BY GAGE REID OF NOVA STRENGTH
1. "The ONLY way to get strong is to do 1-3 reps, anything more is useless."
This is easily one of the most common "facts" of Powerlifting that I see floating around comment sections on YouTube/Facebook/Instagram and from people at your local gym. It's one of the biggest misconceptions about Powerlifting, since this is a sport of the 1-rep-max, everyone assumes that deviating too far from that will result in lack of gains and will probably end up turning you into a Bodybuilder. Well, this "fact" has been disproved by many in the industry, as it is a common practice to be doing sets of 8-12 reps in the "big three lifts" (Squat, Bench, Deadlift), as well as hammering accessory work "Bodybuilder style" (with high rep ranges, chasing those hypertrophic gains). As I stated in a previous article (linked below), a bigger muscle has the potential to be a stronger muscle, and if you want to be successful in Powerlifting, you need to do a ton of volume in the sub-maximal range (60-75% of your 1RM). The absolute best way to do this is through phase potentiation and driving Hypertrophy (muscle growth) through 5-6 sets of 8-12 reps. Some people do this type of training each week (1 day dedicated to "strength-type" work of 1-5 reps, and one day dedicated to Hypertrophy work 8-12 reps), as other people, like myself, dedicate certain blocks of training to Hypertrophy (typically 4-10 weeks of straight Hypertrophy, followed by General Strength, Peaking, etc. Thus, The Principle of Phase Potentiation). There's more than one way to get strong, actually, there are hundreds, so you need to find what works best for YOU and successfully apply it to your training. If you take one point away from this whole article, remember this, anything over 6 reps isn't "cardio", and if you want to be the best possible Powerlifter you can be, you need to spend time in the higher rep ranges.
[LINK] HOW HIGH VOLUME CAN HELP YOU DESTROY THE PLATFORM
[LINK] THE PRINCIPLE OF OVERLOAD BY CHAD WESLEY SMITH
2. "To be good at Powerlifting you can ONLY do the Squat, Bench and Deadlift in training."
If you have watched the BroScience video on YouTube "How To Be A Powerlifter", then I'm sure you saw the part where Dom goes on about how Powerlifters ONLY perform the 3 lifts (Squat, Bench and Deadlift) in the gym, so if you want to be a Powerlifter, you'll have to leave ALL other exercises behind you in pursuit of big numbers on the platform. Well, he's PARTIALLY right, as a Powerlifter you require a higher level of sports specificity than the average gym-goer who's goal is to get fit for summer; and there's nothing wrong with that at all, but if you're reading this then you're probably a Powerlifter, and your goal is to put up huge numbers on the Squat, Bench and Deadlift. I could write an entire article on sports-specificity for Powerlifting, and as a matter of fact I plan to in the future, but right now I'm going to summarize this "fact" that as a Powerlifter you can ONLY do the big three in training. If you are more than 16-20 weeks out from your next competition, then you can afford a lower level of sports-specificity, as opposed to if you were 6-8 weeks out. So, to break it down for you, if you're more than 16-20 weeks out you can perform more exercises, with more variety and with higher reps. If you're a Low Bar Squatter with wraps in competition, then you can do High Bar Squats with Sleeves for reps, if you bench with a utra-wide grip in competition, then you can bench with a close-moderate grip, and the same applies for the Deadlift variations. This is a topic that can be broken down into an entire series of articles and talked about endlessly, as specificity has different levels from beginner, intermediate to advanced, as well as depending on where you are in your off-season/meet prep. So, below I will link a video to Chad Wesley Smith's "The Principle of Variation", which talks about how you can use other exercises, rather than the competition-style Squat, Bench and Deadlift to improve your training and allow for different forms of adaptive stimuli.
[LINK] THE PRINCIPLE OF VARIATION BY CHAD WESLEY SMITH
3. "Training more than 3 times per week is overtraining for Powerlifting."
The phrase "overtraining" is tossed around a lot amongst the fitness community. You hear it in the typical Bodybuilding gyms, Powerlifting gyms and commercial gyms. It is the worst thing that can ever happen to you and if you train more than 3-5 times a week, you will become overtrained and lose all your gains… and die--- according to the local gym rats and rattets. But is this true? From a physiological standpoint, overtraining is a type of Central Nervous System (CNS) fatigue that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, endocrinologic, and immunologic. Some of the symptoms of overtraining can be, but are not limited to flu-like symptoms, fatigue, reduction in performance and insomnia. Now that you know what overtraining is and what the symptoms are, then you are probably sitting there thinking "a few months ago I had all these symptoms during my hard block of training, was I overtrained?" Hold on for a second there, overtraining is a very loosely defined medical condition (Overtraining Syndrome, or "OTS"), so although you may have the signs and symptoms of traditional OTS, it is highly unlikely you are actually overtrained to the point of it being a medical problem that requires medication/hospitalization. Typically, the following class of athletes are at the highest risk for true OTS; a high-level Crossfit athlete who trains multiple times a day, a Collegiate/Professional Football player who has 2 or 3-a-day practices during training camp, or an Olympic athlete who is training multiple times a day with the physical, as well as the mental stress of passing Olympic trials and making it to the games. As you can see, the high physical and mental stress demands on those athletes, coupled with the constant rigours of multiple daily training sessions can lead to some OTS-type symptoms or the medical condition of OTS, but in most cases, those individuals also have their nutrition managed, recovery modalities put in place, active rest/planned rest phases as well as minimal outside stress to their training. These are the highest caliber of athletes on the planet, and if they are not getting "overtrained" on a constant basis, then neither are you from training more than 3 days a week. Although, there are some instances where injury will take the place of OTS-like symptoms- for example, if you were to Deadlift for a max every day for a month, you'd probably injury yourself long before you ever accumulate enough stress and fatigue to have a true medical problem, other than the fact you probably injured yourself from daily maxing.
So yes, by the medical terminology and definition, true Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) is hard to come by for the everyday athlete, but that doesn't mean you should switch your training from 3 days a week to 7 days a week, adding in 2-a-days just because you read this article on the internet that says "true OTS is hard to come by". Constantly overreaching and exceeding your Max Recoverable Volume (MRV) in training can lead to a ton of fatigue, a reduction in performance and typically an injury. Having a well thought out, systematic approach to training can allow you to safely, and effectively accumulation volume throughout a training block, and systematically "overreach" (or as some may call it, a "planned overtraining", and although I dislike that comparison, it somewhat works for this description). A Planned Overreaching phase, typically a week of training followed by a Deload (a reduction in volume/intensity), is an excellent way to stimulate an adaptive response to training without being in a constant fatigued state. Overreaching, by definition, is doing so much total work that there's no way you can recover and perform the next session efficiently and provide your body with an Overload Stimulus (see: The Principle of Overload), so by having your last week of training an overreaching phase just before a Deload, it will allow you to stimulate a huge adaptive response, then as you move into a Deload week, it will allow your body to "supercompensate", while coming back better and stronger for your next phase of training. Once again, much like the last point, explaining Accumulation, Planned Overreaching and Deloading in one short paragraph is impossible, so to tie everything together I will link in the description a video from Chad Wesley Smith on Stimulus, Recovery Adaptation (SRA). Also, I will link a video to Dr. Mike Israetel of Renaissance Periodization on Overtraining, called "There's No Such Thing As Overtraining, Just Under-Eating".
[LINK] STIMULUS, RECOVERY, ADAPTATION
[LINK] THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS OVERTRAINING, JUST UNDER-EATING
4. "You have to have a crazy arch in the Bench Press and pull sumo in the Deadlift if you want to be a good Powerlifter."
Not necessarily true, but not totally false either. Powerlifting is a sport of leverages, some people are better built for Conventional Deadlifts, while some are better built for Sumo, same applies with the Bench Press. Some lifters choose to have a big arch with a wide grip, for example Marisa Inda, while other lifters choose to be a little more narrow, while using a smaller arch, such as Mark Bell. These are based upon the individual's strengths, weaknesses, leverages, abilities and preferences. With the recent explosion in popularity of Powerlifting on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, many aspects of the sport that have long since been traditions and societal "norms" are being scrutinized by individuals who have never stepped foot on the platform, and in some cases, have never performed the Squat, Bench and Deadlift, period. Seeing comments on social media about how arching your back in the Bench Press is cheating or going to cause a catastrophic injury is kind of the norm now, even though it most certainly shouldn't be. People on the outside of Powerlifting typically have no idea what intricacies are involved in terms of a performance-based sport, which is what Powerlifting is, a SPORT. So, when someone sees a Powerlifter performing a Bench Press with an "over exaggerated arch" or pulling a Sumo Deadlift with a very limited range-of-motion, then they assume that this person is an "ego lifter", when in fact they're in the business of performance, and in order to perform at the highest level possible you must work certain aspects of the lift to your own personal advantage. My favorite analogy is this; why would you criticize a lifter for pulling Sumo to lift the most weight possible in competition, but not criticize a Baseball player for throwing with their dominant hand. For those of you who follow me on other social media platforms, I coach Powerlifting and Baseball, so I'm in multiple different sports. So, the idea of performing a lift or playing a sport to your advantage in order to be the best you can be, like Baseball, just makes complete sense to me. You wouldn't throw with your left hand if you're right-hand hand dominate, and you wouldn't pull Conventional in the Deadlift if you can clearly pull more Sumo. It makes no sense to me why people argue these facts, but in the end, they are entitled to their opinion, no matter how misplaced and ignorant it is.
If you can take one point away from this "fact", let it be this: Powerlifting is a sport, and as an athlete you're competing to win, wether it's on the regional, national or world stage. You are going out there to perform at your highest level possible, so you will do what is most advantageous for you to win. Contrary to what some people think, Powerlifters ARE athletes, and training must reflect the competition. So, if someone tells you that arching the Bench Press is bad for your back and it doesn't work your chest, then you can tell them that you are an athlete whose goal is to maximize the weight on the bar, not to get a big chest from Benching, they must have confused you with a Bodybuilder. Also, I love visuals, so below I will link a video to Dr. Quinn Hennoch discussing why arching in the Bench Press is COMPLETELY safe, and how it can maximize your performance. Dr. Hennoch is an excellent Physical Therapist, as well as high-level athlete himself, so he understands the importance of performance, health and longevity.
[LINK] ARCHING IN THE BENCH PRESS
As you can probably tell by now, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of "facts" floating around the Powerlifting community. Powerlifting is not alone with these "facts" that are constantly dispelled, but keep poking their ugly heads up out of the shadows. Sports like Strongman, Crossfit, Weightlifting and especially Bodybuilding are plagued with falsehoods that can kill the progress of any athlete who chooses to pursue a goal in any of the aforementioned sports. It's important for you, as an athlete, to question all these ridiculous claims, consider the sources from which they come from and think to yourself, "does this make any sense?", "Will this make me a better Powerlifter?" If the answer is "no", then you should stay away-- far away. Taking what works and discarding what doesn't is the key to many programs, as well as success in all sports.
More specifically, as a Female Powerlifter, unfortunately you will be scruntized by men on Social Media and by other females who are ignorant in their opinions. If you haven't experienced it yet, then you will eventually. The important thing is this; Understand that this is a sport, you are an athlete and if some random person approaches you in person, or comments on your training videos on Social Media attempting to give you advice or "tips" regarding your form that is completely unsolicited, you have 2 solutions. 1. Understand that you are more knowledgeable than this person and that they are unaware that there is indeed a sport where the goal is to lift as much weight as possible, and no, this is not ego lifting, this is TRAINING, and 2. Realize that in any sport there are people who are negatively attracted to the athletes in it. There are people who say Football is dangerous, throwing a Baseball is bad for your arm, swimming is bad for your lungs (yes, some people seriously think that) and that Track and Field will destroy your knees, leaving you unable to go through life past your 20's. Mental toughness is a trait that the greatest athletes all possess, and although it's ridiculous that these negative, ignorant individuals exists, there's no sign of them leaving anytime soon. So, you must adapt, overcome and move on, just like the best athletes on the planet do when they face negative comments-- which they all do, no matter how great they are. I believe companies like
So, you must adapt, overcome and move on, just like the best athletes on the planet do when they face negative comments-- which they all do, no matter how great they are. I believe companies like Juggeranut Training Systems, Girls Who Powerlift, The Strength Athlete and others are doing an EXCELLENT job of releasing the best possible information out there, as well as promoting the sport of Powerlifting. Powerlifting has come a long way from being an "underground sport" 10+ years ago, to coming out of the shadows to social media, as well as the rest of the world. It will take time for everyone to adjust and truly understand what the sport is about, but until then, keep training, keep competing and be proud of how far you come, but realize that you have so far to go.
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