T Nation

Getting Started in Powerlifting


Howdy Folks, so I've been thinking about taking the plunge into competitive lifting. I'm just not sure the best way to approach it. I've lifted for several years now and kind of bounced around in my goals. I couple years ago I was on the path and had my combined lifts up over 1100 pounds (not huge, I know, but a start) on 5/3/1 when I suffered a bit of a back injury that kept coming back. I think I'm fully recovered now while I piddled around and not kept really strong.

The past several months, I've been back on 5/3/1 and my lifts have been climbing back and should be there by the end of the year. I want to go beyond that -- I want to have goals and challenge myself. I want to try a meet. In the fall I'm moving to Los Angeles and I don't think I'll be able to find a suitable gym (I've looked around and can't find much) and my schedule will probably force me to train on my own.

I've always been pretty good to train on my own, but I think that training for the sport, with a goal in mind, will be an entirely different beast. I guess I don't know how most people train, if they train on teams, alone, or whatever. Any advice on how to proceed?


I train alone 80% of the time due to work and travel. I compete at least 4 times a year. My goal is to PR everytime and I do consider 5lbs a PR.

My advice is to have fun, get stronger, compete when you can, learn to love the sport and respect your fellow lifters.

The best of luck to you my freind.


3 posts in 3 years... wow. Best of luck with your journey into powerlifting. Film yourself and make sure you can perform all 3 lifts to the standards required by a powerlifting federation. Familiarize yourself with the commands they will give (e.g. a press command on bench and a down command on deadlift, etc.). Other than that just pick one out and go do it.

No one there is going to be worried about what your lifts are except for you. They'll respect you just for having the guts to go out and lift on the platform. It's a really good experience.


There's an assload of gyms in the L.A. area. Sure, none say "Westside Barbell" on them but who cares. I train alone in a basic 24 hour fitness (I think this is the last one in America that still has actual iron plates and not those plastic bastards). Are you moving to L.A. proper or on the outskirts? L.A. is HUGE and the name is used to represent a really large area. You'll find a gym no problem. If it has barbells and plates then you can train for powerlifting there.

I would just take the plunge. I compete in the USPA (http://uspla.org/home/) as they have a pretty good presence here in SoCal (hell, the president is in Orange County). It's a friendly atmosphere and nobody has ever been anything but totally cool to me. I'm also a newbie to the sport and completed my third comp in April.

Good luck!



There are gyms in Los Angeles that enable you to do everything. If near westside or century city, there are a couple David Barton's I used that were great for powerlifting. Top of the line power racks and squat racks, and hardly anyone ever uses them. No one ever complained about chalk even though it was a commercial gym. They didn't have bands, chains or specialty bars, but I brought in my own bands and specialty bars are more of a luxury than a necessity anyways.

The few Gold's I tried in other areas of LA county were fine too. Power rack, squat rack, barbells and plates. Not much else you need...



To answer your question, yes, you can train alone. You just need to get a power rack with safety bars and get to work. This assumes your not lifting in gear (squat suits, bench shirts).

I train alone 99% of the time and compete. Just find a way to get the work done and push yourself. If you've read 5/3/1 none of this will be new news. Find a meet, send in the application and get to work. You'll most likely meet people from your area at the meet and create a lifting circle of friends...it's really not that tough.

Good luck.


Thanks Guys. Yeah, I've trained in 24 Hour Fitness for years. The one here in NYC is pretty good about chalk and such, but I've kind of been keen on finding something PL-specific and was looking for that out there. I'm sure I'll find somewhere to lift wherever I end up (still sorting out the details), but wouldn't mind something that eschews curl machines for power racks, and someplace I could learn about the sport. Good to know that there are others there who train on their own, too.