This is a common question found on popular internet fitness and bodybuilding sites due to the increased popularity of the sport of Powerlifting. The answer depends on your starting point, a beginner can be a complete fitness novice or they can be a semi-experienced gym rat who is looking to make the next step. Below I will cover the process for a complete fitness novice.
Starting Powerlifting Step 1, The Gym
The first step for a complete beginner is to get themselves a gym membership, however not all gyms are equal. Every gym has a different culture, with most chain gyms discouraging or banning many of the exercises needed to train for powerlifting effectively. This include over enthusiastic banning of noise, when powerlifting there will be some mild grunting and the occasional dropped weight. If a gym frowns on this type of noise then it is not a suitable gym for powerlifting.
Gym equipment is the next factor in choosing a gym for powerlifting. A gym suited for powerlifting training will have a good selection of free weights, an area suitable for deadlifting, a power rack for squatting (Not a smith machine) and a Bench Press bench, preferably one with safety bars (face savers). Other specific powerlifting equipment is optional and only dedicated powerlifting gyms are likely to have some specialise pieces of equipment.
Starting Powerlifting Step 2, The Coach
It is important when starting any new sport or fitness activity to learn the correct technique from the beginning. It is harder to unlearn poor form than to do it correctly from the beginning.
Most Gyms will not have an accredited powerlifting coach available, however an accredited coach will be able to put you on the right path from the beginning and is the best option if available.
The next best option is a Personal Trainer. This is where care must be taken because most personal trainers have very little experience with powerlifting, or even the power lifts, Squat, Benchpress or Deadlift. Of those personal trainers who have a basic understanding of these lifts, the majority will have never competed and with that lack of experience they will be held back from giving the best possible advice.
Starting Powerlifting Step 3, Start Training
Once you have a training venue and coach sorted out, you can begin training. Most powerlifters will train 3-4 days per week, with most training sessions being a lot shorter than a training session that a bodybuilder might do. A powerlifting training session will also consist of a lot less reps, sets and total number of exercises.
As first time athlete training the powerlifts you can expect that the majority of your first training session and possibly more will be spent lifting with no weight on the bar. Correct form must be learned first. A good coach will not let you progress to heavy weights until your form is spot on, progressing to quickly leads to injury.
Starting Powerlifting Step 4, Your first Powerlifting meet.
After some quality training it is time to step onto the platform for the first time. This first powerlifting meet should not be complicated, it is a learning experience in which cutting weight is not needed and you don’t need to be the best of the best.
Powerlifting meets are very friendly and supportive, especially for a first time lifter but it will be less stressful if your coach has competition coaching experience (Personal Trainers usually lack this experience). The key is to relax and just have fun.