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For so long strength training has been a male dominated area of exercise, but a revolution is underway.
Female fitness fiends have been taking to the bar in their thousands and now women’s powerlifting is having its moment in the sun.
If you’re interested in kick-starting your love affair with this strength sport, look no further. We’ve created a guide with everything you need to know to begin your journey to a more powerful physique, healthier body and heightened confidence.
Read on to find out more about powerlifting for women.
[Related Article: Beginner Powerlifting Program for Women]
What is powerlifting?
Powerlifting is fundamentally a strength-based sport and it’s also one of the simplest around.
It’s focused around lifting as heavily as possible over three different movements – the squat, deadlift and bench press. You need to complete just one repetition of each at your heaviest weight to determine your overall score or ‘total’.
You can measure your success both personally or aim for a competition, where you’ll lift in categories that are dependent on your age and weight.
In a competition setting three judges will confirm if you complete a full movement that complies with regulated standards.
As a powerlifter, you’ll compete in three separate disciplines: squat, deadlift and bench press. You’ll have three attempts at each one and only the heaviest lift will count toward your total.
Your total is the accumulated weight of these three lifts.
If you don’t want to take part in competition, powerlifting for women is still an excellent way to enhance your overall strength, fitness and health.
Brush up on the basics and check out our guides to these movements:
The benefits of powerlifting for women
When it comes to benefits, powerlifting has countless. Not only can it make you stronger, it can also help you get healthier and even transform the way your body looks. Check it out:
One of the main and most obvious benefits of powerlifting for women is strength. By aiming to lift as heavy as possible, you’ll develop a more powerful physique.
Powerlifting is particularly effective at developing full body strength as the squat, deadlift and bench press are all compound movements that recruit a huge range of muscles.
The squat will strengthen your legs, glutes, hips and core. Additionally, the deadlift builds power in the back, legs and core, while the bench press develops your chest, arms and shoulders.
Improved body composition/ fat loss
One thing that comes with more muscle and strength is a better body composition or fat to muscle ration.
Powerlifting is an excellent way to burn fat, as the workouts themselves push your body to expend more calories. On top of this you’ll also develop extra muscle on your body, which means a higher metabolism on a day to day basis.
By powerlifting and building strength, you’ll use more calories than you normally would which, when combined with the right diet, often leads to less fat and a healthier body composition.
Shores up skeletal health
Science has shown that resistance training in women can help to reduce the onset of osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density . This will help you to achieve a stronger, healthier skeletal structure.
Not only that, but more muscle can help to bolster joints too, which can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
This one might not be as easy to measure as increased strength and health, however it’s a huge part of powerlifting for women. As your skills and power develop, you’ll feel more confident in your physical performance in the gym.
Outside of the weights room, you’ll also see a change in your body. You’ll develop shape through muscle, drop excess fat and achieve a more toned, athletic physique. This can also have a very positive effect on how you feel in your own skin.
[Related Article: What is Powerlifting? Your Complete Guide]
Powerlifting for women – getting started
Get a coach and nail your form
The deadlift, squat and bench press may look pretty simple, but they’re highly technical movements, that could leave you with injuries if you don’t know how to perfect them. A good powerlifting coach can help you achieve the correct form and lay the foundations for an injury-free future in the sport.
Not only can a coach teach you the best technique, they can also show you the leading training methods to help you build strength. With a more informed approach, you’ll be able to maximize strength results using tried and tested programs, specifically designed to reap more reward. It’s far better than going in, lifting weights and hoping for the best without a real plan. Which leads us into our next point…
Make a plan
Once you feel confident you know what you’re doing in the gym, you need to create a clear plan of attack. This is essential, as turning up for a workout without anything planned will lead to procrastination, and procrastination doesn’t grow muscle.
Using the insight you gleaned from your coach, plan out your week, factoring in three-four sessions. Focus each workout around one of the big three lifts, using carefully selected set and rep patterns designed to build power and strength.
A good method for beginners is the 5×5 method, where you perform 5 sets of 5 reps of your chosen lift. Accompany this with heavy, low rep accessories to exhaust and strengthen the muscle fibers.
Join a club
One way to keep your motivation on a high is to join a group of like-minded lifters. Not only will you be more likely to head in to the gym if you have friends there waiting for you, but it’s been shown to help you work harder and enjoy the session more .
If you have other lifters there pushing you harder, you’ll get more out of your sessions and keep working toward the next goal.
Visit a meet
One way to see if you might enjoy competing is to head to a meet. Gather a few people from your club or even go to support a team mate and get a feel for competitive lifting. You can see how the judging works, check out the platform and familiarize yourself with the whole environment.
The atmosphere, supportive spirit and excitement of watching others lift could be just what you need to hit the platform yourself.
Set your goals
The key to any fitness journey is to set realistic goals that are achievable yet challenging. They’ll keep you motivated and pressing forward on your training.
It can be anything from hitting the gym four times a week to adding 10kg to your deadlift. The key is to set short term goals that add up to your overall objective. Whether that’s going to in your first comp or hitting a certain total, taking small steps is the way to success.
The final rep
With this guide, you should have everything you need to know to begin your powerlifting training.
From how to get started to the benefits you’ll feel from developing strength, we’ve the key elements that will put you on the path to newfound power.
Now, get out there and start lifting heavy things girl.
- “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise”; The Effects of Progressive Resistance Training on Bone Density; J.E. Layne, et al.; January 1999