Modern Powerlifting Shatters Old School Stereotypes

Editor’s Note: Article by Rob Engelman

Powerlifting has often received a bad reputation among those that didn’t partake in the sport. People have been impressed with the incredible strength levels but not so much with the appearance. It seems like some of the old school powerlifters concentrated way more on extreme strength than physical condition.

Why not?

Powerlifters love to say they pick things up and put them back down. Things like cardio and caloric deficits are not desired aspects in the quest for strength gains.

While these men were able to lift an extreme amount of weight, many successful power lifters had bodies that didn’t necessarily convey the image of a healthy lifestyle.

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Most likely the old school power lifters were able to squat, bench and deadlift more weight than most of us will ever move but they also increased their chances of severe health problems and early death by carrying large amounts of body fat. That’s the way it was, it worked for them in the gym and on the platform. They set strength records and that was the goal.

Times change, toady’s population is starting to desire a certain physical appearance and today’s power lifters have been shattering the traditional power lifting stereotypes as the sport continues to grow.

Powerlifting Has Changed

Powerlifting has seen vast changes and improvements over the years. There are numerous powerlifting federations across the United States that offer the modern lifter a chance to compete against themselves and other lifters in their respective classes.

These meets continue to grow in popularity and size. Anyone attending one of these meets will instantly recognize the difference between power lifters of the 1970’s and today.

Yes, there are a variety of different physiques in the powerlifting world because powerlifting is about strength and the meet is not a beauty pageant. The majority of today’s powerlifters have impressive physiques that demonstrate both strength and a healthy body. Many of today’s lifters are muscular but carry lower amounts of body fat.

They are still extremely strong but they are also much healthier and in better physical condition. This allows the lifters to train longer, increase their strength as muscle mass increases and live a better life outside of the gym.

This isn’t to say every power lifter has a low percentage of body fat, to each their own and everyone does what works for them. There is a growing trend in the powerlifting world where established but overweight lifters are dropping significantly large amounts of body weight and coming back stronger than they were before.

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Powerlifting as a sport has been growing in popularity. You don’t have to search the Internet long to find a variety of powerlifting federations across the country. These federations organize and host meets.

Two excellent federations are the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA) {} and the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF.) {} Federations keep track of records that are constantly being broken across the country. There are open meets that anyone who is a member of their federation can compete, as well as state, national and international meets if your numbers qualify.

Powerlifting Grows in Popularity

Powerlifting training has vastly increased in popularity lately. Fitness websites and forums are packed with various powerlifting programs, strategies and advice.

Gyms are increasingly adding powerlifting stations and classes as more and more people are experimenting with the powerlifting boom. Why wouldn’t they? The results speak for themselves. Everyone needs to be stronger.


Powerlifting demands you push yourself to lift as much weight as you can, then to constantly increase that strength. Gaining strength can become an addiction; power lifters will push themselves to the brink of collapse to add a few pounds to their lifts. Getting stronger than before is part of almost every lifter’s program in the gym.

Powerlifting adds a bit of fun to your sessions as individual lifters challenge themselves to lift more each session and adds to the competition with your friends for increased motivation. Squat, bench and deadlift are the lifts in the gym that everyone uses to gauge how everyone’s strength compares.

How many times have you heard someone asking or talking about how much weight someone can lift while squatting, bench pressing or deadlifting? Squats and deadlifts are strenuous compound lifts that improve a phenomenal amount of muscle groups; bench press is a great upper body builder. These three lifts alone can swell the body up with muscle mass.

While powerlifting concentrates on squat, bench and deadlift (THE BIG THREE) for competition, secondary and accessory work allows powerlifting training to provide full body training. Today’s lifters are more informed than ever about how to properly fuel themselves for various goals.

Powerlifting can build impressive physiques when combined with proper nutrition. Simply manipulating calories and macronutrients allows lifters with various strength and/or body composition goals to all benefit from powerlifting training programs.

Nothing shatters the powerlifting stereotypes more than the large amount of women competing in powerlifting meets. Every meet I’ve been to has had a significant amount of seriously strong women of all ages that are just as competitive and supportive as the men. Make no mistake, these women are strong and their drive and determination are impressive.

Don’t make the mistake of telling a young lady at the meet she is strong for a woman, she is strong and has endured a substantial amount of grueling training just like everyone else at the meet. Regardless of sex, it is inspiring and enjoyable to see someone enjoy repeatedly pushing him or herself to exceed their personal limits. Powerlifting is a great sport for both sexes.

Pushing yourself to your limits, trying to improve yourself and supporting others around you who are all pursuing the same goals makes the meets memorable and enjoyable. Women are also utilizing powerlifting-training programs in the gym with more frequency. Why wouldn’t they?

Increasing strength, physique improvements, competition among friends and pushing past our limits is beneficial to everyone. Women power lifters have also had to overcome certain stereotypes of their own.

The claims of getting too big or bulky are unfounded but persist among the uninformed, jealous or malicious. While there may not have been vary many women power lifters in the past, more and more have entered the sport with extremely impressive results.

Powerlifting is not just for the biggest men on the planet, nor is it simply a way to demonstrate who can use the most weight for squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting. It is more than that now and it is here to stay. The benefits are undeniable; the results are being showcased across social media and in the gyms.

Strength is sexy and sex sells. Women love strong men, men love strong women. Powerlifting training increases your strength and being stronger will improve the results from every training style.

Choosing to improve the big three lifts will allow lifters to improve their overall strength. Pushing yourself to your limits, setting goals to beat those limits, training for that purpose to eventually reach those goals is satisfying and builds confidence. Powerlifting will continue to grow as more and more people discover the joys of strength training for bench, squats and deadlifts.

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