T Nation

High School Powerlifting



I’m fairly new to power-lifting, I’ve competed as an olympic lifter so my knowledge on this isn’t where it should be but I am learning. I am the Head High School Powerlifting Coach and Football Coach, My question is to experienced lifters.

We have just finished up our last meet, I had one lifter qualify for state. I push powerlifting for our football workouts basically to give us a reason to workout and my kids are buying in! They love doing it and I love coaching it. We have three meets a year, Division Meet (January), North Half Meet (March), State Championship (April). My question is, our next meet will not be until January of 2018. As far as powerlifting is concerned, should I now focus on their “Raw” Max and ditch the gear until next Fall? Should I also start concentrating on other lift variations such as the “Front Squat” “Floor Press” etc more than I do the big 3?

Thanks for your help


I don’t compete in gear and most people on this forum don’t either, but I hear of some equipped lifters doing lots of geared work all year (Blaine Sumner) and others who might only use it the last few weeks before a meet. Logically, it would make sense to include some geared work, maybe once a month or so at the minimum, just for the technique practice.

I would still keep the competition lifts in there, but they don’t need to be the main focus. Since you are training kids it would probably be a good idea to do lots of higher rep work for hypertrophy. Also, since you guys are competing in gear you could use bands, chains, knee wraps, slingshot, board presses, etc. to work the top end while still building raw strength.


Chris said allot of what I was going to. Work volume right now to increase size. 5*5’s are good. I like to find something I can do 7 with and work with that weight until I can get 35 reps out of 5 sets for volume.

Work allot of accessories, but I would include using your gear too every once in a while. I’d try to Use it to burnout, like a forced rep exept the gear is helping you not your partner, to get form down for now (I’ve seen Eric liliebridge do this for squat). I train for raw lifting though, so someone that uses it may have more relevant impute than me.

My 2¢


Imho raw lifts will transfer better on the field.

Definitely encourage knee wraps for anyone squatting over 4 plates. chains and bands are great for your lifts period.


Since your working with athletes am I too assume your main priority is getting them ready for the field? If that is the case I would not push the gear aspect until a few weeks leading up to a actual meet.




Thanks for the info guys, it’s a single ply competition on the high school level. I am looking to transfer it on the field most importantly but I want our kids to be able to compete at a high level in powerlifting as well. Football season ends mid November and first powerlifting meet is the end of janurary. So the knee wraps help for overall knee health as well as increasing the max?


I’d consider contacting Jim Wendler directly. He works with HS kids a lot.


I hear some people saying that knee wraps are good for knee health and such, but there are a few studies that have found the exact opposite - knee wraps actually increase the stress on the knee joint. This site doesn’t allow certain links so search for yourself.

Knee wraps will allow you to squat more weight because of the rebound out of the hole, but the majority or lifters who compete in wraps still do a lot of their training without wraps. It would be like doing all your benching in a bench shirt, maybe someone out there does it and gets good results but it’s not necessary and possibly detrimental. Since you won’t be wearing knee wraps or squat suits on the football field it’s probably a good idea to build raw strength more than anything.