Powerlifting for Strength and Power

There are many powerlifters trying to make it to the top of the elite latter. However, many powerlifters fall short and settle for mediocrity. They don’t set the right goals or realize their true potential. One of the first things to help avoid the pitfalls of failure is to train 90% of 1RM. Why 90%? Lifting weights within 90% of 1RM is 40% more efficient at increasing protein synthesis than lifting in the 70% zone, and 10% more efficient than training in the 80% zone. High tension training causes a greater release of anabolic hormones.

The goal of powerlifting is to move as much weight as possible. I feel that powerlifters training in the 70-80% range are not reaching their full potential. Low level intensity should comprise no more than 30% of the total volume, for powerlifters.

Heavy weight training has advantages. Form and technique can vary from lifting light weight compared to heavy weights. The heavy weight will recruit a maximal number of muscle fibers, in addition, the speed of the lift will change with heavy weight compared to lighter weight. Trying to stay in the confines of 70-80% through out your regular training regimend and expecting to compete trying to establish a new 1RM is foolish. You must train using heavier loads because only in this way will you reach your true potentia. You must place yourself in a position to secure the greatest adaptation from training as is possible. Remember, the greatest release of growth hormone and testosterone occurs during training in higher intensity zones.

I am often asked by power lifters, “how can I lift heavy all the time without burning out.” The answer is a combined synergistic mix of optimal training plan design, diet, supplements and recovery means. Today there are so many great advances in supplementation and modality technology that many drug-free athletes are being compared to steroid users, because of how well these new modern techniques work. To avoid overtraining and burn out it is important to make sure that all of your weak links in the training chain are fixed. When you do it right you will be amazed at the intensity and volume you can work at.

What makes a powerlifter successful is the ability of having to be mentally tough, understand  personal ability and limitations, competition experience and training methodology.

Powerlifting is not just about lifting heavy weights. It is also about lifting heavy weights fast to lockout. When training within a zone of 90% 1RM, you must stay within 8% of your fastest performance time in order to produce positive gains. When the time it takes you to perform a rep is 2% to 3% faster, your max will increase by up to 2.5% for heavyweight class and 1% for lightweight class lifters. The decrease in time needs to be shown for three training sessions in a row. Approximately 20 sessions at this or a higher level will allow you to retain the speed for a 30 day period. Within this time you can peak for a competition, or continue to raise your lift results. Now 8% improvement must be measured accurately. Ideally, you must perform a squat from parallel to lockout within two seconds or less. Since 8% of two seconds is only sixteen hundreths of a second, you can’t just have someone eyeball your lift. Your timer must be accurately measure your lift with an accurate stopwatch which measures in 100th of a second increments. This person must begin to time as you just start to raise the bar, and stop it when you reach lockout. It’s best to use the same timer to maintain a standard and take the average of three lifts. You can time for squat, deadlift and bench press.


Daryl Conant, M.Ed