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Thread: Powerlifting Mentality

  1. #1
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    Default Powerlifting Mentality

    Coach,

    I've just started the transition from novice to intermediate (315 squat, 395 deadlift). I'm a competitive person, and feel like the best way to motivate myself to continue to drive my lifts up quickly is to find a competitive outlet.

    The most obvious carryover from SS is powerlifting, but I've read a lot of rather dubious things on The Internet. A lot of people say things like, "I don't care about where I place, I just do contests for myself", "I only enter contests to set contest PRs/break federation records", "Nobody cares about who wins, and nobody cares about anyone else's lifts" etc. etc. If this is really the case, I'd prefer another sport where winning really matters, if only to the contestants.

    Is this really the mentality of most powerlifters these days? You mention a few times in your books that you worked hard to win powerlifting contests - is the current mentality different from how it was 20 years ago? Or is this just a case of a minority viewpoint being over-represented by YouTube and Instagram, and actually most powerlifters really are concerned with winning?

  2. #2
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    A lot of people say that the earth is 6000 years old. A lot of people say that The Reptilians enslaved the Bilderbergers in the 18th century and have been managing the global economy since then. A lot of people say that the secret moon base has been having HVAC problems for the past few months. If I were you, I'd just go ahead and enter a meet and win it, since nobody there will be trying to beat you.

  3. #3
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    At a high enough level winning definitely matters. There was a great battle this year at USAPL Raw Nationals in the 83kg weight class for first place between Sean Noriega and Russell Orhii. If you care about winning, then winning matters.

  4. #4
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    I think the main issue here is the combination of:
    a) powerlifting meets are logistically difficult enough such that they're not widely available in any given gym on any given weekend
    and
    b) it's a low numbers sport in terms of participants

    the result being that, unlike other sports you're probably thinking of, national and international level lifters, or certainly aspiring ones, lift at the same meet as first timers. So no, they're not competing against each other. The good lifter is either doing it as a training meet or a qualifier, and the first timer is trying to set a PR and participate in something fun and fulfilling, or maybe nerve wracking and therefore fulfilling. Whereas with, say basketball or bowling or softball, you can play in rec leagues or beer leagues with your buddies, and watch LeBron and Steph Curry on TV - you don't play in the same games, unlike powerlifting.

    The sport has seen a massive increase in participation over the last 5-10 years, so you don't have as much top level lifter intersecting with average Joes and Janes as you did even 5 years ago, but the numbers are still relatively very small and the difficult logistics of putting on a meet still stand. So you don't have rec leagues having games every weeknight and weekend like you do for basketball or hockey or whatever. I'm sure if there were millions of national participants, it'd be different, but there aren't.

    That does seem to be an argument in favor of you doing meets anyway. The more participants there are, the more meets there will be, as the last five years have shown us. But the sport needs plain old participants who do meets, who watch their friends and family at meets, and who care about meets, to support the lifters at the top who are not merely participating but competing.

    And as Alex above me just noted, lifters who compete certainly do care about winning.
    YT * IG * FB

  5. #5
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    All of the above plus:

    If you consider, the number of federations (and their rules), sex, age, weight classes (and weigh in rules), raw, raw with knee wraps, single ply, multiply, drug tested, not drug tested, police-fire-military, and single lift categories, there are thousands of possibilities for you to win a little plastic trophy as well as set a record. Many state and local meets have far more potential slots to “win” then there are participants. Which, of course, makes almost all of these records rank very low on the “who gives a shit meter”.

    On the other hand, the meets are great for people who like or need goals. Lifting to a standard (some are much better than others) and getting a total is a great way to measure your progress and keep you motivated.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Charles View Post
    All of the above plus:

    If you consider, the number of federations (and their rules), sex, age, weight classes (and weigh in rules), raw, raw with knee wraps, single ply, multiply, drug tested, not drug tested, police-fire-military, and single lift categories, there are thousands of possibilities for you to win a little plastic trophy as well as set a record. Many state and local meets have far more potential slots to “win” then there are participants. Which, of course, makes almost all of these records rank very low on the “who gives a shit meter”.

    On the other hand, the meets are great for people who like or need goals. Lifting to a standard (some are much better than others) and getting a total is a great way to measure your progress and keep you motivated.
    This is why I'm excited for the USSF to add a junior category. Not too many youngins.

  7. #7
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    It really depends on the meet. Local ones are less competitive, and as others said you may have really good lifters there competing with average joe's looking to qualify for nationals. But as you move up to the better events, many times there is a minimum qualifying total by weight class, and you typically have to win a local meet before that. That still doesn't totally close the gap, since people competing with minimum qualifying totals will probably not win nationals. There are also invite only meets where a promoter will get some of the best lifters in the world together to go head to head.

    At your level I would do it for fun with the purpose of eventually being competitive. Just being there and seeing guys out lift you by huge amounts in the same weight class can inspire you. It's the big fish in the little pond mentality for a lot of people, so you get comfortable with what you are lifting and never strive to lift (or even believe you can lift) more. Same goes for working out at gyms where guys squat over a grand or even bench a grand in a shirt. It is one thing to watch the videos on Youtube vs actually being there. I highly recommend it. :-)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yasu View Post
    I'm a competitive person, and feel like the best way to motivate myself to continue to drive my lifts up quickly is to find a competitive outlet.
    If so, then preparing to step up on the platform is just the ticket for how you describe your nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yasu View Post
    I've read a lot of rather dubious things on The Internet. A lot of people say things like, "I don't care about where I place, I just do contests for myself", "I only enter contests to set contest PRs/break federation records", "Nobody cares about who wins, and nobody cares about anyone else's lifts" etc. etc.
    See highlighted portion above for the source of the reality distortion generator. It may be true for some, but I doubt most people who compete in powerlifting at any level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yasu View Post
    If this is really the case, I'd prefer another sport where winning really matters, if only to the contestants.
    I'm not sure who else matters in ANY competitive sport other than the contestants. Fame and fortune is unlikely even if you hold records in powerlifting with all but a very few exceptions, and even they only occupy a very narrow niche of anyone's idea of 15 minutes of fame.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yasu View Post
    Or is this just a case of a minority viewpoint being over-represented by YouTube and Instagram, and actually most powerlifters really are concerned with winning?
    Yep. Otherwise, why compete if you are not concerned about winning?

    As BC said (sort of), fear of public failure when your performance is subject to being judged to a standard, concentrates the mind wonderfully. As Samuel Johnson also said. Sort of. It can serve to really drive your will to train and train within the parameters of how your lifts will be judged. So you tend to lie to yourself and cheat less in the gym. Unless you want to look like a chump to multiple judges and dozens or hundreds of spectators.

    I, as you said about yourself at the outset, am also competitive by nature. That drive lay dormant for some several decades through the necessity of pursuit of my career after college and my mid 20's. When I got coached at an SS seminar into good deadlift form by stef, I managed a gym lift of 425 six months later. So, at age 62 I embarked on to compete in 6 meets at the local, state, national, and world levels. As a geezer, there is not a lot of competition. The other guys are either injured or dead. To paraphrase the venerable Gordon Santee.

    So get out there and take your shot.

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