The Problem with Powerlifting

The Problem with Powerlifting

I feel like I’ve been trying to answer that question for the last couple of years.

What exactly is my gripe with powerlifting as a sport?

Why do I seem to fall in and out of love with it seasonally?

Today the possible reason occurred to me…

As an athlete and a coach, I have to not only navigate my own emotions but also the emotions of my athletes as it relates to training/competing .. oh and life itself.

But what exactly drive those positive and negative emotions?

Most of the time it’s the perceived ability or inability to achieve a new 1RM/ PR within a specific time frame (meet to meet) generally

The problem with powerlifting is there are two things that are usually the main focus

– Winning

– 1RM / PR

After a meet a lifter will be immediately asked a series of questions:

– Did you win?

- What did you hit?

– Is that a PR?

The problem with powerlifting is that there is no stat for the in between

In basketball alone you can find a stat for:

– games played , games started

– points per game

– field goals made, missed, and percentage

– free throws made, missed, and percentage

– three points made, missed, and percentage

– rebounds; offensive and defensive

– assists

– steals

– blocks

– turn overs

– triple doubles

– assists to turn over ratio

And even those stats become stats

In American football they make up stats…

“This is the 10th consecutive game played in over 90 degrees while scoring over 21 points in field goals”

My point is that there are so many ways to define success in traditional sports.

And what stats do we focus on in powerlifting?

– Specific meet win

– Records

– Total

– 1RM per lift


The problem with powerlifting is that it’s one of the few sports that practice is so emotionally tied to the actual competition. You are literally performing the sport daily Ie heavy singles, SBD days. Etc

It’s only reasonable that you hold a lot of stock in your training sessions

So why is it that within a sport that the day to day arguably matters more than the competition itself.. there’s no stat for that?

How do you convince a lifter that all of the day to day efforts matter even if a new PR or win isn’t associated with it?

How do you convince them that...

– prioritizing sleep and nutrition

– being compliant to their training program

– showing up when they don’t want to

– showing up during/after an injury/set back

– showing up after a bad day at work/life

– showing up after missing a big lift

– showing up with high life stress

- making technical progress

– making actual training load progress

– actually enjoying training

...that it all matters

Where is the stat for all of those things? Do they only matter on IG? The "highlight reel" 

How do you convince the average lifter that their greatness will be achieved within the execution and consistency of the process

when the only stat they feel is worthy is their 1RM. Many times as it relates to others around them

Unfortunately I do not have an answer..

However, I am here to tell you that it all matters. Every time you show up and give any form of effort, you are building equity for the future. Your effort will pay dividends. It may not be on the timeline that you want or expect. But, If you continuously/consistently show up, do the work, you will get stronger over time. Absolutely no doubt about it. 

Brick by Brick. 

"If you're not lifting for the baseline fact that you love the process, not every day of it, certainly not every session, but overall you like being in the gym, you like being around the weights, you will not make it. Because every hiccup will be catastropic" - Brittany Suplicki 

"I think the key to happiness and longevity in the sport is recognizing the little wins, or stacking bricks, and learning how to measure progress at times you are NOT on the platform" - Patrick Carr 

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