Most people want to partake in sport whilst at uni, for many it will be their last opportunity to compete at a serious level in sports they love. Generally, it’s a simple question of transferring sport at school into a university context but some seek change or even a new start.
It’s easy to fall into one of the many tranches of conventional sport, to get sucked in by the rugby atmosphere or the lure of the netball squad but my advice would be to use this opportunity to spread your wings, try new experiences. At PropaneFitness we talk a lot about the mindset that accompanies the lifestyle we lead and the tenets you absorb from simply being around a weights room for long enough and the benefits that extend into all aspects of life. Some people have the bug and get into weight training of their own accord, others need external stimulus, what better than using weigh training to compete against others – Powerlifting.
Mehrad has been a member of our forums for nearly a year now and regularly updates his training log, keeping us updated on his competition prep and progress. Aware of his experience in the sport of powerlifting while at university I asked him if he’d talk a little about his experiences and how he would suggest someone might approach the sport for the first time.
How I got into powerlifitng was a bit unexpected. I previously did mixed martial arts for a good three years consistently without fail, then during the summer I had a number of setbacks regarding training and I had felt so unmotivated and depressed that I quit. Shortly after I decided to focus on my physique by training more with a body-building approach as well as my diet. The gym I was going to at the time was a Powerlifting gym called “Genesis Gym” run by a coach called Dave Beattie, or “Bulldog” as most would like to call him. They had a small Powerlifitng competition aimed at mostly newcomers called the “UK Open” a day before I left for my second year of University.
I remember Bulldog forcing me to take home an entry form a couple weeks away from the meet. I didn’t really want to compete but I thought what the hell, I needed to do something competitive again. So With barely any specific training, not having really testing out my max lifts properly I competed.
My first meet experience:
I was a bit nervous but the nerves soon went away. The benefit of a good meet is that people around you tend to be helpful and there is a sense of camaraderie, which makes the experience more enjoyable. Spectators and other lifters would always cheer for each person regardless of whether or not they were competing in the same weight class or not.
One thing I made sure was to keep my opening lifts light to avoid bombing out. In a meet, the first lift you do is the Squat, followed by the Bench and Deadlift. In each lift you have three attempts. Each attempt is judged by technique and are evaluated with three lights, 2 or three white lights meant the lift was good, 2 or more red lights meant the lift was not good. My lifts looked a bit like this:
Squat: 130/140/150 (with knee wraps)
Bench: 70/80/80 (I got two red lights for my bum being off the bench on the second attempt)
I have to admit, after competing, I felt this euphoric feeling of happiness, as though I had accomplished something great. A feeling I hadn’t felt in a while.
Back at University
A couple of months later, I got a call from my brother. I was invited to do a big meet in Riga, Latvia as they needed some raw lifters for the raw division. Again I didn’t really want to do it because of University but I thought, as long as time management was good I could pull it off. My month worth of training for the lead up to that meet was four sessions a week, all at 7:30 in the morning. Reason being is that I had lectures later in the day and I needed time to finish assignments and do lecture readings. It wasn’t pretty but I go use to it. Overall I’m glad I went as it was a great experience and a lot of fun to be with other lifters in a different country.
If you are new to Powerlifting and would like to start then here some tips to help you get going:
Find an appropriate place to train:
A gym which has a power rack/squat rack, plenty of plates and a decent bar is vital for training. Check around before you hastily decide to join a gym, nothing is worse than paying for something you will later regret!
Choose a training program and stick with it:
Unless you have a coach, you need to keep consistent with training with a good program. Programs I recommend are:
- Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1
- Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe
- Marc Keys (Also known as Mongsquat in the forums) has a number of brilliant articles on training in his blog at http://castironknowledge.blogspot.co.uk
Plan your workouts when you are able to put in quality time. For a while it was early morning before lectures for me, recently I have been able to do evening sessions as I only have exams coming up. A great way to plan out your training alongside university is to make a timetable with all your lectures and then from there fit in your training sessions. Also take in to account the time that your training partners or coach can train you. There is always a way around things, don’t be lazy with your time management!
Find a federation and choose a time to compete:
Make sure you find one that suits your needs, and make sure you have read their rules before competing. Two decent federations in the UK for Raw Powerlifting (as I assume most you new comers aren’t using single/multiply gear) are:
Let your university know about you competing if it clashes with lectures or assignment deadlines, they should be understanding and give you an extension to complete work.
A very well worth read on your first powerlifting meet can be found on an article written by Jim Wendler: http://www.jimwendler.com/2011/10/your-first-powerlifting-meet/
I hope you found this useful and good luck in your first meet!
You can read more about Mehrad’s training over at the Propane Forum and if you’d like a tailored plan to kick off your powerlifting training, purchase one of our custom diet and training consultations!