I can give is to go and train at a powerlifting gym or club that has coaches that actively compete, or at least have done in the past, and are already helping other people at any level with their competitions. You will get no better information and guidance than you will from these places, and you’ll learn what you need along the way. The people that run them are usually very passionate about what they do, are not in it for financial gain (although do expect to pay a fee as the clubs don’t run on fairy-dust, unfortunately), I know this as I run one, and I, and I’m sure are most coaches, are very willing to help newcomers to the sport, just as much as seasoned lifters (who also need help, just in a different way) – We were all newbies once, and the people that helped us at that point were what kept us in the sport and allowed us to be where we are today.
A list of British Powerlifing (BP) affiliated clubs can be found on the federation’s website https://www.britishpowerlifting.org/approved-clubs and English Powerlifting Association https://www.englishpowerlifting.co.uk/affiliated-clubs although there are many others, and there is nothing better that posting on the BP Facebook group for recommendations – However if you’re in Milton Keynes or nearby come see us at MK Barbell Club!
Another question or concern that often follows is ‘am I strong enough to do a competition?’ or more often ‘Oh no I’m not strong enough to do a competition’ – this baffles my little mind as the way I see it this is the wrong way of looking at it, if you can lift the bar you are strong enough, being strong isn’t what powerlifting is about, not really, it’s about progress, its about giving you focus, and testing yourself, your own journey – you don’t have to be of a certain strength to do this, just have the desire to learn and progress. But what you do need to be able to do is perform the movements to a particular standard, lifting to the referees commands and rules, this is what initially takes the practice, and again is exactly what a good powerlifting gym or club will help you with; they will be the first to tell you if you’re not squatting deep enough, you’re hitching your deadlifts, or you’re lifting your head when you bench press. These and many more technicalities of Powerlifting are the important bits to learn, the strength is then developed around those skills, and this is your journey.
Another thing that is good to do is to go and watch a local competition, see how it’s run and chat to the other people there, you will learn so much about the sport and feel the atmosphere of a competition. You’ll see the range of people there, and that everyone is so supportive of each other – and yes, that they are all wearing a singlet, sorry it’s the rules – but it isn’t weird when everyone is doing it!
You know what though, and lastly, the best piece of advice I think I can give, and this is something I see that is too often overlooked or forgotten – It’s meant to be fun! Enjoy yourself, help others to enjoy themselves too, support one another, be competitive that’s part of the sport, have the desire to win no matter if that is winning against yourself or someone else, but don’t lose sight of the enjoyment, it is friendly competition, do your best to smash your opponents, obliterate your personal bests, and then eat Haribo and have a hug after. 😉
Best of luck, and if you have got to the end of this without falling asleep, I hope meet you someday, and share a platform (and Haribo).