Often, new lifters idolize famous lifters and want to mimic their every move. I spoke briefly on this in a previous article "I'm not ready to compete". Concentrate on what got them there, not what they are doing now as an international elite athlete. For new lifters any basic programming, provided the lifter applies themselves and puts forth the effort, will create significant gains. This is both a benefit and a curse.
"For new lifters any basic programming, provided the lifter applies themselves and puts forth the effort, will create significant gains"
There are so many resources available to you. You will see all kinds of programming available off a single google search. Method after method from Juggernaut, Cube, 5-3-1, Conjugate, etc., etc. the list will go on. What does this all mean to you? It is a guide, all program templates that you hear about have some benefit and significance towards building strength. However, in the beginning the most important thing you should learn is how to lift correctly. Repetition is your friend, set up on your warm ups the same as on your working sets, build that muscle memory but …..build it correctly. The weight and strength will come with time, but you want it to come and stack onto a good base of technique and form.
So back to programming, how do I determine which is correct for me? I wish there was a magical answer to this question. It would save everyone so much time and effort, as previously stated you’re going to get a benefit from it all, provided you work for it. The curse in the beginning, are the initial big gains. Usually in the first couple cycles of programming you’re going to see significant gains because you are now lifting for strength. This can be misleading because you believe this should be normal. If additional programming or even the same program fails to provide those same gains, you question its effectiveness. Any program change and adaptation should be given time, nothing in powerlifting happens overnight, except injuries. Give the program a couple cycles to work and then gauge your results. Take away from that program the knowledge of what worked and what didn’t for future reference. If you have injuries from your glory days in high school or college remember the movements that irritated those injuries and more importantly the ones that didn’t.
Your basis for programming should be divided up into main exercises and accessory work. This should apply to every lifter regardless of experience and strength. In the beginning, follow the main lifts to the design of your program and after a few cycles you will be able to determine where your weaknesses exist. Examples to ask yourself would be, "Do I fail in the hole?" Do I fail trying to lock it out?" "Do I fail to get it off the ground?" The point is we all have weaknesses.
This brings us to the other important part of programming, your accessory work. Your accessory work should always be tailored to address weaknesses as well as build overall strength pertinent to your 3 big lifts. Make sure they are performed correctly to benefit the muscle group they are intended for. Lastly make sure the muscle groups associated with the lifts are trained. Be aware of over training, especially in the beginning. There is no need to do 17 accessories and be in the gym for 3-4 hours. You are doing more damage than good. I will leave the need for a Powerlifting Coach for another article but I will say this, there are many Coaches out there that are more than willing to help new and old lifters out. The knowledge is out there and as well as the support.
I am going to close this article with a simple phrase, I heard and learned early on when others helped and taught me. “THE LESSONS SHOULD BE TOLD, NOT SOLD.”
George “PittBoss” Cano
Owner/Head Coach Pitt Powerlifting