When women picture a female powerlifter, they too often imagine intimidating lifts and a bulky physique. What they should picture is a lean, mean physical specimen with Wonder Woman-like confidence and determination. Here are some reasons why powerlifting might be what your fitness regimen is missing.
1. You’ll score better bone health.
‘Training for strength will decrease the chances of osteoporosis and poor bone health later in life,’ says Rodrigo Aguirre, powerlifter and Owner of Silverback Fitness. In recent years, a slew of studies have shown a direct positive correlation between high-intensity resistance training and bone health, with one study concluding that training before puberty can protect against osteoporosis in old age by increasing peak bone mineral density.
According to the same studies, the improved strength, balance and muscle mass that comes with heavy lifting also mitigates many of the risk factors for bone problems.
2. It creates a sense of community.
‘Powerlifters have an amazing community of supporters so it’s a great way to meet new friends and have fun learning while lifting heavy,’ says Alicia Bell, Online Personal Trainer and Track & Field Coach. In recent years, powerlifting gyms have sprung up like weeds, as more people learn the incredible health benefits that come with intense, heavy lifting. One thing new members quickly learn is that powerlifters are often a close-knit crew, willing to lend a spot, accountability or some added encouragement. For many, being surrounded by people pushing you to improve becomes just as addictive as the training.
3. It’s a major confidence booster.
Few things will give you that ‘I can do anything’ feeling quite like squatting, benching or deadlifting a weight most people can’t count to, let alone lift. ‘By focusing on micro goals, like lifting slightly more weight every week, you witness your training paying off and see firsthand what your body is capable of,’ says Aguirre. Needless to say, focusing on adding weight to the bar is also often a welcome relief to obsessing over shedding weight on the scale, and brings with it a new sense of accomplishment and self-assuredness.
4. You’ll be eating for function.
Along with a new approach to training, switching to a powerlifting program brings with it a refreshing new relationship with food. ‘One of the great things about powerlifting is that you’re eating for function, not starving for abs,’ says Xenia Busigin, CPTN, Champion Figure Competitor and Online Personal Trainer. That is not to say there aren’t nutritional requirements that still have to be met in order to see progress. But many new powerlifters find it refreshing to agonising over fat loss, and start thinking of food as a fuel that, when used correctly, can power the body to new physical heights.
5. You’ll look great.
Aesthetic gains may not be the focus of powerlifting, but they’re definitely a delightful bonus. If you haven’t figured it out yet, lifting heavy weights over and over again, coupled with a high-protein, strength-building nutrition regimen, is the surest way to pack on dense, firm muscles that give the body that coveted ‘toned’ look. Moreover, the intensity of a powerlifting program may be just what is needed to take your stagnant muscle development to that next level. ‘Changing your training style is paramount to continuous progress,’ says Busigin. ‘Switching to a powerlifting type of training will shock the body and help spark new curvaceous muscle gains.’
6. It will benefit all of your other training.
The skills, experience and strength you’ll gain from powerlifting will serve you well in whatever other fitness routine you choose to pursue in the future. ‘Switching the focus to training for strength will make your aesthetic-focused training so much more effective if and when you choose to switch back to it,’ says Busigin. When returning to a hypertrophy routine, expect to reap the benefits of heavier working weights, increased mobility, newfound endurance, and improved confidence. It’s also extremely satisfying to discover that you can now perform for reps a weight that was once your one-rep-maximum.