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Powerlifting in Austin, Texas at Raw Power Gym

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What is Powerlifting?
Fat Loss
Improved Strength
Improved Bone Health
Increased Athletic Ability
Reducing Lower Back Pain
Improved Posture
Women’s Bodies
Improved Mental Health

You don’t have to be a competing powerlifter to attain many great benefits from powerlifting workouts.  Anyone who wants to improve their health and athleticism can benefit from powerlifting. That’s correct, even the average person simply seeking to improve the quality of their day-to-day life can and will benefit from powerlifting exercises.  

What is Powerlifting?

Different from bodybuilding, which focuses on the quest of a particular physique, powerlifting is a sport of achieving as much raw strength as is humanly possible. 

Powerlifting usually centers on 3  simple exercises—the deadlift, bench press, and squat—with the intent to master every single aspect of them, as  strength is as much a skill as a measurable benchmark. The goal in powerlifting, from an exercise science context, is to produce the maximum amount of muscular force for each of the given movements.  In powerlifting competitions, a pass-fail score of the execution for each movement or lift is assigned by 3 judges.  At least 2 judges are needed to rate the lift a “pass” for the effort to count as a successful lift. Scores are calculated as total weight lifted and then the weight lifted in context to your weight. 

Hence powerlifting is essentially a strength and conditioning sport comprising  3 exercise maneuvers at maximal load on 3 attempted lifts each: bench press, squat, and deadlift.  By all appearances, powerlifting is straightforward and simple.   However, delve into the sport a little deeper and you’ll learn powerlifters aim to optimize a complex balance of  mental, emotional, and physical fortitude toward daily training.

Similar to Ironman triathletes and marathon runners, powerlifters push themselves to the edge of their own physical ability.    Thus powerlifting is both physically and mentally demanding and extremely taxing.   Every moment in the sport is a struggle involving you and a barbell, locked in a seemingly endless battle against gravity.

Whether you’re training for a competition, or just exploring your limits and trying to get stronger with compound movements (squats, bench presses, and deadlifts),  powerlifting is  a passion for some, an obsession for others. Also be mindful though powerlifting centers on a small handful of movements,  people who powerlift commonly include different variations and accessory exercise work to support their overall strength. So, if you enjoy doing bicep curls, you won’t have to stop bicep curls in your exploration into powerlifting.

Powerlifting  engages your anaerobic energy system and you exert a tremendous amount of energy for a brief moment of time. The benefits of powerlifting far outweigh the actual lifting and can boosting your overall health and wellness and include: 

Powerlifting & Fat Loss

Adding weight training – powerlifting training included – into your fat loss journey will help you shed pounds quicker.  Powerlifting is driven on very heavy lifting producing a high intensity whole body burn resulting in powerlifters burning large amounts of calories and fat. In the long term, you can increase your metabolic rate and thus each pound of muscle burns off more calories than each pound of fat, even at a state of rest. 

Having said this, be mindful, if you want to gain strength and lose weight, it’s important that you approach things slowly and steadily. Losing weight too rapidly can result in a loss of muscle mass, which is something you want if you want to maintain strength while burning off any unsightly fat.   Also losing weight can reshape your body, which means your lifting form may also change.   For this reason 1.5 –  2 lbs of weight loss per week is the most you want to aim for on any weight loss journey.  

Powerlifting & Improved Strength

Powerlifting’s movements; the squat, bench and deadlift all require multitudes of muscles across the body thereby increasing overall strength throughout your body.  Bench pressing strengthens most of your upper body muscles whereas squating and deadlifting strengthens your core, back and legs.  Most of your muscles have their role and are targeted in each one of these movements along with accessory movement exercises typically added.   Powerlifting accessory movement exercises complement the squat, bench, and deadlift and can be performed with barbells, dumbbells, machines, resistance bands, or even just your own bodyweight.  

Since powerlifting movements work toward building maximal strength across the largest muscles in your body, powerlifting can improve your overall physical functional strength in your daily activities. For example, heavy deadlifts and squats build the strength and core stability that as you get older, prevents you from throwing out your back while bending over or standing up.

Powerlifting & Improved Bone Health

Weight-bearing exercises like powerlifting where you battle gravity while staying upright have long been known to foster bone density growth.  Afterall, bone is living tissue that exercise can trigger to grow stronger.  During powerlifting, the tendons and muscles apply tension to the bones, stimulating them to produce more bone tissue and the bones become more dense and stronger.  Research determined higher-intensity powerlifting delivers more benefits than low-intensity lifting in building bone and tissue mass.  Bone loss starts for most of us at age 30 and is a silent condition.  Many of us have no idea we’ve experienced a decline in bone health until one day there is a trip, or fall, and fracture a bone.   This can be countered by powerlifting thereby building bone density through our entire lives.  

Powerlifting & Increase in Athletic Ability

It would be incorrect to think powerlifting is solely about lifting heavy weight. Powerlifting requires the classic athlete abilities and traits,  strength, endurance, patience and determination to reach your goals.   Most of the primary and accessory movements  of powerlifting improve overall athletic ability.  For example,  Research determined a direct correlation between maximal squat strength with sprint performance and vertical jump height. Thus if you’re aiming to jump higher or run faster, focus on building a bigger squat through powerlifting. 

Powerlifting & Reduce Lower Back Pain  

The strength of your back is critical to overall fitness and good health. The muscles of the lower back are part of your core which stabilizes your body.  All your movements  rely on the core including those causing lower back pain, something for which there is usually no single identifiable cause. However research has shown exercise increases blood flow to the area and is effective in reducing lower back pain.   Specifically, coupling strength training with stretching or cardio has reduced lower back pain and returned mobility to those suffering with lower back pain.  A stronger lower back supports the spine and improves posture while also removing pressure off body parts that have been activated to compensate for a weak back.

Powerlifting & Improvement in Posture

Building muscles in a balanced manner can help improve a poor posture.  The deadlift for example is an extremely helpful exercise to correct and improve any poor posture. The deadlift places physical demands on the lower back, body core, and most of the muscles in the legs. Deadlifts will specifically strengthen your hamstrings, glutes,  core and back. Though usually associated with strength building and power, the mechanics of the deadlift strengthen the spine, thereby improving posture. Beyond strengthening leg and core muscles, squats stretch the hip flexors, adductors and lumbar spine,  that typically when tight produce bad posture.  Strength is the foundation of physicality and enables us to perform essential daily activities and remain able and independent. Nothing  builds strength more  efficiently, effectively and safely than deadlift, benching, and squatting. 

Powerlifting & Women’s Bodies

A powerlifting misconception, particularly among women is that it will inherently make your body bulky and overly muscular.  Yes your body will get toned and muscles defined, however powerlifting will not make you overly muscular.  When it comes to powerlifting women will not get huge and transform themselves into looking like a man.

Research has found that high oestrogen levels work against women in bulking up without also using artificial drugs.

To achieve that bulky overly muscular women have to use steroids and or other types of growth hormones.  Women naturally do not possess the amount of muscle building hormones as men. Additionally, one study determined that testosterone only increased significantly in men after strength training and not women (and only significantly when the strength training involved using heavier weights).  So while you can find online and in magazines, women involved in powerlifting who look more male than female,  you’re seeing women that have chosen to chemically enhance themselves and they do not represent the natural powerlifters who train drug-free. The bottomline is that without extra testosterone or human growth hormone, women are biologically incapable of building big muscles like men.

Powerlifting has become a popular and empowering sport for women on their strength training journey as they abandon the idea that women should only do cardio and small weights.

Powerlifting & Mental Health

When powerlifting, people tend to not think of anything else happening in their lives due to the total focus required on how they’re going to battle moving the weight.   The battle includes only them, the bar,  none of their problems, and gravity.   The lift itself stimulates endorphins in the brain producing positive emotions which are tremendously helpful for people facing difficulties in their lives.  It’s the not dwelling on problems coupled with the endorphins release that can reinvigorate and reset mental health and leave powerlifters feeling alleviated and mentally recharged post workout.  

When powerlifting, moving a weight never budged before or noticing never before seen improvement in your physique can be an enormous confidence booster that can spread to other aspects in life.   

Thus powerlifting has the ability to make you feel better both mentally and physically.  In fact Research has shown lifting weights  to be scientifically proven to lower symptoms of depression.

We welcome you to start or resume your powerlifting journey here at Raw Power Gym.  It’s important to note powerlifting can be quite challenging; thus, having solid technique is essential for safety and preventing injury.  Whether you choose to work with a trainer, a training buddy, or go it alone, be sure to follow proper safety precautions.  Powerlifting can be an amazing way to get in shape when the movements are done correctly, but can also be dangerous for the most experienced powerlifters with progression and  weight increases.

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