Hey man, please be careful... having the title of powerlifter doesn't mean much, titles don't mean much, records don't mean much... not anymore, any dude can have a record these days... i'm a numerous time National Champion and one time I won it because my buddy who beat me was a junior and i was open, so i got 1st place... i really only talk about accomplishments when I need to impress a beginner enough to listen to me instead of going with what some d bag gym hero is telling him to do.
Here are the rules of powerlifting.
1- decide what you want your end goals to be.
--> this is brutally important... if you set all your energy on squatting 405 and tell yourself that shits heavy and you'll be satisfied when you get there guess how much you'll squat? Set you end goals so big it scares you... look at the records, watch videos, decide what you want first and foremost. That no one has said this frightens me a bit. Mine are 750-500-800 ... I think I can do that in another 10 years of practice.
2- decide to be an athlete.
--> this is another big deal... Most ppl you see in the gym are there for their own reasons, and it's usually insecurity and vanity to be honest... and there's no problem with training for either... but when you go in the gym, you're an athlete.. the gym is your field, you bring your uniform into the gym (belt, wraps, etc) and you PRACTICE.
That's the big thing, you need to PRACTICE. it's not all about getting stronger, powerlifting is a SKILL and it's extremely complex, and there's a lot to think about.
3- decide what you want your lifting to tell people.
--> are you lifting purely for numbers and pride? or are you lifting to do it the right way? the right way being perfect form and keeping control of your injuries. When the regular gym goer watches a heavy crappy lift they think it's cool.... when a high level lifter watches a heavy crappy lift they get emberassed for the lifter.
now... there's a million different styles of squatting... serious... do you want to squat wide? narrow? flat shoes? olympic style? There's a lot.
4- Be very very careful who you listen to.
--> don't go crazy on the internet looking for research... remember, there's a reason people write those articles... a lot of them are sales pitches, or guys trying to build a name for themselves and just want it published... T-Nation is good and always will be, watch out for other sites tho.
The other thing, is everyone... and I mean everyone... including me... is a effing expert and has supreme confidince in their own style and will literally be offended that you don't immediately drop to you knees, suck them off and stick your thumb where the sun doesn't shine, just for them deigning to give you advice that you never even asked for. The more insistent someone is that you listen to them.... The more i personally don't listen. All the strong guys i know are so tired of guys bugging them for advice they don't give a shit anymore, or are so annoyed by guys listening to their perfect advice and completely discarding it... i've been on both sides of that one,.. and I've been the one discarding precious information.
5- Find your WHY and it better make you cry
--> I don't care why you want to be strong... everyone has a reason... you need to find yours. For me, it's squatting 600 pounds... It's like a demon burning inside me that I've got to get out. Sometimes when I'm driving I'll imagine hitting it, right down to the details... I've seen it 1000x's of times, and every time I hit it, and feel the relief of hitting my goal i can feel the tears coming. It used to be all I wanted, but I upposed my goal and i'm sure if I would have said 700 is hard that I'd have squatted 600 already.
You'll notice i haven't said shit about training programs - here's one word: sheiko.
unless you want to wear gear, start with sheiko, it's the outline used by the greatest russian powerlifting coach Boris Sheiko and is tried, tested and true and is perfect for powerlifters.
I will say if the program has you doing high reps on main moves it's not a powerlifting program that's going to help your form right now. Too many reps and form falls apart, and if anyone tells you that form can't be perfect so don't worry is an idiot that didn't try hard enough on form. I've got a ways to go, but I watch higher level lifters than me, and their form is pefect.... it has to be to lift really big instead of hitting 315 and calling it a day.
Other than that, here's a few things:
Warm up before every training session upper or lower like this:
Seriously, just do it, you'll avoid a lot on injuries by doing this everyday.
Other than that, video your lifts as often as possible, post your lifts on here for feedback.
facebook Tom Kean, he's one of the best lifters in Canada and he's close to you... drive as far as you have to, and train with him, train with the best to start at least if you want to be serious. I drove 2 hours every weekend to train with a National level strongman when I competed in that, and I would never have gone as far as I did without him.
Good luck man