Using Bodybuilding Principles For Powerlifting
There are many of us who love being in the gym and lifting weights, but have no ambitions towards stepping onstage for a bodybuilding show. Maybe the dieting process to get ready for a show sounds like too much torture; maybe you find competitive bodybuilding as a vain endeavor. Or, if you’re like me: you’re too sexy to be put front & center in front of a crowd wearing nothing but a pair of posing trunks. For whatever reason why we aren’t getting tanning spray applied onto our pale bodies, we’ve found a sport that we enjoy and continually seek knowledge for our success in it. That being said, are there some things that we can learn from bodybuilding; or specifically, learn from the bodybuilders who make up the competitive scene? I’m not talking about hokey motivational stuff – that can be written about another time. What tangible concepts can we grasp from bodybuilding that can benefit our training for powerlifting? Let’s take a look at a few things that can make this notion productive to explore into.
GET MORE MUSCULAR AND YOU’LL BE ABLE TO LIFT MORE WEIGHT
Generally speaking, the more muscle fiber you’re able to recruit during the performance of a lift, the more force you’ll be able to output. Now, there are plenty examples of guys who aren’t extremely muscular and kick ass on the platform. We can all name great lifters have modest builds that don’t exemplify the notion that bigger equals better. That being said – these guys tend to be exceptions on a genetic level, and have the extraordinary ability to lift heavy weights as a natural inclination. The rest of us need to actually look like we lift weights – I will go out on a limb and say for the record that most powerlifters don’t look like they have years of experience training in the gym. And the ones who tend to be more muscular in stature more often than not, fall within the higher-tier levels of the sport. I can’t say this enough, YOU CAN’T ALL BE LIKE JESSE NORRIS. Put on more muscle and your bench won’t be stuck at 300 for a whole year anymore. When was the last time you saw someone bench 405 who looked like a spaghetti string? Muscle moves weight, and bodybuilders have repeatedly shown this during footage of their training. Watch any competitive male bodybuilder (even on the NPC amateur level) who is over 220 pounds and they all tend to bench over 400 pounds without having any ambitions of competing in powerlifting. Build up your arms, keep getting your back bigger, and don’t be afraid of putting on some weight for the sake of getting stronger.
DO YOUR ACCESSORY MOVEMENTS WITH STRICT FORM & CONTROLLED TEMPO
Sometimes we have the tendency to treat our accessory work as just “going through the motions” without putting much mental effort into it. I’m guilty of rushing through my repetitions during accessories and swinging around the weight moreso than actually putting necessary tension on the muscles for them to grow. Slow & controlled tempo on accessory movements akin to how bodybuilders perform their isolation exercises are the way to go. You want to put as much fatigue onto the muscles while lessening the amount of stress put onto your joints – flexing the muscle hard all throughout the exercise and not sacrificing form for weight achieves this.
MIX IN REP RANGES OF 15-20, AND EVEN 25 FOR EXERCISES
Particularly when you’re 16-20 weeks out from your next meet or during an “off season”, hitting PRs isn’t going to be your primary goal and you’re making adjustments to your bodyweight and composition going into a meet cycle. The use of higher rep ranges (anywhere from 15 to 20, or even 25) is a good tool in providing more variety to your hypertrophy phase of training, and allows you to burn out your muscles without putting yourself in harm’s way towards your joints & tendons. Also, while keeping track of the most weight you can do on lat pulldowns for a set of 20 sounds silly, doing so keeps your mind off the fact that you’re not at peak strength & sets your priority on getting volume through your accessories. Not to mention, using high reps makes your muscles feel like they’re blowing up with bloodflow and gives a great pump.
Always keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to take ideas from other fields of training. If there’s something worth trying, then there’s something worth learning – regardless of it works or not. Keep training hard and don’t lose focus during those times when it feels like your next planned meet is out of sight. Work those accessory movements with intent and make the most out of your off season. Before you know it, you’ll be 12 weeks out from your next meet and all the improvements you’ve made prior will come into play.