While most of us first discover new sports when we are very young, power lifting tends to be a sport that adults discover later in life.
“Power lifting is generally a choice you make because you are thinking about doing something like competing,” Albert Duseigne, personal trainer at Body Basics in Red Deer, said.
“You may not be in your 20s anymore and you decide that it is time to get in shape, but for a purpose.”
Power lifting, as opposed to body building or cardio, is generally focused on building strength rather than physical appearance.
“There is always that thing in the back of some men’s and women’s minds that they don’t just want to look good, they want the strength and conditioning to go with it.
“Power lifting is a great way to get that,” Duseigne said.
The sport is broken down into three very specific lifts: the squat, the dead lift and the bench press.
In competition, the culmination of these three lifts determines the strength of that competitor, specific to their weight and age class.
“Age classes go up to a grandmasters age of 70s and 80s. We have a woman who comes in here and she competes around the world and she is over 80. She loves it and she loves the competition of it,” Duseigne said.
He added power lifters will often form close-knit communities wherever they train and compete.
“When you come and do cardio, you put your headphones on and just go. There is a community when it comes to power lifting and there there is a brother/sisterhood that joins everyone,” he said.
For those interested in joining the power lifting community, it can be as simple as coming to the gym and trying all three of the lifts, but Duseigne said a coach can go a long way to building strength and preventing injury.
“If you have a background in lifting, you are way ahead of the game.
“If you are someone brand new to it, it is going to take a little bit of time. You want to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up to be finished in two to three months because of injury,” he said.
He added that because the three lifts are repetitive in nature, injuries are often cumulative — especially to areas like the lower back, shoulders and knee joints.
“We inherently have ways we think we should lift things and the way we actually should lift things is quite often a different thing. The lower back tends to suffer at the beginning, but it is a fairly easy fix for most people with a little bit of technique.”
He added age is often a factor in knee and shoulder injuries.
Since power lifting involves compound muscle movements, athletes end up getting a cardio workout.
“They tend to bring up your heart rate. It is an anaerobic activity, but you are using your whole body to its fullest potential. Even though it is only three things, you are using your whole body in three things,” he said.
If power lifters decide they want to compete, the measurements of success are practical in nature.
“If I am against someone who is my body weight and in my age group and they lift more than me, there is no judging.
“If we both have successful lift but their weight is higher — they win. It is a ‘one plus one equals two’ scenario,” Duseigne said. “It is very much a personal thing. You are ultimately competing against yourself for the most part.
“There is some competition with the people around you, which is why it becomes a community, but there is the competition within yourself.”